Crouched low, Noelle “Skate Wolf” Long, with her ripped tights and black helmet, darts through the pack of girls. Her teammates huddle around her, blocking the opposing skaters with a slight elbow or nudge, enabling her to break free of the crowd.
The Sin City Junior Roller Girls have come to Las Vegas, and these roller girls show that they have all the might their predecessors, The Sin City Roller Derby Girls, had.
The Junior Roller Girls are Las Vegas’ first roller derby team for young women and was created just two years ago. These girls might be rough and tough, yet they were not always this skilled.
Long, a Sierra Vista sophomore, was the unofficial first member of the Sin City Junior Rollers. After watching her mom, Melanie “Stardust Dunes” Long, skate on the Tommy Gun Terrors, a team in the adult league, Noelle wanted to compete, too. She and her mother started the league two years ago, which is now the only junior league in Las Vegas that is composed of two practicing teams and one competing team.
Because her mom is a coach, Noelle Long has always had plenty of help with strategies.
“I love derby because it’s different from the sports normally offered,” she says. “It’s like a fight on skates!”
Her enthusiasm has helped recruit other local girls into the sport.
The Sin City Junior Roller Girls consist of two teams of young women, ages 10-17.
The sport is played on roller skates, in a circular track, with teams composed of four defensive players and one jammer (indicated by a star on her helmet). The goal is to have your team’s jammer make it through the offensive “pack” and also lap the other team’s jammer.
The first time your jammer passes the “pack” no points are scored. But after that, your jammer scores one point for every offensive player she passes and five points per jammer. The round ends after 2 minutes or when the jammer “calls off the jam” by placing her hands on her hips. Since the object of the match is to push your jammer past the opposing team, this fast-paced, full-contact sport packs plenty of hits.
Dylan “Cosmo Bruises” Baker joined roller derby just three months ago in order to “try something different.” Her first few practices were “rough to say the least.” Despite the initial struggle, Baker now skates skillfully among teammates.
Because it has so much physical contact, Baker was initially worried she wouldn’t enjoy roller derby. But after the first practice her mood changed.
“It’s hard to explain,” she says. “(Roller derby) is addicting and I felt confident when I skate.”
The Sin City Junior Roller Girls many not be your average teenagers, but their passion is infectious.
During practice they cheer one another on by their derby names. At the end of practice, the skaters choose an MVP of the day.
Coach Long stresses that “the girls have to be close if they want to feel comfortable blocking each other during practice.”
Though the girls are close, the team is excited to welcome new members in hopes that they will become a larger league.