Granite State Roller Derby – where showtime meets intense competitionBones sometimes break, but that does little to deter the women on the local roller derby team 

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  • Granite State Roller Derby team members fight for position against Vermont at Everett Arena on April 8. GEOFF FORESTER photos / Monitor staff

  • Granite State players fight for position against Vermont at Everett Arena on Saturday, April 8, 2023. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • GEOFF FORESTER/ Monitor staff

  • Nor’Eastah a.k.a Lily Fritz breaks through the pack during the action against Vermont at Everett Arena on Saturday, April 8, 2023. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Nor’Eastah a.k.a Lily Fritz breaks through the pack during the action against Vermont at Everett Arena on Saturday, April 8, 2023. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Nor’™Eastah – a.k.a. Lily Fritz – gets ready for the action against Vermont at Everett Arena on April 8. She says the nickname is perfectly suited to her personality.

  • Nor’Eastah a.k.a Lily Fritz (center) and her teammates get ready for the action against Vermont at Everett Arena on Saturday, April 8, 2023. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • A Vermont player falls in the middle of pack at Everett Arena on Saturday, April 8, 2023. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Granite State players fight for position against Vermont at Everett Arena on Saturday, April 8, 2023. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Nor’Eastah a.k.a Lily Fritz breaks through the pack during the action against Vermont at Everett Arena on Saturday, April 8, 2023. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • The Roller Derby match at Everett Arena on Saturday, April 8, 2023. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • A Vermont player falls in the middle of pack at Everett Arena on Saturday, April 8, 2023. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Even with fake blood, the roller derby match had some rough and tumble moments on both sides. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • The roller derby match had some rough and tumble moments on both sides. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • The roller derby match had some rough and tumble moments on both sides. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • The roller derby match had some rough and tumble moments on both sides. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Nor’Eastah a.k.a Lily Fritz (center) and her teammates get ready for the action against Vermont at Everett Arena on Saturday, April 8, 2023. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • The roller derby match had some rough and tumble moments on both sides. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor columnist
Published: 5/13/2023 6:00:30 PM

Spitfire crouched low behind a wall of women, her eyes scanning the rugby-like traffic jam on the oval’s narrow straightaway at Everett Arena.

She waited for her teammates – in this case blockers with names like Peppermint Catty, Enis Fly Trap, MegaBiteMe and Killer-Bee-Hind – to open a lane.

Then, showing her agility and speed, Spitfire, whose real name is Sammy Mandella, made like the famed British warplane and accelerated to safety, squeezing through and beyond the pack and scoring points for the Granite State Roller Derby team.

These women are from all walks of life. Welders, teachers, artists, paraprofessionals, retired military, healthcare professionals, stay-at-home moms. A few matches, called bouts, are scheduled this summer. Some of the players skate backward. Others skate on unsure ankles.

They play a competitive style of roller derby that can lead to broken bones and has none of the prescripted, WWE-like theatrical stuff that was televised in the 1970s and ’80s.

Enis Fly Trap of Concord, whose real name is Jess Enis Yearout, no longer competes with the Granite State team, choosing to coach this summer instead. She’s 42 and has sustained injuries to her shoulders and hips.

And she misses mixing it up.

“I like the rough part; I like the contact,” said the Trap, a part-time hair stylist who also works at Fidelity Investments. “I’m competitive, but I’m the coach now because I played for 10 straight years. I can’t play anymore.”

Now 10 years old, Granite State opened its roster recently to highlight inclusiveness in a changing world.

“We’re an all-inclusive league,” said Nor’Eastah, better known as Lily Fritz of Allenstown, a paraprofessional who’s entering her second year with Granite State. “Females and males and transgender and nonbinary are welcome. The sanctioning body (The Women’s Flat Track Roller Derby Association) is in transition, and now it’s a more-inclusive model.”

The players bond over common themes. One is the open-door policy which, in some cases, allows players to find their niche in a sometimes hostile environment.

“One thing I’ve always said about roller derby is it’s the land of misfits,” Trap said. “I feel like a lot of people who play roller derby don’t necessarily have a home like this. Maybe someone always wanted to play sports but could not find one that worked for them.”

The other common denominator here is the players want to compete hard while mixing in fun. They practice and play at Everett Arena and have a few bouts scheduled this summer against teams from the Granite State and Massachusetts.

But whether in practice or at an official bout, the players paint their faces. Sometimes they cake on blue eyeshadow and add strips of blood streaming down their cheeks.

The players never miss a chance to ham it up, especially for recruiting purposes and fundraising. They’ve never met a camera they didn’t like. They wrinkle their noses and grit their teeth in photos, combining comedy and competitiveness.

Spank Alley Sally of Concord, better known as Melody Cremone, started with MMA fighting a decade ago. A personal trainer back then, Alley Sally saw others competing in roller derby and knew it was for her.

“I started showing up at (Granite State) practices, and I was hooked,” Alley Sally said. “The camaraderie here and the people here make it worth coming back to.”

Not everyone comes back, for obvious reasons. The game relies on physical contact. Blockers use their hips, rear ends and shoulders to knock the defenders off-balance, allowing the jammer to power through or sneak by on the outside. That’s how you score points.

It’s also how you get hurt. Alley Sally once tore her MCL, but playing in scrimmages and bouts is the only way to gain confidence and learn how to absorb and dish out hits.

For example, Meadows Madsen of Concord, known as the Wedge, has been skating for less than a year. “I have improved a lot,” the Wedge said. “I’m not a rookie, but I’m not a veteran who is very skilled yet.”

Meanwhile, Spitfire’s medical record from injuries suffered while playing roller derby is a laundry list of pain: broken collarbone, nose and ankle, plus a torn meniscus.

But Grammy Fran did not label her little granddaughter Spitfire for nothing. She’s been playing for 10 years and is one of Granite State’s captains.

“When you have a passion for something, you heal up and go back to it,” Spitfire said. “I want to skate as long as I can.”

Nor’Eastah agreed. This is not playtime. Players get hurt. Their nicknames are for entertainment purposes, but sometimes those names also say something about the player herself.

“It took me a long time to think of a name,” Nor’Eastah said. “Someone I had been working with said I should be Nor’Eastah. It’s like a big (expletive) storm, and I kind of am, too. I come in hot and fast. You know I’m there. I’m not a quiet person.”


Ray Duckler bio photo

Ray Duckler, our intrepid columnist, focuses on the Suncook Valley. He floats from topic to topic, searching for the humor or sadness or humanity in each subject. A native New Yorker, he loves the Yankees and Giants. The Red Sox and Patriots? Not so much.

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