Tarantula from Mays Landing spins vs. former teammates

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derbynew Joellen Leather-Urban/Former Mays Landing resident Tara “Tarantula” Bahgat skates for the Philly Roller Girls “Block Party” A tarantula is set to encroach upon Hammonton this Saturday evening. However, this tarantula only has two legs and wears a helmet and a lot of padding.

This tarantula happens to be Tara “Tarantula” Bahgat, a former Mays Landing resident who will be appearing in Hammonton as part of the Philly Roller Girls “Block Party” as they oppose the Shore Points Roller Derby “Boardwalk Brawlers” in a roller derby bout.

This is a homecoming of sorts for Bahgat, 22, who started her career with Shore Points. She attended a recruitment night just over two years ago with a friend and thought it was “the coolest thing ever,” although her friend felt quite differently.

The Rowan University junior majoring in Early Education switched to the Philadelphia team last year because it was closer to her residence in Glassboro, as they practice in Camden and play in Philadelphia.

According to her, “it is a great opportunity since Philly Roller Girls is the Women's Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) # 9 ranked team.”

Bahgat is excited to be returning to the area to compete against her former teammates in front of friends and family.

“I started skating at Young’s Skating Center when I was a child and would be there every Saturday,” she said. “Now, this has taken over my life and it is like a full-time job. Most important, I have made a lot of new friends.”

derby2new Joellen Leather-Urban/Tara “Tarantula” Bahgat (left) skates with her Philly Roller Girls team in a recent roller derby bout. She will be matched against some of her former teammates, including Erin Albrecht and Lindsey Heacook, both Galloway Township residents.

Imagine if, when you were in seventh grade you had a teacher nicknamed “E-Rex.” Well that is precisely the case for students in Albrecht’s English classes at Jordan Road School in Somers Point.
Albrecht, 28, is in her fourth season with the team. The Special Education and English graduate of William Paterson University was looking on the internet for something to do, perhaps softball, when she came upon roller derby.

“I was instantly hooked and playing within a month,” she said. “This is a lot of fun and I have made a lot of friends. We are like one big family.” She jokingly adds that, “it also makes my students think I am tougher than I really am.”

Heacook, 27, a.k.a. Dilligaf, is another who is professionally employed as an Atlantic City Trauma Registrar and Emergency Medical Technician. She was also looking for a group sport when a friend convinced her to come to the team’s recruitment night.

The Atlantic Cape Community College and Neumann College graduate enjoys the good environment the sport provides. “We put our blood, sweat and tears into this,” she said. “This is a sport in which women of any age can participate.”

She is a relative newcomer, having started in March of last year.

rollerderby Submitted photo/Skaters from the Boardwalk Brawlers (in black) jockey for position against the New Jersey HellRaizers in a roller derby match last month. Both Heacook and Albrecht have watched episodes of “old school roller derby,” with Albrecht especially being a big fan. But the game that fans will see this Saturday is far different. “Here, nothing is scripted and there is a lot more strategy,” stated Kate Warden (Feral Tiegs) of Ocean City, the Brawlers’ player/communications director. “The track is flat, and there is no elbow-throwing permitted.”

Fans of the old style will still see jammers (scorers) and blockers as well as referees and penalties. There also seems to be more scoring in these matches.

This Saturday’s match will take place at the Rollway Skating Rink in Hammonton. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. for the 6 p.m. contest. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. VIP seats are $15. More information can be found at Shorepointsrollerderby.com .

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