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Suburbia Roller Derby Set To Start Season In Yonkers

Westchester County's Suburbia Roller Derby team, similar to the group pictured above, will begin their season Saturday at the P.A.L. building in Yonkers.
Westchester County's Suburbia Roller Derby team, similar to the group pictured above, will begin their season Saturday at the P.A.L. building in Yonkers. Photo Credit: Flickr user Gamma Man

YONKERS, N.Y. – A group of rough-and-tough ladies are set to take the rink Saturday in Yonkers during the home debut of the roller derby season.

The Suburban Brawl, a collection of talent from Westchester County and the surrounding area, will kick off play inside the Police Athletic League on North Broadway at 7 p.m. when the team takes on Pennsylvania’s Black Rose Rollers.

The Suburban Brawl is a traveling team of all-stars from Westchester County's Suburbia Roller Derby League.  The league features about 60 women, ranging in age from just more than 20 to more than 60 who hail from places such as Westchester and Putnam counties and New York City.

By day, they work as therapists, housewives or lawyers. But when they hit the track and lace up their skates, all bets are off.

“The derby is for anyone who wants it,” said Jane McManus, an Ossining resident and skater on Suburbia’s Backyard Bullies team. “If you’re ready to put in the time and put your body on the line then there’s a place for you.”

The rough-and-tumble contact sport, in which bumps and bruises are a guarantee, consists of a series of short match-ups, called “jams.”  Each team has a designated “jammer,” or scoring player, who scores points by navigating her way through members of the opposing team, lapping them as the teams skate around the track.

In the process, each team is bumping, shoving and elbowing their way through the field of skaters, hoping to assist their jammer while slowing down the other.

McManus said it is comparable to football, with the jammer being the equivalent of a running back.

“You’re using leverage to move people out of the way and create gaps,” she said. “It’s real tactics, not just chaos.”

McManus said she was introduced to the derby while working as a sports reporter for the Journal News .  After covering a match, which are called bouts, she said she was hooked. Now a football writer at ESPN, McManus said preparing for derby action is a big time commitment.

The Suburban Brawl began prepping for the season opener in January, dedicating as much as six days a week to practice, conditioning and the like.

“It’s really an athletic sport,” said McManus, who when skating goes by the name Leslie Evisserate. “There is a possibility you could get hurt so you really have to be in top shape and well prepared.”

Many of the skaters, such as McManus, were once basketball, soccer or lacrosse players, traditional athletes who are looking to keep that competitive spirit alive.

“It’s really a lot of fun,” she said.

The doors will open Saturday at the P.A.L. building, 127 North Broadway, at 6 p.m. The bout will begin an hour later. Tickets are $15 for general admission.

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