Roller derby may not be a major sport, but don’t tell that to the women skaters who risk all as they whizz around the track.
“You name it, our girls have seen it. We’ve had broken collarbones, ankles, and wrists; torn knee ligaments; shoulder strain; and much more,” says Meghan “Malicious Megs” Callaghan of Howell, president of the Jersey Shore Roller Girls.
And when her teammates take a bone-crushing tumble at Asbury Park Convention Hall, their official team physician is only a phone call away. Sometimes he’s just a bleacher away, cheering for his patients rinkside.
Dr. Aron Green of Seaview Orthopaedics is not just the team’s physician — he’s also a fan and a former athlete. He was on the Olympic development team in short track speed skating, and lived at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, NY, off and on for about six years during college, he said.
Now 36 (“I can’t believe I’m getting that old”), Green unites his passions for sports and medicine by caring for injury-prone athletes. He and his team of 16 Seaview doctors are also the official physicians for the Lakewood BlueClaws, the minor league baseball team.
Seaview treats pro athletes, high school cheerleaders, and everyone in between, Green told NJJN after attending to an emergency call from a cheering squad flyer “who didn’t get caught.”
Roller derby, once an afternoon fixture on black and white television, has undergone a revival in the past decade thanks to all-women leagues stressing athleticism and a bit of naughtiness. Teams try to lap — and level — one another on a tight indoor oval.
As the group’s only foot and ankle specialist, Green is the go-to guy for many a Roller Girl.
“Skaters are always a little bit hurt almost all the time,” said Green, a resident of Ocean Township. His practice has offices in Ocean, Freehold, Brick, and Lakewood. “We are the docs who help you get back into it, rather than bench you. Our goal is to get you back fast and safe.”
The Roller Girls comprises 70 athletes, ages 18 to “40-something.” The team recruits new players with a telling teaser on their website: “Always looking for a new set of legs. Must be over 18 with health insurance.”
“We make sure they are well trained and strong, but circumstances cannot be controlled,” said Callaghan. “Dr. Green is an awesome doctor who really helps us get back on our skates.”
Catherine Galioto of Toms River (aka Chesty McBruiser) was among the first patients to seek Green’s care. “One day I slid backward and came down with an awful crunch,” she said during a recent scrimmage in Jackson. “What really distinguishes Dr. Green from other orthopedists is that he also skated competitively and can really connect with us. He realizes this is an important part of our lives and does what’s necessary to allow us to continue playing.”
“Last year I tore my knee ligament and never experienced pain quite like it,” said the team’s marketing director, Laina Schweizer of Keyport, whose team name, “Bama,” is proudly etched in red on her mouth guard. “I’ve seen girls skate with a broken ankle or wrist. We are competitive people, and this is a highly competitive sport. We’d be in a lot of trouble” without Dr. Green.
Roller derby is one of very few team sports available for women after college, said Schweizer. She and many of her teammates played college sports (and earned a bevy of degrees) from schools like Michigan State, Loyola, Arizona State, Monmouth University, and Rutgers.
“Roller Girls have jobs, and most have families and kids, yet they spend several days a week playing a hard-core sport that takes a considerable toll on their bodies,” said Green. “I find it very admirable.”
Green is also familiar with the juggling act. He balances long work hours and family life (he and his wife, Becky, are expecting their third child in January), plus his involvement in the Jewish community. Green is secretary of the Yeshiva at the Jersey Shore’s board of directors and a member of Congregation Brothers of Israel in Elberon. He also manages to squeeze in up to 100 miles on his racing bicycle on weekends to clear his head and stay in shape.
He credits his “very understanding wife and good time management skills” for enabling him to achieve his ultimate reward — “helping others.”