Skip to main content

Elbow Room

03/19/2013 02:32PM ● Published by Anonymous

story: Mellissa Gulden photos courtesy of Redding Rollergirls

REDDING ROLLER GIRLS ELBOW THEIR WAY IN AS A LEGITIMATE SPORT

Don’t let ‘em fool ya. Behind the body-baring outfits, pink fishnets and tattoos are mothers, wives, business owners and nurses.

These women all share a common passion: Roller derby. No longer the choreographed flying clotheslines and cartoonish body slams, the all-female roller derby renaissance is gaining steam — now as sport, not spectacle.

In its earlier incarnation, which started in the mid-1930s and had all but petered out by the early 1970s, roller derby featured teams of professional skaters, men and women, whose races along a banked track were leavened by pratfalls and punch-ups.

Then, about seven years ago, roller derby resurfaced in Texas as an amateur, women-only game, played on flat surfaces where a track could be laid out with little more than a roll of tape. Participants took stage names and wore miniskirts and fishnet stockings, adding a campy sexuality to the violent theatrics of old. Today more than 15,000 skaters compete in more than 300 flat-track leagues. About 250 grassroots roller derby leagues now compete on rinks and basketball courts from coast to coast, according to the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA). Statistically, it’s the fastest-growing sport in the United States, which has only made the sport more competitive.

Recently finished with their second season, the North State’s own Redding Roller Girls are always recruiting strong females. Skating expertise is not a prerequisite, but passion for the game and a good attitude are. According to team manager and co-founder Marie Lopez, aka “Ophelia Ballz,” skill can come later. “We want strong, empowered team players, good role models with good attitudes. We’re trying to create a more positive image.”

Unlike professional hockey players, the vast majority of roller derby participants are unpaid. Most actually spend money on the sport – they purchase their own equipment and pay monthly dues to support their leagues. Teams usually practice several times a week, and injuries are common.

Lopez had been commuting to Chico twice a week to compete with the Nor Cal Roller Girls when finally, she decided Redding needed its own league. Erica Waters, aka “Alotta Patron,” has been a member of the team for nearly a year. “This is the sport I’ve been looking for – nothing else ever felt right.” For Waters, it is a personal challenge. “You find out how tough you really are. And when you see something that’s right, you know. You feel it in your gut.”

HOW IT WORKS Brandishing helmets, elbow pads and surly attitudes, five skaters per team race in circles around a track, trying to knock enemy Jammers and Blockers on their butts. It’s like football on skates – you need to knock down your opponents because every time they pass you in the rink, they score a point.

Obviously, some skating experience helps, but these ladies say a skill can be taught. “You have to have the heart. You have to want to do it,” says Waters. And these women certainly have the heart. They even give a portion of profits back to the community. (They will host a fundraiser for Breast Impressions in May, and they often contribute to the Make-A-Wish Foundation).

As for the spectacle? Skaters still wear skimpy costumes, adopt bombastic derby names – Vanity Kills, Sin Sational – and exhibit elbow-throwing, Type A-personality aggression typically frowned upon by mainstream society. “When you put your skates on, you can be whoever you want to be,” says Lopez. “That’s part of the fun.”

However, the Redding Roller Girls have strived to make roller derby a more family-friendly event, adding halftime games for grandparents and children alike. “We keep it very clean,” says Lopez, “and safety is always first.” To keep the game from being chaotic, the girls do safety drills and practice maneuvering in tight spaces. Also, the WFTDA serves as the sport’s sanctioning body, conducting national championships and publishing a meticulous 27-page rulebook.

“This is not your grandmother’s roller derby,” says Lopez. “It may not get the attention that other sports get, but it’s definitely making a comeback.” Part of the struggle has been debunking the myths that it is staged, like the WWE. “It is a sport,” says Lopez. “These girls do get hurt, and they take it very seriously.” •

REDDING ROLLER GIRLS You can catch the Redding Roller Girls’ season opener on March 27 at Big League Dreams. Tickets are available for $12 at the door, or $10 at Fusion Pit on Churn Creek Road, at the Big League Dreams box office, or online at brownpapertickets.com.

www.reddingrollergirls.com

In Print, Life+Leisure recreation
  • Football Season Is Here!

    10/19/2017
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • Vine and Dine for Parks

    10/19/2017
    05:30PM — 08:00PM

    The Redding Parks Foundation invites you to come and enjoy Vine and Dine at Redding's City Hall. ...


  • Wildcard Brewing Company's Vinyl Night

    10/19/2017
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Vinyl Night! Join us downtown the first and third Thursday of every month. We are going to ditch ...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    10/23/2017
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    10/24/2017
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    10/25/2017
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • The Reformation at 500

    10/25/2017
    10:20AM

    Simpson University invites the community to join students, faculty and staff for a four-day comme...


  • Shasta College 2017 Human Library Event

    10/25/2017
    01:00PM — 05:00PM

    This event is sponsored by the Office of Student Equity and Inclusion; come to the library and we...


  • Wildcard Brewing Company's Midweek Madness

    10/25/2017
    02:00PM — 08:00PM

    Visit either Wildcard location on Wednesdays and get $3 off a growler fill! Come by the brewery a...


  • Kids' Turn

    10/25/2017
    06:00PM — 07:30PM

    Kids' Turn is a six week workshop held one night a week that offers divorce education and childre...


  • Joan Osborne

    10/25/2017
    07:30PM

    Joan Osborne has rightfully earned a reputation as one of the great voices of her generation --bo...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    10/19/2017
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • Vine and Dine for Parks

    10/19/2017
    05:30PM — 08:00PM

    The Redding Parks Foundation invites you to come and enjoy Vine and Dine at Redding's City Hall. ...


  • Wildcard Brewing Company's Vinyl Night

    10/19/2017
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Vinyl Night! Join us downtown the first and third Thursday of every month. We are going to ditch ...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    10/20/2017
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • Wildcard Brewing Co. Foodie Friday

    10/20/2017
    05:00PM — 08:00PM

    On Fridays from 5pm-8pm, we bring you the best of both worlds: a frothy pint and a flavorful plat...


  • REDDING-Come see the dramatic theatrical event of the Fall season! This October Shasta College is...


  • The Wildcat Granfondo

    10/21/2017
    07:30AM — 07:00PM

    The GranFondo has its roots in Italy and loosely translates to "big ride." Riders ranging from el...


  • Return of the Salmon Festival

    10/21/2017
    09:00AM — 04:00PM

    Free event for the whole family including children’s activities, natural resource information, an...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    10/21/2017
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • Art & Soul Festival

    10/21/2017
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    JOIN US for the 2017 Art and Soul Festival at the Center for Spiritual Living 1905 Hartnell Ave...


  • Enjoy Makerie

    10/21/2017
    10:00AM — 05:00PM

    Meet us at the Makerie! Where hand-selected artists, musicians, farmers and craftsmen will share ...


  • The ASPCA & Subaru have teamed up to help find homes for shelter animals! If you’ve been wanting ...


  • Congressional District 1 Candidate “Meet & Greet” Location: Community Room Shasta - County P...


  • The Alyssa Araiza Wings of Angels Organization 16th Annual Spaghetti Feed Fundraiser is hosted ea...


  • Wildcard Brewing Company's Brewhouse Tour

    10/21/2017
    04:30PM — 05:00PM

    Want to know more about what goes on behind the scenes at Wildcard? Join us for a tour. This is y...


  • French-Italian-Jewish-Greek-German-Irish Andy Ooley, Bob Cosindas, Pat Karch


  • Off the Charts with Pat Karch

    10/21/2017
    06:30PM — 09:00PM

    Music featuring ; French-Italian-Jewish-Greek-German-Irish And paired with delicious wine!


  • REDDING-Come see the dramatic theatrical event of the Fall season! This October Shasta College is...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    10/22/2017
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • Beginning Encaustic Workshop

    10/22/2017
    11:00AM — 04:00PM

    On Saturday and Sunday, October 21 & 22, Mt. Shasta artist Cathy Valentine will teach a workshop ...


  • Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser For Krystal Marie

    10/22/2017
    05:00PM — 06:30PM

    Please join us on Sunday, October 22nd from 5-6:30pm as we host a spaghetti dinner fundraiser for...


  • REDDING-Come see the dramatic theatrical event of the Fall season! This October Shasta College is...


  • Travis Tritt

    10/22/2017
    07:30PM

    Country soul singer Travis Tritt was one of the leading new country singers of the '90s, blending...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    10/23/2017
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    10/24/2017
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    10/25/2017
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • The Reformation at 500

    10/25/2017
    10:20AM

    Simpson University invites the community to join students, faculty and staff for a four-day comme...


  • Shasta College 2017 Human Library Event

    10/25/2017
    01:00PM — 05:00PM

    This event is sponsored by the Office of Student Equity and Inclusion; come to the library and we...


  • Wildcard Brewing Company's Midweek Madness

    10/25/2017
    02:00PM — 08:00PM

    Visit either Wildcard location on Wednesdays and get $3 off a growler fill! Come by the brewery a...


  • Kids' Turn

    10/25/2017
    06:00PM — 07:30PM

    Kids' Turn is a six week workshop held one night a week that offers divorce education and childre...


  • Joan Osborne

    10/25/2017
    07:30PM

    Joan Osborne has rightfully earned a reputation as one of the great voices of her generation --bo...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    10/26/2017
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • The Reformation at 500

    10/26/2017
    10:20AM

    Simpson University invites the community to join students, faculty and staff for a four-day comme...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    10/27/2017
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • The Reformation at 500

    10/27/2017
    10:20AM

    Simpson University invites the community to join students, faculty and staff for a four-day comme...


  • Wildcard Brewing Co. Foodie Friday

    10/27/2017
    05:00PM — 08:00PM

    On Fridays from 5pm-8pm, we bring you the best of both worlds: a frothy pint and a flavorful plat...


  • Fly Fishing Film Tour

    10/27/2017
    06:00PM — 10:00PM

    The world's best fly fishing films are coming to the Cascade Theater on Friday, October 27. The ...


  • Nocturnes: Nightfall Illuminated

    10/27/2017
    07:00PM — 09:00PM

    The Trinity Alps Chamber Music Festival continues its seventh season with a program celebratin...


  • Search for the Spawning Salmon

    10/28/2017
    09:00AM — 11:00AM

    Join Department of Fish & Wildlife biologist Matt Johnson for a walk along Clear Creek to observe...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    10/28/2017
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • The Reformation at 500

    10/28/2017
    10:20AM

    Simpson University invites the community to join students, faculty and staff for a four-day comme...


  • Halloween Goat Yoga Party

    10/28/2017
    04:00PM

    Come celebrate Halloween with costumed-goats, yoga, costume contests (including a dress-a-goat co...


  • Wildcard Brewing Company's Brewhouse Tour

    10/28/2017
    04:30PM — 05:00PM

    Want to know more about what goes on behind the scenes at Wildcard? Join us for a tour. This is y...


  • GNRM HARVEST OF HOPE

    10/28/2017
    06:00PM — 08:00PM

    SPONSOR A TABLE EARLY AS THEY GO FAST FOR THE GOOD NEWS RESCUE MISSION’S NINTH ANNUAL HARVEST O...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    10/29/2017
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • Silver Screen Classics Party

    10/29/2017
    06:00PM

    A Movie, A Party, An Experience! Party at 6:00pm, Film at 7:30pm Combine your love of film w...


Enter to Win!

 
Check out our sister publication, Enjoy Magazine: South Valley Living
Wedding Style Guide 2017
Enjoy Magazine Facebook
Enjoy Magazine Instagram Instagram
Enjoy Magazine Pinterest Enjoy Magazine

Enjoy Our Sponsors