January 25, 2016

Hell on Wheels

Courtney Hampton Reed’s roller derby alter ego reveals a lot about her.

“I majored in theatre in college, and I’m a playwright, so I thought it’d be cool for my name to be a play on William Shakespeare,” she says with a laugh. “I came up with the name Wheelameana Strikesfear. It’s the female version of Shakespeare’s name, spelled to make it more intimidating.”

Reed, a theatre teacher at O’Banion Middle School, has been lacing up her skates since 2010 when she joined the Assassination City league at the invitation of a friend. Now, she’s out to win.

For the uninitiated: Watching a derby bout is an intense experience. Players hit the rink for an hour of skating, checking, and scoring. A point is scored when the jammer passes an opposing player, but it’s not that easy. There are blockers who are simultaneously trying to clear a path for their jammer to score and also blocking the opposing teams from passing. It’s a bit like Red Rover, minus the whole hand-holding thing.

“I was so nervous and didn’t know if I could do it, but eventually I decided to try out for the Fresh Meat program,” Reed says. “It was a great way to blow off steam, and I loved the camaraderie with the other women. Plus, it really gets you in good shape.”

She was eventually drafted onto the Viva la Revolution team, which includes players with monikers like “Your Axe Girlfriend” and “Destroyevsky.”

While it might seem like the teacher is living a double life, she isn’t. Her students learned about her extracurricular activity when she sustained an injury that required surgery and a plate with 10 screws in her leg. Needless to say, there were no disciplinary issues after that.

Post-injury, Reed is back on the rink and skating with a bionic leg.

If that’s not intimidating, we don’t know what is.