Blood, sweat, but no tears were the norm at Skate Safe America Saturday as the Long Island Roller Rebels hosted the second-annual Empire Skate Showdown.
The Roller Rebels, an all-girl roller derby team based at the Old Bethpage rink, welcomed eight other New York State-based teams in exhibition competition.
“It’s more fun for the leagues from New York to hang out because there are so many of us,” said Jaime Mendicino (aka “Chest Blockswell,” her “derby name”), 30, of Farmingville, a three-year veteran of the Roller Rebels. “It’s nice to have us all in the same place at one time.”
Mendicino joined teammates like Devon DeVitto (“Missy Nigma”) to square off against the likes of Roc City Roller Derby foes “Resident Eva” and “Natasha Musquashya.”
The complex was filled with folks of all ages, rooting for their home team or just enjoying the sport. One older gentleman got a lot of laughs sporting a shirt that said, “My kid just skated over your kid.”
Rink 1 hosted the men’s competition, where 15 seconds into the first round, or bout, a player had been thrown onto the floor and skated over, requiring EMT attention. Whenever a skater fell, what seemed like a blur of jersey and tattoo colors wrapping around the rink would slow to avoid further accidents. Bodies hitting the floor summoned “oohs” and “aahs” from spectators, and if there was no serious injury, elated cheering followed. In Rink 2, the story was the same, but it was all female competition -- and a larger crowd.
“It’s not a matter of ‘you could get injured’ but really ‘when,’” Mendicino said of the sport. Two seasons ago, she was laid up for nine weeks after a skating accident left her with a broken leg. “But I love it so much, and today is a blast.”