Editor’s note: When we heard that Jay-Z and Beyonce were packing it in for LA recently, we ran a post seeking a new king and queen of Brooklyn. This is clearly a topic that arouses our readers’ passions because, at last count, 1,666 people voted in this vitally important election, which is a very democratic way to choose a monarchy if you think about it. So after weeks of counting chads and paper ballots and weeding out dead people’s votes, we are down to two finalists, the Halkiases, the owners of Grand Prospect Hall, and the “couple” (loosely) comprised of King Henry, the Cyclones’ mascot, and the lady on the logo for Gotham Girls, who is not technically human (though the Gotham Girls appear to be). There will be a runoff next month, after all parties have a chance to make their case. The Halkiases had their moment to tell readers why they deserve to be the next king and queen, not the least of all because they’re promising a big fancy party for hundreds of Brokelyn readers. What will the Gotham Girls do if they win? Here, Eva McCloskey, the captain of the Brooklyn Bombshells wing of the league, antes up. Stay tuned to hear King Henry’s stump speech next week, then be prepared to cast the final vote, oh, sometime really soon.
In the campaign for King and Queen of Brooklyn, are you going to vote royal or are you going to vote for some of the most determined, passionate and real women living and working in Brooklyn? The Gotham Girls Roller Derby work extremely hard to bring the aggressive and exciting sport to New York, and they have won more international titles than any other sports team here. (Knicks? Dodgers? Puh lease!) The 15-person Brooklyn roller derby team, called the “Brooklyn Bombshells,” are skating to win your hearts (and your votes) as the queens of Brooklyn. You’ve probably seen them skate or work all over Brooklyn, whether you’ve been to a game or not.
“Roller derby is an aggressive sport, but it is also really fun to watch,” explains Captain of the Brooklyn Bombshells, Eva McCloskey, or “Evilicious” on the track. In a roller derby, teams of badass women compete on rollerskates, and they are training hard for their season home opener on March 14. “We’ve got ‘jeerleaders,’ not cheerleaders, and they’re great at getting the crowd involved and adding another fun energy to the game. You have to experience it for yourself to really appreciate it.”
Although they play a serious sport, you will find that roller derby girls have a soft side. “We’re strong, athletic women, and we’re family,” says McCloskey. “We are representative of most women in Brooklyn. We are full-time moms. We are full-time employees. We are business owners. We are freelancers, and we’re representative of any woman who lives in Brooklyn. Hardworking, passionate people—I think that’s what Brooklyn is, and that’s what we are. We represent all walks of life and any women in Brooklyn you will find. And we are not just one woman—we are a team of women. Name any type of women, and we got one of them on our team.”
“Many people don’t know that we are a non-profit,” McCloskey says. Not a nonprofit like the NFL is a nonprofit — Gotham Girls is run solely by volunteers. “It’s great to be a part of something that you are also in charge of steering and running, so we are masters of our own destiny. We get to decide where we play our own games. There’s a lot more substance than what you’d see on the surface. Having to do the production work when you’re not skating is hard — it’s not glamorous. We’re a very hard working middle class kind of sport. We’re not like any professional sport because we have control over the games.”
As a nonprofit, the mission of Gotham Girls is to develop amateur female athletes for national and international roller derby competition, while promoting both physical and mental strength and independent spirit in all participants. Every skater is a volunteer on a committee — such as coaching, merchandise, public relations or production — that runs the organization. They offer a program for youth ages 8-18 called Junior Roller Derby that provides young women an opportunity to learn to skate at all levels in a fun, supportive environment. And anyone of all ages and skill levels can participate in the Recreational League to work on your roller derby skills or overall fitness.
This Saturday is the annual Derbytaunt Ball at the Paper Box (17 Meadow St). This is where the new skaters on the team will be announced during the ceremony. Make sure to arrive early for free beer courtesy of Coney Island Brewery from 7pm-8pm and stay late for the dance party.
Here’s another reason to vote for the Gotham Girls: they’re everywhere. You can see the Brooklyn Bombshells skating all over the borough — from Prospect Park, Maria Hernandez Park, and Cooper Park to the Mermaid Parade in warmer weather. They’d skate in their apartments, if our apartments in Brooklyn weren’t getting smaller. “We’ll skate anywhere!” says McCloskey.
That’s on top of their three-hour practice sessions four days a week, running the nonprofit, and juggling responsibilities in their own lives. At the end of the week, we learned that the team is starved for the $12 burger and a beer special at the Anchored Inn (57 Waterbury St).
“The Brooklyn Bombshells spends a lot of time at the Anchored Inn,” says McCloskey. “Since we spend so much time practicing and training, we have this really special bond as teammates and don’t often see each other outside of practice. We sacrifice so much to practice. On Sundays after our three-hour practice, everyone is really hungry, so we hang out and be sweaty in a bar together. It’s a special relationships that you have with your teammates. As captain, I feel responsible for making sure that everyone is enjoying their time on the team and working really hard so Brooklyn can win the championship this year.”
If the Brooklyn Bombshells win, we can expect them to give a give a special performance pending venue availability. Stay tuned for the run-off poll.
Follow Julia for more non-profit action at @mint_julips.