Rolling with the Renegades: It’s rougher than you think
Being a Renegade Roller Girl is not for wimps. These
roller derby women play rough and tumble, no- holdsbarred,
skate-in-your-face and the closest thing they have
to rules is the Brawl Buster that will pull the skaters off
each other when they tussle.
There is a lot to be said for training and physical stamina
when you are screaming around a track at break-neck
speed while you push past half a dozen women trying to
put you into the concrete. These women train between
three to four hours every Wednesday night, starting at
7:00 p.m., at the Midtown Ballroom where Coach Mike
Lancaster makes sure they are hardened speed machines.
They then put in another 3-4 hours sometime
during the week just for good measure.
The passion women like Jamie Olson, a.k.a. Suicide
Jane, a full-time Central Oregon Community College Marketing
and Management major, have for participating in
the team and belonging to the league is obvious by the investment
they make. The Renegade “bout” members purchase
their own equipment. Skates, pads and helmet start
at $120 for the most basic gear. They pay for a monthly
membership of $40; they buy insurance from the team,
which is self insured, at $100 per year and they generally
pay their own way when they take a road trip to compete
or train. The biggest expense, however, is for the outfits or
costumes they buy for their bouts, rehearsals, fundraisers,
and to establish their stage personalities. Compiling Goth
and other alternative-style wardrobes is an elaborate, laborious,
and expensive undertaking.
The Renegades are a non-profit organization and
members vote on all the stuff the team gets involved
with. For instance, the proceeds of the products, like
bracelets, they sell for the Boobie Campaign all go to the
Keep A Breast Foundation which seeks to raise breast
cancer awareness in young people. This particular cause
is personal to at least one former Renegade, Heidi Heartbreaker
was 29 or 30 years old and had just had a baby,
according to Coach Lancaster, and noticed lumps in her
breast. She followed up with a doctor and found out she
had cancer. She had to have a radical mastectomy.
Another cause of the team is to build a banked track,
the only one in the Pacific Northwest and one of only four
others in the country. The closest banked track is in San
Francisco, and is under the care and domination of the
original Bay City Bombers. In fact, 15 Renegades headed
down to the City by the Bay for four days to observe and
practice on the banked track there.
The Renegades can build a banked track for about
$30,000, which is cheap according to Coach Lancaster.
“The expense is in finding an affordable building to
hold the track,” he says.
They need a minimum of 10,000 square feet to accommodate
the track, the crowds and concession areas.
“That much space will cost between $3,000 and
6,000 per month, plus operating expenses, liability insurance,
and promoting the venue to competing teams
and spectators,” he said.
“I helped start Lava City, the league, and have been with
the Renegades since the beginning. I’ve grown with the team
and I love the sisterhood of the league,” Suicide Jane said.
“The Lava City Roller Girls are not the same as us
Renegades. They have a big book of rules that they play
by. Renegades have no rules so we don’t compete with
them. Sure, we’d play them if they would play our way,”
Suicide Jane said.
She has been serving the team as treasurer, since
breaking her leg in two places at an exposition bout at
the Redmond fair grounds.
Natalie Skeen, a.k.a Killer Cupcake, is a part time student
at COCC, her interests are in Fashion Design. She
works at Red Robin which covers the expenses of her
participation in the team. She said, “I love it. I’ve made a
lot of friends. It (the team) has changed my life.”
Coach Lancaster said, “at least 50 girls have come
and gone over the course of the last three years.”
He added, “The expense of belonging to the team has
prohibited a lot of women from participating. We are always
looking and recruiting ‘fresh meat’.”
He has an extensive screening process for the potential
skaters. There is a two-page test describing a series
of exercises that the skaters must perform before they
can even practice with the team. They are tested on
speed, endurance, safety, and style.
Besides the physical expectations, the member must
also participate in fundraising events and activities to support
the team and the league. Minimum age requirements
are 18 years old. The oldest member was Mama Renegade,
Ann, at 50. She was the mother figure to the girls.
All but one of the current members is female. The
only male skater, Panda, is preparing to leave the
team to do some extensive intercontinental travel.
As much as the girls enjoyed knocking him to the
ground, bullying and pushing him around, they are
sad to see Panda go. They have had as many as four
males on the team in the past but never on the track
at the same time.
Sara Smilie, a Spanish major at COCC, just joined the
team and recalls the first time she saw Panda skate. She
said, “I wanted all the girls to kick his ass.”
“Impromptu fights do break out but our Brawl Busters
are right on top of it,” said Coach Lancaster. “There
aren’t many (fights) but occasionally someone will cross
that line and get retaliated on. The adrenaline can run
high and they don’t realize how rough they’re being.”
The next Renegade Girls match/bout will be Saturday,
May 22 @ MIDTOWN MUSIC HALL Doors open at 7:00
pm, Bout starts at 8:00 pm.
You may contact Kelly Skjold at email@example.com
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