Sisterhood of the Roller Derby – The Paradise Roller Girls

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Stretches and talk story session after practice at Wainaku Gym.

I’m not much of an athlete but I’ve dabbled a bit in team sports, so I think I understand what it takes to work as a cohesive group. It’s a commitment and trust in each other – and ourselves – to work together and move in a positive direction. Belonging to an organization outside of team sports, working alongside others in a company, enjoying a Girls Night Out, and even buying groceries on an unusually busy shopping day all require a similar mindset.

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The beauties of PRG. I was fortunate to not only observe their scrimmage but also learned quite a bit about the sport and its rules.

Roller derby is all of this and much more. Especially with the Paradise Roller Girls (PRG), a league created and based in Hilo since 2010. According to its website, the league encourages “healthy and athletic lifestyles while giving back through community service, outreach, and charity”.

Most recently, PRG participated in the annual Heart Walk held on March 5th. This was just one of the many contributions to the Hilo and Big Island communities they are not particularly known for. The league has also adopted a section of the highway in the Puna district, and routinely bags litter in support of State’s efforts to keep our roadways clean.

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A Jammer trying to make her way through a wall of blockers while officials make sure everything is fair and safe.

For most of us roller derby was – and still is – a difficult sport to understand. We see tough-looking women with color “ring names,” circling a track in roller skates while ostensibly trying to hurt others, somehow earning points along the way. However, there is a method to this often misunderstood sport:

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Photo courtesy of www.squamishrollerderby.ca

For the participants, they are building a sisterhood instead of just being teammates. Women from all walks of life and on different career paths come together not only to skate but to form bonds that are difficult to find in other areas of life. Some are in need of a positive way to spend their time while others may be looking to form new friendships. Whatever it is can be found within this league.

That doesn’t mean the bond is limited to just the Hilo area. Many derby girls, after joining, find it expands farther when they are able to connect and participate with leagues across the nation and the world during their travels.

PRG also promotes/offers a successful youth program called Big Island Babes. Children of all ages can participate while learning the basics of the sport as well as how to maintain a positive outlook on their futures as athletes and healthy human beings.

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Like any other sports group or organization, Paradise Roller Girls need the support of the Hilo community. They are looking for sponsors, officials, and more participants! Visit them at Free Skate Fridays or at their Sunday practices held at Wainaku Gym or Wednesday scrimmages at Sangha Hall. Please visit their Facebook page for accurate dates and times.  Let’s skate!

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