As the NBA lockout continues and Colts fans wonder what happened, there is one sports team in Indianapolis preparing for their first trip to the National Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) Championships: The Naptown Roller Girls.
Founded in 2006, the team has gained national attention for their legions of passionate fans, explosive offense, and fostering of sisterhood and teamwork. Girls drive from as far away as Fort Wayne to be a part of this team. Leagues have creeped up all across Indiana since Naptown’s inception, giving women not only a place to get some exercise, but a place to make lifelong friendships as well.
The Naptown Roller Girls recently hosted a Regional tournament, defeating teams from Cincinnati and Detroit to place third and get a shot at the National Competition, “Continental Divide and Conquer,” which takes place November 11th-13th.
The Geist area has provided roots for two of these talented women.
“Dora the Destroyer” (aka Megan Gill) grew up in Geist and graduated from Lawrence Central, while “Piper Sonic” (aka Stacie Pillar) teaches at Lawrence Central.
“My family and I moved to the Geist area when I was going into the 5th grade. I actually found it hard growing up in that area, partially because I was the new kid and really just wanted to fit in,” Gill says. “When I got to the Geist area, I got confused and just wanted to try to be like everyone else so I’d fit in and make friends easily. I really struggled with getting back to my quirky ways until high school.”
Gill, who has earned the nickname “the Gazelle from Hell” for her agility, speed, and balance on skates, found her way to the Naptown Roller Girls a little over two years ago.
Pillar moved to the Geist area four years ago and is newer to the squad, having joined earlier this year. “My entire adolescence was spent in a roller skating rink, and when I saw the girls whippin’ around the track I longed for the feeling,” she says.
“A few years passed and in August of 2010, we had our first child. I kept active during the pregnancy, but soon after our son was born I felt really anxious to do… something… to get moving again and feel more like myself,” Pillar says. “In the end, joining the Naptown squad was where my heart took me. I contacted the recruitment coordinators and tried out in December. My first practice was in early January 2011.
Pillar has risen through the ranks of Naptown’s set-up, moving from the traveling squad, the Third Alarms, up to the Warning Belles (the B-team), and is an alternate on the Tornado Sirens. Pillar is considered a dangerous “jammer,” or the skater able to score points.
Both women agree winning or placing in the Top Three at Nationals would lend creedence to the amateur sport that has already gained an explosion of fans across the globe.
“I think placing at Nationals would be a fantastic boost to the credibility of the sport and to the recognition that WFTDA and NRG deserve,” says Pillar. “Hopefully, placing at Nationals would increase our familiarity within the community and possibly motivate more girls and women to find their inner ‘derby-girl.’”
Gill has some simple advice for young girls. “Stay strong. Do what you want to do. Hold your ground, stand up for what you believe in. If I could go back, I wouldn’t have changed from my 4th grade self into the mold I tried to squeeze into in 5th grade and on, cause when you’re older, you’ll realize those ‘popular’ girls really weren’t that cool and you don’t want to be like them anyway,” she says.
By the way, there is a junior roller derby league in Indianapolis. They accept girls ages 8-17 and are always looking for new skaters. It’s not quite as hard-hitting as its adult counterpart leagues.