The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Round and round they go

 

September 14, 2012

CMI staff photo: Gabriel Monte Clovis Roller Derby members start doing laps during a Monday practice session at Hillcrest Park.

To an outsider, the world of roller derby may seem akin to something like wrestling on wheels. Or, in images from movies such as "Rollerball," something worse.

But for a couple of dozen women in Clovis and Portales, roller derby is an adrenaline rush and a physical workout that can hardly be beat by many other activities.

That's how Crystal Johnson, 31, got started in the sport when she was stationed in Alexandria, Va. Just coming off a pregnancy, Johnson was seeking a different way to getting back into shape.

CMI staff photo: Gabriel Monte

Clovis Roller Derby members start doing laps during a Monday practice session at Hillcrest Park.

"It was just an alternate way of working out," said Johnson, an Air Force technical sergeant who transferred to Cannon Air Force Base six months ago. "I didn't want to do the typical running, a bunch of pushups — I just wanted to do something different.

"Roller derby is a true to heart, bona fide full-contact sport. It's a workout and it's a lot of fun," Johnson said. "You work every muscle in your body and some you didn't even know you had."

Upon arriving in New Mexico, Johnson discovered that no local roller derby teams existed in the area. The answer? Johnson and Clovis resident Constance Williams, who moved with her husband from Amarillo a year ago, formed the Clovis Roller Derby league.

Williams, 30, is a stay-at-home mother who said she saw Johnson's advertisement on Craig's List and decided to give it a try.

"I had always wanted to do that. I had seen it on TV as a kid," said Williams, who has since got the blessing from her friends.

"They think it's awesome. They say, 'Constance, you have guts.' It is a rough sport and you can get hurt, I guess that's part of it," Williams said. "Most of us don't have any roller derby experience. The last time I remembered skating, I was 13 and it was with my grandma and cousins at the skating rink."

It's a little bit different now for the 22 women who have joined the league. They have formed a team: The Dirty Curry Prairie Dollz — a name which Johnson said has drawn some criticism, but one which she added that the team members love.

CMI staff photo: Gabriel Monte

Andrea Moore of Clovis, left, helps fellow Clovis Roller Derby member Heather Penrod,skate backwards during a Monday practice session at Hillcrest Park. Moore, also known as "Texas Hurt'em" says skating backwards helps with footwork.

But the team hasn't had an official bout yet, although it is aiming to have an exhibition with an Amarillo squad in early November. Right now, the team members and their lack of roller derby experience are going through training.

"The 22 girls are considered fresh meat," Johnson said. "Right now, we're curing the meat, so to speak. We do have a lot of military active duty and military spouses, but we've got several from Clovis and Portales who aren't affiliated with the base."

Part of the training is how to take a fall, because these things will happen in roller derby.

"You have to take somebody out once in awhile and once in awhile someone will take you out," Johnson said.

CMI staff photo: Gabriel Monte Andrea Moore of Clovis, left, helps fellow Clovis Roller Derby member Heather Penrod,skate backwards during a Monday practice session at Hillcrest Park. Moore, also known as "Texas Hurt'em" says skating backwards helps with footwork.

The Prairie Dollz practice twice a week at Hillcrest Park in Clovis and are hoping to eventually have bouts, the roller derby term for games, at a facility such as Roller World.

But the team is still in the beginning stages, holding car washes to raise money and selecting nicknames for the team members. That's such a common practice in roller derby that a website exists for the athletes to find out if a name has already been taken.

As you might expect, these aren't your ordinary nicknames. A sample from the Clovis contingent includes "Inspector Smashit" (Johnson), "Die-a-Beatus," and "Texas Hurt 'Em."

"We just want to bring some new entertainment to Clovis," Williams said.

 
 

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