Woodhaven teen earns spot on national roller derby team

Roller 1
Photo by Manish Gosalia

A Woodhaven high school senior isn’t letting anything block her way to roller derby stardom.

Maureen MacIntosh, 17, was chosen as one of only 30 teenagers from the eastern half of the United States to be on the Team USA Junior Roller Derby. The selections were officially announced on Monday, along with 30 other members from the western U.S.

More than 300 skaters from all over the country competed to be on the team, which will represent the United States in international events, such as the Junior Roller Derby World Cup.

“It as an absolutely amazing feeling because it was such a great confirmation of all the hard work I’ve done all year and all season,” MacIntosh said.

The accomplishment is no surprise to MacIntosh’s mother, Nellie, who first witnessed her daughter’s love for skating at the young age of 3 on the sidewalks of Woodhaven.

When she was 8, MacIntosh started looking for recreational rinks to skate at, and learned about roller derby from one of the owners. After researching leagues, she found out about the Gotham Girls Roller Derby, the only all-female, do-it-yourself, skater-operated roller derby league in the city, where she attended some games and basic lessons for younger girls.

Out of those lessons, the Gotham Girls Junior Derby was created in May 2012, with MacIntosh as one of its founding members.

Maurs Photo

A roller derby team has five players on the track at a time — a jammer, who is trying to score points, and four blockers, who are attempting to prevent the other team’s jammer from scoring.

In addition to being a blocker, MacIntosh, who uses the derby name Hale E. Williams, inspired by the lead singer of Paramore, is also the pivot.

The pivot, who is identified by a stripe on her helmet, tries to communicate as much information as she can to the other blockers. She also acts as the jammer when needed.

MacIntosh has learned a lot from the older Gotham Girls and from the entire experience of roller derby.

The Gotham Girls Junior Derby is coached by veteran Gotham Girls players from the adult league, and practices consist of more than just skating. The girls do dynamic stretching, agility drills, running and other cardio, and exercises to make sure their muscles are strong for games.

The roller derby has given MacIntosh a love for exercise and being healthy, which has rubbed off on her whole family, according to her mother.

“To see the change in my daughter since she’s started playing has made me feel good,” she said. “To me she seems happier than prior to skating.”

MacIntosh, a student at The Mary Louis Academy, was dead-set on going away for college, but now wants to stay in New York City to continue skating with the Gotham Girls Roller Derby.

She is also determined to keep participating in the sport well into adulthood.

“I hope my body can hold out for that long because there is nothing else that I’d rather be doing.”