Kathleen Kissing can usually be found wearing a thinking cap at her home business, Unique Custom Cabinetry. But she’s also been known to don a crash helmet and a shiny pair of in-line skates at the local track.
Kissing –– better known to her female counterparts as Panterrorize –– is one of 30 rabble-rousing starlets in the Cincinnati Rollergirls, a fast-paced addition to the handful of flat-track roller derby teams sprouting up in the Buckeye State.
In this sport, two teams each send five players –– three defensive blockers, one last-line-of-defense pivot and one scoring jammer –– onto the track. The team whose jammer scores the most points by making her way around the track without getting blocked wins.
Founded in 2006, the Cincinnati Rollergirls are a refreshing alternative to the male-dominated world of sports. However, the city isn’t a stranger to women’s roller derby. On January 8, 1971, approximately 13,410 fans entered the Cincinnati Gardens to see the all-female Cincinnati Jolters compete on the track. (The crowd surpassed Elvis’ 1973 gig.)
So how did this 43-year-old interior designer become a player on the Cincinnati Rollergirls’ nationally ranked all-star team, The Black Sheep? “I joined because my dad challenged me. I was a roller speed-skater in the ’70s and, as a little kid, used to win national [tournaments],” says Kissing, who earned her nickname because of an affinity for the heavy metal rock group Pantera. “I retired at 14 and decided to go back into amateur roller-skating at 41,” she adds.
Kissing isn’t the only one who makes this extracurricular pursuit an integral part of her week.
Team President Mercedes “Sadistic Sadie” Stafford works in operations at United Airlines when she’s not practicing or competing against national and regional teams, including the Burning River Roller Girls in Cleveland and Columbus’ Ohio Roller Girls. Stafford says her teammates’ 9-to-5 occupations range from being doctors and chefs to contractors and teachers.
And their fans are just as colorful. “My grandma is 82 and loves to come to the game,” says Stafford.
for a schedule of events.