Roller derby often brings to mind fierce females strapping on skates and barreling around a rink in fast-paced bouts.
Well, now it’s the kids’ turn to have fun.
Meet the Darlings of Destruction. This Roseville-based league of 60-plus derby girls – and boys – ages 6-17 is currently the sole southeast Michigan member of the Junior Roller Derby Association. And they’ve been kicking butt since 2010.
“(It) was actually a (15th) birthday present for our daughter,” says Coach Jeff Good – aka Darryl B. Payne. “She had been following the Detroit Derby Girls,” one of Detroit’s original leagues that formed in 2005, “and wanted to get into the sport.”
Like their elders, these bruisers give themselves tough-cookie names like Crimson Horror or LOLipop Her, which they go by on the track and at practice. These alter egos are based on anything from pop culture icons to stuff kids love.
Coach Payne’s daughter started out at age 13 as Gnarly Quinn before graduating to the Detroit crew as Sierra DeAngelis at age 18.
“It’s definitely a sport that involves dedication and discipline,” Payne explains. “We foster an environment and nurture them to want to be leaders. They have to put the time in and they have to work toward the opportunity to play.”
DoD teams host in-house games against one another (they have five total teams) and play other junior leagues, including those in Kalamazoo and Lansing. They’ve even made it to regionals, where travel team SuperNovas took home back-to-back champ titles.
Skaters are learning important life skills and staying active, too. That includes practices that aim to improve skating skills, flexibility and strength.
“(We want) to get them strong and rubbery so they don’t get broke on the floor,” Payne adds.
Safe and fun
That attention to strength and safety inspired Nicole Maurin to let Lil’ Hits – her daughter Emma Maurin, 11 – join at age 8.
“Trying out is a progression. No one is being pushed into anything they are not ready for,” says Maurin, who skates with the adult league Bath City Roller Girls.
She’s also noticed improvement in her daughter’s attitude and teamwork skills over the years.
“Her confidence has gone through the roof.”
As for Lil’ Hits?
“I like that everybody cheers for each other and the teamwork,” she says. “It’s really fun, you get a lot of exercise and make a lot of friends.”
Meet the Darlings
Darlings of Destruction host an informational drop-in recruitment 7-9 p.m. Sept. 6 at The Great Skate in Roseville. No experience or equipment needed. Girls and boys welcome. The home season starts back up in September, too. Find the latest at facebook.com/dodleague.
Photo by Auntie’s Foto Garden