Carina Adams gave her heart to the sport of roller derby – almost literally.

In the fall of 2015, Adams suffered a heart ailment that forced her off roller skates, possibly for the rest of her life. That might have been the end of roller derby, not just for Adams, but for anyone in the Twin Cities with interest in the sport.

It didn’t turn out that way, though. By the time Adams was sidelined, she had already set up the Androscoggin Fallen Angels, a roller derby league that has been steadily increasing in popularity.

Now, with the league turning three years old, Adams is as involved as ever, even if she had to put her on-rink persona behind her. Adams told us plenty, from the origins of the league to the finer points of the game itself, with a bonus of a sizzling romance on the side.

Read on to find out what THAT’S all about.

How did you get into roller derby? One spring morning in 2015, I was talking with a co-worker who had recently moved to Lewiston-Auburn, when she mentioned that she’d played roller derby. I was in awe. Derby girls were inspiring and tough and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. The more she told me, the more I wanted to be a member of her world.

Yet, there wasn’t a local league. While derby fascinated me, I didn’t know the rules; hell, I didn’t really know anything about the sport at all. Plus, I hadn’t been on skates since I was a kid. I knew there was no way that I would be brave enough to drive an hour to Portland and try out for Maine Roller Derby’s Fresh Meat. It turned out I wasn’t the only one.

That simple conversation sparked a bigger one and lead to a group of seven friends deciding that there was one major thing missing in the cities of the Androscoggin. Determined to bring the world of flat track roller derby to Lewiston, we recruited as many people as we could to form an all-inclusive competitive sports team.

The Androscoggin Fallen Angels were born.

And here we are, about to celebrate our third birthday.

How would you describe the sport for those who’ve never experienced it? Roller derby is a full-contact sport-on roller skates. It’s also a team sport that relies heavily on strategy and skill. The people who play this game are dedicated, tough and talented. I think that it’s a sport everyone needs to experience for themselves.

Was your league popular from the get-go? Unfortunately, no. We’re steadily building up our fan base, but the sport was relatively unknown in the greater Lewiston/Auburn area. We are about to host our second bout this year, The Slam-I-Versary (on March 31 at the Lewiston Armory), and I’m always surprised when someone tells me they had no idea there is a roller derby league here. I hope we’re able to change that over the next few years and that AFA becomes a household name.

Do you have any roller derby battle scars? I do have a few. The biggest is the one people can’t see.

In the fall of 2015, not long after we’d started the league, I passed out. I’d been training pretty aggressively for a Tough Mudder, skating with AFA, and barely sleeping in order to make a deadline, so I assumed it was exhaustion.

It was my heart.

I was determined to do whatever I could to get back on skates. After two operations and many failed attempts at treatment, my cardiology team is pretty confident in their assessment that I’ll never be cleared to bout. I still haven’t given up on that dream though.

I had two options. Accept defeat and walk away from derby, or stick with the league and the sport I absolutely adore and do whatever I could to help AFA. I chose the later and became the first official “off skates” member.

I may not be on skates, but I participate in everything else – from offering a sympathetic ear to off-skates workouts to league get-togethers. Last summer the members of AFA elected me to be their president, so I’m pretty busy.

We’re always recruiting volunteers, and now have other “off skates” members so I’m not alone.

Word on the street is that you also write steamy novels? I do. Funny story, really. I’ve always wanted to write, to see my name on the cover of a book. My teachers and college professors encouraged that dream anyway they could, often pushing me out of my comfort zone, but I never thought I’d get to do it full time.

I was working on the next great American thriller when I hit a nasty wall of writer’s block. I decided to give up writing and focus on my other career – my real job.

My husband suggested that I write contemporary romances. I laughed, balking at the idea. Then, I sat down and wrote my first published book in no time at all, just to prove to him I couldn’t sell it, that no one would want to read it.

The joke was on me. The first book did OK. The second better. The third, “Forever Red,” sat on Amazon’s Overall Best Seller’s list, earning me top five for a few weeks. It was a dream come true.

I’ve published five more books since then, from contemporary romance to steamy hot love affairs, to a dark romance about surviving domestic violence. They’re not all huge sellers, but I have the best job in the world, and I’m so thankful for that.

Carina Adams, president of the Androscoggin Fallen Angels, celebrates her birthday in the same month as her roller derby league. (Sun Journal/Andree Kehn)

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