NOVA Roller Derby kicked off a doubleheader June 15 with an inter-league coed mixer between the red and blue teams.
The blue team - led by jammers nicknamed Swede Demon, Ice Tease, Tastee Freeze and Loose Wheel Brawl - scored early and often in a 70-32 victory over the red team at the Michael & Son Sportsplex at Dulles.
“It was a great time,” said red team member Kona Gallagher, better known as Shevil Dead. “We’re all friends outside of the rink, so win or lose it’s just a way to be athletic and have a lot of fun.”
Roller derby is a physical, quick-paced, roller skating sport that takes place on a flat, oval track in which two teams of five skaters attempt to score points in 90-second rounds called jams.
“What you see when you come out here is a very family friendly environment,” Gallagher said. “We have kids everywhere; kids six and under get in free. There is a lot of hitting, a lot of action happening.”
The action starts when the scoring jammers attempt to skate past the pack of skaters, made up of blockers and pivots, to pick up the “lead jammer” position. Once a jammer becomes a “lead jammer,” the skater receives points for every member of the opposing team he or she laps.
“Roller derby really shows that you can be from all walks of life and still be athletic,” Gallagher said referencing that people of all ages and genders can compete. “It gives people positive role models saying that even if you were a drama or science person in high school you can come out here and be athletic and have a good time.”
While roller derby was the focus June 15, spectators were asked to bring miniature American flags to the doubleheader as NOVA Roller Derby helped the cause of a Leesburg icon and role model: Mike “the Leesburg Flag Man” Sanders.
“NOVA Roller Derby’s motto is ‘Skate Hard and Give Back,’” Gallagher said. “Every month we have a new charity. Because this is our last bout before the Fourth of July, we have a patriotic theme. We’re doing an untraditional bout, not a charity in itself, and we’re supporting the Leesburg Flag Man.”
Sanders, who is frequently seen biking through the streets of Leesburg with the stars and stripes on board, has become a staple in Leesburg since his start as the Leesburg Flag Man in 2009.
“We’ve been in two wars for 10 years and that’s a long time. I think sometimes when you are in the middle of something, you don’t realize what is going on [in the world],” the 47-year-old Sanders said. “I thought [placing flags] seems like something that needed to be done. My grandfather always told me whenever you see something that needs to be done, you need to do it.”
Placing flags around Leesburg is a hobby for the retired airmen who now works intelligence in Chantilly and even says his bike riding trumps his flag planting as a pastime. Yet, above all, Sanders says comes his patriotism.
“The flags to me mean ‘we.’ One of the things that I hope is that we keep it meaning ‘we’ and don’t flip it over becoming a ‘me’ culture,” Sanders said. “‘We’ is all about us doing it together."
Sanders does not plan on giving up his role as the Leesburg Flag Man anytime soon, thanking the people of Loudoun for their support.
“Since I started, I really watch the expressions on peoples’ faces and they let me know it was the right thing to do," Sanders continued. "The smile that I see on peoples’ faces, wow, it’s the most memorable part.”
The second bout of the doubleheader pitted NOVA's coed travel team, the Skate Troopers against the The Freedom Belles, based in Waldorf, Md. The Skate Troopers rolled to victory, 86-13.
NOVA Roller Derby's next event is a Regional Mixer scheduled for July 27 at the Michael & Son Sportsplex at Dulles.
-All photos by Rick Wasser