TRAVERSE CITY — Lisa Kelly is a stay-at-home mom of three whose youngest is 2 months old.
She's also one of the newest skaters — called "fresh meat" — on the Traverse City Roller Derby league. She'll skate with the new Traverse City Cherry Bombs, the league's second team along with the Traverse City Toxic Cherries.
The Cherry Bombs will make their official debut in Brighton March 17 against the Brighton Roller Dollz. But local derby lovers can meet the skaters Saturday, March 10, at TCRD's third annual Birthday Bash and Silent Auction in Traverse City.
The team also will skate in a scrimmage with the Toxic Cherries April 17 at the Kaliseum Recreation Complex in Kalkaska.
"Roller derby's grown enough in this area to where we are fortunate to have two teams," said Amanda Scott, a second-year league skater known in the derby world as "Marie Slamtoinette." "We've had a lot of interest and a lot of growth just from people seeing it in their own home town."
Saturday's birthday bash is from 7 to 11 p.m. at Ecco in Front Row Center, 121 E. Front St. The fare includes appetizers from the Soul Hole and beer from Right Brain Brewery — poured at a cash bar by members of the GTRC Blues rugby team. DJ Sweet & Low will spin music.
A silent auction that benefits the nonprofit league runs from 7 to 9:30 p.m.
Attendees also are encouraged to bring a cash donation of $5 or a wish list item for the Cherryland Humane Society, from cherrylandhumane.org/youcanhelp/wishlist.
Scott said the event is not only a birthday bash for TCRD but a celebration of women's fast track roller derby.
"It's a great way for people to see us, a chance to talk to us and see what roller derby is about," she said. "My parents saw roller derby in the '70s when it was staged like wrestling. For a lot of people their age, that is their frame of reference."
The Toxic Cherries played their first home bout last summer at the Grand Traverse Civic Center and now they compete throughout Michigan. This summer they'll play four home bouts — one more than last year.
Scott said the league's two dozen or so skaters will move between the Toxic Cherries and the less experienced Cherry Bombs. They include teachers, students, graphic artists, saleswomen and a physical therapist, many of whom juggle their team obligations and careers with families.
"We've got so many great women and they're so incredibly different — people that would never trip over each other normally," Scott said. "But they have that one thing in common: a passion for roller derby."
Lisa "Hallway" Kelly, 29, joined the league after going through "freshman boot camp" in February.
"I really went into it with no expectations and preconceived ideas cause I didn't know what to expect," said the former waitress, who hadn't skated since high school except for occasional outings with her family on the TART Trail. "One thing I'm excited about is how awesome all the girls are. It makes me less nervous about being involved in a team sport."
Now she practices twice a week at the old Glacier Dome, where she's learning to hit, block and fall safely. She said she gets support from her fiancé, who's involved in the "mirror" contact sport of rugby.
"Women are powerful and strong and beautiful, and this sport encompasses all those things," she said. "If you're afraid to get bruised it's not the sport for you. When I first got to practice, I fell in the first hour. I'm kind of glad it happened right away so I could see how it feels."