ARCHIVE: Malicious Megs is On a Roll

300x300By TOM CHESEK (First published on Red Bank oRBit September 16, 2008)

Who are the Jersey Shore Roller Girls? They’re the Red Bank area’s very own, brand new entry in the fast-gaining field of flat track roller derby. It’s an explosively popular, fan-friendly team sport that can be played at hard-floor venues of all shapes and sizes.

So who are the Jersey Shore Roller Girls? Playing at Asbury Park’s Convention Hall and training at Jackson Skating Center in Ocean County, the JSRG is a unit made up of three teams — The Right Coast Rollers, The Anchor Assassins, and The Murder Beach Militia, teams that regularly compete against each other in “interleague” bouts. There’s also a touring squad of Jersey Shore Roller Girl All-Stars that takes on some of the best of the region’s well-established teams.

Yeah, but who are the Jersey Shore Roller Girls? Sporting names like the Angry Beaver,Chelle B Evil, Razor Ramona and Helle McFearson, they’re a killer elite of take-no-prisoners girlpower, who strike fear in the hearts of their opponents as easily as they raise cheers with the fanbase.

If you ask Roller Girls co-owner Meghan ‘Malicious Megs’ Callaghan, the Roller Girls are “real local people” — wives, moms, girlfriends, professionals; maybe even your teacher — and they walk among us when they’re not busy annihilating a jammer.

The Roller Girl All-Stars prepare to meet the Wall Street Traitors — a travel unit of the formidable Gotham Girls Roller Derby — this Saturday at Convention Hall. Red Bank oRBit caught up to Malicious Megs at her day job, as manager of Red Bank’s long-playing Broadway Grill restaurant.

RED BANK ORBIT: How big is the roller derby thing these days? Is it all flat-track, and does everyone use the traditional four-wheel skates?

MALICIOUS MEGS: It’s about 300 leagues strong these days. It really started in Texas, with the Texas Rollergirls. California has a lot of leagues; it’s in places like Michigan, Minnesota, Florida. Most of the leagues play on the flat track — and everybody uses the “quad” skates.

Is it a total free-for-all, or is there some kind of commissioner’s office for roller derby?

The majority of the leagues play by the rules established by the W.F.T.D.A. — the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association. We call it “WIFTA.”

To belong to the group, your team has to have at least 70 percent female ownership, and you have to have been in existence for two years. You also have to do positive things; you have to play for charities. We’ll probably apply to join WIFTA in a year or so.

So how’d you get the idea to start this thing around here?

I didn’t think of it until a friend mentioned it to me; I had skated for six to ten years when I was a kid, but…they don’t make a book on how to put a Derby league together.

The Gotham Girls organization served as an inspiration to me — they’re super-structured, they’ve been around for five years. They even bought their own floor, which they put down when they play their home events at Hunter College basketball court.

So you just started putting out the call, soliciting team members, looking into venues? When did you make your debut?

Our first anniversary was May 30, as far as being organized officially. We did our first event on February 2nd of this year — the Right Coast Rollers versus the Anchor Assassins.

The Right Coast Rollers, with Malicious Megs second from right in top row.

And how many team members are active right now?

Right now we’re about 55 women strong; we need 20 girls available for an event. Fourteen go on the roster; ten on the track and four sitting on the bench.

When the team goes on the road, is it every woman for herself as far as arranging her own transportation?

Our first away game was in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. One of the girls, her husband has a 13-passenger van, plus a trailer for storing all of our gear, so when we played our first away game in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, we got to ride in style.

Everyone chipped in for gas. We were amped for the whole trip out there, and we won, which was great, because we really didn’t know what our abilities would be in that situation. But on the way back, the bus kind of smelled. Anyway, I am proud to say we are undefeated on the road.

How is it playing in Convention Hall?

Convention Hall is on the expensive side for venues that we could possibly play in. It’s a great place, but we never know what to expect from the floor surface. It’s affected by moisture and temperature, and with the ocean right underneath it can get very wet and slippery. We have to use Quick-Dri before we skate on it.

I’m sure that’s just one of many little details the owner of the team has to worry about.

We do everything; we bring the lights, the sound, the DJ set-up, we work with a radio station, bring in a band, even the referees.

Really? The refs work for you?

Each team brings their own referees. The refs get together at the start of each game, and decide which of the WIFTA rules we’ll be playing by.

You mean there’s no set rulebook?

They revise the rules constantly. There are leagues that play by what’s called “Old School Rules,” which are a lot more lenient when it comes to hitting.

I imagine you have an intimate working knowledge of hitting from both sides.

I’m still recovering from a head injury. I broke my leg during practice — I worked about 180 hours before I went to the doctor and found out how bad my leg was. I missed the Lehigh game, but every other game I’ve been in.

Anybody else on the disabled list these days?

Kool Moe T is pregnant! She’ll definitely be back; she’s been going to the events and helping out on the sidelines. And Toastface Killa broke her collarbone.

I went to one event a couple of months back, where one of the refs had to be taken away by medics.

That was Sugar Daddy, who refs for the Gotham teams, and who helps us out a great deal. Anyway, when you join our league, you’re part of our family. There’s no staying home; everybody finds a way to pitch in.

What kind of a person do you get coming to try out for the team? Who fits the profile?

We’ve got nurses on our team; we have teachers, moms, store managers — everybody loves it because it’s local. We’re real local people, and everyone knows someone who knows someone on the team.

And all of those women get to craft their own persona; pick out a name and maybe add a little flourish to the uniform; a little signature move?

Only a handful of us call each other by our real names. Some girls, I don’t even know their real names! We just call them Tam El Toe Stomper or whatever! Eva, who goes by the name of The Angry Beaver, works just up the street at Ariston salon.

And as for the costumes, our travel team has gone through about 20 wardrobe changes. It’s hard enough to get 20 girls to agree on anything, but we all agreed that one of our early costume designs was horrible — just a nightmare. It was like a dress almost, and blue — we looked like big blue sausages. We were very unhappy, because all we could think about was how fat we looked.

How do you go about auditioning new teammates?

Our Thursday practice sessions down in Jackson are devoted to new girl training — we call it our Porkroller Program.

What are some of the things a new hopeful should know and be able to do?

You have to learn how to fall before you learn how to skate. If you know, you will not get hurt. We want to train new girls according to the minimum skills level set by WIFTA, and we give them two opportunities to try out. You’ve got to be in attendance at sixty-six percent of the practices, at least, before you play. And you have to have your own health insurance.

So, nobody gets paid, everyone’s responsible for their gear, their insurance, everything. And yet you and a whole lot of other women can’t wait to get out there on that track.

It’s more than just a sport, you know? It’s a place to vent, to get your energies out. And for me it’s a full time second job; being a skater and training other skaters and doing the business end. It’s insane the amount of work that goes into it, so there’s gotta be something that drives you to do this. It’s the love of the sport; that’s its own reward.

You go into the zone when you’re out there on the track — you can hear or see nothing else. You know what your job is;  you have to assist your jammer, and annihilate the other jammer. There’s a lot of teamwork. There can’t be any surprises.

So, we’re all looking forward to the match on the night of the 20th.

It’s a big game for us. We actually cancelled one of our other scheduled events so we could put all our energy into this one. We’re playing the Wall Street Traitors, one of the Gotham Girl teams — and this team is good even if they’re considered a B team. We also have theBouncing Souls playing that night; a national act.

When the Gotham people asked us if we’d play their B team, it really was an honor. We went into this not knowing how we’d measure up against the girls that have been doing this for longer than we have. But after playing for less than a year, to be asked like that — we have to be doing something right!