Harbor City Roller Dames roll with the punchesRICK LUBBERS: If I ever run away and join the roller derby, I already have a new name picked out. “Ric-Klubbers.”
By: Rick Lubbers, Duluth News Tribune
If I ever run away and join the roller derby, I already have a new name picked out.
Derby names are as colorful and bold as the skaters themselves. They’re part of the vibrant culture that pervades the sport.
The local Harbor City Roller Dames, for instance, have nicknames that run the gamut from:
Even the refs get into the act (“Bacon,” “Dread Kennedy” and “Evil Jeffy Derby Reffy”).
“A lot of them are kind of personal,” said Jenna Warmuth, 30, general manager for the Roller Dames and also known as “MoniStab7” in the roller derby world. “They come from your personality and maybe even the job you do during the day.”
Apparently “Hook N Splatter” (otherwise known as Lindzi Campbell) is a firefighter by profession. Not sure if you want her rescuing kittens out of trees, though.
Hmm … perhaps my derby name should be “Poison Pen,” “Dead-line” or “Inverted Pyramid.”
“Maybe it’s your alter ego that you wish you could be,” said Warmuth, who hails from Duluth. “It’s really a personal thing for each skater to pick their derby name. It sets us apart a little bit.”
And with all those left turns, it’s no wonder these women on skates engage in more jostling, rubbing and bumping than you’d see at a NASCAR race.
“It’s a full-contact sport, and it’s very aggressive,” said Kate Minier, 27, team captain and a.k.a. “Whoremione Granger.”
The Roller Dames bring a 4-1 record to a bout tonight when they host the Reservoir Dolls of Madison, Wis., at the DECC’s Pioneer Hall. The flat-track event starts at 7:30 p.m.
The skaters estimate that most of their home crowds average between 600-700 people, but if you’re not part of the Roller Dames’ fan base just yet, here’s a quick Roller Derby 101:
Each team has four blockers, and one of those blockers is called the pivot, who directs the team’s strategy much like a quarterback in football. Each team also has a jammer, who is the point scorer. Once a jammer makes an initial pass through the fray and comes back around, each blocker that she passes legally from the opposite team is worth a point. If she laps the jammer, that is another point. Bouts feature two 30-minute periods.
Top skaters possess a blend of agility, speed, steadiness on their feet and toughness.
Yes, there are penalties for infractions ranging from illegal use of elbows and forearms to low blocks. All major penalties send the guilty parties to the penalty box for a minute. No foreign objects are allowed.
Team tallies tend to be higher than an NBA final score.
“It really varies — there are some huge differentials — most of our games are between 100 and 200 points,” said Minier, who is also from Duluth.
“Last year we beat a team by 300-some points,” Warmuth added.
No mercy rule?
“You don’t learn if someone is going easy on you,” Warmuth quipped.
The Roller Dames have been quick learners themselves. Established in 2007, the squad has evolved into a competitive skater-owned club that wins a majority of its bouts. Last year they went 8-1.
Now the Roller Dames, who are governed by a five-skater board, are enrolled in an apprentice program with the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association with the goal of earning full WFTDA membership, being placed in a division, earning rankings and participating in playoffs.
“You have to learn about the business aspect of running a league,” Warmuth said. “We have to make sure all of our ducks are in a row financially — we collect dues, we have to pay for our venues. You have to learn how to run a bout that is sanctioned because there are certain guidelines as far as safety and venue.”
The Roller Dames currently have a roster of more than 20 skaters, but they always are looking for more. They hope to eventually have enough skaters to create an A and B team.
“Your size or stature doesn’t matter, it’s how you use it,” Warmuth said. “It’s all about physics.”
And having a cool derby name.
Contact News Tribune sports editor Ric-Klubbers at firstname.lastname@example.org or (218) 723-5317. Follow him @ricklubbersdnt on Twitter.