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Roller derby marks 1-year anniversary at HotShots near Mt. Pleasant

| Wednesday, July 17, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Barbara Denning | For The Mt. Pleasant Journal
Crystal 'Reed'em and Weep' Reed of Mt. Pleasant, a member of the Violet Femms team in the Westmorland County Roller Derby League skates past her opponents during a recent bout at HotShots Indoor Sports Arena near Mt. Pleasant.
Barbara Denning | For The Mt. Pleasant Journal
Heather 'Heather Scissorhands' Overly of Norvelt (left) and Jennifer 'Hannibal's Starling' of Mt. Pleasant, both members of the Violet Femmes team in the Westmoreland County Roller Derby League in action during a recent bout at HotShots Indoor Sports Arena near Mt. Pleasant.
Barbara Denning | For The Mt. Pleasant Journal
Westmorland County Roller Derby League member Heather Overly of Norvelt, a blocker/jammer whose alias is 'Heather Scissorhands,' prepares to compete recently at HotShots Indoor Sports Arena near Mt. Pleasant.

On Saturday, the Westmoreland Roller Derby — an independent women's flat track derby league operating out of Westmoreland County — marked its one-year anniversary as its two home teams duked it out.

Gang-Green went up against the Violet Femmes at the HotShots Indoor Sports Arena near Mt. Pleasant.

The Westco Derby was founded by Calista Coffman, aka “Bombino,” of Scottdale.

Coffman said she had formerly played for a league in Pittsburgh and became a pioneer for girls roller derby in this area.

There are 53 girls who belong to the league from Westmoreland County, Fayette County and Pittsburgh areas.

All of the girls play for friends and family who attend bouts, Coffman said.

The girls who want to compete against other teams in other roller derby leagues are known as the All-Stars Team, she said.

That team plays against other squads throughout the region, including the Ohio Valley area and Morgantown, Coffman said.

The past year has proved to be challenging and fun for the girls, she said.

“It's been truly phenomenal just seeing everyone's advancement,” Coffman said. “I'm so proud of all of them and their accomplishments.”

Coffman noted that some league members who joined last year had never roller skated before and they are members of the All Stars Team.

Manor's Danni Hale Pettit, aka “Shuzi from Killefore,” has been playing for the past year.

She said she loves the physical aspects of the competition and the friendships she has formed.

“It's really nice to be part of something so positive for women,” Pettit said.

The derby continues to draw audiences, according to the league's head non-skating official Rachel Sirianni of Derry,

“People are very curious,” said Sirianni, who is in charge of bout production. “They remember derbies from years ago.”

The “Westco” team made its debut in July 2012 at the HotShots arena.

It then began having its bouts at the Ice Mine Arena in Connellsville, but since has again began utilizing Hot Shots as its home base.

Many games are televised on Armstrong Cable local channel 20, and along with matches, the team makes special appearances throughout the area.

A schedule of the team's activities can be found at westcoderby.com.

Barbara Denning is a freelance writer.

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