Out & About: Upper Valley roller derby is back

By LIZ SAUCHELLI

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 08-16-2023 10:05 PM

WOODSTOCK — It’s good to be back. That’s the feeling among members of Twin State Derby, the Upper Valley’s roller derby league, which is nearing the end of its first season back since the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have tons of new rookies who are training up,” said Kristi Clemens, a member of the league’s leadership board.

The league’s main team, the Vixens, will compete against the Hartford (Conn.) Area Roller Derby team during a game Saturday at Union Arena, located at 80 Amsden Way in Woodstock. Doors open at 3:30 p.m. and the game will run from 4 to 6 p.m. Admission is $12 for attendees age 13 and older; $5 for children ages five to 12, seniors and veterans; and free for children under five. Tickets can be purchased at the door or online at tsd2023.bpt.me.

For those who can’t make it to Saturday’s game — or want to attend both remaining home games of the season — the Vixens will take on the Bay State Brawlers on Saturday, Sept. 9, at Union Arena. More information can be found at twinstatederby.com.

The team had its first match of the season back in April and attendance was strong, which has continued throughout the season, Clemens said. As new members join the league, they bring along their families and friends who are eager to watch them compete, which strengthens Twin State Derby’s fan base.

“Our crowds have been really great,” Clemens said.

In addition to returning athletes, there has been more interest from people who are new to the sport. Attendance and interest in the league’s Derby 101 class has been strong; a new class starts up on Sunday, Sept. 17.

“During the pandemic, so many people took up roller skating thanks to TikTok and other social media,” Clemens said. Twin State Derby has between 50 and 55 members, who serve various roles, including serving as officials. “We get exposed to a whole new group in the Upper Valley that didn’t know about us before.”

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Twin State Derby was founded in 2010 and is part of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association. It is open to women, transgender women, intersex women, gender expansive and nonbinary participants ages 18 and up. Many of Twin State Derby’s newest recruits are “starting to skew a little younger,” Clemens said.

Clemens emphasized that those who do not want to compete can also be part of roller derby: There’s a need for trainers, officials, coaches and other volunteers.

“Anyone who is willing to be part of this and work hard and be around some cool people, we’ll find a place for you,” Clemens said. “It’s an important type of community that goes beyond the work on the track.”

Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@vnews.com or 603-727-3221.