Roller girl not afraid to jam on the track

Andrea Hefferan | Staff Writer

Sophomore Trinity Erickson can roll with the punches, and she can throw them too.

Erickson has been playing roller derby for the Cincinnati Junior Roller Girls since 2011.

Roller derby is played with two teams of 14, each with five players on the track at a time, all skating counterclockwise. Each team has a ‘jammer,’ the only person who can score points for the team. The rest of the team are blockers: they stop the opposing team’s jammer from getting around the track. The more laps a jammer completes, the more points that team gets. Each round, or “jam,” lasts two minutes or less. After that, the five players are rotated out, and a new jam begins.

Erickson has competed in the sport for as long as the juniors team has been around. She first heard about it from her babysitter, and after going to a game to support her, Erickson realized she wanted more than just to cheer from the sidelines.

“I’d never been interested in a lot of sports, and I was so amazed (watching the game), and I told my parents that’s what I wanted to play,” Erickson said. “We went down after the game to get our program signed by the skaters, and saw my babysitter, and I told her this was what I wanted to play, and she told us that they were starting up a juniors team. I went to the boot camp that summer and joined the team for that season.”

Roller derby can be an intense sport. Minor injuries are common, but the rules help prevent the players from sustaining more serious wounds, according to Erickson.

“You have to be ready for pretty much anything,” Erickson said. “Because I’ve been playing it since I was so young, I’ve basically been conditioned to expect some of the worst. It happens all the time; most of (our injuries) aren’t severe. If you play by the rules, you’ll be relatively safe, but you’ve got to expect some minor injuries.”

Erickson participates in many other activities besides roller derby, making her schedule extremely busy. Her team, however, ensures that school is her top priority.

“I do other things: I am in marching band, I dance, and of course, academics and all that,” Erickson said.  “It gets a little much sometimes with homework, but our team has a grade policy where if you’re failing, you can’t skate until your grades make it up because school always comes first. That’s just a policy they’ve had for a really long time just to make sure that everybody stays where they need to stay.”

Along with practices once a week, Erickson’s team also goes to many competitions throughout the year.

“We go to a lot (of competitions) for where we are,” Erickson said. “Our little region actually has some of the hardest teams to play, and we go after all of them. We have a regionals every year, and then there is a nationals. We could’ve qualified to go last year, but we couldn’t get the money together to go.”

Having a derby name is a tradition that is an integral part of roller derby. Erickson said this is an exciting component of the sport.

“The story behind it was that roller derby was considered a show,” Erickson said. “It’s the same way as wrestling on TV. Wrestlers all have their stage names, and so that’s how it started. Now it’s just kind of a fun tradition for everybody, and it’s a really nice thing where it’s like, if a girl can’t think of a name, the team sits there, and we can help them build a name for themselves. I’ve had two names. My first name was ‘TriniTNT,’ and my second one is ‘Harley Trinn’.”

People outside the team see the sport as a little strange at first. However, almost all of her friends end up supporting Erickson’s endeavors.

“My friends at school think I’m crazy, and they’re a little bit right,” Erickson said. “You’ve got to have a little bit of crazy to be able to play this. I can show them videos, and I think it looks more like a dancing style in a way, because you have to move your feet so quickly in such an intricate pattern to be able to do half the things you need to do. “

Erickson is not going to stop skating anytime soon. As soon as she turns 18, she plans to join the adult team, the Cincinnati Rollergirls.

“I’m looking forward to my ten-year anniversary, which will be during my senior year, and then I can try out for the adult team and have ten years of experience,” Erickson said. “That hasn’t happened yet, so I’m looking forward to try and be the first one.”