Three nights a week, you can find a group of about 10 skaters at Suniland Roller Hockey Rink off US-1. They’re not high schoolers, like the other people who practice in the rink. They’re full-time professionals and students who also happen to be a part of Miami’s only roller derby team, Vice City Rollers.
By the time they leave the rink, they’re all soaked in sweat, flushed and smiling, poking fun at each other as they get in their cars and drive back to their normal lives.
“It’s sisterhood and then some,” said Leah Barsanti, a middle school teacher and playwright who joined the league two years ago as “fresh meat,” the derby term for newbies.
The Miami team was founded in 2011 by Kristen “De La Ruthless” De La Rua and Jessica “Tallygator” Diaz. De La Rua had played roller derby for years and both had most recently been playing for a team in Broward. The Miami league started with a juniors team and as it gained interest, the women’s team was formed.
Vice City Rollers will train anyone, from beginners to Olympics-level skaters, and make sure they are ready before throwing them into an intense bout against another team. Depending on the level of experience, a skater should spend three to six months training before playing in a match because derby is a contact sport.
Once a newbie has been trained and rostered, they earn to right to create a “derby name,” a badass, typically inappropriate name for the alter ego they adopt on the track. Barsanti, alias “Blink1SK8E2,” plays alongside “Assaulty Peanut,” “Gritty Critty” and “Tear N Tease Her,” to name a few.
The goal of the game is for one person – the jammer – to pass as many people on the opposing team as possible. Think of it as Nascar, but with people instead of cars. For each person the jammer passes, their team earns a point.
Not only do the players practice with the league, but everyone also helps run the nonprofit side of the organization. Members promote Vice City Rollers using social media, attending community events and mostly, by talking about derby.
“If you get a derby girl to talk about derby, she will not stop,” said Jessica “Shakesfear” Giraldo, secretary and head of marketing for the team.
Vice City Rollers’ home season runs from January to May, and they play one bout a month. The next match is on Saturday, March 25, against the Brandentucky Bombers from Bradenton, Fla. The team will be collecting new socks and underwear for Miami Rescue Mission at the game.