GREAT FALLS — In 2010 a group of women in the Great Falls area decided that they wanted to create something different in the community. A few phone calls and a MySpace page later, the Electric City Roller GrrrlZ were meeting for their very first practice.
After ten seasons, a large turnover in players, and a global pandemic, this roller derby team is still tearing up the rinks.
Original member Dawn “Mischief Merlot” O'Meara said, "I was a rink rat, and I spent a lot of time at the rink growing up so when I was approached by Slim Hitman (Casie) I was like, heck yeah. I can do that and after that honestly, it just started as something to do.”
Starting off, not many of its members knew too much about roller derby so with some help from some other Montana "derby girls" and a lot of falling, the derby team slowly became a family.
Casie "Slim Hitman" Steinert says that roller derby gave her an out when she didn’t feel like she had one: “I was 29 then, and I didn't know how to roller skate. I had lost both of my parents in the last couple years, my husband had just come back from Iraq, I have three kids, and I really needed that time for myself.”
And what started as just a pastime has turned into one of the best decisions of her life: “Roller derby has taught me a lot. I am pretty good at a lot of things, but I wasn’t very good at this. So that was a huge ego hit for me. But it taught me to not be great at something. How to fail at something, and how to keep trying, and get success over something you couldn't do. And how to overcome it.”
Being strong emotionally and physically - something Hitman thanks roller derby for.
“When we started I was 29, now I'm 41, My kids are grown now and have a lot of respect for me and they think that I am strong and that there aren't a lot of things that I can't do, which...I don't know if that was my same spirit I had before.“
The "derby girls" also take pride in helping the community; their website explains:
Not only do we spend time on the track skating, hitting, and trying to score points, but another integral part of roller derby is our involvement in the community that supports us. Each year we participate in a multitude of different events in and around the city of Great Falls, as well as participation in Highway cleanup on a section of highway out side of Cascade, MT, go shopping for toys to donate to the Toys for Tots program. Giving back to the communities that support us in important for us to share our gratitude to everyone who supports not just our league but also the sport of Roller Derby.