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    NMRTC Bremerton staff exercising their skating skill and sporting thrill

    NMRTC Bremerton staff exercising their skating skill and sporting thrill

    Photo By Petty Officer 3rd Class Meagan Christoph | 200208-N-XT693-1072 BREMERTON, Wash. (Feb. 8, 2020), With stakes in her skates…Tracy...... read more read more

    By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Meagan Christoph, NMRTC Bremerton Public Affairs — Cmdr. Tracy Clark wears two different uniforms.

    During the day the Judge Advocate General’s Corps officer assigned to Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command (NMRTC) Bremerton wears the prescribed green camo.

    After work, she changes into a jersey, dons protective gear, and straps on roller skates.

    Taking her from the legal civility of her work to the rough-and-tumble contact of her chosen sport, Clark is a roller derby player and enthusiast.
    Clark started participating in roller derby in the fall of 2009, yet immediately sustained an injury that was not roller derby related and took her out of action for about four months. It wasn’t until approximately a year later she got back on the track and has been skating ever since.

    “The movie Whip It came out right as I started so that generated a whole lot of enthusiasm,” said Clark.

    Clark skates for Northwest Derby Company (NDC) and is actively involved with roller derby and thought highly of by her team.

    “Tracy just has this uncanny ability to always be in the right position at the right time that only comes from years of experience,” said NDC team captain Alex Landing. “We don't have to verbally communicate for us to understand what the other is planning. It's like magic on the track. That level of trust in your teammates is rare and I treasure it.”

    Growing up, Clark participated in softball, volleyball, swimming, gymnastics, and dance. After college she discovered it was more difficult for her to find a woman’s sport to join.

    “There just aren't very many opportunities for women to play sports after college if they're lucky enough to go to college and play sports,” said Clark. “[Roller derby] is a good place. You get a good workout and you have a lot of encouraging people. Our league is like one of the most inclusive and encouraging that I've been a part of and this is my fifth league now.”

    She discovered that roller derby has been a good outlet for women that want to experience the comradery that comes with being on a team.
    Irene Tran, a physical therapist at NMRTC Bremerton, also skates for NDC and says that it has been the most inclusive sport she has been a part of.

    “Roller derby is very empowering,” said Tran. “You feel very strong doing it and it’s a great community too. Anything that goes on in life and we’re always there for each other. I think that’s a really good thing. Especially in the military community as we’re always moving and starting new every single time we move. I have found a new derby league every place that I’ve moved to and it’s been nice to have that.”

    Clark described her experience with the league and what she has witnessed with the community support throughout her roller derby career.

    “Anytime someone goes through a pregnancy or an injury we all understand it’s hard to do,” said Clark. “And then to be away from the sport that you love can be hard. But we're like, ‘oh you can referee or if you're not on skates you can be non-skating official.’ We even participate in community events and we're always trying to be active that way, too. So even if you're not skating, then there's still support through other activities as well.”

    When Clark moved to Washington DC in 2011 without her family for a new duty station she experienced first-hand the support of the roller derby community.

    “When I moved to D.C. I was going there for a [geo-bachelor] tour and I knew one person in the city,” said Clark. “I showed up to my first ‘D.C. Roller Girls’ practice and had about 80 new friends who were willing to take me out and show me the city and show me all the fun things to do. That made that tour a whole lot easier.”

    Although roller derby is often portrayed in films like Whip It as an alternative and ‘punk’ sport, it involves discipline and strategy that can be found in the military.

    “You have to be committed to show up for practices and make attendance and improve your own skills because you're the only one that's going to make you do that,” said Clark.

    Women’s Flat Track Derby Association summarizes the rules of the sport as followed:

    The game of Flat Track Roller Derby is played on a flat, oval track. Play is broken up into two 30-minute periods, and within those periods, into units of play called “Jams,” which last up to two minutes. There are 30 seconds between each Jam. During a Jam, each team fields up to five Skaters. Four of these Skaters are called “Blockers” (together, the Blockers are called the “Pack”), and one is called a “Jammer.” The Jammer wears a helmet cover with a star on it. The two Jammers start each Jam behind the Pack, and score a point for every opposing Blocker they lap, each lap. Because they start behind the Pack, they must get through the Pack, then all the way around the track to be eligible to score points on opposing Blockers. Roller derby is a full-contact sport; however, Skaters cannot use their heads, elbows, forearms, hands, knees, lower legs, or feet to make contact to opponents. Skaters cannot make contact to opponents’ heads, backs, knees, lower legs, or feet. Play that is unsafe or illegal may result in a Skater being assessed a penalty, which is served by sitting in the Penalty Box for 30 seconds of Jam time. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins.

    Although Clark is accustomed to discipline and organization, she explained that participating in roller derby has helped her gain perspective and learn skills about communication with people that have different learning styles.

    “One thing derby has taught me, no joke, is trying to coach people who learn very differently. Because in the military, we tend to learn very similar styles and that is not the case in derby whatsoever,” said Clark. “I can explain the exact same drill to four people and they all have four different takes on how it should be done. So it's trying to make sure everybody's on the same page.”

    To learn more about roller derby or to get involved in the sport visit



    Date Taken: 03.01.2020
    Date Posted: 03.02.2020 11:15
    Story ID: 364276
    Location: BREMERTON , WA, US 

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