Ohio Valley Roller Girls focus on sport’s athleticism

MARTINS FERRY — By day, they work as accountants, dental hygienists, funeral directors and stay-at-home mothers. By night, these women get ready to rumble and tumble as the Ohio Valley Roller Girls.

Taking names such as “Scarlett O’Horror,” “MicPlosion,” “Sl’Otter,” and “Undertaker,” these women are putting a new spin on the full-contact sport of roller derby.

“We have women from all walks of life,” said 28-year-old Moundsville resident Randelle Rennecker. “It’s a lot of fun.”

Rennecker works as a full-time director for a local funeral home, but competes in roller derby under the moniker, “Pocket Rocket.”

“I watched a lot of roller derby when I lived in Colorado,” she said. “When I moved here and found out there was a team, I decided to give it a try.”

The group regularly practices at the Martins Ferry Recreation Center, but uses the James E. Carnes Center near St. Clairsville when competing against other teams. The goal of the game is fairly simple: to allow your team’s “jammer” to pass as many of the opposing team’s “blockers” as possible.

“We call it, controlled chaos,” said Beverly Sims, a 36-year-old stay-at-home mother from McMechen, who uses the name “Scarlett O’Horror” in roller derby.

“I used to play street hockey, so I was used to getting hit. This is a little different, but I really like it.”

“This is a sisterhood. It is about pure heart and determination,” Sims added. “This will take a mouse of a woman and make her a lion.”

Although there are similarities in the roller derby these women play and that played in the 1970s, the women want to focus on more legitimate athletic competition in comparison to the older version, which they believe was more of a show. The track surface is also different from the earlier version because it is flat, rather than banked.

“This is not the derby of the 70s,” Sims said. “We are not on a banked track. These women are real athletes.”

The roller ladies operate under the auspices of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association. Sims said there are strict guidelines regarding training and equipment for competitors.

Due to the physical nature of the sport, a myriad of injuries can occur, although the women said most are relatively minor.

“I’ve had plenty of ‘derby kisses,'” said 39-year-old St. Clairsville resident Jodi Bartnicki, an accountant who plays the sport with the moniker, “Undertaker.” She said a derby kiss is a “really bad bruise.”

“This is really empowering sport. It gives us an activity, and lets you come here and be a whole different person,” Bartnicki said.

“I like hitting people,” said 33-year-old Micki Blazus, who plays under the name, “MicPlosion.” It’s an adrenaline rush.

Sophie “Sl’Otter” Carr is a 22-year-old stay-at-home mom from Cadiz.

“It has really helped me open up and become more comfortable with who I am,” Carr said of her time with the team. “It’s not as scary as it seems.”

Jessica “Maiden Hell” Stanton is a 29-year-old retail manager from Wheeling. She is currently nursing a leg injury which occurred during a recent practice, but hopes to compete again.

“Even after we hit each other in practice, we’re still all friends,” she said. “It’s a family dynamic.”

Katie “Kaynein” Schwertfeger is a 23-year-old dental hygienist from Wheeling.

“I used to figure skate and play lacrosse, so I figured this would be a good combination,” she said.

Other team members include Angi “Fire&Fury” Dailey, Cheyenne “Gypsy Jawcrusher” Brown, Ashley Rue “Rewcifer” Williams, Katie “Slippery” Gramlich, and Marie “Spazzarella” West.

Sims said the team’s next bout is not until 7 p.m. Sept. 15 at the Carnes Center. That gives team members time to break in “fresh meat,” which is how they refer to rookies.

“There is no such thing as too little experience. Just give it a try, and I bet you’ll like it,” Sims added.

For more information on the team, go to www.ohiovalleyrollergirls.com, or www. facebook.com/OhioValleyRollerGirls.