The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 4, 2012

Roller derby team hosts fundraiser at new venue

By Joe Hadsall
Globe Features Editor

JOPLIN, Mo. — The ground is a little rough. There’s no overhead cover. But Brandee Read is thrilled with the new home of the Mo-Kan Roller Girlz, a Joplin-based roller derby team.

The team will host a luau-themed mashup Saturday. Skaters from several area teams, including the Green County Roller Girlz, Northwest Arkansas Roller Derby, Springfield Roller Girls and others will compete in a fundraising event for the Joplin Parks and Recreation Department.

The mashup will be held at Schifferdecker Park, using a large piece of pavement that used to be tennis courts. It’s big enough to hold the crowd of hundreds that come to see the competitions.

Read, who skates under the name Neurotica, said that the team has skated on concrete before -- only a more slippery version. And the wood floors at the team’s previous venue were also pretty slick, she said.

“Obviously we’ll deal with the weather and heat, but the only thing about this is that we’re on a rougher surface,” Read said. “And falling on it is like falling on sandpaper. Skin protection is key.”

But the drawbacks are outweighed by the positives, she said. The rink offers plenty of space and exposure.

“We love it out there,” Read said. “There’s a lot of curious onlookers when we’re out there, because we’re right by the golf course. A lot of people stop and ask, ‘What in the world is going on?’”

The event will be the first outdoor competition for the team, and the first mashup with skaters from other leagues held in Joplin. Money raised by the event will help rebuild Joplin parks damaged by the May 22 tornado.

In addition to a $10 admission price for spectators, each team member pays $20 to participate. The pay-to-play nature of the team is standard, Read said -- team members cover their own costs for competitions held across the country.

“They pay dues every month,” Read said. “September will be our fifth year, and some of our girls have traveled constantly, and paid for everything we’ve done.”

The group also is no stranger to fundraising events. The group has raised money for Children’s Haven and in October dressed like bulls in a re-creation of Pamplona’s famous event in order to raise money for rebuilding St. Mary’s Elementary School.

The collaboration with the city parks department is a continuation of the group’s growth, Read said. The team is starting a junior team intended for younger girls who aren’t ready to roll with the grown-ups, and Read said there are plans to start up a junior roller hockey team. That ties in with the team’s further pursuit of sponsors, so that one day, there can be a canopy over its new home.

“We wanted something for women to do, and give back to the community,” Read said. “We don’t get paid for this. There’s a lot of good-hearted women on the team.”

Want to go?

The Mo-Kan Roller Girlz Luau Mashup will be held from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday at Schifferdecker Park. Admission: $10.