By day, they are teachers, nurses, engineers and business women. Most are wives and mothers. Nearly half possess a college degree.
But on Monday and Thursday evenings and Sunday afternoons, about two dozen athletes gather at SpinNations Roller Rink to practice and work out. They put on knee and elbow pads, helmets and mouth and wrist guards, while some wear jerseys with menacing names, such as "Machete," "El Diablo" and "Crash."
They enter the skating track and the talk about family and work disappears. Their smiles are replaced by a focused, serious demeanor. They know the next two hours will include elbowing, pushing and knocking others down on a hard wooden floor. They hope and pray that a fall or collision will not result in a serious injury.
They are the Rolling Valkyries, Pasco County's new roller derby team, which begins its season in March and competes against teams from counties in central and south Florida.
Roller derby traces its roots to the 1930s. Television coverage in the '50s helped spur its growth, but in the '70s, however, the sport began a 30-year wane. The growing popularity of skating at the turn of the century is credited for the sport's resurgence. It is even being considered for Olympic status at the 2020 games.
"Besides being the best workout you will ever have, roller derby gives us old-school rink rats the liberty to strap on the quad roller skates again and play something more than red light/green light at a session," said 35-year-old founder and former coach Rose Frizzle, aka "Iron Rose."
In roller derby, five-player teams enter the track. Four are the blockers who make up a pack. Their responsibility is to help their scorer, known as the jammer, pass opponents and score points. They also attempt to block the opponent's jammer from passing.
Each two-minute session is filled with strategy. To keep their opponents from scoring, the blockers attempt to either encircle the other jammer or skate in a straight line, making it difficult to pass.
"I wanted a different kind of workout when I joined," said 27-year-old blocker Melissa Murray, who is a full-time student and owns a massage practice. "Roller derby is a culture of immediate acceptance by my teammates, whom I consider family. I'm normally a person who gives a helping hand to lift others up, but, in the rink, I don't mind giving my opponent a little hip or shoulder to stop them or put them down."
Shoshana Rich, 25, is a 2005 Hudson High graduate and one of the team's jammers. She compares her job to another athletic position.
"Like a halfback in football, my goal is to find a small hole in the opponent's line and get through," Rich said. "It's a lot of fun to skate quickly and to weave through opponents whose only job is to stop me. As in any sport, the competitive juices start flowing once the horn sounds and the fans start cheering."
And, of course, the team is always looking for new players.
"You don't need to know how to skate to join us," Frizzle said. "We have a 16-week training program that will teach you everything you will need to know to play roller derby, one practice at a time."
For information, email Frizzle at RevolutionRollerDerby@gmail.com and the team is holding a Roller Derby 101 class on March 4 at SpinNations from 7-9 p.m.