Petersburg Pilot -

Rollers take first in Ketchikan

 

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The Petersburg Ragnarök Roller were all smiles last weekend in Ketchikan where they earned a first place finish. Back row: Angela "Pink Slammin'" Christensen, Alice "LewdaFrisk" Williams, Rebecca "Midlife Tigress" Anderson, Sarah Johnson, Angela "Dark Flow Rideher" Denning and Annette "Wonder Wooton" Wooton. Front row: Sheena "Machine-uh" Cook and Rachel "aRachNophobia" Newport.

The Petersburg Ragnarök Rollers earned the championship at the team's second bout of the season last weekend in Ketchikan. Petersburg took on the Sitka Shee Devils and Ketchikan Rainforest Rollergirls during the one-day tournament, and it was two skaters' first competitive bout.

"It was going into the unknown, but overall it was an amazing experience," says Sheena Cook, one of the girls skating in a bout for the first time. "I thought it was going to be super stressful, but everybody just kind of rallies around you, and you just get out there and get beat up a little bit."

Cook says the bout left her a little black and blue, but she would not change a thing, except maybe practicing her lateral movements and improving her footwork a little more before the team's next match. Effective communication with teammate Rachel Newport eased Cook's transition from practice to bout. Cook says Newport's communication is so good that many times all the pair needed to do was make eye contact to give guidance.

Cook started skating with the squad a year ago, after renting a pair of skates from Skate of Gear, and slowly worked her way up to competing by putting in a lot of practice. Cook credits the team's roller derby program with teaching her how to skate and gain confidence in her abilities-that and all the support Ragnarök Rollers veteran Angela Christensen gives to teach beginners footwork and balance.

"It's great preparation. They don't throw you in without lots of support, so that's a very healthy way of doing it," Cook says. "My goal was to have a bout one time within the first year, and I've reached that goal, which is pretty big."

Cook says the support between opposing teams was also great to see. Women were high fiving and hugging before and after the whistle blew, keeping in line with one of the main goals of the sport-empowering women to be confident. Cook's involvement in the sport has helped her grow personally. She did not play sports in high school and considers herself more of a passive person.

"It's incredible how kind everyone involved is," she says. "I used to have a lot of problems with being close to people, or physical approximation, and this has completely changed my life around in that way because its helped me out with a lot of that anxiety."

The Rollers' won their first game against Ketchikan, 160-89, fielding a team of eight skaters against the Rainforest Rollergirls' five. Having less skaters really put the pressure on Ketchikan, but it did not mean an easy win for Petersburg.

"We were exhausted with playing eight, and it was pretty admirable to see their team keeping it together and working really hard," says Alice Williams. "The sportsmanship was amazing and it was really, really awesome."

The next game pitted Petersburg against the Sitka Shee Devils. This time the tables were turned with Sitka fielding a team of 11 to Petersburg's eight. The Ragnarök Rollers ran into a couple bad stretches where they were prone to picking up penalties and were often left playing defense while the team's jammer was in the penalty box. Petersburg ended up losing the bout 117-99, as the jammer penalties gave the Shee Devils ample opportunity to score points, Williams says.

The teams played again for the championship, and Petersburg ended up taking the title, 203-132. Part of the bout that really impressed Williams was the effort of teammate Angela Denning who led the team on a 35-3 run, giving them a comfortable 114-60 lead heading into halftime.

Williams says a recent boot camp with a trainer nicknamed Freight Train of the Texas Rollergirls really helped the team prepare for last weekend's bouts. Also having Cook and Sarah Johnson, the other skater taking part in her first bout, was great and the pair really exceeded expectations. The girls were up for anything, took direction well and were not afraid to jump right in to the action, she says.

"I remember my first game. I remember how nervous I was and so I was, like, wow you guys don't seem nervous at all," Williams says. "They did really well."

The next bout for the team will be the state matches in Wasilla later this month. Anyone interested in trying the sport is welcome to see what it's like during weekly practices on Wednesday and Sunday night at the community gym.

 

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