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      Derby girls gear up for inaugural season in Hancock

      It??s a rite of passage of sorts in roller derby to be given a derby moniker.

      Jessica Bracco earned hers after three months of intense training with the Keweenaw Roller Girls, and she??s now known as Pabst Blue Rippin??.

      ??They practice three hours on Sunday nights and two hours on Thursday nights,?? she said. ??They also do a cross fit program on Wednesday nights for some more physical fitness and cross training. So, it??s a pretty rigorous workout.??

      Bracco said she started out slow as someone who had never skated much before, but now that she??s comfortable on her wheels, the team isn??t going easy on her.

      ??Now that we??re hitting though, I??ve definitely got some derby kisses, and I??m a little bit more sore!?? she laughed.

      The goal of the game is simple: the team that scores the most points wins the bout. But as Roller Girl Katie Jo Wright, also known as Thimbleberry Slam, explained, scoring the points isn??t so simple when you??re on wheels and being shoved by nine other skaters.

      ??You do that by lapping the opposing team, and only one player does that. That is the jammer. She wears the star on her helmet,?? said Wright. ??Then you??ve got your blockers who try to help your jammer through the pack.??

      The Keweenaw Roller Girls formed in 2012 with just a handful of skaters and only skated in one bout last year. Now, there are nearly 20 girls on the roster, and they??re gearing up for their first ever full competition season starting this weekend.

      ??It??s hard to measure the progress when you??re skating every day and you??re organizing and getting everybody together, but when you turn around and you see that there are a jillion skates on the floor, it??s overwhelming,?? Wright said. ??The drills run so much better. There??s more contact. There??s more communication.??

      Saturday, May 31, the Keweenaw Roller Girls will host their first game of the season at the Houghton County Arena and will even travel across the state later in the summer.

      Bracco said if you??ve never seen a derby game, it??s something you won??t want to miss.

      ??It??s basically an adrenaline rush, teamwork, working together,?? she said. ??You??re doing some hard hitting, and hard falling, but just work together and you just go.??

      ??I think everybody needs a little derby in their life,?? added Wright.

      The Keweenaw Roller Girls will host their first game Saturday, May 31 at the Houghton County Arena. The doors will open at 6 p.m., and the game will begin at 7 p.m.