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Kara Penniman

"My co-workers wouldn't recognize me," says Kara Penniman, by day a social worker at Churchill and South Eugene high schools. "I help kids and families in crisis. It's what I always wanted to do." Four nights a week, Penniman transforms into Burnadeath of the Flat Track Furies when the Emerald City Roller Girls work out at the Regional Sports Center in Springfield. Last winter, when Penniman was feeling lonely and low, her sister in Baltimore suggested she look at roller derby. "A group of us saw the Rose City Rollers in Portland and I was hooked," she says. "I hadn' t exercised in 20 years." Emails and a post on Craig's List drew six people to a first meeting in January. Ten months later, ECRG has grown to 75 members and three teams, plus an additional 25 newbies or "fresh meat," according to league founder and president Burnadeath. "Most of us had never played team sports before," she says. "We like to say, 'Roller derby saved my soul.'" ECRG's first public bout, in October, sold out in 30 minutes. The next is set for February 17. Learn how you can be fresh meat at emeraldcityrollergirls.com.


happening people

photograph and story by Paul Neevel

Eugene Weekly / 21 November 2007

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