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March 26, 2012  | by: Emily Longeretta

Assault City Roller Derby

When it comes to empowering women, Central New York knows a great way to do it. Assault City Roller Derby is Syracuse’s first and only all-women non-profit roller derby league. ACRD was established in 2007 and is run completely by the team of 21 to 45-year-old women.

Many women don’t know if they can do it. The time commitment is a lot— and sometimes is overlooked. “I can’t even begin to talk about the amount of work that goes into making our organization work without giving a big shout out to all of the volunteer coaches, referees, non-skating officials and other volunteers who support our league,” Crystal Doody, Bylaws work group representative said. In the roller derby world though, people call her Stryct.

ACRD team via assaultcityrollerderby.com

ACRD is divided into two teams, the Assault Squad and the Battery Brigade. They travel all across the northeastern US to compete with other roller derby teams. Not only do the skaters practice multiple times a week, they run the league on their own and do their own recruiting. Since 2011, ACRD has been an apprentice member of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association.

ACRD via assaultcityrollerderby.com

While the workload may be extremely heavy, Stryct says it’s worth it. “The reason we all put so much energy into running our not-for-profit league is so that we can spill all of the blood and sweat – usually no tears – on the track playing the sport we love.”

She also feels that ACRD works as an escape method, away from the stresses of life, work, and the media. “Getting away from media and societal pressures of body image and focusing on health and fitness is by far a healthier way to think about our bodies,” Stryct says.

Head of events, Amy Hathaway agrees. “For me, learning to skate roller derby has been a healthy way to release so much negative energy in a positive way,” Hathaway, known as Valkyrie says. “Skating for hours and feeling like I’m flying around the track at practice makes me feel lighter and calmer.

“The women who skate are shockingly diverse but from what I can see so far, all share the same desire for the rush of power and strength that come with derby skating; flying, stopping, blocking, falling, pushing, hitting, partnering, water falling, tiptoeing, jumping, screaming, juking, and never ever giving up,” Valkyrie says.

Rebecca Howden, Secretary for ACRD is thankful for the things roller derby has done for her. “I am able to push myself in ways I never thought were possible,” Howden says. “Skating with ACRD has helped me grow as an athlete and as a person. I love the challenge of learning new skills, and strategies.”

In case you need one more reason to come see or get involved in ACRD, they even skate for a good cause. ACRD is constantly donating to charity, whether it is out of ticket sales or holding events, and giving their time and money to great causes. If this sounds like something you may be interested in, head over to the team’s Facebook page to learn more!

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