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Game on! Roller derby comes to the People's Playground

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It’s the perfect Coney Island marriage.

Roller derby, arguably the world’s greatest female spectator sport, is coming to the Abe Stark Arena in Coney Island — home of odd-ball spectacles.

The fun begins tomorrow when teams from the Gotham Girls Roller Derby league compete in two double-headers against out-of-city rivals, organizers say.

“Roller derby fans tend to look for entertainment slightly off the beaten path, and roller derby complements the overall entertainment scene of Coney Island, including the freak show, the burlesque performances, the midway games, and the carnival rides,” said Gotham Girl Eva McCloskey, who competes under he derby name “Evilicious.”

The Abe Stark Arena also provides another perk that will draw roller derby teams and their fans to the People’s Playground: organizers are allowed to sell beer on the premises.

“It’s a rare thing for us,” said Ginger Snap, a skater for the elite All-Stars team. “We usually have our games at local colleges, which are dry.”

Hosting the event near Luna Park has its benefits as well: roller derby spectators will be able to buy discount passes which are unavailable on weekends, McCloskey said.

“A co-promotion with Luna Park will allow fans at the bout to purchase all-you-can-ride passes to the park, which will make for a complete afternoon and evening of Coney Island fun,” she said.

The Abe Stark Arena is only opened on weekends and school holidays from October through April. It’s closed in the summer as the ice is allowed to melt — providing a smooth, oval rink that’s perfect for roller derby.

Roller derby is a contact sport pitting two opposing teams of 14 players, with five members per team skating counter-clockwise around the track at all times.

Plays consists of a series of two-minute rounds called jams. Both teams designate a scoring player, called the jammer, who scores points by lapping members of the opposing team. The remaining players, known as blockers, try to stop the jammer from lapping their teammates at all costs — that’s where the fun, and the crashes, begin.

But roller derby isn’t just for women. Guys from the New York Shock Exchange will take on members from the St. Louis Stock Exchange in Coney Island during a double-header in August.

Roller derby at the Abe Stark Arena [1902 W. 19th St. near Surf Avenue in Coney Island, (718) 946-3135; www.gothamgirlsrollerderby.com] on July 14 at 5 pm. Online tickets are $19.99, $25 at the door.

Reach reporter Colin MIxson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4514.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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