By Nicole Hawley Staff writer



This is Mother’s Day with an edge.

Central New York Roller Derby association, CNYRD, will present the Mother’s Day Tribute Bout and Men’s Roller Derby Exhibition at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, May 8 at Kennedy Arena, 500 W. Embargo St.

"Momma Said Knock You Out" is a double-header roller derby extravaganza and tribute to mothers everywhere, derby spokeswoman and co-founder Heather Espe said. The main event will feature CNYRD’s Utica Clubbers versus New Hampshire Roller Derby’s Skate Free or Die.

The women’s flat track roller derby event will be preceded by the area’s first Men’s Roller Derby Exhibition, featuring CNYRD’s own Quadfathers, as well as skaters from Albany Men’s Roller Derby, Central Massachusetts Roller Derby’s Mass Maelstrom and the New York Stock Exchange.

Doors open at the arena at 4:30 p.m., and the men’s exhibition will begin at 5:30 p.m. The women’s bout begins at 7 p.m., giving the audience two matches for the price of one. Cost of admission is $12 at the door for adults. There is free admission for children under age 10 and adults over age 65. Advance tickets may be purchased for $10 each at www.ticketderby.com, and at the Tramontaine Cafe and Café Domenico in Utica.

CNYRD is a supporter of the YWCA domestic violence shelter. One dollar of each ticket sold at the door during 2010 home matches will be donated to benefit the shelter, Espe said.

"We believe that furthers our mission of women’s empowerment," she said.

Founded in December of 2007, CNYRD is a non-profit organization comprised of two women’s teams, the Utica Clubbers and the Blue Collar Betties, and a men’s team, the Quadfathers. CNYRD is skater owned and operated, and is run by a democratically-elected Board of Directors.

In late 2007, a small group of women in and around Utica began talking about playing roller derby. None had any significant prior skating experience, and some had never seen a roller derby bout, Espe said.

Through mutual friends, the women were introduced to members of Assault City Roller Derby team in Syracuse, and began to make the snowy trek once a week to practices in Onondaga County. Soon more local women started asking about the sport, and by December, the group had enough local and regional interest to begin hosting their own practices, Espe said.

"The decision to call our league Central New York Roller Derby was made because we wanted our league to be geographically diverse, representing the region from Albany to Syracuse along I-90 and from the Adirondacks to the Cooperstown area, and not just be representative of one city," Espe explained. "We have members from Utica, Rome, Herkimer, Ilion, Mohawk, Little Falls, Richfield Springs, Clinton, Remsen, Whitesboro, New Hartford, New York Mills, Yorkville and Westmoreland. We have women from all walks of life — mothers, teachers, students, a semi-professional arm wrestler, social worker, nurses, farmers, counselor, IT support, graphics design, artists, bartenders, athletic trainer, college sports coach, college professor, grade school teacher, baristas, activists, but above all, we have a bunch of ladies who have a drive to skate hard, block harder, and represent this area the best we can in the sport of roller derby."

CNYRD said you don’t have to be a certain "type" of woman to participate in derby.

"There is no right ‘type,’" Espe said. "To be a derby girl, there’s no style, no hair-do, no clothes and certainly no body type. It’s about your drive and determination to be an athlete."

CNYRD started competing in April 2008, and held its first home bout that July to an enthusiastic crowd at the Utica Memorial Auditorium, skating as "The Asylum City Lunatics" against its forerunners Assault City. Since then the league has hosted bouts at Kennedy Arena as well as traveling to other locations across the Northeast to compete.

Utica Rollergirls will also present a bout against the Hellions of Troy Roller Derby at 6:30 p.m. May 8 at the New Hartford Recreation Center at 4 Mill St. Tickets are $5 at the door. Children age 5 and under are free. Tickets are also available in advance at Lava Spa, 34 Oxford Road, New Hartford or through any Utica Rollergirl.

Practices are Mondays and Thursdays from 8-10 p.m. at the New Hartford Recreation Center.