Author Archive: PVRD

Not Your Parents’ Roller Derby

03/08/2007 – ABC40

Roller derby is back and it’s back in a big way. But it’s not your father’s or mother’s derby of years ago. Roller derby is a lot more than a bunch of people going around a track knocking people over, too. But make no mistake about it, it’s a full contact sport.

Here’s how it works. Roller derby involves two teams of five skaters. Each team usually consists of four blockers and one jammer. The blockers start skating first, then the jammers catch up to the rear of the pack. Scoring happens when the jammers lap around the pack and go through a second time. One point is scored for each member of the opposing team that the jammer passes. Blockers try to stop the opposing jammer and make openings for their own jammer.

ABC40’s Jim Cline takes a look at the roller derby comeback right here in the Valley.

The game took off in the 1930’s. Today’s game is quite similar, minus the shenanigans. It’s all legit this time around, but it can still get a little rough. “I think it’s all in the waiver we sign when we sign our lives away at the first practice. They’re pretty upfront. You’re going to get hit a lot, you’re going to work your butt off, and skate like crazy and in the end you might end up with a broken leg,” says Renee Forzano. “It’s a fairly rough sport and everyone looks at me and says, ‘How can someone your size… don’t you get hurt?’ But when you’re out there playing, it is just a mindset,” says Kristen Ahearn.

Sarah Lang and Jake Fahy started the league about a year ago. “They went to Providence and saw their friend play for Providence Roller Derby and said we have to start this, this is incredible, we have to have roller derby in Western Mass,” Forzano said about Fahy and Lang. “We got hooked right away and said, ‘Holy cow, this is so much fun, and we have to bring this up to the Pioneer Valley.’ We knew it would go over well here and we knew we would have a good time doing it,” said Fahy. “It’s so fast paced and it’s so fun, it’s like no other sport I have ever played. I got really excited about it,” stated Lang.

The first thing a lot of the players had to do was learn to skate. They were into roller derby but they didn’t know how to skate very well. Others were born to skate. Renee Forzano goes by Big Vinny’s Kid after her late father. “He skated derby in the 50’s and 60’s before he married my mom. The two of them met roller skating. She was a figure skater and he did his speed skating and roller derby. They met at the rink, fell in love, had kids and never skated again, I guess,” said Forzano. Renee never saw Big Vinny skate, but this was an opportunity she couldn’t pass up. So it’s fitting she’s competing in the second go-around of the sport.

Pioneer Valley Roller Derby Open Recruiting

Pioneer Valley Roller Derby is openly recruiting new members for its Men’s and Women’s divisions. If you are at least 18 years old and possess the desire and drive to be a part of this fast growing and exciting sport, we have a spot for you.

Skating experience is not required. You bring the enthusiasm and we will provide the training.

Contact us at to find out how you can get in on the fun.

Roller Derby Comes to the Pioneer Valley

11/21/06 – CBS3 Springfield

An old school sport has rolled into Western Mass in a new way. Pioneer Valley residents of all ages have teamed up for flat track roller derby, a revival of the roller derby that was popular back in the 70’s. It’s a game of using your body to pass the opposing team while skating laps around the track. About 30 male and female derby members currently come together twice a week to run drills and practice twice a week at Interskate 91 in Wilbraham. Many members say after trying roller derby once, they were hooked. "Once we saw this happening we knew that we needed to try this out. So, once I got skates on my feet and started practicing, I knew this was for me," says Jake Fahy, the owner of Pioneer Valley Roller Derby, LLC.

Pioneer Valley Roller Derby is in the process of looking for its own flat track and says once they do, they will be ready to compete with other roller derby teams nationwide.