The Hippo


May 31, 2020








Sarah Marie Studios.

Upcoming events 

The regular season in New Hampshire is coming to a close, but it’s not too late to catch a few final games and special roller derby events. 
Aug. 11: The NHRD home season ended on Aug. 6, but you can meet the team and show your support at the Ice Cream & Derby Dreams Fundraiser from 6 to 9 p.m. at Bre’s Ice Creamery, 259 E. Main St., East Hampstead. 
Aug. 13: The GSRD’s final bout of the season with home teams Demolition Dames playing against the Fighting Finches at the Everett Arena, 15 Loudon Road, Concord. Tickets are $10 in advance or $12 at the door.
Aug. 27: Seacoast’s Poison Pixies will play Central Maine Roller Derby at the Dover Arena, 110 Portland Ave, Dover. 
Aug. 28: Create a kickball team of eight to 10 players and compete in the 2nd Annual NHRD Kickball Tournament. Adults play for $10, children 12 and under play for $5. The money helps support the league.
Sept. 16: See the Monadnock Roller Derby skaters at Antrim Home and Harvest Festival.
Oct. 1: See the Seacoast Roller Derby teams at the Apple Harvest Day Festival in Dover.

Granite Skate
High adrenaline on roller derby tracks

By Ryan Lessard

 New Hampshire has a ton of roller derby-watching opportunities, and unlike its decades-past predecessor, it’s family-friendly, truly competitive and lots of fun. 

Too legit
First off, it’s important to disabuse yourself of any notions that today’s flat-track roller derby is still the wildly violent, sometimes-scripted wacky spectacle of the past. It’s come a long way, according to New Hampshire Roller Derby founder Bethany “Irate Pirate” Tozier. She goes by the name “Irate.”
“Instead of the theatrics that people usually associate roller derby within the 1970s, when you would watch American Gladiator and then watch roller derby, we don’t have the flying elbows or the hair-pulling fights or anything like that,” Irate said. “It’s actually against our rules to have fights on the track.”
In fact, just about the only remaining throwback to those days are the punny and mean-sounding nicknames and maybe a little bit of war paint and the odd wardrobe choice. But for the most part, roller derby skaters are playing to win, with official uniforms, safety gear and a stack of rules. 
“For us it’s for real points, for real wins, for real rankings internationally,” Irate said.
Become a fan
There are two main barriers for leagues to attract spectators to the growing sport. One is the myth that it’s still a staged wrestling show on wheels, but the other is that folks simply don’t know how the game is played and can’t easily follow what’s happening.
The central mission of the skaters is fairly simple to understand: a team has as many as 15 people, but only five skaters from each team play at a time. Each team is made up of four blockers and one jammer. Your jammer wears a star on her helmet so you can pick her out from the crowd. And they’re the ones you’ll be following the most since they are the ones who can score points. The jammer is the offense and the blockers are the defense.
Karen “Taslamian Devil” Forest (Taz for short) of Granite State Roller Derby says each play is broken up into two-minute “jams,” which she compares to the downs in a football game. The players reset, line up and wait for the whistle. 
The first thing a jammer needs to do before she can score points is get clear of the other team’s blockers and escape the group. 
“Once the jammer gets out of the pack, on their second pass through, for each opposing blocker they pass, they gain one point,” Irate said. 
The first jammer who gets out ahead is the lead jammer and she has the sole power to cut a jam short if she wants to keep the other team from scoring. A really successful jammer might have more than one scoring pass through the blockers before the jam ends.
What to expect
While the viewing experience might vary depending on the league or venue — NHRD has a liquor license to sell beer, for example — it tends to follow a similar structure.
Taz said an hour-long bout is broken up into two 30-minute halves and the halftime lasts about 10 to 15 minutes.
“During the half-time, there is usually some sort of children’s activity or maybe a little performance of some sort by a local group,” Taz said.
Some leagues offer 50/50 raffles and GSRD and NHRD both do a “wheel toss,” which is sort of like chuck-a-puck in hockey, where you throw a roller skate wheel with a number that you’ve purchased onto the court to try to get it to land on a target to win a prize. 
Some leagues set up a table with T-shirts and other merchandise for fans. At NHRD games, there’s a skater who makes herself available to members of the audience in case they have questions about how the sport is played.
The game itself is adrenaline-filled, fast-paced and unpredictable. 
“It is crazy exciting. There’s so much strategy going on and it is [a] full-contact collision sport,” Taz said.
Following each GSRD and NHRD bout, the team hosts a party that’s open to anyone to join if they want to talk with and learn from any of the skaters. This year, the GSRD has held its after parties at Area 23 in Concord.
State leagues
In New Hampshire, GSRD and NHRD are the only two internationally ranked leagues affiliated with the WFTDA. Other leagues are competitive but not yet ranked.
Granite State Roller Derby: Based in Concord, they play their home games at the Everett Arena. Their home teams are the Demolition Dames and the Fighting Finches, and their globally ranked travelling team is the Granite State All Stars. Visit
New Hampshire Roller Derby: Based in Manchester, they play their home games at the JFK Coliseum. Their teams include the Cherry Bombs and the Cheap$kates, and their ranked travelling team is the NH Roller Derby All Stars. Visit
Seacoast Roller Derby: Based in Dover, they play their home games are at the Dover Arena. Their teams are the Poison Pixies and the Vicious Valkyries. Visit
Twin State Derby: Based in the Lebanon area and Vermont, they play most of their games at the Union Arena in Woodstock, Vermont. Their A and B teams are called the Upper Valley Vixens and they were recently accepted into the WFTDA Apprenticeship program. Visit
Elm City Derby Damez: This team is officially based in Keene, but they play all their home games at the Nelson Withington Skating Facility in Brattleboro, Vermont. Visit
Monadnock Roller Derby: Based in Antrim, they play home games at the Lee Clement Arena at New England College in Henniker. Their main team is the Mad Knockers and their junior team is the Misfits. Visit 

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