Caroline Puckett: Doing Derby

Caroline Puckett jumped out of the car, her equipment bag slung over her shoulder. She bolted through the doors and into the spacious warehouse. The building was centered in the “ghetto” part of downtown, located next to a brewery; the smell of beer was always in the air. The warehouse itself was half-full of kegs. The other half was a makeshift rink made with duct tape markings on the ground.  The stench of sweat came to her in wafts from the helmets, pads and lack of air conditioning. Lacing up her skates, she rolled onto the track, several girls skating around her.

The opposing team was ahead of her in a close-knit pack circling the rink. With their wheels rolling quickly against the track, they were “jamming.”

“I was trying to knock a girl over, and she tripped on another girl so she was falling,” said Caroline Puckett, “I hit her in the mouth, and there was blood.”

Generally, Puckett has a sweet demeanor, emphasized by her blonde hair and petite figure. She seems like the average freshman at Dunbar, figuring out her schedule and finding her way through the maze-like hallways. However innocent Puckett may appear, she has an odd interest that doesn’t seem to fit her personality: roller derby.

Puckett is an avid participant in the junior league at Breadbox, first starting out over six months ago. This team is a relatively new addition to the roller derby community, founded by Dunbar English teacher Wendy Turner who formerly participated in the adult roller derby league.

“I heard about it from a friend who would always talk about it, I went to one of the practices and I couldn’t wait to get out on the rink,” said Puckett.

Half a year later, Puckett has broken out of her shell. However, she still enjoys time to herself. She is shy and reserved, usually branching out and talking with others when she is spoken to first.

“I’m more of an introverted person, but at roller derby I feel like I can be myself,” said Puckett, “Derby has definitely made me more aggressive, but more confident to stand up for myself.”

Puckett even wishes to continue her roller derby career throughout high school and college, hoping to get a scholarship for derby at The University of Arizona.

“I don’t know what I want to do with my life as an adult, but I know I want to do derby,” said Puckett.

Even though she has been doing derby for less than a year, it has obviously become a very important aspect of her life.

“The girls I met are a lot like me and being there feels like being part of a family, she said. “ It’s my safe place, my home away from home.”