Lumber Jills

Plattsburgh's roller derby team

Story by Jaime Thomas
Video by Josh Rosenfeld and Jaime Thomas
Photo by

They’re fierce, they’re fast, and they fly around the track on four wheels. They’re always hungry for fresh meat, and they know how to throw an elbow. They’re the Lumber Jills, Plattsburgh’s roller derby team. The team, which was formed about a year and a half ago, is all female, except for a male referee or two. The women are all different ages, shapes and sizes and come from different walks of life.

What unites these rowdy ladies is a passion for their sport and the culture that surrounds it. At practice, which they take very seriously, the team wears a variety of fun and funky apparel, from striped tights to neon knee-highs. Team shirts display a macabre mascot on the front and intimidating alter-ego names on the back.

Newcomers are casually referred to as fresh meat. They must prove themselves before they’re considered a member of the team to get a special name. Current members have picked such monikers as Pippy Kill Stockings and Chucky Finish-Her. These quirks are part of what makes this sport so unique and engaging.

To the members of the team, though, it means a lot more. The women who make up the Lumber Jills agree on what roller derby means to them. They are an especially tight-knit group who think of each other as a family. They say they feel empowered as individuals and especially as a tough group of women.

The women appreciate the strength they gain from participating in such a rough male-free sport, while still maintaining their female identity. The availability of a team sport to unconventional body types is rare. Many members of the team appreciate this opportunity and the confidence it builds.

“The women appreciate the strength they gain from participating in such a rough male-free sport, while still maintaining their female identity."

The team is also enthusiastically open to new members and is locally active. Through its members, the women support the gay community, and through volunteerism they support the local community at large. Skaters are required to attend at least 50 percent of fundraisers and community service events, according to the Plattsburgh roller derby website.

Practice, as in any other sport, includes a lot of drills that build strength and improve skills. The girls might be required to skate quickly in a circular line and then suddenly change direction. Their ability to abruptly stop, jump and turn on four wheels is rather impressive.

Most of the ladies on the team admit to instances of inflicting at least minor injury on others during scrimmages or bouts. Even more have taken some blows themselves. They almost seem to revel in this, though, as a war wound or a symbol of commitment and toughness. These are no damsels who flinch at the sight of blood or the scent of body odor.

The women are currently in their off season, a time they’ll use to train and grow for upcoming bouts. They continue to seek more support for the team and appreciate their growing fan base. Keep an eye out in the spring, when these skating sisters will once again be shaking things up in the North Country.

Have you ever seen the Lumber Jills in action?
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