McALESTER — What do you get when you take a NASCAR race, replace the cars with women on roller skates and incorporate as much hip- and body-checking as you’d find in your average professional hockey game?
You get roller derby. And the MacTown Sugar Skulls, McAlester’s new roller derby team, could be competing as early as April or May at Route 69 Roller Dome.
“I think they’re going to be ready to play in the spring,” Sugar Skulls coach Katie Hoff said Thursday. “They’re moving really fast and they’ve all been practicing really hard.”
Hoff said the Sugar Skulls began practicing in October. She said approximately 15-20 women, all at least 18 years old, have shown up for twice-a-week practices, and may have also put in extra time on off days to learn the game.
“You have to learn a lot of basic skating moves, and then we’ll start scrimmaging,” Hoff said.
“We actually just started doing some hitting drills, where we learned how to hit properly and how to fall properly. The more they do that, the better they’ll get.”
A standard roller derby match is composed of two 30-minute halves, and the team with the most points at the end of the second half wins. Each half is then broken down into rounds known as “jams,” with 10 skaters on the track at the same time.
Teams score points by having one of their skaters, called the “jammer,” complete a full circuit around the track, then try to skate past the opposing team’s four “blockers.” The eight total blockers form a pack, and for every opposing blocker a jammer — usually identified by a star on her helmet — passes, she earns her team one point.
“The first jammer to make it through the pack legally is considered the lead jammer, and the lead jammer can call the jam off at any time,” Hoff said.