UK faculty participate in sports league

By Amelia Orwick

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One seemingly innocent UK faculty member just might prefer to trade in her business suit for a pair of skates and a helmet.

Five UK faculty members help make up the Roller Girls of Central Kentucky, otherwise known as ROCK.

The team opened its fourth season Saturday with a victory over the Little City Roller Girls at the Lexington Convention Center.

Roller derby is a contact sport in which two teams of roller skaters race in formation around an oval track.

A so-called “bout” consists of two 30-minute periods. Within these two periods are “jams,” or periods in which a “jammer” fights her way through a pack of skaters to score points.

Meg Marquis, senior academic coordinator in the Honors Program, has been with the team since its formation in 2007.

“I got involved when I decided I needed something outside work and parenting, and I remembered reading about the flat-track derby revolution years before,” Marquis said.

Marquis was awarded MVP Jammer in Saturday’s bout. Her teammate, Hannah Trusty, who works in the UK AMSTEMM office, won MVP Blocker.

Each team member selects her own nickname, for competition. Amanda DeBord, who works in the College of Law, decided on the name Sugar Shock when Def Leppard’s hit single, “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” came on during open skate one afternoon. Marquis is known as Rainbow Smite, while Trusty goes by Kitty O’Doom.

Although the names may prompt some to laugh, the sport is not to be taken lightly. The danger of injury is always lurking, DeBord said.

“We do our best to teach skaters to be safe, and we require protective equipment, but injuries still happen,” DeBord said.

“We’ve seen concussions, broken fingers, broken ankles and some of the nastiest scrapes and bruises you can imagine.”

Despite the possibility of bumps and bruises, roller derby continues to gain popularity. Movies like “Whip It,” that feature the sport, have helped increase awareness. However, not everyone wants to see it become conventional.

There is an interesting argument within the derby culture about it becoming mainstream. Some people really want to see it treated like other sports, while others love that it’s a little different,” Trusty said.

Roller derby is different in the sense that everything is organized and managed by the competitors themselves. It is known as a DIY, or “do it yourself” sport.

“While ‘Whip It’ has helped bring the sport to the public eye a little bit, it’s the grassroots nature of the sport that is having more of an effect,” Marquis said.

The ladies of ROCK even have the support of the people of Lexington, including Mayor Jim Gray. Gray was scheduled to blow the first whistle at the bout Saturday, but fell ill. He will make up for his absence by attending the bout on June 4.

“It means a lot to me to see faculty, staff and students at bouts cheering me on. I also think it speaks highly of the culture of acceptance at UK,” Marquis said.

All of the women agreed that the sport brings something extra to their lives.

“We bust our butts to be good at this, but we’re just regular women who want something more from life,” DeBord said. “Until I get paid to skate, though, you’ll find me in the law building Monday through Friday, 8 (a.m.) to 5 (p.m.).”

The ROCKers will compete in nine more bouts this season,They hope to improve from last season.

“We have finally gotten to a point where we are established enough to have a great mix of experienced vets and really talented newbies,” Trusty said. “As we grow, we look for tougher competition as well.”