FoCo Roller Derby offers many options for participants

By Shelley Widhalm

The Surveyor

Before joining FoCo Roller Derby, Meagan Brockmeier of Berthoud hadn’t skated before, and she soon realized she didn’t like getting hurt.

So Brockmeier decided to be a jam referee, working the center of the rink while the other players compete.

Photo by Shelley Widhalm – Meagan Brockmeier of Berthoud is one of the referees for FoCo Roller Derby based in Fort Collins. She poses July 11 in downtown Berthoud wearing some of her gear, including her quad skates and swag sweatshirt with the team logo and her team number of 27.

“I don’t actually play derby,” Brockmeier said. “I’m an official. I’m not out there getting hit. I realized I didn’t enjoy getting hit. When you do get hit, it can be painful.”

Brockmeier joined the all-female team in February after moving to Berthoud a year ago from Coos Bay, Ore. She works at American Family Insurance as an office manager and wanted a way to make friends and stay in shape.

“It’s a really good way to be physically active,” Brockmeier said. “It’s excellent cardio. It works a lot of your lower body.”

But players do not have to be fit to start. “You do not have to be in any sort of physical shape to play derby. There are a lot of players of different body types,” according to Brockmeier. “That’s what I really like about derby. It’s really inclusive with the people who can play; different genders, different ages, and different (levels of) physical fitness.”

For players to be good at the game they need to practice and work out. Brockmeier lifts weights and does High Intensity Interval Training. The players practice at the Rollerland Skate Center, 324 S. Link Lane in Fort Collins, and new players can join during new-recruit information nights. The next one is 6:30 p.m. Aug. 19 at the skate center. Interested players also can observe scrimmages or attend bouts or tournaments, with several teams competing.

“Anybody can join, and then what happens is as you progress through the practices, your coaches will test the skills you need to advance to the next level,” Brockmeier said.

New players advance from practice to playing scrimmages and bouts, as long as they meet the attendance requirements.

“They’re not going to throw you in there before you’re ready,” Brockmeier said. “There’s lots and lots of practice.”

The team practices and participates in scrimmages each week of the season, which is January to November. It competes in bouts against teams from Colorado and nearby states in home and away games. Because of a brewery theme, the team calls its home games Ale Marys — the upcoming games will be Aug. 24, Oct. 13, Nov. 2 and Nov.30 at the Thomas M. McKee 4-H Building. New recruits are called Fresh Hops.

“Visually, it’s really exciting,” Brockmeier said. “It’s a lot of people on skates, physically interacting with each other.”

The game has several types of players. The jammer, who wears a star on her helmet cover, which is called a panty, scores points by lapping opposing team members. Four blockers form the pack, trying to prevent the opposing jammer from passing while helping their team’s jammer to pass. They use hip checks and shoulder bumps to try to physically prevent the jammer from getting through.

The game is played in two 30-minute sessions, and each jam is two minutes long, where the jammer aims to score as many points as possible.

There also is a pivot, a blocker with a stripe on her panty, who can be converted to a jammer when the star panty is passed to her. Other team members include the jam referees and non-skating officials, or NSOs.

“When you’re playing the game, you get knocked down,” Brockmeier said. “It’s a full- contact sport.”

The players have numbers and come up with a derby name. Brockmeier’s number is 27 and her derby name is Trippin, which she thought of when she tripped up the stairs at home.

“I love how supportive my derby family is,” Brockmeier said. “We do a lot of team-building exercises.”

The team participates in parades and other community events. Brockmeier puts on her skates to travel around Berthoud, and to play Pokémon Go.

“I think that it is eye-catching, so when you’re skating around, people are looking at you and wondering about roller derby, and that’s a cool feeling to have,” Brockmeier said.

There is a monthly membership fee to join, plus a skate and equipment purchase, including knee and elbow pads, wrist guards, and helmets for the boutfits. To get started, recruits can borrow equipment or purchase inexpensive equipment locally.

For more information, visit focorollerderby.org.

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