Melanie Stephens’ unique hobby


David Strong

Stephens (left) competes in roller derby. Photo Provided

Liberty Walton, Memorial Staff Writer

Don’t be alarmed if Memorial’s newest senior English teacher, Melanie Stephens, leads class while sporting bandages, braces or bruises. In her downtime, she participates in one of the most intense sports there is: roller derby. 

Stephens discovered roller derby in 2013, and it didn’t take her long to commit. She had recently taken up mountain biking and was searching for a similar sport that could provide a physical outlet. Her best friend’s sister introduced her to roller derby, and she fell in love immediately.

“I took all of 15 minutes thinking about it,” said Stephens. “That weekend I watched “Whip It,” picked out a name and signed up.”

Some students that attended a match were shocked by its intensity. 

“I didn’t know it was that rough,” said senior Alexis Lopez. 

The game may be brutal, but to Stephens, the rewards outweigh the danger. 

“It’s risky, but I think it’s worth it,” said Stephens. “I mean, you risk your life every time you get into a car.”

Roller derby has become somewhat therapeutic and helped her develop confidence.

“Mostly, it’s just been about accepting my body,” said Stephens. “In derby, there’s a position for everybody.

She’s been skating ever since, except for a two-year leave due to a broken leg from a scrimmage and the birth of her daughter Bella. In July, she rejoined the team, and in August, she was back to teaching English at Memorial, as well as sponsoring the school’s Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) Club. 

Stephens encourages her students to come to matches, where she plays for The Victory Dolls under the nickname “Melarkey.” The team is holding tryouts in March. For more information on roller derby and upcoming matches, see the team website:


Contact Liberty Walton at [email protected]