Nalani Fosher, a White Sands Missile Range spouse and mother, is also a rough-and-tumble roller derby lady on the side. Fosher is a member of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association with the local Spitfire Sallys team. The team ranks 122 out of 283 teams worldwide. Fosher has been contact skating since June of 2015.
“I was looking for something fun to do, something different,” she said.
Fosher actually tried out for the team in 2013 and had made the team but then the unexpected happened. Her husband, Capt. Joshua Fosher, returned early from a deployment with a brain injury due to an improvised explosive devise explosion. Fosher had to put a hold on her roller derby dreams for a couple of years to care for her husband. After her husband recuperated and Fosher gave birth to their son, Kai, she said she needed an outlet.
“I found myself with a lot of anxiety and anger,” Fosher said. “I needed something where I could find myself. Being a military spouse you can easily lose yourself in the identity of your spouse.”
Fosher said she knew she needed an outlet to release her tension. When her son was two months old, her husband encouraged her to try out for the roller derby team again. She said her husband has always played contact sports and he shared how it served as a good stress releaser for him.
“It’s nice to be able to get everything out on the track,” she said. “If you have a bad day it ends on a good note after practice.”
She said she had always wanted to try out for the roller derby team but she never thought she was tough enough. Through the years she realized that she liked to try new things and it wasn’t the end of the world if something didn’t work out for her. She first tried out for the roller derby team without any knowledge on roller skating.
“It was intimidating,” Fosher said. “I was very nervous but I liked trying new things and just going out there.”
Fosher made it on the team, again. She had to participate in a 16-week training program called the “Chile Verde” program, a program for new teammates. Once she graduated from the program she was able to play in matches. Fosher became so good that she even made it to the traveling team and has participated in two out-of-state tournaments.
“I didn’t know what I was doing but it’s something where if you put the work into it and show up to practice, you can improve greatly,” she said.
Fosher said the sport has not only served as a release but the league has become like a second family to her.
“The league has been amazing,” she said. “There’s a family dynamic and it’s really awesome to experience that portion of it.”
During a game there are five players on a track from each team. Four out of the five are “blockers” and one is a “jammer.” The purpose of the game is to get through the group of “blockers.” The first “jammer” to get through the group of “blockers” is then considered the “lead jammer.” From then every time a “jammer” gets through an opposing “blocker” one point is awarded to the team. Each “jam” or session is two minutes long with 30-second breaks in-between. The game runs in two 30-minute halves.
“This is definitely a sport that is unique and different from anything out there,” said Head Coach Roby Grant. “You’re putting your body strength against somebody else’s. It definitely helps take out some pent up aggression.”
Grant said in the past roller derby was a combination of race on skates with theatrics. Now, roller derby is much more of a sport. It is now very much rule based and emphasizes athleticism. He said he agrees with Fosher about the team being more like a family because of the high risk involved in the sport.
“Anytime you step out on the track there’s a huge risk of injury,” he said. “Anytime you’re out there you’re protecting each other. If you don’t have a great group behind you, cheering you on, then those sprained and broken ankles are enough for people to give up pretty quickly. If you don’t have someone backing you up it’s a lot easier for you to walk away.”
Grant said teammates also become like family because a lot of the time, family and friends don’t understand why you have joined a sport with such high physical contact and no pay.
“We’re all doing this for different reasons but we all ultimately know why we’re doing this,” Grant said.
He said Fosher has been a great addition to the team and family.
“She definitely has a whole lot of heart,” Grant said.
For more information on upcoming matches or for information on how to join, visit www.crossroadcityderbydolls.com.