PORT RICHEY, Fla. - It begins with a little makeup
Actually, a lot of makeup. Then it’s time to lace up the skates and strap on the knee and elbow pads. Finally, the helmet goes on and you’ve got yourself a star.
"We mean business when we’re going to get out here and we want you to know it just by looking at us," Erin Carter said.
This is roller derby. And the Valkyries from the Revolution Roller Derby league rule the rink.
"My favorite thing about roller derby is that it’s just so empowering to every person you can think of," Carter said. "You get out here and you skate with these women and you just see that it takes all types."
It’s a collection of women that includes a mother-daughter duo. Women, who range in age from 17 to 52. And women who have discovered a place where they belong.
"Roller derby is very inclusive," Denise Holden said. "We have people from all walks of life. And it doesn’t matter what your job is, how much money you make, where you live, you can be a part of this and feel like you are involved."
By day, Denise Holden is a fashion buyer for HSN. But come roller derby time, she turns into Puck Her Up.
"When I’m dressed like this, I introduce myself as Puck, cause that’s who I am, especially when there’s wheels on my feet," Holden said.
Erin Carter is a stay at home mom to a toddler who turns two in December. She’s also the director for customer support for an online company. A lot of staring at a computer screen that Carter admits can get boring. But on the rink?
"Out here, it’s not like that at all," Carter said. "Out here, on my skates, I love skating fast, I love hitting hard. It’s a blast."
Everybody gets a nickname. Shrimp, Diamond Kutz. Even Haley’s Vomit. Individual characters, but collectively so much more. They’re family.
"There’s people going through breakups, have really tough times in their life," Holden said. "They come here and know that there’s going to be women who support them, no matter what. There’s something we call derby love. It’s real. It’s real."
As real as the action. Never a dull moment when these women take the floor.
"I love telling people that I play roller derby because people are just shocked," Carter said. "Like, they don’t know, sometimes they don’t know that it exists. And two, they go, I would never have taken you for a derby girl. And I love that."