Live in Florida, and you're likely to take up golf, tennis or swimming. But if you're looking for something where you'll relieve stress, get some exercise and make lasting friendships, the Deadly Rival Roller Derby team may be for you.
Highly competitive, lightning-paced and a test of endurance, roller derby is a women's contact sport played on a flat track at AstroSkate in Pinellas Park.
M. Pyre Wrecker co-manages the team with Murder Ride, who founded the team (deadlyrivalrollerderby.com) in 2011.
"DRRD started with a few women who had roller derby experience and a whole lot more who were brand-new to the sport," Wrecker said. "We played more experienced teams in our first year and got slaughtered, yet we kept coming back for more."
The two home teams, the Hot Rod Hotties and the Cat O' StrophiX, play each other all year to compete for a championship trophy. The league consists of about 40 women who train year-round, skating five or more hours a week in the evenings. Specific players also make up a travel team.
The Attack Pack, a junior league of 20 girls between ages 5 and 17, is owned by one of the original skaters, Induce N Pain, and one of the original referees, Sober Screw.
"I've been their announcer for two seasons now, and it's been amazing watching these young skaters grow," Wrecker said. They recently placed third in a national competition of 11 teams in their division.
DRRD members also donate time and money to organizations such as Big Cat Rescue, CASA (Community Action Stops Abuse) and Metropolitan Ministries.
Wrecker is excited about the upcoming season.
"We recently purchased a banked track, like the movie Whip It," she said. "It's an elevated track with rails on the sides and banked turns. We're looking for a space to house the track so we can invite skaters from all over Florida to come practice and play."
Open recruitment nights take place every few months; the next ones are Oct. 14 and 16.
"We don't have tryouts like some leagues do. We welcome everyone," Wrecker said. "We have a Fresh Meat coach (Coach Carb, the Carb-Orator) and specific Fresh Meat practices so ladies 18 years and older can come learn and train with no experience necessary."
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A.k.a.: Leah Conrady, 40, St. Petersburg.
How did she come up with derby name? "I'm from Burien, a town near Seattle." It's where she created some havoc.
Day job: Previously a medical assistant. Now a nursing student at Hillsborough Community College.
Years skating derby: Three. "I like releasing stress with this. It really helps."
Favorite music: "All Christian. All the time."
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A.k.a.: Megan Steiner Karaus, 27, Clearwater.
Day job: Attorney. She graduated with degrees in criminology and legal studies from Indiana State University before studying law at Valparaiso University School of Law.
Years skating derby: "I'm a rookie. And I love it."
Words of advice: "Just do it. Drink the Kool-Aid and hop right in, skates first. Just know that you only get out of derby what you put into it."
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A.k.a.: Joanne Taylor, 35, St. Petersburg.
Day job: Stay-at-home mom to Clementine, 7, and Olive, 3, who occasionally come out to watch her skate. She has a bachelor of fine arts degree in fashion design and merchandising and a side business called IckyDolls on Etsy.
Favorite thing about skating: "It's a real stress-reliever when you're hitting someone. But it's all in fun. Mostly."
Years skating derby: Three.
What made her get into the sport: "I've always thought derby was interesting, and when I was pregnant with my youngest, Olive, I noticed a roller derby mug on my sono tech's desk. She (a.k.a. UltraSonic) introduced me to the league, and I started when Olive was 7 months. It was a great way to get back into shape."
Do her kids skate?"Clementine just found an old pair of skates in her size, has pads and is eager to learn to skate but isn't so sure about actually playing derby. But Olive is definitely interested when she's old enough."
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Induce N Pain
A.k.a.: Angela Castro, 34, St. Petersburg.
Day job: Labor and delivery nurse at Bayfront Medical Center. In 2007, she was one of six nurses to help deliver sextuplets.
How did she choose a derby name? It's her job to induce patients. The pain is obvious.
Favorite thing about skating: "Friendship. Meeting the people and seeing them week after week is great."
Years skating: Three and a half.
Family time: Two daughters (12 and 15) play in the junior derby league. Her son practices karate.
Romance time: Induce and Sober (see below) met at the rink. They hit it off and started dating.
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Sober Screw, referee
A.k.a.: William Thigpen, 51, St. Petersburg.
Day job: Owner of ProMow lawn and landscaping.
Favorite thing about skating: "The exercise, the endurance. I've been skating for 40-plus years."
What was his first date with Induce? "April 1. At Pete and Shorty's. I'll never forget it."
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A.k.a.: Celia Doby, 32, Tampa.
Day job: Hair stylist at Practically Frivolous in St. Petersburg. She spends all day on her feet and skates at night. Plus she has three children.
Positions she plays: Jammer and blocker.
Favorite thing about skating: "Fast skating. The fast pace of it."
What team members say about her: "She's the quiet one of the team. Quiet and sweet. She looks innocent, but she's tough."
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A.k.a.: Brianna Rooks, 9.
Day job: Fourth-grader at Bardmoor Elementary School.
Favorite thing about skating: "It's fun. I like going out and getting hit but then getting up and laughing."
Favorite music: "I love country."
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A.k.a.: Isabella Jordan, 10.
Day job: Student at Walsingham Elementary School in Largo.
Favorite thing about skating: "I practice every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. It's about five hours a week. It's the best thing."
Favorite position: I like being the jammer (skater who scores.) I'm always trying to find new ways to try to get through the other teams' blockers."
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A.k.a.: Annette Randolph, 39, New Port Richey.
Day job: Manager at Tampa Bay Laser center.
Favorite music: Alternative rock.
Favorite thing about derby skating: "I like the hard hits, but I also like the team in general. Lots of fun."