TARRYTOWN, N.Y. Tarrytown resident Karen Kuhnotherwise known as Dixie Wiskeyfirst became acquainted with roller derby while she was participating in a Halloween parade. Ghoulish rollergirls skated near Kuhn while she was leading her kids through the parade.
Im kind of looking around Who are these crazy people on skates? she said.
Nearly four years later, roller derby has become an integral part in Kuhns life. In addition to being a stay-at-home mom, Kuhn is the Suburbia Roller Derby league president and helps run roller derby tournaments in the region. Shes also a member of the Indian Point Sirens, a local derby team.
Derbys a funny animal, Kuhn said. It almost becomes your life, your new set of friends. We joke around that our husbands, wives and girlfriends are all derby widows because they lose us to derby. My husband actually started skating himselfhe skates in Connecticutso I sort of have this little derby family.
Kuhn also has derby neighbors. When an apartment opened up across the street, she grabbed it for two other women in the league: Slash Borden and Grave Robin. They renamed their street Derby Lane because at 6:15 p.m., theyre all getting their gear bags into the car so they can drive down to the skating center.
Now when things slowly open up, Im trying to get other people in the league to move in so we could just take over, Kuhn said. Itd be fun.
Kuhn says she spends about 20 hours a week working for the league. They also have practice three times a weekalthough Kuhn says its hard for her to attend each one with a husband who also skates and her children.
Its a big commitment, she said. But its worth it.
Roller derby isnt quite what you see in the movies, according to Kuhn. The movie Whip It showcased the camaraderie the women feel, Kuhn said, but they dont have as much physical action. Kuhn noted that roller derby was intense in a competitive way and not a wrestling way.
We dont trip each other, we dont punch each other, Kuhn said. There are rules.
Her favorite part of the sport is how challenging it is. The Womens Flat Track Derby Association makes its own rules, which the skaters vote on. Kuhn says this causes the game to shift a little bit, So youre always on your toes.
Youre playing offense and defense at the same time, she said. Things change, people come up with new strategies. So its never dull. Youre always challenged.
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