How 'Derby Girls' roll
OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- HurriCaylen. Mobsta. Slamazon. These aren't call signs for pilots from the 25th or 36th Fighter Squadrons, but they are wingmen for two Osan Airmen who enjoy a different "rolling thunder."
During their typical work days, one can be seen mentoring Airmen and the other briefing F-16 Fighting Falcon pilots. However, once a week the diamond and intel notes are traded in for helmets, pads and skates as they become McPain and Risky Bizness - members of the KimChicks.
The KimChicks - and their rivals, the Rokettes - are a roller derby team primarily made up of active duty military members and spouses from Osan and U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys, who compete during monthly bouts.
"I just had my first bout and it was so exhilarating," said McPain, also known as Master Sgt. Jessica McWain, 51st Comptrollers Squadron and Wing Staff Agencies first sergeant. "Before the bout I was a little self-conscience and worried about how I would do. The fans were cheering and people were excited to be there, so I felt a rush of adrenaline and nerves - some of the same things I've experienced in other sports."
Unlike other sports, roller derby is played by two teams of five members roller skating in the same direction around a track. Game play consists of a series of short matchups, or jams, in which both teams designate a jammer who scores points by lapping members of the opposing team. The teams attempt to assist their own jammer while hindering the opposing jammer.
For Risky Bizness, or Senior Airman Lindsey Rath, 36th Fighter Squadron operations intelligence analyst, roller derby has become an outlet for her to relieve stress while expressing another side of herself.
"You can't really take out stress on your co-workers, so after a long work week I'll put my iPod in and just skate," Risky said. "I can't really explain it; it just really helps me feel free. For me, when I skate around and feel the wind blowing by, it's just a great feeling, like any stress from the week just floats away. It's also pretty cool to be able to show another side of yourself, from your skate name or what you wear."
But don't let the wigs and fishnets fool you, Risky said roller derby can be incredibly intense and hard-hitting.
"You can't be afraid of getting hurt or hitting other people, because it's not personal, it's just the sport," she said. "I played softball growing up, and what I like about derby more is that you have to focus on your teammates more, so it's a tighter nit sport. It's kind of surprising for me because I'm not the type of person that hangs out with a bunch of girls, but with them we're like sisters. We skate together, beat each other up, and afterwards it's like 'Hey let's go get food.'"
Although the prospect of skating, blocking or jamming may seem daunting to perspective or "newbie" derby skaters, McPain insists skills progress quickly, thanks to the support from the veteran skaters of both the KimChicks and Rokettes.
"I was probably 13 the last time I had roller skated, so years ago, and I wasn't even good then," the first sergeant chuckled. "Showing up at the first practice was intimidating because some of the girls were so incredible, and I didn't even have any gear. The girls were so supportive and told me they all started where I was, so to just stick with it."
Although intrigue and curiosity drew McPain and Risky Bizness to roller derby, it's the people that keep them around.
"It's a wild crew of personalities and that makes it more fun than anything else I've ever been a part of," McPain said. "The camaraderie and competition you can find in other places, but the crew of characters we have because of the nature of derby, it makes it a whole different level of fun. I genuinely believe that if you go to one practice you either love it or you think we're crazy."
The next bout between the KimChicks and Rokettes is scheduled for April 26 at the Humphreys Community Center. Practices are open to all newcomers and are held from 2:30-6 p.m. every Sunday at Humphreys. For more information about the KimChicks or Rokettes, check out their Facebook page at facebook.com/OHRollerDerbyFan.