South Miami-Dade

Tough gals: Roller derby players enjoy contact sport


Special to The Miami Herald

For Danielle Shaffner, 33, raising three children with another on the way and having her husband patrol the streets on his police vehicle could be stressful.

That’s why she counts on a sport on wheels for relief: women’s roller derby.

“I let loose and become a little maniac on the rink,” said Shaffner, who is four month pregnant and goes by the name of Pree-T-Manik.

Shaffner, who lives near Palmetto Bay, is one of many professional women competing in Miami’s Vice City Rollers roller derby team. The team was formed back in 2011 and practices at the Palmetto Golf Course hockey rink, 9300 SW 152nd St. in South Miami-Dade.

“It just comes a little naturally,” said Shaffner, who works as a dental assistant and has skated since she was a child. “I love the adrenaline rush. I use it as anger management. It is a great way to make friends and socialize.”

Her pregnancy doesn’t allow her to have contact, so for now, she is taking advantage of the exercising the sport provides.

The team has started their second season on a high note defeating their fist opponent in January.

The game is played on a rink wearing quad roller skates. There are five players to a team. Games consist of a series of short match-ups where a designated player known as a jammer scores points by lapping members of the opposing team, who in turn try to stop the jammer from scoring.

Team president and skater Kristen De La Rua, 30, was instrumental in putting together the team. She and other teammates practiced for Broward’s team, the Gold Coast Derby Grrls. They felt it was only appropriate Miami had a roller derby team.

“Miami needed it’s own team,” she said. “We got a huge response.”

At first, she worried playing because her profession is of a massage therapist, so an injury to the wrist or hands could be costly.

“I was always getting scared because of my career, but I got over it,” she said. “Once I started playing it, it was not that bad.”

Players were recruited using Facebook. Each player pays $40 a month to cover the team’s cost such as paying for the practice location and travel fees.

USA Roller Sports sanctions the games and they play under the Women's Flat Track Derby Association rule set.

Currently, they are playing Florida teams, but plans are to travel and play teams outside of the state and overseas. There are about 30 members. Each player has a nickname that fits their character, but names are earned. The team is still considered amateur.

Edley Duclos is one of few males who practice with the girls. He is a referee and acknowledges the women’s hard work.

“I do it for the exercise, “he said. “Keeping up with these girls is hard.”

Wearing a pink helmet, elbow and knee pads, Marcy Mock skated around with teammates at the outdoor hockey rink, at Coral Reef Drive and U.S. 1.

She goes by the name of Pinky Gomez, 41. She is a graphic designer who travels from North Miami to practice. She says the game could lead to injuries, but the sport’s rush keeps her motivated. She suffered two broken ribs during a game and still came back to finish.

“You get this adrenaline rush that you don’t feel anything,” said Mock, who also teaches spinning classes.

Aside from the competition, Mock said their bond built between teammates and opponents is a great feeling.

“It doesn’t matter who wins,” she said. “You are playing this game and it’s a women’s driven game.”

Their next game is scheduled for March 2. All of their home games are held at the Palmetto Golf Course hockey rink.

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