Thursday, June 29, 2017 This Week's Paper

Out of My Element Vol. II: Women’s Roller Derby

// Impressive display of speed, sass and wipeouts

Before I begin, I’ll admit that I had several people question my judgment about this assignment. They told me roller derby wasn’t a sport and was more akin to WWE Wrestling than anything else.

Of course, if the Tacoma Weekly handed me a fifth page for the sports section, I’d probably fill it with pro wrestling news and action photos. Also, I still refer to them as the WWF and I’m never going to change that, I don’t care what they call themselves.

I kid of course (except for the WWF part). Sports pages are meant for real sports and not “sports entertainment.”

And it’s also true that back in the day, roller derby was considered a rigged game just like pro wrestling was, is and always will be. It was all about the spectacle, and apparently it needed to be controlled to maintain a certain level of excitement and interest.

Let’s just cut to the chase – I’m pretty much a Disciple of Women’s Roller Derby now.

I know, I know. You’re probably thinking, “Justin, you’re already jumping the shark, and it’s been such a relatively short run.”

Sometimes you need to seek out and find those sports and events that you’ve never witnessed or maybe even heard of.

I thought covering a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournament and the Dockyard Derby Dames semifinals in one day was a fantastic example of scheduling some serious bang for my buck – and I feel that I grew as both an individual and a lover of odd sports.

That’s right, roller derby is a sport. If you saw the hip-checks, the elbows, the welts, the sweat and the crashes that I saw Saturday night at Pierce College, I’m pretty sure you would walk away sold on it as a sport, and probably with a new T-shirt or beer cozy.

It was the semifinal round of Tacoma’s Dockyard Dames Roller Derby League with the Femme Fianna facing off against the Marauding Mollys and the Hellbound Homewreckers against the Trampires.

If the team names don’t lure you in, the players’ names might seal the deal for you. Some of my personal favorites were Alicat Tastrophe and Lt. Stryk-her from the Femme Fianna - Booty Trapp, Slim Sayde, Verona Hematoma and Dara Sheblows from the Marauding Mollys – Judy Asa Punk, Gingersnap Ya Leg and Pretty in Punk from the Trampires and from the Hellbound Homewreckers I have to go with Ivanna Pound-U, Jess Add Whiskey, Noodle Caesar and Mytai Smashya.

How can this not be fun?

Let’s talk about the rules. On second thought, they make my head hurt and you’re better off just watching and absorbing the action. There’s two 30-minute periods, so after awhile you begin to sense what is going on. Perhaps it’s an osmosis-type happening. I don’t know, I’m not a brain scientist. You can’t explain it, but something begins to push back the fog of confusion and you’ll exclaim to the person next to you – “Hey, I get it!” Just trust me on this.

About 500 fans cheered on their favorite roller girls, and many were dressed for the occasion. There were pirates supporting the Marauding Mollys, a leprechaun, a gentleman dressed from head to toe in a purple leotards, plenty of team shirts, face paint and a whole mess of folks wearing sombreros in the beer garden – although I still can’t find the connection for the sombreros, but they looked like they were having fun nonetheless.

In the end the Marauding Mollys were too much for the Femme Fianna, beating them 195-125 and the Hellbound Homewreckers handled the Trampires 241-117. The two winners will face each other for the championship May 10 at Pierce College. A grudge match between the other two teams will kick off the evening.

I was impressed by how family-friendly the night was. Other than a few semi-naughty names worn by some skaters, there was just some great music bumping all night, some hilarious MCs talking up the action throughout and plenty of happy people in attendance.

The Dockyard Derby Dames have got themselves a new fan in yours truly. I can’t promise regular coverage of roller derby in the Tacoma Weekly, but I can assure you the phony days are long gone and this is definitely a sport – albeit one that has rules that I find hard to fully comprehend.