Naptown Roller Girls

One of Indy's newest sports teams has established itself as a presence among cheering fans, and the Naptown Roller Girls Tornado Sirens reciprocate by cheering on community efforts through volunteerism, fund raising and raising awareness.

Theyre an excellent group of girls as far as working and training, and they donate their time, coach Rick Keen says. These girls are donating for nothing. They really get involved with it.

The team can be found beautifying the city as part of Keep Indianapolis Beautiful/Great Indy Cleanup, and they also promote Dining Out for Life, which benefits the Damien Center. They skate in the Indy Pride parade, raise awareness for breast cancer and host a dedicated message board on the official Web site for events, causes and announcements from other groups.

That involvement extends beyond Indy. At an away bout in Huntsville, Ala., team members witnessed a tragedy. They were dining at a restaurant on April 17; outside on the street, a drunk driver hit a car carrying two teens. The team watched helplessly as the car exploded and the teens died. The shaken team members and coaches resolved to raise money for burn victims at an upcoming bout.

These skaters look out for the community, and also for one another. Make no mistake, though: Competitiveness is just as important as caring. When a team member falls during practice, the first response from other skaters is Up up up up up! Later, during water breaks, theyll ask about injuries. The more seasoned skaters will help the newbies, or fresh meat, adjust their wheels with an Allen wrench.

Vets, Keen instructs in practice, lean on the fresh meat. Like a butcher, but different: He means to toughen them up.

Veteran skater Jen X noted the new coachs eye for strategy. Hes a good coach for girls, and not just any girls: Girls whod eat a normal coach alive, she says.

Keen, a retired electrician, is in his first season as head coach. He used to skate competitively in the 1960s and 70s.

Can I do what I did back then? he asks. No. But I can tell somebody how to do it.

The close-knit team also has support from the coachs wife, Karen Keen, who calls herself a glorified team mom. I make sure Rick doesnt throw chairs, she jokes.

After the heat of competition, its back to the community: The team hosts after-parties with a charitable bent. All proceeds from a recent one went to the Damien Center.

Sarah Layden