As part of Discover Your Potential Week at Blatchley Middle School in Sitka, twenty girls joined seventh-grade science teacher Bridgette Whitcomb (aka “The Filthy Oar”) and other members of the Sitka Sound Slayers to learn about the sport of flat-track Roller Derby. After only four hour-long sessions, the girls had chosen their names (“Allie-Get-Her,” “Toxic,” “She-Rex,” “Aphro-Smitey,” “Monster”) and were learning how to skate in a pack.

Junior Roller Derby League (Slideshow)

Whitcomb — or “Ms. Filthy” as her skaters dubbed her — says there’s much more to derby than learning a new sport.

I think it really brings out what they already have in themselves, and there doesn’t need to be this hiding, this transforming later in life. This is going to nurture that internal roar that they already do have…. I want them to feel that they can do and be anything they want to be, and I feel that derby — when they come up to me and say “I can do crossovers!” — really makes them feel powerful.

The sport of Roller Derby is undergoing a nationwide revival, with thousands of participants in hundreds of all-women leagues across the country. There is also growing international participation, with the introduction of the Roller Derby World Cup in 2011.