Hitmen of Manatee County make roller derby debut in Bradenton to battle multiple sclerosis

September 30, 2012 

Some assignments you never forget.

Like the Monday night I spent in the rink with the Bradentucky Bombers.

Wife, mother and elementary school teacher Valeri Rose had just masterminded the Bradenton area's first roller derby team.

"I can't wait to start pushing each other around," she said with a wicked smile, in between doing drills.

Her nickname, "GiGi RaMoan," was scrawled in black permanent marker on the back of her shirt.

Fortunately, RaMoan and the rest of the ladies took it easy on me.

I was the only guy out there during a practice held months before the team's debut.

Six years later, RaMoan and her Bomb Squad have just completed another bone-crushing season that included bouts across Florida.

And now the boys are going to do battle.

The Hitmen of Manatee County, an all-male, flat-track roller derby team associated with the Hit Crew of Manatee County League, will hold its inaugural bout 6:30 p.m. today at Astro Skate in Bradenton.

It has been dubbed "A Black Eye Affair."

The Hitmen will take on The Replacements, an all-star team comprised of the best men's derby players from across the state.

The game supports the National Multiple Sclerosis Society with $2 of every ticket sold, and all funds collected from the raffles, going to the MS Society.

Raising money and awareness for MS is an important goal of The Hitmen, whose members are mostly husbands of the Bradentucky Bombers.

Earlier this year, derby queen Rose/RaMoan told her teammates she was fighting the disease.

"With her having MS, it really brought it to the forefront that it can touch anybody," said Todd Meschelle, aka Airborne, the founder of The Hitmen. "Valeri inspired all of this and we really want to support her."

Details: 6:30 p.m. Sept. 30, Astro Skate and Family Fun Center, 3611 3rd St. W., Bradenton. Tickets: $10 (advance)/$12 (door); children ages 8 and younger are free. Information: 941-747-8602 or www.manateecountyrollerderby.com.

Wade Tatangelo, features writer, can be reached at 941-745-7057. Follow Twitter.com/wtatangelo.

Bradenton Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service