They've gone through boot camp. Now they're ready for battle.
The Skate Free or Die! Rollergirls, the Granite State's first female roller derby team, will play against outside competition for the first time on Saturday in Manchester, N.H. During the doubleheader scrimmage, the team's tattooed, pierced, and tough personalities will vamp and roar around the track alongside guest skaters from well-established leagues in Maine, Boston, and Providence.
"It's such a huge stress reliever," 24-year-old Marissa Buergin, who skates as Raggedy Antics, said during a recent practice. She added with a laugh: "And there's no other time you can wear fishnets and a mouth guard in the same uniform."
The Rollergirls formed last fall with five skaters, according to Alley Trela, a.k.a. Dee Stortion. This past winter and spring, they built up their ranks and honed their war tactics at Roller Kingdom in Tyngsborough. Now, they've expanded to roughly 50 skaters who boast names like Bettie Off Dead, Sin Da Block, Skah-Face, Tank'd Girl, and Empress Explosiva. Ranging in age from 20s to early 40s, they come from all over the Merrimack Valley and the central southern sliver of New Hampshire.
Most are drawn by the empowering, explosive nature of the sport, in which teams of five girls careen around a rink and attempt to score points by passing packs of their opponents. That intense passion also goes for roller derby's embrace of the burlesque.
"We have a lot of fun with it," said 26-year-old Trela, of Nashua.
The scrimmages will start at 5 p.m. on Saturday at the JFK Coliseum in Manchester. Doors open at 4 o'clock. Tickets are $5 in advance or $7 at the door. Children under 5 are admitted free.
Tickets and more information are available at nhrollerderby.com.