Androscoggin Fallen Angels’ The Inferno’s Erin Lynch (aka “Queen Bootycca”), far right, slips past Central Maine Derby’s Northwoods Knockouts’ Defense during a May bout at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

LEWISTON — The roller derby season of the Androscoggin Fallen Angels’ The Inferno is concluding with the team’s final bout Saturday.

The Inferno team belongs to the Androscoggin Fallen Angels league. The team has 15 players and the league has around 50. The league isn’t sanctioned, but that doesn’t mean The Inferno is any less competitive than teams in sanctioned leagues.

A main reason for that is the team’s chemistry. Team captains Erin Lynch (aka “Queen Bootycca”) and Katie-Marie Hill (aka “Slim Katie”) are leading the team into the “Sun Block and Roll” match against Rock Coast Rollers on Saturday at 5 p.m. at the Norway Savings Bank Arena in Auburn. Admission is free.

Both captains spend time during bouts as jammers, which means they try to skate through the opposing team without getting stopped by players who are using their hips and shoulders to impede. Jammers have four other blockers on the floor with her helping clear a path.

When jamming, Lynch doesn’t think about much else. In fact, she says she doesn’t have a thought. 

“Jamming requires a certain amount of masochism,” Lynch said. “You have a target painted on your back. I kind of try to just shut my brain off and do what the training has taught me what to do. I trust what I’ve learned how to do. If I start thinking too hard about it then I become a lot less successful.”

Lynch joined the team two-and-a-half years ago after seeing a poster about an informational meeting. Lynch has since been the head captain of the league and now, this year, is the captain of The Inferno.

Hill started playing roller derby in Kansas. She then took a hiatus and, about a year ago, joined The Inferno’s Derby 101 program, then the Contact Learning program, both about four months long, and started playing on the team two months ago. 

Katie-Marie Hill (aka “Slim Katie”), wearing the purple helmet cover with the jammer star, breaks through the pack at a recent scrimmage with her Androscoggin Fallen Angels team, The Inferno. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Hill’s first bout happened to be The Inferno’s win over Worcester Roller Derby on June 15. Not usually a jammer, Hill tried it out during the match and fell in love. 

“I was scared, but whenever I am jamming as opposed to blocking I feel like I am super-focused and I am not thinking about anything else but the hole that I can get through,” Hill said. “My mind puts out a grid and I go, ‘OK, this is where I’m gonna go and this is what is going to plug into there.’ I don’t really think about anyone else that is trying to hit me or move me out of the way because I am only thinking of how I can get through.

“My mind just goes blank. I just trust that the blockers are going to do their job and I can zoom right by.”

Hill trusts her team because of the practice the players put in. The Inferno practice a couple of times a week and work on plays, situational game plans, and everything in-between. The game is “fluid,” as Lynch calls it, so the plays get noticed after a couple tries. 

Nevertheless, the constant practice has shown the fruits of The Inferno’s labor. The team is coming off its first win, Lynch said, “In a while.”

“I love roller derby,” Lynch said. “It feels really good to win. … People say that it’s not about winning. I try to stay in the mindset of either I win or I learn, but it feels really good to win.”

On Saturday, both Lynch and Hill plan to jam as the team is down two usual jammers, one injured and one gone for work. 

Hill is ready to jam again on the team she’s fit with effortlessly. 

“They are real close,” Hill said. “It was different when I came in here because our other team wasn’t as bonded and this team; you go in and you feel like these are my friends and you automatically just click with somebody. I felt like that with at least a handful of people. Everybody greets you and everybody tells you how well you are doing in practice.”

filed under: