Hamilton teacher, Middletown Navy recruiter among members of Cincinnati’s scrappiest sports team

The Cincinnati Rollergirls, a women’s roller derby squad, has opened its season with four Butler County residents on its roster.

Two Hamiltonians — Amy Michael and Miranda Staudt — are members of the team, along with Middletown residents Krayla Ward and Jennifer Effinger.

“The craziest thing about roller derby is that it’s a physically aggressive, competitive sport against another team,” Michael said. “But when the game’s over, everyone is is giving each other compliments, high-fives, hugs and telling opposing players how wonderfully they did. It’s a great example of women empowering women.”

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The Rollergirls is Cincinnati’s first amateur women’s flat track roller derby team. The all-volunteer team is owned and operated by its skaters, who are women from around the region.

Michael, who is a teacher at Hamilton High School, said that like other sports, roller derby take commitment, but leads to strong relationships with teammates.

“We practice often and our practices are challenging,” she said. “The best part of being on the team is the relationships I’ve built with my teammates. Cincinnati Rollergirls is made up of some of the most amazingly strong, supportive and diverse women I have ever known.”

She added that she got interested in the sport after watching a game with her daughter.

“After taking my daughter to a game, I knew it was something I wanted to do and added it to my bucket list,” Michael said.

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For Staudt, who grew up in Butler County and has lived in Hamilton for the past 10 years, the desire to get on the track was personal.

“For me, it was an early life crisis,” she said, adding that she also wanted “to do something that my daughter could look up to.”

Effinger previously competed with Rollergirls of Southern Indiana before moving to Middletown about five years ago.

“I love that we have such a strong community within the league and a great supporting fan base,” she said.

She says the sport is more like a lifestyle than a hobby.

“When you get into it, you will find some of the most amazing females you will ever meet. Strong, athletic, intelligent. just pure amazing,” Effinger said. “I am in awe all the time to know that I get the honor to share the track with so many amazing and influential females in this area and around the globe.”

Ward, who is a Navy recruiter, said roller derby filled a void in her life after youth sports ended.

“In high school I had basketball, track, volleyball … I played everything,” she said. “Now I have a sport and a team full of strong, supportive women.”

“Being in the derby community is being a part of a family,” Ward said.

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