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Maui Roller Girls

A family in a league of their own.

March 15, 2012
Daniel Weiss , The Maui Weekly

Victory was the only option for our Maui Roller Girls in their last bout of the season against the Coos County Roller Girls last fall. This marked the first time that a Mainland team traveled to Maui to compete. Five of the Coos Bay girls were able to travel from Oregon for the event, and they picked up additional teammates from neighboring islands to fill out their roster.

The level of intense athleticism and teamwork in this contact sport is no joke, and there is certainly no shortage of practice and commitment from the team's eclectic bunch of athletes.

The Maui Roller Girls initially got their start back in 2008 with "Killah Kelly" (Kelly Galvez), making it Maui's first all-women, flat-track roller derby league. The girls have been searching for a location to call home following countless practices and scrimmages being held in the streets to empty parking lots to the Central Maui Boys and Girls Club of Maui Outdoor Basketball Court in Kahului.

Article Photos

Contemporary roller derby has evolved from the 1930s to become a sport that attracts a diverse group of athletes--from third-wave feminists and punks to women who just love roller skating.

They have now finally found a home at the Kihei Skate Rink in Kalama Park with the ocean as their backdrop in true Maui fashion.

With the support of Maui County, this was the first time the roller girls were able to earn money for their team's expenses by charging admission at the door ($10 per ticket), along with their line of merchandise that includes some fun shirts and bumper stickers.

As a nonprofit organization, the proceeds help the team pay for travel costs to continue competing off-island. In addition, a portion of the profits is donated to the Maui Inline Hockey Association.

Until now, our Maui Roller Derby team has fronted the costs for their own gear and travel costs in pursuit of their passion.

A true spectator sport, the bout was packed with excitement starting with a Hawaiian blessing, music by a live deejay, a play-by-play commentator and a half-time show by a local dance and hula-hoop troupe called Hoopnatyze.

There was no shortage of fans, including scores of onlookers behind the fences. Even Mayor Alan Arakawa was in attendance to watch and cheer on Maui's most cutting-edge sports team as they dominated the competition.

The team is lead by Coach Noa "Fantastica" Tellez, a former speed skater.

"Men have a role in derby, too--not only as coaches or referees, but also as competitors on co-ed teams or the men's league, aptly dubbed 'Merby,'" said Tellez.

A goal of the team is to further legitimize themselves by joining the Women's Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA), so they have the opportunity to compete at a higher level.

Co-captains "G.I. Jersey" (Melissa Mason) and "Go ShiShi" (Malia Draper) have spearheaded the team through the season, and the results of their leadership are evocative in the way each Maui Roller Girl approaches every bout with fierce sportsmanship.

"We've been lucky this season with no serious injuries, only a few concussions," said "G.I. Jersey."

"Sara Sassin" (Sara Gray) has been with the team for four years. "I joined this team around the same time I started my business (Wokstar); and while the latter fell apart, this group of girls has been the best support system you could ask for," she said. "It's more than a sports team--it's a family. When playing a contact sport, there needs to be trust, and I think you can see that trust translate into action on the rink."

The Maui Roller Girls are always recruiting new athletes to take part in this rough-and-tumble sport. But you don't necessarily need to join on the competitive level to be a part of the derby. If you're interested in participating as a skater, referee or off-skate official, email

"You don't need to put on fishnets and pads to be a part of the action," added "Sara Sassin." "It's available to everyone. We've had girls as young as 18 and as seasoned as 50 getting in on the action."

Contemporary roller derby has evolved from the 1930s to become a sport that attracts a diverse group of athletes--from third-wave feminists and punks to women who just love roller skating.

During a potluck dinner after their bout, the two teams swapped stories and shared laughs about their fresh battle. Despite the heavy competition, at the end of the day, both teams share the same love for roller derby. They were able to quickly shift from high-impact combat on the rink to friendly hugs and posing for photos with each other.

"Yo Mama Bin Laden" (Francine Walraven) said that there is a misconception that roller derby girls are either loose or lesbians, "but that's not true. Some of us are both," she said with a smile.

Underneath all the striped socks and tattoos, "What the public doesn't see are all the hours and hard work that these women put into our practices," Coach Fantastica stressed. "These are athletes and this is a real sport. Moreover, this is a family."

Check out video from the last bout of the previous season through the link attached to this story at



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