LEWISTON — “Leif Mia Lone” and “Dinah Fire” have competed in roller derby bouts across the country against some of the world’s best players.

Competing against teams from Sydney, Australia, Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Auckland, New Zealand, these two athletes know good roller derby when they see it.

Desiree Snow, or “Leif Mia Lone,” her roller derby stage name, was raised in Lewiston but moved to Fayetteville, North Carolina in 2007. Kat Ference (“Dinah Fire”) is from Boulder, Colorado. Both have moved to Maine within the past year and both have found a home playing for the Androscoggin Fallen Angels roller derby team in Lewiston.

After a short stint with Portland’s Maine Roller Derby back in 2006, Snow settled into AFA in July of last year after returning home.

In Fayetteville, Snow played in Division 3 of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association for Fayetteville Roller Derby. Division 2 holds the 41st-through-60th ranked teams, while the top 40 compete in Division 1.

Ference played for the Boulder County Bombers, a D2 team that played against some of the world’s best. Living in West Gardiner now, Ference has been practicing with AFA for about a month after choosing AFA over Portland’s more experienced team, in part because of location. What made Snow and Ference stay, beyond the convenience, was the atmosphere around this “newbie” group.

“It’s like a big family here,” Snow said. “I am glad a team opened up here. Coming here was really welcoming, like a giant family.”

“Ultimately, I like this team,” Ference agreed. “They’re super friendly and welcoming and it is closer, but that’s not the only reason… I feel really embraced.”

Ference joined the Boulder County Bombers when that team first growing, in 2011. In 2017, the Bombers played in “The Big O Tournament” in Eugene, Oregon and competed against teams from around the world in D1, after having competed in the D2 playoffs in 2016, defeating Kansas City, Chicago, and Houston en route to finishing in fifth. Ference saw the rise of her D2 squad and finds a lot of similarities to the Lewiston-based outfit.

“It’s a huge difference in terms of level from a Division 2 team to a newbie league,” Ference said. “When I started in 2011, the league was new. In that kind of way, I feel like I have gone back to 2011 with the way they started. But that’s really exciting because the Boulder team, from 2012-2017, exploded and grew, so I can see this team and league doing the same thing so that’s exciting to be a part of that growth again.”

Snow endured a similar progression with Fayetteville Roller Derby, helping to grow the team from the bottom, up. Snow’s experience in roller derby bouts is valuable to her hometown team.

“One of our biggest contributions is being at practices and going through game-play scenarios and helping explain to them why you would do this instead of that,” Snow said. “One thing that will help them continue growing is the experience that comes from game-play and game situations.”

Roller derby has been growing as a sport and is being taken more seriously. Snow described it as “playing chess while having bricks thrown at you.”

With AFA being a new, growing team, players are finding which position they prefer on the track, whether as a blocker or a jammer. Ference has only been able to attend a couple of practices so far.

“We paid a rental fee in Boulder so we could practice five or six times a week,” Ference said. “Here, we practice four and a half hours, or about half the time in Boulder, but that has to do with space and facilities. It’s the only thing holding us back in any way.”

While the sport remains serious, one thing that remains from the sport’s past and that keeps things light are the nicknames, or “derby names” — personas of sorts — the athletes assume.

“When derby came back, part of it was the fun, show-boaty names,” Snow said. “Now it’s evolved into less showboaty stuff and now it’s more competitive.”

“They’re kind of a hanger-on to the earlier era, but they’re so much fun,” Ference added. “Who wants to get rid of them?”

AFA coach AJ Caron, or “Tugboat,” said the biggest challenge has been giving everyone the right amount of attention during the team’s practices.

“One of the things about coaching that is difficult is making sure everybody’s needs are met, because we have players at all different levels,” Caron said. “It’s really exciting because I have kind of been around since a lot of them have been starting. It’s good to see everyone progressing.”

The Fallen Angels’ next bout is their “Slam-i-versary Bout,” taking place Saturday at the Lewiston Armory at 5:30 p.m. in celebration of AFA’s third season. The local squad will battle Central Maine Derby of Bangor for the first time. Doors open at 5 p.m., and tickets are $8 for adults, $5 for kids aged 6-17 and are available at the door.


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