Indianapolis, otherwise known as “nap town,” has been known for its NFL football team, its Motor Speedway and on a good day — its basketball team.
Many sports articles have circulated regarding these big events but not too many circulate the city about yet another one of its nationally ranked teams — the NapTown Roller Girls.
The NapTown Roller Girls is Indianapolis’ roller derby team, ranked 14th in the country and third in their region. Not only do they rank, but also one of their top scorers is none other than a Lebanon High School and Purdue University graduate.
Melissa Smith, otherwise known as Maiden America, her registered derby name by the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, was recognized as their featured skater for May 2011. She was also voted Best Jammer for two years in a row in the league, and was also voted league MVP last season.
While she may be a top skater, she hasn’t always skated competitively. Growing up, the Smith family skated for fun.
Not only was it an activity for family fun, it was also an activity of family tradition: Melissa’s grandfather was a professional style-skater.
“I learned to skate as soon as I could walk,” said Melissa’s mother, Julie Smith. “I put my kids in skates as soon as they could walk.”
Melissa’s mother wasn’t exaggerating.
“I have been skating for just about as long as I’ve been walking, and although all the skating I ever did was just for fun, I knew that I could be a valuable asset to a roller derby team because of my natural talent,” Smith said.
After her graduation from Purdue in May 2009, Melissa wanted to find a way to stay in shape and be on a team again.
“I have always been an athlete, and I missed that feeling (of) camaraderie that you get when playing on a sports team,” she said.
After her post-college move to Indianapolis, Smith saw a Naptown Roller Girls bumper sticker on a car.
“From that moment, I knew I had to learn more about the sport, and figure out when the next round of try outs were going to be.”
Smith participated in summer workshops in July 2009 and a month later became a member of the team.
This season, the NRG is currently at three and zero — “it’s shaping up nicely,” said Christie Wallace, head coach for the Naptown Roller Girl’s A-team, The Tornado Sirens.
As Smith’s coach, Wallace sees everything from behind the scenes. “Maiden America really is a coach’s athlete,” she said. “She takes her training seriously, accepts criticism with a positive attitude, isn’t afraid to experiment with new ideas, and approaches every practice with the same professional attitude as she would a bout.”
Melissa Smith is the kind of athlete many only hope to work with.
“She is the kind of athlete that makes my job rather easy.”
The Naptown Roller Girlsí next bout takes place on Saturday, March 24, against the Dutchland Rollers in Lancaster, Pa. To keep up with the team, check out http://www.naptownrollergirls.com.