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It's 'bout time! Green Mountain Roller Derby hits its home rink for the first time since 2020

Several people wearing shorts, knee pads, elbow pads and helmets rollerskate indoors on a cement floor.
Wayne Tarr's Studio of Photography
In a home bout this Saturday at the Champlain Valley Expo, members of the Green Mountain Roller Derby team will take on Salt City Roller Derby.

On a recent Tuesday evening, just as a spring thunderstorm rolled through Essex Junction, members of the Green Mountain Roller Derby team streamed into the Blue Ribbon Pavilion building at the Champlain Valley Expo for practice.

They donned protective pads, helmets, jerseys and roller skates before taking laps on a concrete track.

Roller derby combines speed and bruising hits, as five skaters from each team score points by helping one of them, the jammer, lap members of the other team.

Green Mountain Roller Derby is getting ready for their first home game — or "bout" in derby vernacular — since COVID-19 upended their season in early 2020. On Saturday, they’ll take on Salt City Roller Derby from Fulton, New York.

Ahead of their match, several athletes spoke to Vermont Public's Mary Williams Engisch about the sport and the sense of community it fosters. This piece was produced for the ear. We highly recommend listening to the audio. We’ve also provided a transcript, which has been edited for length and clarity.


Trisha Difonzo: Alright, I'm TrasHer. My number is 4482. My pronouns are she/her and hers. This is my ninth season. I started in April 2015. I came to a bout and just needed to join something. I needed to be more than just a mom, and a PTO mom at that, so I needed something to get energy out.

A woman in roller derby gear poses for a portrait.
Wayne Tarr Studio of Photography
Trisha Difonzo

I just like bringing people into the community, letting them know that there's people here that are just like they are, or you'll find your person out here.

It feels good to be back on our home track. We know this track. We know this turf.

Laura Ivins: I’m Snatch McKraken, she/her, and I've been skating for about 14 years or so. After I graduated college, the opportunities for contact sports really dry up, especially for women.

My favorite part of the game is the speed-skating part, is the contact part. Because there's not many other places where you can get, you know, the bejesus knocked out of you and feel really good about it.

But I like that contact and the force and being able to skate, like, 100% and use all of your strength and not need to hold back.

A woman in roller derby gear poses for a portrait.
Shannon Gotsch
Laura Ivins

I think the way that I would describe it is that it's extremely community-minded. So, you know, fans have a real place in this community.

I can't really, like, emphasize how much I love this sport, and also how much I feel like anyone can build a home in it. It took a long time for me to find my place. But when I found the sport, I was able to carve out a home for myself.

Ky Chevalier: Hi, my name is Ky Chevalier. On the track, I go by Gideon Wrath. I use they/them pronouns. And I am a newer skater with the team.

I actually started my rookie boot camp last October, did a boot camp for a couple months. And then I joined the league officially as a skater this January.

A person wearing roller derby gear poses for a portrait.
Wayne Tarr Studio of Photography
Ky Chevalier

I also do a lot of our marketing and media coordination. So I've been getting to help out a lot with this bout and put my skills to use with that.

Part of GMRD’s mission is to really be a positive force and a positive voice in our community. So with all of our bouts in the past, and with this one as well, we try to bring a community influence and to do something that will benefit our community.

So for this bout, we've partnered up with Essex Pride, and we're gonna be doing a 50/50 raffle with 50% of the proceeds going to Essex Pride to support their work. We also volunteer out in the community. We love to get out and about.

Derby is not as scary as you think it is. And if you want to be involved in any way — whether that's on skates, off skates, if you want to volunteer, if you want to referee — there's a place for everybody in the league. And there are a lot of really awesome people waiting to welcome you with open — if a little bit stinky from their gear — arms.

Green Mountain Roller Derby presents its “Back in Black” home game Saturday, May 18, at the Champlain Valley Expo in Essex Junction.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message.

Corrected: May 17, 2024 at 6:06 PM EDT
The headline of this story was updated to reflect that Green Mountain Roller Derby's last home bout was in early 2020, not 2019.
Mary Williams Engisch is a local host on All Things Considered.
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