ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — Roller derby is one of those sports that makes hockey seem tame. Players slide, slash and slam their way around a track all on rollerskates.
Most would call it a loud arena, but the Rev. Kim Mason calls it her place of refuge.
“It doesn't matter how your body is built. If you have the skills, you can play roller derby,” Mason said.
Roller derby is a sport she never expected to fall into.
“I didn't even know how to skate when I started."
But at a time in her life when she was young and starting a new job in a new city, it was the perfect outlet.
“I’m used to having a very professional persona at work, and then I come here and I get sweaty and hit people,” Mason said.
Hitting people is putting it politely. She’s a blocker for the St. Louis Arch Rivals. That means she literally throws her whole body on the line just to score a few points — and often times it leaves a mark. She loves it for one particular reason.
“It is so different from what we do every day. It's a good outlet,” Mason said.
It’s a sanctuary from her sanctuary.
Saturday may be for skates, but she never misses a Sunday passing the plate. A few months ago, Mason was hired as the minister of First Unitarian Church of St. Louis.
Claire Weichselbaum was on the hiring committee.
“In our 100-plus-year history, I think she is the first one,” Weichselbaum said.
While it may be unorthodox, her flock tells us it’s brought a little bit of spice to her sermons.
“Kim was just the perfect fit, and playing roller derby was just an added bonus,” Weichselbaum said.
Church member Adam Lumter said it’s made Mason more fun to listen to.
Mason likes it because it’s a job that often requires her to provide comfort to others. On roller derby nights, she gets to bring the pain.
“I try to be less the minister and more the teammate in the locker room."
This is the third team she’s joined since she became ordained. Each team has brought a bit of baptism by fire.
“It’s a little more unusual to have somebody who works for a church,” she said. “So, I did get some grief there, but once people got to know me, they knew that judging people was not what I was about or what my faith is about."
A sacred tradition of this sport is each player gets to use their own nickname.
“I’ve considered Minister of Mayhem or Pulpit Pounder or Ordained Obliterator or -- last one -- Pastor of Disaster."
But she settled on one that seems to suit her style.
She calls herself the Sunday School Slammer because she slams all opponents and stereotypes that lie in her wake.
“And so you can choose to stay at home and not take any risks, or you can choose to live fully into something that interests you and loves you,” said Mason.
If you want to see the Sunday School Slammer in person, you can click here for the St. Louis Arch Rivals' schedule.