Co-ed derby team comes to Burlington

Half-sport, half-entertainment, roller derby has come to Burlington in a big way. Boasting the only co-ed roller derby team in Vermont, the Burlington Bombers are a team made up of the women’s team, the B-Town Bombshells, and the men’s team, the Bomb Quad. The local team plays a strategic game of “catch me if you can” to earn points by blocking, checking and outpacing the opposing team. The elaborate outfits, creative nicknames and eccentric personalities are just some of the things that attract audiences to the sport and the Burlington Bombers are always looking for more team members. “We invite anyone 18 and up to come and play,” skater Tim Avery said. “We loan out the equipment so people can come to a couple practices and see if they like it.” Inspired after watching the 2009 film “Whip It” based on the novel “Derby Girl,” Samantha Turner checked out the Burlington Bombers and said the team was extremely welcoming. “I was going to be a referee but then fell in love with skating and joined the team,” Turner said. The Burlington Bombers is a flat track roller team derby for women and men. They began competing in July 2010, according to the team’s website. “Roller Derby is not just skating around in circles like most people think,” said Jordan Hanchulak, a first year at Champlain College. “There are two jammers, the point scorers from each team, behind a pack who are trying to block the opposing team’s jammer from getting around.” Hanchulak has her first bout on Saturday, May 14 at the Essex Skating Center at Essex High School against the Elm City Derby Damez from Keene, N.H. “I’m terrified for it, but in a good way,” Hanchulak said. She first became interested in the sport after a friend of hers joined a team in Lancaster, Pa. She found out about the Burlington Bombers and joined as soon as she started college in September.  An integral part of roller derby is the nicknames that player make for themselves or come up with for one another. “I decided on Buck U P51 because my grandfather’s name is Buck and he was the fighter pilot of a P51 A Mustang,” Avery said. The Burlington Bombers practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 to 8 p.m. at Sports and Fitness Edge in South Burlington and Fridays from 6 to 8 p.m. at Sports and Fitness Edge in Essex Junction. The Tuesday and Thursday practices focus mainly on drills and conditioning and Friday’s practice is a mix of drill work and a scrimmage. It’s a commitment of time and love of the sport for the Burlington Bombers. “We’re one of the only teams that plays every week, we didn’t start playing to play only eight to ten times a year,” Avery said.