FREDERICK, Md. (AP) — As she takes inventory of the various injuries she's suffered while participating in roller derby, Frederick resident Stephanie Doyle nonchalantly holds up a crooked, gnarled pinkie finger.
"I'm pretty sure this pinkie broke, because it hasn't gone straight," Doyle said. "Oh, and I had stitches in my elbow. I forgot about that."
Doyle, 39, may seem like your average mild-mannered Web developer, but come bout night, she becomes Roxy Wrecks, a blocker for the Key City Roller Derby.
Her job: Dish out punishment to opponents.
"It is a contact sport," Doyle said. "A lot of people describe it as kind of rugby meets hockey. It's on skates, it's fast-paced and it's full contact."
Blockers have a dual role of stopping the opposing jammer from passing while creating room for their own jammer to make the pass and score points, Doyle said.
She said she got involved in roller derby about two years ago with the Hagerstown-based Mason-Dixon Roller Vixens when she was looking for something to fill her time after losing her husband. He died as the result of a base-jumping accident in Idaho in November 2009.
"I've never been really one to just stay at home and sit, but I really felt at that time that I needed something to really pour my attention into," she said. "I just really liked it and thought it was a lot of fun. ... Some of us are very, very close off the track."
Her current team, which she helped found, is looking for a home rink -- preferably a warehouse or similar large open space -- in the Frederick area. In the meantime, the team is playing a limited schedule of away matches.
"We're kind of in that middle ground where we need to grow to afford the space, but we can't afford the space until we grow," Doyle said.
Doyle's attraction to a high-risk activity such as roller derby would seem natural considering her part-time job as a skydiving instructor.
She said she first tried the sport with her brother about 15 years ago. Both had seen opportunities to skydive fall through and decided on a whim to try it together.
"My mother, poor thing, came to watch her only two children jump out of the same airplane, so she was probably the bravest one that day," she said. "I was so excited. I got done with that jump and I could barely speak. I came back two weeks later, and I was there pretty much every weekend after that."
The next season, Doyle was certified as an instructor in static line jumping, during which the parachute is automatically deployed when the jumper exits the plane. She then moved on to teach accelerated free-fall diving.
After about 1,600 jumps, Doyle said the adrenaline rush she felt as a beginner is no longer as powerful. But she said teaching others the sport is a rewarding experience on its own and has led to lifelong friendships.
"I genuinely love the sport, and I genuinely love to teach it," she said. "There's a huge thrill with watching students progress and learn the sport. I get really excited for them and with them. And then when I go out and skydive on my own, without a student, it's just plain fun. But it's not the same as when you first start, where your heart is in your throat and you're just wondering if everything is going to be OK."
Fellow instructor Lisa Eckman said Doyle's gentle personality has a calming effect on her students.
"She can just ease their fears in free fall," Eckman said.
As if roller derby and skydiving don't fill up enough of her time, Doyle has recently taken on a new project. Since April, she has been training for a triathlon, a combination of swimming, cycling and running.
She plans to participate in the Nation's Triathlon on Sept. 9 in Washington, despite having not dabbled much in swimming or cycling and having run only two 5K races, both in the past year.
"She's a pretty amazing person," said Eckman, who is training with Doyle. "I think part of the whole thing with her is that life is pretty short, and she's the kind of person who wants to pack everything she can into the short time she has here. She never quits."