Central Coast Roller Derby (CCRD) held their last match of 2010 on Nov. 20 at the Paso Robles Events Center, providing both a raucous show of aggression to a full crowd of fans and toys for the SLO County Toy Run.
Two matches were held Nov. 20; the first was CCRD’s SLO Slammers versus the Antioch Undead Bettys. The second was between CCRD’s A-Team and the Emerald City Roller Girls Skatesophrenics.
Joe Morrell, a skating official, said he started to get into the sport three years ago as a fan.
“I liked watching the girls skate around and beat on each other,” Morrell said.
However, after starting to date one of the skaters — Iva Rayburn, whose derby name is “Ivanator” — Morrell said he started to get into it and became an official two years ago.
Rayburn also started as a fan, though it started when she was a child watching roller derby on TV, she said.
“The first time I watched the game, my heart was pounding when I was watching,” Rayburn said. “It’s so different from the inside when you’re playing. Those hits that look like they hurt from the outside, they don’t. It’s all adrenaline.”
Carey “Senorita Cheeba” Jones, one of the founders of CCRD, said cofounder Heather “Rotten Peaches” Cross proposed they start the derby to establish an “aggressive” and “fun” activity. The group also provided a fun activity for women with families and full-time jobs other than knitting or sports like softball, which Jones and Cross were involved in before starting CCRD, Jones said.
“There’s some of these women who have adapted this as their lifestyle,” Jones said. “A lot of these girls have really found their niche.”
The game itself is not just about adrenaline, but also about complexity. According to a pamphlet given out at the match, each team can only have five skaters on the track at a time. Each team has one jammer, the scoring player, one pivot, the player who skates in the front of the pack, controls speed and is “the last line of defense against the opposing jammer” and then three blockers — players who work to get their jammer through the pack.
A jammer earns a point each time she passes a player from the opposing team and starts at the back of the group.
The jammer also has to pass the whole pack once before being able to score, Jones said. The sport’s rules have become more defined as it has grown in popularity, even since CCRD was started in 2006, she said.
“It may look like craziness, but it is a serious sport,” Jones said.
As with other sports, there are also legal and illegal blocks. Legal blocks include the skater using her body, including her arm from her shoulder to her elbow, and her torso to her hip, to the front or side of an opponent’s body from her collarbone to her waist. Illegal blocks include grabbing, tripping, hitting from behind, elbow striking, fighting, locking hands or arms and generally, touching opposing players with her hands, though a player can touch her own team members with her hands.
Rayburn said it takes a couple times of watching the game to understand it.
“It’s a hard sport to learn,” Rayburn said. “It’s the only sport I know that you’re playing offense and defense at the same time.”
Carlee “Burnt Toast” Jorgensen, a current referee and former player, said although the sport is complicated to learn, it is also “self-empowering.” Jorgensen has seen women who come in with low self-esteem blossom into confident, key players, she said.
“We’ve got girls who are afraid to wear a pair of short-shorts (in the beginning) and all of a sudden they’re opening up,” Jorgensen said. “They’re able to get out and make the big hits. It’s like going from kindergarden to college.”
Rayburn also said roller derby has impacted her fellow skaters as well as herself.
“Over the years, I’ve seen everybody go through different changes,” Rayburn said. “I’ve seen some amazing improvement among my fellow skaters.”
Jorgensen said she would encourage everyone to do it if they “have the desire,” whether or not they know how to skate. However, participants must be 21 to join.
Jones would like to see the age limit dropped to 18, so that college students and younger women could join in the derby, she said. The limit started at 21 because there were a lot of events that took place in bars and had bar sponsors, which has been changed.
“I think some of these girls out here would get a little bit of competition,” Jones said. “I would like to see it happen.”
There are also many benefits to roller derby, especially for those looking for a fun way to get in shape, Rayburn said. She also said it helps players meet new and different kinds of people that they may not have met otherwise.
“For one, it’s a good way to get out your aggression,” Rayburn said. “Number two, it’s kind of like getting involved in a family of people who depend on you and you depend on them. It teaches you responsibility and teaches you teamwork.”
CCRD is a non-profit and works hard to help the community; the group has raised around $30,000 for the community, Jones said.
Jorgensen said the charity efforts CCRD does are another reason why people should join.
“Everyone that joins takes part in the community,” Jorgensen said. “The self-gratification is insane. We’re doing good things out there, especially for the community.”