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Roller derby is therapy for these women

Skater Torpedo Annie watches her teamates Auror88's 'Love is Battlefield' bout AurorSkate Center. The Divas de las Muertas pulled off

Skater, Torpedo Annie, watches her teamates at the Aurora 88's "Love is a Battlefield" bout at the Aurora Skate Center. The Divas de las Muertas pulled off the victory 214-120 on Sunday, February 17, 2013. | Tim Perroud~For Sun Times Media

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Updated: August 13, 2013 6:16AM



There are days when I just want to scream or put my fist through a wall. I don’t. I go for walks, do yoga, or call my sister. Figuring out how to deal with stress can be a challenge. But there’s a group of women who may have one of the best answers ever for stress relief: roller derby.

The energy it takes to master this sport and successfully outskate other teams lets them leave all stress and aggression at the rink. Our home team, the Aurora 88s, has their first bout of the 2013 travel season this Saturday. It will be a doubleheader against the Barbed Wire Betties and then the Illinois Valley Vixens.

Jennifer Lara, aka Sgt. Spanx said: “I know I am not the only one who has come to practice saying, ugh, what a day, I can’t wait to hit something. Luckily, with derby, you can. Then afterwards, you still have an amazing group of women to hang out with.”

I had the privilege of hanging out with some of these amazing women after one of their practices to talk about roller derby as stress relief.

“At the end of the practice, you’re glad these girls are on your team,” said Charity Hayes, aka Thunder Bunz.

She told me about bruises, wheel prints on your body, and ibuprofen.

“The great thing is, your muscles are rock solid,” she said.

They all agreed that the bruises were well worth it.

“Pain means you’re learning new things,” Lara said.

“Kids go to parties and vent with friends,” explained Heidi Lizyness, the 88s’ president who is also known as Ieata Brains. “Most derby girls are mothers with young to middle school aged children. They need different outlets . . . What other high energy sport can women join at any point in their lives?”

Stormin Stella is 45 with kids who graduated from West Aurora High School.

“I love derby because it is great exercise and a stress reliever,” she said. “It’s also a huge commitment.”

She explained that the 88s are a skater-owned not-for-profit organization. Not only do they practice twice a week, but also serve on committees, raise money, and volunteer within the community.

“Being such a huge personal commitment, it has also helped me learn to pick my battles better off the track,” said Sarah Scholl, aka Mona Nucleosis. “Derby appealed to me at a time in my life when I was under a great deal of stress.”

She explained that after putting heart and soul into her teaching job, she was laid off.

“Derby was a refreshing opportunity to invest myself into something where there would be a payoff after lots of hard work,” she said.

Ashley Davis, aka Boobie Trap, had a different kind of stress: “I have someone who’s really close to me in the Marines, which means he’s overseas and I feel very sad and lonely sometimes . . . . When I skate roller derby, I need to concentrate so hard on the sport itself, I almost forget how much I miss him. Also, being surrounded by all these strong women helps me in dealing with these issues.”

It’s remarkable how these women of all ages and from all walks of life have built such a sense of camaraderie and community, while also providing great entertainment.

The Aurora Skate Center is at 34W113 Montgomery Road in Aurora. Doors open at 5 p.m. and the first bout begins at 5:30 p.m. Admission is $10 in advance and $12 at the door. Advanced tickets can be purchased from any of the derby girls or online at www.yourticketstand.net/tickets/1061. Travel season passes are a true bargain at only $25.

Come cheer on our 88s this Saturday. It will help you de-stress, too.



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