A different kind of derby comes to Del Mar
Roller Derby has found its way to the Del Mar Fairgrounds, a move that has the San Diego Derby Dolls excited about introducing this fast paced and aggressive contact sport - with a sense of humor - to the North County. The bout will be held Saturday Nov. 8 at 6 p.m.
This is not the brand of roller derby that many consider to be akin to pro-wrestling on wheels. This is the updated competitive team sport that has been experiencing a grassroots revival on a global scale. It has women from all walks of life putting on their skates and being aggressive, but not apologizing for it.
Supporters of the sport are hopeful that a showcase at the fairgrounds will prove to be as successful for roller derby as it was for skateboarding in 1975, with the Del Mar Nationals. The next test of the sports viability would be a telecast on ESPN or an endorsement by a major sponsor.
For the uninitiated, Roller Derby can be compared to trying to get across a freeway on roller skates without being hit. It is a high velocity and physical contact team sport played on an oval track requiring strength, balance, endurance, strategy and timing.
According to Bonnie D. Stroir, founder of the San Diego Derby Dolls, roller derby evolved from the marathon flat track roller skating races of the early 1920s as a sport/spectacle.
“Most people focused on the spectacle rather than the competitive nature of the sport,” she said. “It’s the spectacle that brings them to the bouts, but at the end of the day both teams want to win just as in any other sport.”
Head Referee Scurvy Pirate whose real first name is Cole, estimates that there are currently over 8,000 registered skaters throughout the world. He said that there are over 300 leagues within the United States and 97 of them located in the Southwest region. San Diego alone he said has three active teams with two new teams looking to roll out into the league by early next year.
An MRI technician by day, Roller Derby diva by night, Lemon Drop was introduced to the sport three years ago when one of her patients, who happened to be a Derby Doll, suffered a broken ankle in a bout. “It was a life changing experience,” she said. “I went to tryouts the next week.”
Stroir points out that women involved in Roller Derby are truly passionate about the game. Players must put in as much effort off the track as they do on it.
“Our sport doesn’t exist unless we create it,” she said. “It’s not enough to just show up ready to play.”
Every Derby Girl holds a specific job within the organization. Each must pay dues, attend at least five practices per week and commit to participating in at least one fundraising activity per month - all of this without any expectation of receiving compensation.
Hollywood has recently taken an interest in the game. Variety Magazine reported that Drew Barrymore would make her directorial debut with a movie titled “Whip It,” which features Jimmy Fallon, and “Arrested Development” star Alia Shawkat. The movie is based on an indie-rock loving oddball, who discovers a way of coping with her small town angst when she finds a roller derby league.
For more information on this weekend’s bout, go to