Everything I know about roller derby you could fit into a medium-size helmet. There’s what I’ve seen on TV, what I’ve heard and what I imagine when I get to daydreaming about the sport.

But I’ve probably said too much. Roller derby is said to be thriving in Maine, and to find out more I went to Amber Jo McCaslin, a Lewiston lady who has been known to throw elbows on the rink. When she straps her skates on, Amber is known as Curve Appeal, and she told me everything I need to know.

Roller Derby. Isn’t that like James Caan pounding people in that awesome flick from the 1970s? Modern derby is not like what people remember from the ’70s. That was staged. Roller derby started again about 10 years ago in Texas. It started in Maine in 2006. It’s a real sport. We play on a flat track, which allows us to play just about anywhere. The banked tracks still exist, they just aren’t very common because of their cost. Roller derby is a full-contact sport where we wear protective gear (wrist, elbow and knee pads, helmet and mouth guard) and train hard to be the best part-time athletes we can be.

How did you roll into the sport? I honestly can’t remember how I first heard about roller derby tryouts, but I think it was in a newspaper. When I first heard about it, I was working two full-time jobs, and it would have been impossible to make the time commitment. Six months later I was able to quit one job and have nights and weekends off. I started training myself in the summer of 2011, and tried out that fall. I fell in love with the sport and the people involved, and I haven’t looked back.

If I were to sign up, what would my rink name be? If you were to join the sport you would likely get a name related to your job, or your real name. LaFlamme lends itself to some options. Maybe Fast Flame or Freak La Flem? I’m not the best at coming up with names. We have girls with names like Dubliner Broozes (she’s Irish and doubling your bruises, get it?), Princess Lay Her Out and Kirsten Damned (get it?), which I think are really clever. My name came out of my side work in real estate, and is a play on words from the term “curb appeal.”

Do you ever get hurt? If so, describe in excruciating detail. The most common injuries in derby are concussions. We take them very seriously. Personally I haven’t had much for really serious injuries. When I was fresh meat, I fell and stretched a ligament that I had to go to physical therapy for. Two years later it still bothers me if I fall just right. I also had a tooth knocked loose when someone went too high on a sternum block, but luckily it tightened back up on its own. The worst injury I ever had was on March 1st of this year when I broke my foot. Ironically I wasn’t playing derby, I was at a Pubcrawlers show that was a fundraiser for our league. It took me off skates for a couple months, but I was back to playing competitively by mid-May. In August, my team, the Calamity Janes, took silver at the B-Team Tournament in Worcester, Mass., and I think that was the highlight of my derby career so far.

When’s your next event? Our next bout is Oct. 5 at the Expo in Portland. It’s our 5th annual Wicked Vs. Good bout, where we split our league into two teams and battle it out. This year is unique because it is also a double-header and the Casco Bay Gentlemen’s Derby will be playing Vermont’s Mean Mountain Boys after we play. We also have our annual Thanks for Giving charity bout Nov. 16 at Happy Wheels in Portland. Ticket information can be found at www.mainerollerderby.com.

How can somebody get involved? We just held tryouts on Sept. 15 and had 29 women show us what they had. Most made it through this first step, and will continue to be assessed over the next few months until they are cleared for play and will try to make it into a bout on Dec. 14. Anyone interested in playing is encouraged to look into Derby Lite (a non-contact exercise class on skates). Skaters can learn skills there that will help them be prepared for tryouts next year. We are also always looking for volunteers for officiating jobs, both on and off skates. You can always get more info on our website.


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