Kurt Howard
An Outcast skater puts a low block on jammer Jalapeno Business of Rat City during a bout on Aug. 18 at the Southgate Roller Rink in White Center. CLICK THE PHOTO ABOVE TO SEE MORE

SLIDESHOW: Rat City Rollergirls, the underground movement of roller derby

by Kurt Howard

I must admit my knowledge of roller derby was almost nonexistent (I remember watching it a little on TV in the 70's) but that changed on Aug. 18.

Here's some surprising information about roller derby. It is truly an international sport with some 1,280 amateur roller derby leagues found worldwide in countries like Malaysia, Israel, Brazil, Iceland, South Africa, New Zealand, Argentina, Portugal and more.

The doubleheader event was held at the Southgate Roller Rink in White Center and was a fundraiser for the Rat City Rollergirls. First on the track was the Rat City Rollergirls “B-team”, named the Rain of Terror who played host to the Everett Jet City “B-team”, the B-52’s. The second bout was the Rat City All-Stars Rollergirls taking on the men of Puget Sound Outcasts from Tacoma.

The rink was originally built as a boxing arena in 1920, but from 1937 to present it has been used as a roller rink (with a short period of vacancy and then as a swap meet location). It is a flat track, no banked corners.

As I arrived a few minutes before the doors opened at 6:30, I was surprised to find a long line waiting to get in. Standing in line, I could feel the excitement of anticipation. It was a sellout - there were around 400 fans packed into the small venue.

As the first match got underway I sat taking photos. I received some helpful information on how a team scored their points (thank you, Jessica). At halftime the Rain of Terror led 97 to 69. The game ended with the Rain of Terror winning with a score of 201 to the B-52’s 109.

The second match, the much-anticipated bout between the Puget Sound Outcasts and the Rat City All-Stars was about to begin. This was a co-ed bout. It was interesting seeing women and men going at it, pushing and shoving. There were times things got fast and furious with a lot of bodies from both teams literally flying through the air and landing hard. Other times things would slow down as players would jockey for position, trying to prevent the opponent’s jammer from scoring. At the half, the Outcasts led the All-Stars 103 to 78. In the second period the All-Stars put together some nice scoring plays. With 8:29 to go, the All-Stars tied the score at 179. But when all the sweat had finally settled, the Puget Sound Outcasts won, 218 to 193 over the Rat City All-Stars.

After the bout I interviewed one of Rat City’s jammers, Missile America. She is one of the youngest on the team at 24, (the average age is 30) but ages range from the early 20’s to mid 40’s. She has skated with Rat City now for three years. When she was younger she skated aggressively on inline skates, but recently got into quads. She is athletic and has played soccer most of her life so this sport fits her.

How did she get that colorful name? “When I came into the league I was super, super girly, and all like ditzy and like totally ‘Oh My God’ kind of girl. One of the players on my home team ended up giving it to me because I was so girly. So like Miss America, Missile America, why not?”

Other competitors on the track that night included Iron Megan, Full Nelson, Killah Kelly, Penny Racer, and my favorite, Yoko Onoudi’nt.

“I want people to know it is a sport, and it’s not a show and not a fake show. People often compare it to wrestling and ask, do you fake fight? I want people to take it seriously. We train 4-5 days a week and we give up a lot of things to train hard,” Missile said. This is an amateur sport, no paychecks here. So the dedication is for the love of the game, not for the money.

Missile also likes the fact that women can be aggressively classy and very competitive. It has become an underground culture that not many people know about.

This is season eight for the Rat City Rollergirls who play their regular season bouts at Key Arena. It consists of a 7 month season with one bout per month. These games are played to help fund their travels. Last year they went to Australia for a month and coached there. As for the playoffs, regional are coming up soon. West Regional Teams will play in Richmond, California on September 21–23, 2012. From there the winner goes to the national championships in Atlanta, Georgia on November 2-4, 2012.

Rat City Rollergirls - it’s more than meets the black eye! For more information about the Rat City Rollergirls go to: ratcityrollergirls.com

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