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After Hours: Sherri Frith–Roller derby driven

“Everybody asks me why I do it, and the only reason I can think of is because I can right now and may not be able to in the future,” says Sherri Frith, PA-C, Aesthetic Physician Assistant and owner of Mana Medical Spa in Jacksonville Beach, about being one of more than 70 girls on the Jacksonville RollerGirls roller derby team.

“I just don’t want to have any regrets later in life, asking myself, ‘Why didn’t I do that?’” says Frith. “There are no guarantees in life. My sister, Diana Lanier, is stoically fighting breast cancer as we speak.

“As a medical practitioner in Jacksonville for the last 17 years, I have seen many people taken before their time. I am grateful for the health I have and don’t want it lost on me. I want to live breath-per-breath and burn it up in honor of those who cannot.”

Becoming a RollerGirl

After injuring her knee at Ironman Florida in 2007, she had to have subsequent surgery that left her with no quad strength. In trying to rebuild its strength, she found running was too high impact and continued having knee issues. Since she had been skating since she was 5 years old and even speed skated for three years, she looked at getting back into skating.

She called up the RollerGirls and was going to meet them at Skate Station Mandarin one evening in April 2009, all the while thinking, “I can do that. That shouldn’t be so hard,” says Frith. “Boy was I wrong!”

While there are no tryouts and everybody’s welcome—even if you can’t skate—you start your roller derby career in what they call the “kiddie pool,” which is an area off to the side away from the girls practicing or “scrimmaging.”

 But to get out of the kiddie pool and in to a scrimmage, you have to pass a detailed skills test and then become proficient as a roller derby skater to be rostered on to a team for a bout.

“I tried to get out of the kiddie pool the minute I got there. I was the one scratching, clawing, and kicking thinking, ‘I don’t need to learn how to skate. I can already do that,’” says Frith. “Thankfully, they didn’t let me scrimmage prematurely and I was able to build the necessary strength in practices to bout and not get too beat up.”

While she was excited to compete in her first bout, she admits her nerves were flying. “In retrospect, I probably should have stayed in the kiddie pool longer,” quips Frith jokingly. “Those girls are really tough and the hits are for real!”

She also had to pick a roller derby name, and knew she wanted something professional, but tough. She was raised in Puerto Rico and loves the Spanish culture—even naming her business after the Spanish word Mana, which means substance of which souls are made; your essence. It is associated with altruistic feelings and philanthropy and its primary purpose is abundant reciprocal altruism.

“I came up with my theme—you’ll need surgery (as in, after I hit you hard)—based on my surgical background, then threw a Spanish twist on it and made it Yulanita Surgerita,” says Frith, whose jersey number is 0600, which is the typical time surgeries begin the next morning.

Hitting the big time

While the RollerGirls compete against other teams about once a month, they are always in preparation—and practices, which are held four times a week.

“Some of these girls go to every practice and then continue training by doing Taekwondo, running, and cross training to get themselves ready,” says Frith. “I mean, you are getting ready to face other women that are as strong or stronger than you that want to hurt you so they can score—and there can be some very serious injuries such as broken necks and dislocated shoulders.”

In fact, there were three broken ankles in three weeks of practice alone. “Derby is not for the weak of heart or body. There is a time and practice commitment all derby girls must follow to be rostered and play safe against other teams. This is how we keep injuries down to a minimum in such a high-contact, fast sport,” says Frith.

They also protect themselves with helmets, knee and elbow pads, and wrist guards, “but when you run into a wall at 20 miles per hour, it still hurts and you still break things,” says Frith.

And all that training has paid off as they became a Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) team this year, allowing them to compete nationally. Adding to the excitement is the new venue for next year—they will be playing at the UNF arena and featured on the Jumbotron!

“Our goal,” says Frith, “is to place in the top 10 in the country our first year out in WFTDA, and we feel like we can do it!”

The big attraction

The RollerGirls, a totally volunteer organization, range from the very young to a “little older” and from college students to doctors and school teachers, and while they “are not aggressive people in their normal lives,” says Frith, “they enjoy being fit and using their bodies to accomplish things most people would not try to do.”

“My boyfriend Jordan, although supportive of my endeavors, kind of rolls his eyes at the fact that I want to do this even though I can get injured, but the only two injuries I have right now are not even derby related! I have three broken ribs from him giving me a bear hug when I wasn’t expecting it and a broken toe from stumping it on something.”

“There is a thrill in being strong and hanging out with girls that are like you in many ways,” says Frith. “But you know what they say about the ones that look tough on the outside… Many of us are softies on the inside; sweet, caring, compassionate girls, but all that changes when the pads and helmet go on! It’s game time!”

Don’t let the tattoos and piercings fool you; their sweet, caring, compassionate side shines through as the Jacksonville RollerGirls are committed to charitable deeds and often placing at the top of local fundraising events for breast cancer and domestic abuse causes, just to name a few.

For Frith, her enjoyment comes from being in a big group of cool, edgy, compassionate, dynamic, fun women who are competitive and athletic. “And that’s why I do it—because they are my friends and they’re good people, and it’s a blast to have fun with your friends.”

Sherri Frith is owner of Mana Medical Spa located at 1260 Beach Blvd., Jacksonville, Fla., 32250, which performs medical aesthetics, such as Botox, laser hair removal, skin resurfacing, acne treatment, and skin care; podiatry; massage; and esthetician services. She can be reached at 904-853-6996 or through www.manamedicalspa.com. To find out more about Jacksonville RollerGirls, visit www.jacksonvillerollergirls.com.

Defining Mana

“Mana is the substance of which souls are made; your essence; an impersonal force or quality that resides in people; the Kahuna believe that Mana is the vital life force which flows through all living things. It is associated with altruistic feelings and philanthropy and its primary purpose is abundant reciprocal altruism.”It is for these reasons Sherri Frith, PA-C, Aesthetic Physician Assistant and owner of Mana Medical Spa in Jacksonville Beach, named her spa after it. The culmination of her dreams has manifested itself as a place of technical expertise in a setting of relaxing ambiance filled with aromatherapy, candles, and warm-natured, caring experts in their fields. These include medical aesthetics (Botox, fillers, laser hair removal, photofacials, fractional ablative and non-ablative skin resurfacing, acne treatment, and prescriptive and non-prescriptive skin care), podiatry, massage, and esthetician services.Mana Medical Spa’s mission is to enhance your Mana so that everyone around you benefits. When you look and feel great, you give more back to those you love and your community. Mana Medical Spa is dedicated to giving back to both local and international charities that benefit those most in need.


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