Lincoln teenager heading to France to compete for USA’s Roller Derby Team

Updated: Mar. 3, 2023 at 6:45 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - A Lincoln teenager is heading to France to compete for Team USA Junior Roller Derby.

Jessenia Morales is the only Nebraskan on the USA’s Junior Roller Derby Team and has been dreaming of this day since she was just a kid.

Morales began skating at eight years old when her mom, Kali Kage-Hartshorn, signed her up.

“I hated it at first because I fell all the time,” Morales said.

Kage-Hartshorn said, “I’m like, we need to Google some hockey butt-pads because she’s not coming back.”

Morales, whose roller derby name is “Speedy Morales,” did go back because she loved it and she was good at it. “Skating is like walking to me at this point,” Morales said.

Speedy Morales is a pivot player, meaning she is a blocker and can transition into being a jammer who gets through the scrum and races around the track scoring points. Speedy Morales is ruthless.

Jessenia Morales practicing to compete for the USA's Roller Derby Team
Jessenia Morales practicing to compete for the USA's Roller Derby Team(Madison Pitsch)

“It’s a lot of hitting to make sure that the jammer doesn’t go through,” Morales said.

Kage-Hartshorn is her daughter’s biggest fear leader, she saw try-outs for Team USA were open and decided to sign Morales up.

“I didn’t want to do it at first purely because of the nerves. But then I was like, okay, yeah, no, Sign me up. " Morales said.

Kage-Hartshorn said it might be a mom thing, but she felt like she already knew her daughter would make it.

Kage-Hartshorn received the call that Morales made the team and called her at work to share the great news.

“Oh, my God, I made the team. I just remember like, being like, blank-faced for a second because I was like processing that, like, all of my years of hard work, like actually paid off. And then I just like, started freaking out,” Morales said.

Anyone who asks Kage-Hartshorn about it knows she’s proud of her girl.

Right now, Morales is training here in Lincoln for when she heads to France in July to win a shiner of the gold variety.

Morales and her family are having a fundraiser at the Village Inn on “O” Street on March 14 to raise money to go to France. Learn more by following this link.