Blakely Hale may seem like any other insurance agent, but what she does on skates at night surprises many.
The 1995 North Mecklenburg High graduate skates for the Charlotte Speed Demons, a roller derby team operated by Race City Roller Derby.
Hale got involved in roller derby nearly two years ago, when she and a friend, Speed Demon teammate Tara van Genderen, saw an ad for tryouts for the Sweet Union Roller Girls in Monroe.
"We went out, signed up and been hooked ever since," said Hale.
Hale said the sport wasn't hard to pick up, having skated growing up at her home off Mount Holly-Huntersville Road. She admits, however, the sport can get complicated.
"There's a lot of rules and tactics to learn - everything from how to fall right to how to hit right," she said. "It's a lot of fun - it's fun to learn."
Roller derby takes place on an oval track with two teams of five players each. Matches - known as "bouts" - are divided into two-minute "jams," in which one player on each team - the jammer - attempts to pass opposing blockers to score points. A bout consists of two 30-minute periods.
Hale plays outside blocker on her team. Her role is to stop the jammer when her teammates force her to the outside of the track.
"I just wait and hit her at the most opportune time and try to knock her off the floor," said Hale.
The 34-year-old said the competitiveness and team aspect of roller derby has kept her coming back.
And, of course, there's the hitting.
"If you've had one of those weeks, some people go and work out - take all your aggression out on the treadmill or the elliptical - here you can take that out and hit each other," said Hale.
Because of how physical the sport can get, Hale and her teammates get banged up despite wearing regulation safety gear - helmets, mouth guards, wrist guards, elbow pads and knee pads. For extra protection, Hale wears knee gaskets - a gel pad that helps her absorb falls - but even that doesn't protect from flying skates leaving bruises behind.
The Speed Demons are different from how the sport is portrayed in movies. The team doesn't use stage names or outlandish costumes, using the rationale that skaters should be proud of the sport and be themselves instead of taking up a persona.
Race City Roller Derby is modeled after other professional sports organizations, even hoping to one day pay players.
Hale, who went by the name of "Fearless Angel" before joining the Speed Demons last July, admits that derby names don't bother her, but she understands why people want to use their given names.
"I had a derby name just to have one, but it was never really me," she said.
"Here, roller derby is more serious, but those girls who have personas are as good athletes as we are."
Hale and the Speed Demons, which are 2-1 in their first year, will take on Virginia's Mother State Roller Derby team Saturday at First Ward Recreation Center in uptown Charlotte.
The match will be the first in Women's Flat Track Derby Association history in which neither team will use derby names.
Hale, who now lives in Indian Trail, encourages people to come watch her and her teammates.
"It's really an athletic sport," she said. "It's very competitive and exciting. ... It's just entertaining."