Boston Derby Dames: Nutcrackers compete against the Wicked Pissahs

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The Simoni Rink in Cambridge, MA filled up slowly as the Boston Derby Dames took center stage. Two mascots—one a princess squirrel, the other a red and gold angel with a bullhorn—battled it out to get the crowds going. But their energy was nothing compared to the heat of the game.

On June 27, the “Nutcrackers” took on the “Wicked Pissahs” in a roller-derby game that left the fans of all ages on the edge of their seats as they watched fierce women battle it out on the rink.

The Boston Derby Dames, part of the Women’s Flat-Track Derby Association (WFTDA), is Boston’s first and only all-female, do-it-yourself, skater owned-and-operated roller derby league. In Roller Derby, a contact sport made up of two teams of five members each, players skate in the same direction around a track, attempting to lap each other for points. The game consists of two parts, or “jams.” In each jam, teams assign a “jammer” who scores points by lapping the other members of the opposing team. Both teams attempt to stop the opposing jammer while assisting their own jammer. In a sense, both teams are playing offense and defense at the same time.

The women who play in the league come from all walks of life. Some are new to the game, while others have had some experience playing with other teams. Samantha-Rae Tuthill, a writing consultant and free-lance journalist, first started playing roller derby back in Pennsylvania with her state college team back in 2012. “I came from a much smaller league, so I knew that coming in that I was coming into a globally ranked, very popular, long standing team,” said Tuthill, who is known on team Pissahs as Culta Skaro. “So it was a little bit intimidating, but everybody here is so welcoming and so enthusiastic about the sport.”

In order to become part of the Boston Derby Dames there is a period of training before players are allowed to participate in the matches. Now, in its tenth year, the biggest challenge for many of the teams in the league has been integrating new members mid-season.

“I think that bringing new girls on board with a lot of our veterans that were already going with the season…and then getting the vibe going and building the team dynamic was probably the biggest challenge so far,” said Amanda Lulloff, a doctoral student in nursing, and also known as Neurotic Tendency on team Pissahs.

The Nutcrackers have been battling a similar problem, adding seven new members to their team this year.

“I’m the oldest vet on the Nutcrackers,” said Aimee Belanger, a middle school and high school art teacher, also known as Badonkey Kong and blocker who tried to prevent Pissahs from scoring during the game. “We are working with a lot of new talent trying to give people playing time to develop their skill set and learn our strategies as a team.”

In the end, the seasoned Pissahs defeated the Nutcrackers 252 – 122 in a hard fought match.

“It’s definitely cool to play the team that I used to be a part of and to win,” said former Nutcracker Rebeccah Pereira, a pharmacy technician, who now plays for the Pissahs under the name Bloodbath Betty. “Winning is always great.”

Contact Beth Treffeisen at [email protected].com