ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - Every Friday night an APG military spouse dons protective gear and roller skates to transform into her roller derby alter ego, "Baconator."
Sarah Bacon is part of Harford County's only roller derby team, the Hazard County Hellions. Formed in 2013, the co-ed team is part of MADE (Modern Athletic Derby Endeavor), an organization formed to promote roller derby as an athletic experience.
Roller derby involves players moving in circles around a rink and trying to pass, change positions or push others out of the way to get ahead. The "jammers," score points by lapping other players.
"It's fast paced and very physical. You could get knocked down, you knock people over," she said. "It's fun."
Bacon, who joined the group in March, said she's always been curious about roller derby and that her husband, Spc. Matt Bacon of the U.S. Army Public Health Command, and her two children, supported her decision to play.
"I would regret it more if I didn't go after it," she said. "So I went after it."
Although she played ice hockey in college, it took her some time to get used to "old school" roller skates, she said. New members are taught proper techniques before they can participate in an event, including how to fall without getting hurt. HCH members wear plenty of padding, mouth guards and helmets to minimize the risk of injury.
"Before you can skate in an event you have to pass an assessment. They want to make sure you are proficient in the basics and that you know the rules."
Bacon said that the sport is a great stress reliever.
"It is a great way for military spouses to get out in the community and have that sense of teamwork, that camaraderie," she said. "I always feel better after a practice or event."
She added that the group is "very family and community oriented."
HCH members volunteered to clean up North Dean Park in Aberdeen near the Route 22 gate, where the groups practices and hosts fundraisers. Over the past summer they hosted a skate-a-thon to aid a military veteran.
"My kids love it," Bacon said. "They come to scrimmages and events with us."
During the winter HCH practices at the Bel Air Athletic Club. HCH is open to men and women ages 18 and older. Previous experience is not required. For more information, email Bacon at email@example.com.