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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The Berkshire Museum Will Reopen Saturday, Aug. 1

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — After being closed for more than four months, the Berkshire Museum will once again welcome visitors through its doors in downtown Pittsfield. 

The museum, which will open in phases, plans to open exclusively to its members for two weeks during its first phase beginning Saturday, Aug. 1, before inviting the whole community in phase 2 starting Monday, Aug. 17. The reopening of the Berkshire Museum comes as part of Phase 3 of the state's four-phase Reopening Massachusetts plan, which began Monday, July 6, as announced on July 2.

The museum intends to meet or exceed all state-mandated health and safety guidelines through each reopening phase. Beginning Aug. 1, guests will be welcomed back to the museum with a series of new health and safety protocols in place, including new and improved cleaning procedures, time-based advance ticketing that reserves each exhibition for one "family unit" - a group that has been quarantining together - at a time, mandatory face coverings, social distancing between visitors and staff, and more.

"Throughout the pandemic, the Berkshire Museum has prioritized the health and safety of our guests and staff," said Jeff Rodgers, executive director. "This remains our primary concern, especially as we watch states across the nation suffer rising rates of infection. To ensure that we are acting responsibly, we're taking a phased approach to reopening that will allow us to adjust to changing conditions."

From Aug. 115, the Aquarium will open for Berkshire Museum members with timed reservations. Members can enjoy private, 45-minute, self-led explorations of the Aquarium on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays between the hours of 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. The museum will close from 1 to 2 p.m. daily for cleaning.

The same operating hours will continue during phase 2 from Aug. 17-31, with timed reservations available to the public. In this phase visits will expand to include both the Aquarium and a last chance to see the Art of Warner Bros. Cartoons for all visitors.

Timed tickets must be reserved in advance at berkshiremuseum.org or by calling 413-443-7171, ext. 360. Berkshire Museum members, children under 18, and EBT cardholders always visit free. During phase 2, adult regular admission will be $5. Reservations can be made starting July 23 for dates between Aug. 1 and 31.

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