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Lakewood Ranch resident transforms into a roller derby robot

Bradentucky Bomber Jane Martin says the team tries not to show the pain of the sport, like a robot.

The Bradentucky Bombers play Saturday nights at the Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex.
The Bradentucky Bombers play Saturday nights at the Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex.
Courtesy photo
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Not everyone gets injured while competing in roller derby, but if you’re going to skate on this rink, be prepared to take a hit. 

Lakewood Ranch resident Jane Martin skates for the Bradentucky Bombers. Martin’s injuries include countless rolled ankles, three concussions, a pulled groin, a torn ligament, “hellish bruising” and “fishnet rink rash.” 

“It looks like road rash but in the pattern of fishnet (stockings),” Martin said. “That was a thing that people got a lot when fishnets were very popular.”  

Martin, 28, keeps skating for the competition, fun, camaraderie and culture, which has changed quite a bit since Martin first started. 

Martin said what started out campy with fishnets and tutus has evolved into a true athletic competition over the past decade. The days of roller derby fights being staged like a WWE match are over, which can be disappointing to fans who expect to see a 1980s version of the game. 

“It’s a very different experience, still fun, but different,” Martin said. “I enjoy the folks that do bring that element of camp to roller derby. We have quite a few skaters that are campier in their dress and their personas on the track, but the culture of roller derby, nationally, has shifted to be based more on strategy, gameplay and athletics.” 

Martin doesn't have a nickname, and no longer wears fishnet stockings in the rink. The camp aspect wasn’t the draw for Martin, who wanted the competitive aspect. A former powerlifter, Martin’s body couldn’t endure the stress of powerlifting anymore. Martin was looking for a replacement activity that was more physical versus endurance based. 

Martin picked up a flier for the Bradentucky Bombers at the Starbucks on State Road 70 on a visit home from the University of Central Florida. At 20 years old, nearing graduation and with no skating experience outside of elementary school skate nights at Astro Skate in Bradenton, Martin gave it a shot.

Eight years later, Martin lives in Lakewood Ranch with husband, Brandon Haney, and practices and works out three times a week with the Bombers. 

Still a boyfriend when he picked up the flier, Haney was part of the initial motivation to sign up when he teased that Martin was too wimpy for roller derby, which is played on a circular track and consists of a series of two-minute timed jams. The teams are typically made up of five players that include blockers and "jammers" who can score points by lapping the opponent's players.

When Haney teased Martin, it became a challenge. As time passed, it grew into a passion which resulted in a new group of friends.

“Roller derby attracts the misfits, and it’s an alternative sport,” Martin said. “I love that all these folks from different walks of life come together. I have teammates who are accountants, doctors and teachers. We have a shared love of this sport, and that’s really what brings us together.”

Jane Martin lives in Lakewood Ranch and plays for the Bradentucky Bombers roller derby.
Courtesy photo

Martin skates for he Bomb Squad of the competitive league, but there is also the recreational league Nuclear Bombshells, and an open gender league team, the Fusion Bomb. The Bomb Squad is ranked 108 out of 376 teams across six continents with the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association.  

Anyone can join without skating experience because the Bombers offer a training program that covers the basics of skating before moving into the game and taking hits. New skaters are referred to as “The Firecrackers.” The first month is free, and it costs $45 a month thereafter.

The Bombers also offer scholarships. It’s an all inclusive league regardless of gender, finances or age. Skaters have to be 18 years old to join, but Martin said some fellow teammates have been in their 60s. Roller derby is a sport based on skill and mental fortitude more than any other factor.  

“We have this mantra where we call ourselves derby robots, and the goal is that we don’t react,” Martin said, “So somebody can hit us really hard or have a terrible jam where we get scored on, the goal is for us to not react, just play our game consistently because it’s intimidating for the other team.” 



Lesley Dwyer

Lesley Dwyer is a staff writer for East County and a graduate of the University of South Florida. After earning a bachelor’s degree in professional and technical writing, she freelanced for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Lesley has lived in the Sarasota area for over 25 years.

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