Juneau wants for something — but what is it? What is it that Juneau wants? If we were to ask all the organizations and programs in this city we would get at least a hundred different answers to this question. One group, not waiting to be asked is the Juneau Rollergirls. With their recent meet-and-greet, they are here to tell us that what Juneau wants is some roller derby action!
Speaking as one Juneauite, I’m glad to see that the revival of this fun, women-empowering sport has reached our town. Roller derby goes back to the 1920s when the term referred to roller skate races. In the 1930s roller derby evolved into a team sport emphasizing physical contact and teamwork. Helped by the advent of television, it caught on in many U.S. cities, becoming an icon of popular culture. Then by the mid-1970s it fizzled away as many more sports took the stage and lights of popularity.
Now, thanks to an international grassroots effort that took hold in the early 2000s, the sport has undergone a contemporary revision that highlights athleticism but also campy accoutrements. While the new rules make it much more exciting to watch (no staged fights, but plenty of real checks), it is the Camp with a capital ‘C’ which gives bonus entertainment to this sport. The names and outfits of the players capture the spirit of roller derby: hardcore yet fun.
Most players in these leagues skate under a derby name, many of which are creative examples of word play such as Sandra Day O’Clobber or Juneau UWantSome. Each name is registered and new players must find an original name. Some players assume a name that represents an alter ego they play out in dress as well as style on the track. Some players wait for the name to come to them through the sport. Either way, having the opportunity to step out of an everyday routine and get into one’s roller derby persona is what connects many women to the sport.
Want to test your roller derby skills? No skates required. Below are two lists. The first list includes the known derby names of all the current players. The second list shows the occupations of the players. Try to match them. No peeking for the answers at the end.
Derby Names Occupation
1. VertaBracher A. Surgical Nurse
2. Money Honey B. Social Worker
3. Catapult Kim C. Human Resources Manager
4. Midgimoto D. Nurse in Urology Office
5. Juneau UWantSome E. Line Chef and Baker
6. Lil’ BombShell F. Brewery Crew
7. Jean Claude Hot Damn G. State Office Receptionist
8. Sarah Showstopper H. Women’s Shelter Advocate
9. Hellion Hanson I. Escrow Officer
10. Pint Size Villan J. Small Business Bookkeeper
11. Princess Slaya’ K. Fish and Game Employee
12. Boss Lady L. Grants Administrator
13. KC Slammer M. State Admin. Assistant
14. Slammin’ Ella N. Legal Assistant
15. Watermelon Bomber O. Massage Therapist
16. Wrecka Becca P. Emergency Room Nurse
17. Wild Bird Q. Quality Assurance Director
18. April Mayhem R. Pediatric Dentist
19. Kimbustible S. Artist
20. Carheartless T. Barista
As you can see by the occupations, roller derby draws from a wide range of women. The Juneau Rollergirls are still recruiting; seeking participants of all ages, backgrounds and ability levels. While only women can play the sport, men can volunteer as scorekeepers and refs. Using this list as inspiration: what would your name be? Think about it, and then look at the answers.
Surprised to see that some of these names are just right on; making good sport with their names. Speaking of sport, it’s important to note roller derby is indeed a sport that requires practice and learning how to fall, stop and recover properly. To help get newcomers started, including those who’ve never skated before, the Juneau Rollergirls have started a ten week “Intro to Skating” class through the community schools beginning Feb. 6. Safety is taken seriously and all the women are required to wear helmets and pads. However, even with all this, I know that this is a sport for those that still bounce when they fall. Too bad because I had such a good name — Deci-skate.
For more information about Juneau Rollergirls visit juneaurollergirls.com. Remember, no skating experience is necessary. Juneau UWantSome!
Answers: 1. G, 2. J, 3. O, 4. C, 5. K, 6. D, 7. P, 8. A, 9. M, 10. E, 11. H, 12. I, 13. B, 14. L, 15. N, 16. F, 17. S, 18. T, 19. Q and 20. R
• Troll is a writer residing in Douglas.