Long Island Roller Rebels addicted to a bruising sport

The Rock-A-Betty Bruisers, a team that's part of

The Rock-A-Betty Bruisers, a team that's part of the Long Island Roller Rebels, compete against the Beat Down team from the Jersey Shore Roller Girls at Skate Safe America in Old Bethpage on May 3, 2014. Photo Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

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Lauren Madonia said she was looking for a team-oriented sport in 2005 when a friend told her, "I have two words for you: roller derby." Nearly a decade later, Madonia has three words for herself: "It's an addiction."

Madonia, of Lindenhurst, is a founder of the Long Island Roller Rebels, a flat-track roller derby league whose members have alter-ego personas with nicknames like Attackacardic, Lucille Wrecking Ball, Account DeeRacula, Wushu Sugar and Femme&M.

Their derby names are often a take on what the members, who number more than 30, do for a living. Madonia, 33, is a medical biller whose name -- Captain Morgan -- reflects her role in creating the league. There is a programmer and an accountant, a health care worker and a receptionist. One team member is a phlebotomist -- a blood collector -- for the American Red Cross. Which, all things considered, probably is more than a little ironic.

The league competes on two teams -- the All Stars and the Rock-A-Betty Bruisers -- in the international Women's Flat Track Derby Association. Matches are held about once a month, usually on Saturdays, at Skate Safe America in Old Bethpage. On Sunday, the Roller Rebels host a team from Helsinski, Finland (the game starts at noon; tickets are $5 at the door).

Whoever is playing, don't expect anything resembling the 1972 "Kansas City Bomber" movie classic with Raquel Welch.

"It tends to attract women who didn't play team sports before," said Juliana Gonzales, executive director of the Austin, Texas-based derby association. "Traditional notions of femininity and size tend to be discarded."

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Madonia saw that for herself when her friend dragged her to a match between teams from the top-ranked Manhattan-based Gotham Girls Roller Derby.

"It was just so cool," Madonia recalled. "These girls were all dressed up, beating the crap out of each other. . . . It looked like a lot of fun."

Others must think so, too.


There are 243 member leagues -- in Holland, England, Scotland, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Norway, New Zealand, Canada, Colombia, Australia and France -- and more than 30,000 competitors in three divisions, Gonzales said. Long Island has one of the most active leagues, she added.

Games consist of two 30-minute periods. There are penalties, and tripping and slide-tackling are prohibited.

Madonia said she has broken ribs and a foot and has lost count of her bumps and bruises. She gave birth to daughter Adelyn about two months ago, but motherhood and pending nuptials aren't the only things on her mind.

"I just had a baby and the first thing I thought was, 'I can't wait to get back out there.' "

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