2017-09-01 / Neighbors

Derby Darlins jam, block, let off steam

by Jessica Waite


ROCK ‘N’ ROLL—At left, Battalion of Skates’ Brittany “Snow Bite” Rios acts as a jammer as she makes her way around the rink during a roller derby match with the Rough Diamond Rebels on Aug. 26 at Freedom Park in Camarillo. Above, Brianna “Jessica Rabbid” Tschaeche, Rios and Amanda “Princess Bubblescum” Branch of Battalion of Skates wait for their team to take the rink. Above right, Tschaeche, in the role of jammer, is knocked by a Rough Diamond Rebels player during their contest. ROCK ‘N’ ROLL—At left, Battalion of Skates’ Brittany “Snow Bite” Rios acts as a jammer as she makes her way around the rink during a roller derby match with the Rough Diamond Rebels on Aug. 26 at Freedom Park in Camarillo. Above, Brianna “Jessica Rabbid” Tschaeche, Rios and Amanda “Princess Bubblescum” Branch of Battalion of Skates wait for their team to take the rink. Above right, Tschaeche, in the role of jammer, is knocked by a Rough Diamond Rebels player during their contest. Whistles, shoulder slams, collisions and timeouts. Football, right?

Not quite. It’s roller derby.

Last weekend, Ventura County Derby Darlins, the county’s only roller derby group, hosted its last home game of the year at Camarillo’s Freedom Park In-Line Hockey Rink.

The roller derby group consists of two teams, the top-tier Vendolls and the second-tier Battalion of Skates, who faced off against Monterey Bay Derby Dames and Rough Diamond Rebels, respectively. At halftime, the skaters hosted a doggy fashion show featuring adoptable dogs from the neighboring Camarillo Animal Shelter.

The skating group, which celebrated its 10-year anniversary this year, is made up of local women ages 18 to 54. Spectator-friendly practice takes place twice a week at Freedom Park.

Rounds, called jams, consist of 10 women together on a flat track. Each team selects five women—four blockers and one jammer—to face off. Jammers wear a star on their helmet and try to lap the other team’s blockers, while the blockers try to stop the jammer from passing. Points are awarded for each blocker the jammer passes.

“It’s a real sport, like there’s rules and refs and it makes you think. There’s offense and defense, so you’re thinking about it the whole time and you get to hit people, so that’s really fun,” said Michelle “Fatal Traction” Drello, a coach from Simi Valley.


Photos by MICHAEL COONS/Acorn Newspapers Photos by MICHAEL COONS/Acorn Newspapers While the sport is women-only, men are invited on the track to volunteer as referees. Josh “Farty Al’D Time” Davis referees while his fiancée, Rachelle “Knockturn Allie” Bankhead, skates.

“It’s a cool activity we get to do together,” said Davis, a Moorpark resident. “It’s a great way to spend some time together and get some exercise.”

With derby names like “Queen of the Vile” and “Cat Scratch Fever,” it’s easy to forget these are normal women with day jobs too.

“We have had people who are servers, tattoo artists, professionals, attorneys, senior VPs from the banking industry,” said Jen “Louisville Slugger” Metzger of Oxnard. “You name it, we’ve got it. We’ve got a girl on our team who has a PhD in chemical engineering from Harvard. It’s just very inclusive. It’s given me an opportunity to meet women I never would’ve met.”

In addition to the bonds they form, women on the team also value roller derby for the opportunity it provides to let off some steam.

“I like roller derby because it lets me get my aggression out that I don’t get to get out in life,” Drello said.

While both home teams lost their games, the Derby Darlins will be finishing off the year with bouts in San Jose, Sylmar and Bend, Ore.

Early next year, the Derby Darlins will offer an eight-week recruitment season, where women interested in joining the league—from veteran skaters to those who can’t skate at all—can learn the rules of the game and get to know the team.

“It’s a sport that a lot of people can get into whether you want to be a skater or not. There’s lots of opportunities to get involved—reffing, helping out. If it’s something that someone is interested in, they should definitely contact the league. We’re always looking for people,” Davis said.

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