The women-only, flat-track Bay Area Derby Girls league is in mid-season and pre-tryout training has just begun. Women from all over the Bay are making their way to Oakland to participate in this full contact, fast paced sport.
BADG is a skater-run organization, which consists of over 60 women who have organized themselves and worked hard to become the sixth ranked league on the West Coast in the nation wide Women’s Flat Track Derby Association.
Roller derby is played on old-fashioned quad roller skates with two teams of five players.
A game, referred to as a bout, consists of two 30-minute periods filled with up to fifteen two-minute scoring sessions called jams. The jams are two-minute intervals wherein both teams have the opportunity to score; they can be considered rounds in a period.
There are five positions on each team: one pivot, three blockers and one jammer.
The pivot and blockers form the pack, the group of skaters that line up in a diamond shape that the jammers must pass through in order to score points. Only jammers can score points for the team.
A jammer is only allowed to touch players on her own team, so she must rely heavily on her blockers to create spaces through which she can skate. The blockers must also cooperate to form a solid wall against the jammer of the other team and to bump their opposing blockers out of the way.
A jammer scores points for her team by passing members of the opposite team without any penalties. Penalties are given to players who perform illegal blocks, fight or otherwise break the rules. She scores one point per member she passes.
The jammer that is able to skate through the pack first is called the lead jammer and has the ability to call off the jam at anytime by tapping her hips and thus ending the scoring period.
BADG allows each derby girl to choose a derby name that she can be recognized as when she competes.
Panda Monium, jammer of the Oakland Outlaws, said that being on a roller derby team is “a big mental commitment and time commitment. It’s hard to have a full day of work, then come to skate late at night and have a social life. You need to have good time management.”
In order to enter the league, this season’s roller derby girl hopefuls will train with some of BADG’s retired derby girls until the 2008 season tryouts in January.
New skaters begin as “Rink-y Dinks,” league members without teams that are later drafted into one of the three Bay Area teams: the Richmond Wrecking Belles, the San Francisco ShEvil Dead or the Oakland Outlaws.
Sinnocent, a.k.a. Nicole Ashton, is a new blocker for the Oakland Outlaws and a grad student at Mills. She started training in March of 2007, made the tryouts in June and was a “Rink-y-Dink” for three months until she was drafted to the Outlaws last month.
Ashton said her biggest challenge thus far has been learning time management and getting over the initial fear of new girl training. “There were stitches, broken bones and dislocated shoulders,” she said.
Because of the mental and physical demand of the sport and because it is sponsored by Pabst Brewery Company, BADG is a strictly 21 and up league.
Many roller derby players like Oakland Outlaws pivot Lemmy Chokeya, agree that 21 is a “good minimum age for the league.”
Ivanna Decker, also of the Outlaws said, “The league would definitely be different if the age requirement weren’t 21. Skaters need life experience.”
Apart from the age requirement, Diane Rott, jammer and blocker for the Richmond Wrecking Belles, said she was drawn to the sport because “it’s an amazing combination of sport and Rock and Roll, which makes it a little sexy.”
Those interested in derby may attend the training sessions being held from now until January. Training sessions are $10 dollars each and are held at the Dry Ice Roller Hockey Rink in Oakland. For more information about BADG visit bayareaderbygirls.com.