It’s a sign of strength on any playing field, even on a roller rink.
Jessica Boldt has been roller-skating her entire life. Her first tentative steps on wheels were made at the rink in Jefferson City and she took to it, eventually flying under the mirror ball to the pulsating disco beat. These days she’s a jammer for the CoMo Derby Dames, a flat track roller derby team of women who scrimmage at Sk8Zone and for years played their bouts there as well.
Donning a protective helmet, elbow and kneepads and a mouth guard, Boldt, an archeological collections manager at the University of Missouri, becomes “Von Thunderboldt” on skates. As a jammer, she’s the one in scoring position while her other teammates are blockers who pivot and push to outmaneuver the competition.
“This is definitely a full contact sport that most women don’t often have access to,” she said. “It has given me a lot more confidence in my physicality.”
The skater owned and operated nonprofit brings together women of all walks of life. Many team members have extra responsibilities. Boldt chairs the coaching committee and Jamie Kleinsorge is an executive board member who serves as the intra-league liaison.
This is Kleinsorge’s fourth season with the team. A project director at Community Commons, a company providing online data and geographic information systems, she lives in Holts Summit with her husband, Daniel, chief of staff for Sen. Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan.
When she’s skating, the blonde Kleinsorge is Vanna WipeOut and her tag line is Wheels of Misfortune.
“All roller derby names are puns but I was actually a contestant on Wheel of Fortune and I won $114,000 dollars,” said Kleinsorge. “I was able to quit my job at that time and go to graduate school as a full time student.”
It was during this time in 2008/2009, when she and a friend went to watch a roller rerby bout and she found herself very engaged with the action.
“I had a visceral reaction that I wasn’t expecting,” she said. “I decided I wanted to try it but it took me three months to get the gumption to go to a beginner’s practice.”
She kept working on her skating and decided she wanted to compete in the bouts, which means she had to complete a beginner’s course and then pass a skills’ test.
“I wasn’t a great skater to begin with but I spent almost nine months learning the fundamentals and building up my strength and endurance,” Kleinsorge said.
After a test, beginners can move on to training for the all-star or travel team, and that requires being able to skate close to 30 laps in five minutes.
“We do a lot of work to learn how to make contact with another skater, this isn’t the days of roller derby where we’re throwing elbows and tripping them, but we focus on using our hips and shoulders to be as aggressive as we can be to help get our jammer through,” she said.
Even so, there are injuries, sometimes twisted ankles and once someone had their pinky run over but Michelle Lambert, “Knockout” broke her leg and now helps referee. In addition to the actual scrimmages, the women meet with a personal trainer for strength training for an off-skates workout.
“We’re encouraged to keep our core in shape and we spend more time on our upper body since we use our legs so much,” Kleinsorge said.
In addition to the athleticism, there’s the attraction of playing a character. There’s a registered licensed dietitian, an assistant professor and a retail buyer but when they’re skating their real lives disappear.
“Some women don fishnet tights and boy shorts while others just regular workout gear, but they all have their own jersey with their number and skate name. I like to get the crowd worked up and all the theatrics and taking on a persona can be fun because we don’t all get to be ourselves at work,” Kleinsorge said.
The CoMo Derby Dames new schedule begins with an inter-league bout on Saturday February 6 at the Father Tolton Catholic High School in Columbia.