Among her teammates, she goes by the name G.I. Jaycie.

For 14-year-old Jaycie Abel, the sport of roller derby has weaved its way into her life and that’s the way she likes it.

The sport attracts all different kinds of people, she said, and to prove that point, she noted that her New and Old Testament teacher at Xavier College Preparatory was one competitor she saw while watching a bout, a match in roller derby.

It all stemmed from talking to her mentor while in middle school at Summit School of Ahwatukee. Middle school students go through what is called the ROPES, or, Rights of Passage program, where they tackle a life experience that is outside the box so to speak, she said.

“My mentor told me about it and she taught it during school,” Abel said. “I liked the speed of it. And you’re allowed to hit people. I have heard a lot of people say that it is anger management for them.”

There are different age ranges that girls all over Arizona compete in. The lower levels do not allow for much hitting but the farther you go up, the more physical the game becomes.

On Abel’s team, called the Arizona Roller Dollies, she plays a couple different positions. There are only three positions — jammer, who scores points by lapping the “pack,” pivot, and blocker, who tries to keep the other team’s jammer from achieving their goal.

The league, called Arizona Rollergirls, is a year-round sport. Unfortunately for Abel and the Arizona Roller Dollies, there are only three total teams in Arizona in her league. That means they only play one bout or scrimmage each month.

“We definitely want to get more and expand the sport,” she said.

During the hot summer months, they only practice for 2.5 hours each week and they are usually out on the blacktop.

The sport attracts a wide range of professions, her mother, Gina Abel, said, which includes lawyers, doctors and teachers. The higher divisions can get quite competitive and physical, which makes it fun to watch.

But she has no hangups about keeping the younger division safe for competitors.

“It’s really not as dangerous a sport as movies make it seem,” she said. “They wear a lot of padding and have rules in place so the girls don’t hurt each other.”

The Arizona Roller Dollies is open to girls ages 8 to 17. For more information, including when and where to watch bouts, visit

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or

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Summit School of Ahwatukee

Rite of Passage Experience (ROPES) is a unique 8th grade program at Summit School of Ahwatukee that includes multiple skills: reading, writing, thinking, decision making, researching, summarizing, demonstrating, performing, public speaking, and most importantly taking risks!

Students first venture into the community to engage in a brand new life experience, by finding and contacting a professional, asking them to serve as their mentor in this new life experience. In the last years, students have enjoyed exploring symphony conducting, journalism, cooking, cartooning, surgery, firefighting, creating guitars, woodworking, veterinary medicine, and much more.

Research papers and 20 to 30 minute presentations, with demonstrations to an audience of over 100 people and three judges, mark the culminating event for each student. Students deliver presentations that are unique, engaging, enthusiastic, confident, knowledgeable, sincere, heartfelt, and thoughtful. The experience not only prepares students for the future, but also gives them a life changing opportunity.

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