The Suit-Kote Corp. arena at the J.M. McDonald sports complex is normally designed for ice hockey.
But on Saturday night, the ice was gone and guests set up lawn chairs along the edge of the rink for the Seven Valley Rollers roller derby bout.
Bodies were thrown onto the floor as women with alter-egos like Saw-Zaw, Criminal and Audrey II Deadly skated around the red-tape bound track. The announcer, MC Spidr, complete with a dragon named Draco Maltoy on his shoulder, tried to get the audience pumped up by doing a wave during a break in play. Even the referees, with names like Refpocalypse, Decrypt Keeper and Bye Felicia were in on the action.
It was the last scheduled home bout of the Rollers’ third season as they played against Troy-based team Mid-Hudson Misfits. It was also the team’s first win of the season, beating the Misfits, 223-165.
Vicki Soliongco, a blocker for the team who goes by the name of Feisty Vixxxen, was out with a torn ACL, but she provided plenty of support, shouting from the sidelines and taking pictures.
“It’s a rough sport and definitely not for everyone,” Soliongco said.
Jammers race around the rink and try to score while the blockers try to stop them.
Each player has a unique name and number. Soliongco’s name Feisty Vixxxen comes from how she was called vixen in high school and how she claims to have one of the most perverted minds on the team.
“Most of the names are just puns,” Soliongco explained. “Tsunami has hers because her first name is Sue. Criminal’s because she works for the sheriff’s department.”
Criminal, a jammer whose real name is Debi Barber, does road patrol for the Cortland County Sheriff’s Office. Her full roller derby name is Criminal Mischief and her number, 145, is the section of state Penal Law section dealing with criminal mischief.
Barber started playing eight years ago as she was looking for something athletic to do. She initially saw a poster for a bout in Ithaca, but saw the first Cortland team was starting up and contacted them.
“I enjoy it so much I skate for two teams,” Barber said, also playing for Port City Roller Derby, a team from Oswego.
Mitzy Hustle, a jammer whose real name is Bethany Mackey, started skating five years ago after a friend of hers in the financial services firm she works at played in a league in Virginia. Normally she plays a jammer role, but did bench coaching for this bout. She can call timeouts if the captain is unable to and had to replace a broken skate.
“It was something I put on my bucket list,” Mackey said.
Mackey’s name comes her jammer role where she has to hustle a lot. Her number, 62, comes from the birth months of her sons, June and February.
Soliongco got into derby five years ago after a break-up and her son told her about it. She had not skated in 20 years and fell in love with the sport immediately. Soliongco works as a nurse at Beechtree Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Ithaca. Whenever she has a bad day at work, she can always look forward to a team practice.
“We come together like a sisterhood,” Soliongco said. “We have a saying, ‘Derby saved our souls.’”