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September 7, 2011

City of Fists Roller Girls prepare for their first bout Saturday

Kokomo — The world might not look at Amy Duffer as the poster child for roller derby.

Maybe that’s why the wife and mother of three choose 007 as the number on the back of her shirt. She’s incognito. Because at 7 p.m. Saturday, Duffer will be gone.

Duff as Nails, however, will be in full effect at the Family Sports Center in West Lafayette, skating, defending and blocking her way as the City of Fists Roller Girls’ take on the Lafayette Brawlin’ Dolls in their first official bout.

“It won’t be a dull moment there, I’m sure,” said Duffer, with a laugh.

Duffer and a group of similarly tough-as-nails women have been quietly practicing in roller rinks and the Kokomo Armory for the better part of a year for a sport that many don’t even know exists — roller derby.

A far cry from the staged entertainment spectacle of yesteryear, today’s derby is about athletics, says Jennifer Sinka, aka Bambi Dexterous.

“It’s really is a sport,” said Sinka, plainly. “It really involves exercise and dedication.”

For the uninitiated, the basics of derby are fairly simple. Each team fields five skaters at a time. Each team has one point-scoring skater, called the jammer, whose only objective is to lap as many opposing skaters as possible.

The non-scoring skaters, called blockers, work both on offense and defense to block the opposing jammer and clear a path for their own Jammer to score points.

And while the basics may be simple, the finer points are anything but. The group has met twice weekly for more than a year learning the skills, discipline, communication and physicality necessary to compete in their first competition, called a bout. In fact, every member of the team has to pass a basic skills test, said Sinka, that includes doing all kind of maneuvers like speed skating, spinning, falling and vertical jumps — all on four wheels.

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