AKRON — While baseball season is getting into full swing other athletes are anxiously awaiting their chance to get back into the game.
The pandemic pushed players with the Akron Roller Derby and other Ohio teams out of the rink. Because it’s a full-contact sport, governing boards like the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association are being extra cautious before allowing games and practices to resume to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
It’s disappointing to people like N’Cole Allison who is on the team.
Allison plays piano and is in tune with her creative side.
“I just wanna make music and write books,” she said. “Be happy.”
She’s in her sophomore year at Kent State University studying music and creative writing. Lately, those studies have been taking place at home, virtually.
“I just wish that I had human interaction again,” she said. “Like, real human interaction. Not, like, screens.”
She left the house Thursday and brushed off the winter weather to head to her home away from home.
“I’m not going with the expectation of seeing people from the team getting ready for games and stuff,” Allison said. “Like the way we would if COVID wasn’t a thing.”
It’s been more than a year since she last skated with her teammates with the Akron Roller Derby. The women went from practicing three days a week to storing skates in lockers.
Players are permitted to practice during the pandemic individually or in small groups.
“It’s not the same,” she said. “We can’t hit each other. That’s like the whole part of derby.”
She upgraded her laces and wheels with a pop of pink before hitting the flat track where she’s better known as Nickel Nastee.
“It used to be Nicotine Nickel,” she said, “but I changed it because I don’t condone smoking.”
No games mean the team lost its major source of income. The team is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and they cover operating costs, like rent for their practice space, “The Penthouse,” through sales at events. They launched a GoFundMe page to help pay the bills.
“It’s historically a women’s sport, so I feel like that’s why people don’t take it seriously as much,” Allison said. “Or they think we’re faking, or they think that it’s not a real sport. But it literally is.”
Allison is jumping at the chance to skate again.
“People like to be a part of something, and this is the type of thing that it doesn’t matter your race, your gender, your sexual identity, whatever,” she said. “Like, there’s a spot for you here.”
The Akron Roller Derby team currently has more than 30 women with another 50 more waiting to sign up when the sport is back in session.