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Roller Derby attracts more fans in Central Oregon

Roller Dolls on Break
Janel Harlan | The Broadside

Roller City Lava Dolls taking a break from practice

William James
The Broadside

The high-speed, hard hitting sport of roller derby has picked up a fan base around Central Oregon and that’s in part due to two tough and popular local roller derby leagues–the Lava City Roller Dolls and the Renegade Roller Dolls. Both leagues practice a version of the sport known as ‘flat track roller derby’.



“It’s a fantastic sport for women, it’s fun, it’s a great workout,” says Heather Cromwell, who competes on the track as “Miss Defy” for the LCRD squad known as the Nerve Agents. “It’s also a great way for women to connect and network with each other.”

That network allows for women involved with the league to get closer to their teammates and develop long lasting friendships–and even in a tough and competitive sport like roller derby, friendships develop among opponents as well.

“We’re all friends, even those of us on opposite teams,” says Tiffany Ellis, a Nerve Agents member known as ‘Deadly Peanut’, who graduated from COCC last year as a dental assistant. “If any of us need help or just somebody to talk to, you can post one thing on your (Facebook) wall and have 20 derby girls at your door. That’s how close we all are.”

The Lava City girls also see derby as a great way for women to relieve the stresses of the day. And they enjoy it when their fans recognize them for their accomplishments.

“Derby’s very empowering,” says another Nerve Agents member, Jayna Morton, also known as “G.I. Jayna”. “I remember once a fan came up to me after a match and said it was so cool to watch girls hit each other.”

There is a degree of difference between the Renegade Roller Dolls league and LCRD–where LCRD is governed by the rules and regulations of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, the Renegade Roller Dolls make it clear that any team that skates with them must compete under their ‘house rules’, which are relaxed.
Standard penalties are not called under Renegade Roller Doll rules, although the bouts feature officials known as ‘Dirtbag Regulators’ which enforce rules against such things as unnecessary roughness or unsportsmanlike conduct.

Flat track roller derby evolved from the original format in 2001. According to the WFTA’s website, ‘Flat track roller derby is so named due to the ease of setting up a flat track on literally any surface that is suitable for roller skates, such as skate rinks, basketball courts and even aircraft hangars. The ease of setup allows for leagues to save a lot of money and allows smaller groups of people to start leagues. When it emerged, flat track roller derby quickly caught on and now over 400 leagues worldwide compete.’

“Derby went international only a couple of years ago,” said 12 Gauge Rage skater Tabatha Johnson, also known as ‘Mudslinger’, noting that roller derby recently popped up as far away as Malaysia. “It’s on the path, I think, to becoming a trial sport for the Olympics.” For a sport to become an Olympic sport, it
must first be administered by an International Federation which ensures that the sport’s rules and regulations follow the Olympic Charter. If it is widely practiced and meets certain criteria as set by the
IOC, it can then be recommended to be added to the Olympic program.

Upcoming, the LCRD’s next bout will be held on Nov. 12, where Mudslinger and 12 Gauge Rage will meet Miss Defy, G.I. Jayna, Deadly Peanut and the rest of the Nerve Agents in the Cascade Indoor Sports Center off Empire Blvd. in Bend. There will also be a Juniors derby bout held for girls ages 10-17. Tickets are ten dollars in advance, $12 at the door, children and seniors get in for five dollars, and COCC/OSU Cascades students will be able to get in for $8. Two days prior on Nov. 8, new skaters will be able to be trained. Roller derby fans can also keep up with LCRD and Renegade Roller Derby by ‘liking’ their Facebook pages,
with each LCRD team having their own Facebook page as well.

“Everything that we do is on Facebook, so keep an eye on those,” says Johnson. Fans can also keep up with
LCRD by visiting their webpage at

You can contact William James at



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