Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

The ladies of NOtown: Spanky Sample


The hard-hitting, sharp-skating women of NOtown Roller Derby start their home season this weekend, squaring off against the High Country Hellcats (Sonora) in two Saturday night bouts at the Fresno Fairgrounds.

This week, we’re helping you get to know some of the team through our Ladies of NOtown series. We already met Hurricane Huckaby. Today, we meet Spanky Sample. Oh, and be sure to read all the way to the bottom if you’re interested in free tickets to Saturday’s bout.

Real name: Melissa Sample
Age: 34
Position: blocker/jammer
Number: 777
# of years playing roller derby: two

What is the meaning behind your derby name?
Spanky is the leader of the Little Rascals and comes with a little attitude and determination.

What is your signature move on the track? What should the fans be on the lookout for?
I play with my heart in every game. My biggest signature is being the best teammate I can be. Playing with my team gives me the fight, love and passion to play hard! When I get knocked down I’m back up to skate fast, catch up the pack, and look to form the next play.


What injuries have you sustained playing roller derby?
I broke my nose twice in 30 days last season and had to have surgery to repair it.

Aside from skating, what is your involvement in NOtown Roller Derby?
I have helped out with just about every committee in NOtown. My favorite community outreach is Kids Day selling papers for Children’s Hospital. I am not the type to lead a committee or be in charge, I like to keep a low profile.

NOtown has recently been accepted into WFTDA as an apprentice league. What changes do you see happening in NOtown?
This is an opportunity for our finest athletes to achieve to the highest level. We have some top skaters and it is time for them to shine. It will set the bar high for all of our players and we’ll see our league grow to a more competitive level. WFTDA provides regional and national competition. That is something to get excited about!

Other than playing roller derby, what can you be found doing in Fresno?
I’m a full-time mom of three outstanding daughters. Two have special needs, so there is little time for anything else. The kids and my husband are at every bout to root me on and have supported me doing this crazy sport from day one.

What is your favorite part about playing roller derby in Fresno?
We LOVE our fans in Fresno! The community supports us and I truly feel blessed to play for NOtown. NOtown is a family within itself. From my first practice to my first bout, I never felt less than any player. No matter what skill level you are, they work to help improve your skills to become a better player.

What is your advice to someone interested in joining NOtown?
Be BOLD, put some pads on and come roll out with some of the finest women you will ever meet! You will fall in love with Roller Derby!!!

Everything you need to know about Saturday night’s bout is below. Tickets can be purchased online at


Comment on this post to get entered into a drawing for a free pair of tickets to Saturday’s bout. Entries are accepted until 5 p.m. Thursday. Winner will be drawn at random and notified via e-mail.

[photos: David Costa Photography (action) + Venture Photography (studio)]

Responses to "The ladies of NOtown: Spanky Sample"

mary christopher says:

I Wanna See More Of Roxie Roadblock!

jonathan says:

Love Notown. Glad to see Oz doing this. Can’t wait til Saturday. Soulful be cool to go for free for a change.

Kim Burly says:

Spanky has been my favorite NOtown girl from the first day she geared up. Her attitude is so positive and she’s always determined. I can’t give enough praise to this beautiful, powerful woman. <3 <3 <3

Bethany says:

I can’t wait to see those girls play this Saturday! I’ve been waiting for months :)

George M says:

Looking forward to seeing the NOtown girls in action again. Loved watching roller derby as a young kid and enjoy just as much now that i’m an old kid. Good luck ladies!

Kristi Robertson says:

Spanky has more heart and soul than any woman I’ve ever met, and she shows it on and off the playing field!! She is an amazing athlete and an even more amazing mom to her 3 blessings!! I am so thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to get to know her. She is an inspiration! It’s so awesome to go and watch these derby girls go out and fight til the very last second to represent Fresno and come away with the win!! :)

Kevin says:


Stphstr says:

SO Proud of you Spanky!!

sammie says:


Cheeeeeeeeeez Liz says:

I love Spanky! She’s a strong teammate and an awesome player. She’s going to do great on Saturday!!