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Derby daze oklahoma rollin' is on the rise

Hidden in a gravel parking lot behind two gas stations, just east of I-35 at the Davis exit, lies the Arbuckle Ballroom. The building is dimly lit, decorated with a disco ball and streams of Christmas lights laced across the ceiling. Even with temperatures bor- dering on 110 degrees, there is no air condition- ing.

Outside the ballroom, the lot is full of cars. Among them sits a tiny red car with “Derby saved our souls” smeared across the back windshield in white shoe polish. Inside the building, two teams of girls armored with hel- mets, padding and quad roller skates are going head-to-head (and toe-

stop-to-toe-stop) in an all-out brawl. The jeers and screams from the crowd can be heard all the way outside. In the midst of Oklahoma’s scorching summer, these girls

aren’t even fazed by the heat. Despite their excess sweat, they are still skating their hearts out.

Their fans don’t seem to mind braving the heat either. The crowd, split by its support of opposing teams, stands and cheers. Front and center, Veronica Kassap jumps up and down, cheering and yelling out plays.

“Come on, Ladies!” she shrieks. “Don’t let her pass!” Kassap, also known as “Mary Jane Mayhem,” a member of Stillwater’s derby team, The Angels of No Mercy, has traveled all the way to Davis to watch some of her teammates assist the Arbuckle Derby Darlings in their bout – a derby term for “game” – against Lawton’s 580 Roller Girls.

“Man, derby gets me all riled up,” she says, fan- ning herself with one of the Darlings‘ bout pro- grams. “I just love it.” The gutsy gals, who don skates and clever aliases, have come togeth- er to form what they refer to as “modern derby.” “It’s not the same sport it used to be,” explains Rural Electric member

Kandyce Allen. “Roller derby was a big sport in the past. People think it’s like the old days where we get punched in the face, but that’s not how it is anymore.”

M By Emilia Buchanan

The rise of derby in Oklahoma Though roller derby has moved in and out of the public eye since the 1930s, this newest wave of roller derby began nearly 10 years ago with the Texas Roller Girls, based out of Austin, TX.

In Spring 2006, Tulsa’s Green Country Roller Girls and Oklahoma City’s Tornado Alley Roller Girls entered the picture; and for the next fi ve years, eight other Oklahoma teams would follow suit.

“Everyone hears about it,” Allen says. “They want to play, but they don’t want to drive too far to join a team, so they start their own team in their town.” Allen, better known to her teammates as “Wild Card,”

is one of 14 skaters for the Arbuckle Derby Darlings. The Darlings are one of six Oklahoma teams that have formed in just the past year, most of which are in small, rural Oklahoma towns.

“I hope more teams keep popping up. The more teams there are to play, the more play time the new recruits get,” Allen says. “I think it’s awesome more girls are wanting to play. We’re getting the word out there. When there aren’t many teams, you can only play the same teams over and over.”

Not just skating Getting the word out defi nitely takes some time and ef-

fort. Roller girls are often seen carhopping at Sonic, doing meet-and-greets at public events, or participating in other fundraising endeavors such as car washes and bake sales. Most promotional items are also created by the team

members. Communications or marketing committees are created within the teams to create fl iers, bout programs, tickets and posters. The girls then do all the footwork, going around town to hang posters, hand out fl iers and chat with potential fans or future roller girls. “I enjoy it, so maybe it just doesn’t seem like it takes up a lot of time,” Allen says. “The girls like being involved with something. This is a different group of girls. They like to play, but they like to hang out together. It helps them stick with it.”

Most derby girls would agree, hanging out together outside of derby is essential. “The better you know your teammates off the track, the better you skate together on the track,” says Rose Pearson, team captain for Oklahoma City Roller Derby (OKCRD) and owner of Switchblade Skate Company in south Oklahoma City. “We do a lot of socializing and team building, rock climbing, team bowling, even going to the bar together,” she says. “It’s easy to let it take up a lot of time. It can take over your life. There is a high turnover of girls because a lot of people are just looking for a hobby, not a lifestyle.” Pearson, who has been skating with Oklahoma City Roller Derby since 2006 and goes by the name “Switch- blade Rosie,” has chosen the “derby” lifestyle. “It became a passion,” Pearson admits. “I was always a ‘rink rat.’ I loved to skate, and with derby I found an outlet.”

Continued on page 34

Common derby terms Panty: Helmet cover

Jammer: Girl who wears the panty with the star; the “speed” skater who scores points by passing opponents in-bounds. If the jammer passes a blocker out of bounds, she misses a point.

Pivot: Girl who wears the panty with the stripe; sets the pace at the front of the pack, also the last line of defense. A pivot can take over the jammer position if the jammer passes the star panty to her.

Blocker: Blockers play a vital defensive role – helping their jammer get through the pack while simultaneously working together to block the opposing team’s jammer.

Pack: A pack has a maximum of 8 skaters (2 pivots, 6 blockers). It is possible for a pack to have fewer skaters due to penal- ties.

Lead jammer: The fi rst jammer to break through the pack the fi rst time around. She may strategically call off the jam at any time by putting her hands on her hips.

Grand Slam: When a jammer laps the opposing team’s jammer, she scores an extra sixth point, if she gets all fi ve points {pivot, 3 blockers and opposing jammer}.

The Jam: At the fi rst whistle blow, the blockers take off in a tight pack – knock- in’ and beatin’ on each other as their pivot sets the pace. When the pack is 20 feet ahead, the whistle blows again for the jammers to start their race! They weave and block their way through the pack. Their opponent blockers try to knock ‘em down or out of bounds! Jammers do not score points their fi rst time through the pack. They are fi ghting for lead jammer position. The jammers continue to race around the track and attempt to break through the pack again. This time, the jammers score one point for each oppo- nent they pass while they are in bounds. Typically, this means a possibility of four points per pass through the pack. The jam will continue for two minutes or until the lead jammer “calls off the jam.” There will be four whistle blows to signify the end of the jam.

The Bout: The name of the game, which is made up of two 30-minute periods and one half time. There are unlimited jams per period; each jam lasts no longer than two minutes.

To learn more visit: http://svrollergirls.

From the Oklahoma City Roller Derby’s bout program SEPTEMBER 2011 15SEPTEMBER 2011 15

580 Roller Girls

Arbuckle Derby Darlings

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