Berkshire Band-Itz Recruiting for Roller Derby League

By Joe DurwinPittsfield Correspondent
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The Band-Itz are trying to bring roller derby back to the Berkshires.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The sport of roller derby is returning to Berkshire County, headed by a small but ambitious group of enthusiasts.  
 
The newly formed Berkshire Band-Itz were approved this week by the Pittsfield Parks Commsion for practice at  Crane Park, and took to the streets during 3rd Thursday actively looking for recruits.
 
Organizer Cheryl Bassett, a seasoned player from the Tampa, Fla., area, says the goal is to create an official league recognized by the Women's Fast Track Derby Association, so that local women have a legitimate opportunity to enjoy the sport in this area.
 
"I moved up here because my husband had work, found out that there was a lot of interest but everything's 40 miles away," Bassett said. "Me, having three kids, I'm not traveling 40 miles to play, and I really wanted to play.  I found a bunch of girls who were really dedicated, so we decided to start our own league here." 
 
A previous attempt at establishing organized bouts, the Berkshire County Roller Derby, took place in 2008, but the effort fizzled early on.  Berkshire Band-Itz has just completed the process of taking over the earlier group's nonprofit incorporation
 
Basset, who derbies under the name "6," said they currently have about half the registered players needed to apply to be a WFTDA apprentice league.
 
"Eventually the goal is to get it indoors somewhere," she said. "But that takes money, and we have to build up numbers first."
 
Interested women, with or without experience, are encouraged to drop in to one of the group's practices, held Mondays and Thursdays from 7:30-9:30 at the outdoor rink at Crane Park at the corner of Springside Avenue and Benedict Road.  The first practice is free to try out, after which Bassett said she envisions some sort of modest dues being agreed upon to be a member of the league.  
 
"It's really something that we feel is a great idea," said Bassett. "We're not profiting from it, but we're really excited about having it in the community."
 
Other players who've signed on are less experienced than the Tampa roller veteran, but say this is an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of the sport in this region.
 
"There's definitely girls on the team that have never played derby before," said recruit Lucia Liebenow. "I had never played before in my life.  You don't have to have any previous experience."

Tags: roller derby,   roller skate,   

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Berkshire House of Corrections Recovering From COVID-19 Outbreak

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Berkshire County House of Corrections had a number of inmates and staff test positive for COVID-19 at the beginning of the month but have been able to contain the outbreak and says those infected are "doing well."

Fifteen inmates and six staff members had tested positive for the virus in early September.

"We were very lucky for a year and a half to be able to keep the virus out of the inmate population," Assistant Deputy Superintendent Thomas Grady said. "Unfortunately, a few weeks ago we ended up with a few cases inside."

Grady told the Central Berkshire Regional Emergency Planning Committee on Wednesday that they are reaching the end of the 14-day quarantine period and are confident that the inmates and staff will make a full recovery after testing positive.

"We have not had anybody that has been very sick at all," he added. "We had a few that were symptomatic, most were asymptomatic, we had several staff members as well that tested positive but they're all doing well."

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