Metuchen's own Deb Zupan is Training for the Roller Derby -- Check this out!

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Metuchen Matters just had to check in with Deb Zupan on her training for the roller derby! Here's what she had to say about this unique opportunity!

How did you make this decision to join? 

I've loved skating ever since I spent much of the late 70s-early 80's hanging out in roller rinks. In more recent years, I've dreamed of playing roller derby because it looked like so much fun and the women who did it seemed awesome (turns out both of these things are true!). Unfortunately there were no teams that I knew of close by, and my schedule didn't allow for practice and lots of travel time.  That all changed though when NJ's newest team, Dirty Jersey Roller Derby, started practicing at the Metuchen Sportsplex.  I met them at the Metuchen Street Fair this Spring.  They were just a few booth's down from Marafiki's booth, so clearly this was meant to be!

What is your training like and how long does it last? 

New derby players like myself are known as 'Fresh Meat.' The duration of training varies from skater to skater, but all us beginners are working towards the Minimum Skills Requirement test (details of this can be found on the WFTDA site, link below). Training involves a lot of on-skates drills and practice, as well as off-skates fitness.  We have two two-hour skating practices each week. At practice I'll generally warm-up and do some drills with the team, and then work on specific skills with other new skaters as our coach directs.

What's the actual rally like? Rules, etc

When two teams face off on the track it's called a 'bout,' like in boxing, because a derby match is a fight to the end! It's a full-contact sport and it's very exciting to watch.  

The rules are fairly simple: There are 5 players on each team, a jammer (the one who scores the points), 4 blockers (who have to block the opposing jammer while assisting their own). One of the blockers may be a 'pivot' and have a leadership position in the pack.  In order to tell who's who, the jammers wear helmet covers with a star, the pivots wear a striped cover (by the way, if you hear about someone referring to players' 'panties,' it's probably the helmet covers they're talking about).  The object is to score the most points by lapping opposing team members on the track. Each bout lasts an hour and consists of multiple jams, which are 2 minute periods in which teams attempt to score points.

How do you feel being part of something that is so rough and tough -- is it scary? Is it exhilarating? 

While it's definitely rough, we skate in full protective gear including knee and elbow pads, wrist guards, a mouth guard, and a helmet. As I mentioned, all skaters must pass a skills test before they can participate in a bout or scrimmage.  And penalties are strictly enforced for skaters' safety and fair play.  Is it scary? Yes! Is it exhilarating? YES! I think the very first thing I learned was how to fall in a safe way.  I did (and still) find falls especially frightening, but you fall and get back up and realize it's not so bad. 

Are you getting in awesome shape? 

Skating is great cardio, and your legs get an especially tough workout. One things skaters are always hearing from their coaches - get low! Squats are especially vital as derby skaters are basically in a squat almost all the time.  Core and upper body strength are also important, for delivering good hits and for staying stable when you get hit.  It's great to feel yourself getting stronger - I've only been at it a couple of months and already I can do so many things I found difficult when I started.


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