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State College Area Roller Derby Rolls Into New Era With New Home

The State College Area Roller Derby is rolling into a new era after C3 Sports opened up a new venue for the team.

The SCAR derby lost its old venue, Penn Skates, when it closed back in October. But after a generous offer from C3 Sports, the derby team is back and better than ever at 200 Ellis Place in State College.

“C3 has been absolutely wonderful,” said Elizabeth Kelly, SCAR Derby’s sponsorship and fundraising Chair. “Very welcoming, very accommodating, and we’re excited to keep working with them.

In case you have no idea how the sport is played, it really is quite simple. Two teams set themselves on an oval track and have two, 20-minute halves at their disposal. Both teams have a “jammer” who scores a point for every hip they pass in a two-minute time span. However, the rest of the team’s members serve as “blockers” who prevent the other jammers from scoring and boost their team.

State College’s derby has four teams — two that travel and two that play each other intramurally. The two travel teams, Happy Valley Dolls and Plan B, play six games a season, while the two intramural teams, the Pennsyltucky Punishers and Mount Nittany Mayhem, play each other three or four times a season.

Kelly, better known as “Swifty” on the derby stage, began her roller derby career in State College while she was in graduate school at Penn State back in the fall of 2015. Besides finding a great group of friends and giving back to the community, Kelly finds comfort in the rough edges of the sport.

“I really enjoy hitting people,” Kelly said. “Genuinely, truly it feels great to hit people.”

As the derby’s sponsorship and fundraising chair, Kelly works to raise funds for the league to offset the difference between skater dues and rink expenses. Most of that is done through Penn State athletic events, as members of the team often run concession stands. Kelly also coordinates the derby’s CentreGives campaign, which is a 36-hour giving event that helps support and encourages giving back to local Centre County nonprofits.

Rachel Gaddis, better known as “Blackout Betty” in the rink, serves as the president of the SCAR derby and has been involved since the league’s inception in 2010. Gaddis started off by trying to stay active during the rugby offseason, but she truly fell for the league because of her love of competitive sports, leadership, and giving back to the community.

“My age and gender are not going to afford me many opportunities to be the president of a nonprofit organization at my age,” Gaddis said. “So, having those opportunities and continuing to play a competitive sport is my favorite part.”

As the derby’s president, Gaddis helps the league set and meet yearly goals and sticks to the rules. She played a major role in finding the SCAR league a new home with C3 sports and recruiting new members to the team.

Gaddis and Kelly are also coaches for the league and even bring some fun as content creators on the league’s TikTok page.

Outside of the derby games, the SCAR league does plenty of work to help other nonprofit organizations in the State College community. Gaddis mentioned that the league has partnered with the Youth Service Bureau, Howard Fire Company, Brew Expo, and ClearWater Conservancy. It also put on a game for the Central PA Ford Fest and is an official partner for the LGBTQ+ Center in State College. The derby also donates to different nonprofits after each matchup throughout the season.

One of the most rewarding things Gaddis feels while being in the league is keeping in touch with every past and current member and seeing some move up into some of the best teams in the country.

“Just seeing people who started here that are now playing for the best teams in the world,” Gaddis said. “We have people in L.A., Charlottesville, two people in Philly, one in Buffalo, and Seattle. We’ve had, like, 300 people that have come through the league, and I know all of them…That’s what’s fun for me, seeing all the people and where everyone goes.”

Although it may be a fun time on the track, Kelly emphasized the physical toll the sport can have on your body.

“Every day is not a great day to be alive when you play derby,” Kelly said. “Everything hurts…all the time. My knee, I can’t put any weight on it. Like, I can walk on my legs, but I can’t put any pressure on them because I had bad knee pads, and I didn’t want to upgrade to new knee pads. So, that was on me.”

Both Gaddis and Kelly also say that the hard plastic floor at the new stadium has been tough to adjust to compared to their old concrete floor. However, this new floor is what high-level derby is played on, so they see it as a blessing in disguise.

Interested in joining the SCAR derby league or learning more? Reach out to its email, [email protected], or follow along with its Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok pages.

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About the Author

Tobey Prime

Tobey is a junior studying broadcast journalism from Lancaster, PA. He is a major Pittsburgh sports fan and Miami Heat fanatic. When Tobey isn't writing for Onward State, you can catch him looking at photos of his pugs. Send your best insults to [email protected] or sports takes to @tobey_prime on Twitter.

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