EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 12, 2013

Roller derby facility proposed in Salem

By Doug Ireland

---- — SALEM — Make way for some new guests in town — guests with names like “Pixie Bruiser” and “Crueliette.”

Anyone who stands in their way, better be prepared to pay the price. Yes, real roller derby action may be coming to Salem.

Representatives of New Hampshire Roller Derby will go before the Planning Board tonight for permission to establish a 12,000-square-foot practice facility in a vacant industrial building at 11 Garabedian Drive, according to town planning director Ross Moldoff.

“This goes on the list of the things we never thought we would see,” Moldoff said.

If the Planning Board grants site plan approval, warriors on wheels will soon be skating around the spacious facility.

But fans will have to go to JFK Coliseum in Manchester to see their competitions, or “bouts.” The facility will only be for practices and scrimmages.

“We hope to move in as soon as possible,” said Melissa Martin, the five-team league’s training coordinator.

She skates for two of the teams.

Martin, who also goes by the nickname “Cruliette Lewis,” said the 60-member league is based in Nashua, and trains at both the JFK Coliseum and Roller Kingdom in Tyngsboro.

But the league needs a more convenient location it can use on a regular basis, she said.

While many members live in the Manchester area, many also live in the Boston area, Martin said. One lives in Whitman, Mass., a half-hour south of Boston, she said.

“We don’t have our own practice facility,” Martin said. “With the growth of our league, we are finding we need a place we can use seven days a week.”

It’s difficult to find a suitable location for roller derby, she said. Hockey rinks are ideal – if there isn’t any ice. But that doesn’t happen very often since they are usually used year-round, Martin said.

Cost is also an issue for the 5-year-old nonprofit organization, she said. The rental agreement would still need to be finalized if the town grants approval, she said.

“We would like to stay there as long as we can,” Martin said. “It’s a real nice central location.”

Jena Cotreau of Haverhill, aka “Pixie Bruiser,” is excited about possibly training in Salem. It’s only about 10 minutes from her home, she said, compared to traveling 45 minutes to Tyngsboro and getting stuck in traffic near Manchester.

“That would be great,” she said. “I put a lot of miles on my car and the gas is killing me.”

Cotreau said the Salem facility would ideal, even big enough for all five teams to practice at once.

“Finding a roller derby track is almost impossible,” she said. “Sometimes, we even have to use a basketball court. … We just need space so badly.”

Cotreau, 37, is a six-year roller derby veteran and member of the Queen City Cherry Bombs.

By day, she’s a graphic designer. But when the work day is over, she’s a roller derby queen ready for the next hit.

“My body is always in pain, but I love it,” she said.