–by Mary Helen Darah
PUBLICATION DATE: Mar 03, 2020
The Glass City Rollers (GCR), established in 2007, is metro Toledo’s premier flat track roller derby team. The Glass City Rollers strive to encourage the development of a league that fosters athleticism, goodwill and sportsmanship. Derby teams play bouts of two 30-minute periods and each period consists of multiple “jams.” Every jam is an opportunity for the teams to score points. It is legal for a skater to block opponents with their hips, rear and shoulders. There are Flat Track Derby teams all over the country but GCR is the only team in Toledo/Sylvania.
Since teams in the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) are spread out, the GCR team travels to places such as Traverse City and Lansing, Mich. for “bouts.” GCR member Shawn McNair, a reading intervention specialist for the Sylvania School district known by her teammates as “DeStruckshawn,” enjoys being part of the group. “I happen to be the oldest member of the team,” stated “DeStruckshawn”. “My son was going to college and I was looking for things to do. I have always played sports and there are limited sports available for women. I was thrilled to find GCR. I love the support and the camaraderie.”
Lisa Rozanski, whose Derby name is French Vanilla, is delighted yet surprised that she is part of GCR. “I volunteered at a few fundraisers where I met members of GCR who were also working at the events,” recalled Rozanski. “Being part of the Derby was an item on my super secret bucket list. One of the ladies told me that they were recruiting. I’m a 42 -year-old woman with a child with special needs, and a husband who would go to the nursing home to feed his dad every night. I thought there’s no way I would be able to do Derby, but I then I thought it would be the perfect excuse to get in shape and do something for me. It has been an incredible sisterhood for me. Many times I have thought of throwing in the towel-and my skates- but my coaches and team give me magical talks that keep me coming back for more. I’ve never been an athlete but with their support I feel I’m getting there.”
For a GCR teammate Carley Kondelka, who is known as Snarky, being part of the team has been vital to her physical recovery. “I was run over by a car, tore my kneecaps and my ACL. I couldn’t squat for two years and had terrible PTSD,” she stated. “I met someone in a coffee shop who told me about GCR and said I should skate with them. I thought, if I’m going to die I might as well do something I like. Since I ran out of physical therapy funds, this does the trick. We are continually in the squat position, which happily is no longer an issue for me.”
For Sylvania School District counselor and clinical social worker Rachael Gombos (AKA CatAtomic Meltdown) GCR has been a way to continue her love of sports and bond with teammates. “I couldn’t pass up the opportunity,” she said. “It’s been a great experience.” Teammate Dawn Kulh agrees. She has been part of the team for 11 years and is currently in her 12th season. The mother of two and grandmother of four said the hardest thing was coming up with a “Derby name.” “My daughter finally helped me,” she recalled. “She suggested I use Mother Nature because you never know how I’ll be when I come through the door.”
The team practices twice a week at Funagin’s on Centennial Road under the leadership of Tiffany Newbold (AKA Irish) and her husband, Allen Newbold (AKA Chicken Allen King), who also serves as the assistant coach for Sylvania Northview Girls Soccer team. In addition to coaching the team, they are known for giving priceless pointers and “magic talks” to keep the women positive. Newbold believes the GCR will continue to grow and thrive. She said, “The GCR has switched coaches, players, and buildings but we will always remain in the game.”
The Glass City Rollers are currently scheduling their 2020 season and expect to announce the addition of home games, to be held at Funagin’s, this summer. The organization is also hosting a fundraiser, Heels & Wheels, at Highland Meadows Golf Club on March 28. Lisa Rozanski (AKA French Vanilla) is excited about the event and hopes it raises awareness about the sport she loves. “I don’t think people know we exist,” she offered. “If they do, many think we punch each other.
It’s not violent. Our team includes people from every walk of life. We are teachers, business owners, and chemical operators. Mainly we are a group of caring, strong, smart amazing women who enjoy one another
and who just want to keep ‘jammin’.”
The March 28 Heels & Wheels Fashion Show and Brunch will include vendor shopping, raffle prizes and will be hosted by Guy in the 419. Doors open at 11 am. Tickets are $40 per person and include brunch and one drink voucher. Proceeds will assist the GCR out-of-town game expenses and the Beach House Family Shelter. For tickets call 419-466-8701.