For 30 seconds, I was a roller derby girl.
That's the amount of time I managed to stay upright on the track before falling on my face.
Girls whizzed past me while a senior derby member, and leader of the practice, tried to guide me as my arms flailed and I reached out for something to break my fall. I found myself flying in her direction, her eyes widening as I approached. It is entirely possible that I inadvertently got to second base with her.
According to skater Joslyn Kite, I am not the only person who has so horribly sucked at skating immediately upon attempting roller derby.
Kite is known as Jawzee Rotten in the roller derby world, where players come up with their own unique (and ass-kicking) name. In their day-to-day lives, roller derby members can be mothers, bank tellers, librarians, young professionals, or your innocent-looking neighbor, but on the track, they'll rip your head off. And while this was once thought of as a fringe sport, there are increasing signs of mainstream including a Drew Barrymore directed movie, Whip It, and ESPN special. Locally, Renegades have made roller derby increasingly mainstream in our region, and now have further solidified their legitimacy with the addition of their own banked track - the only one in the state.
In Kite's case, she began roller derby after having only the experience of clip-on skates as a child. Now, Kite said, "I can't stop skating. It's the most unique fun that there is in Bend. It's so worth it - all the time and energy."
The inclined, circular track is one of a kind in roller derby throughout the Pacific Northwest, with the next closest tracks as far away as Arizona and California, according to Renegade co-founder Jamie Olsen, who goes by "S. Jane."
"The track has added a huge workload for the league," Olsen said. "This is a pretty big deal in the roller derby world."
The new track will also help highlight two different styles of skating - something that Olsen hopes will help them work with the Lava City Roller Dolls, the other roller derby league in town that practices flat-track skating.
Roller derby leagues have been around in Bend since 2006 and have recently been attracting as many as 600 people to local derby bouts. Although popular, the future of the Renegade league depends on finding a permanent space for the new track in order to hold practices and events. Though the league has found temporary shelter for the track at the West Bend Tennis Center, they are in need of a location where they can set the track up permanently at an affordable cost.
In addition to the smashing of opponents' brains, the league is focused on helping the local community - even sometimes providing event tickets to local homeless shelters for families to be able to enjoy an evening of ass kicking. Recently, they've focused their fundraising efforts on the Keep A Breast organization - something inspired by the experience of one of their members, Heidi Heartbreaker, a breast cancer survivor.
Olsen said they are expecting to grow the popularity of derby matches with the addition of the new track. They would like also to boost team enrollment, which is why the Renegades hold tryouts on the last Thursday of every month. As I learned, roller derby is a seriously athletic venture (and not nearly as easy as it looked in Whip It!). After performing calisthenics on a grimy concrete floor along side roller girls who never batted an eye, I realized that they operate on an entirely different level of hardcore.
"We aren't just some beer league - although beer is great," Olsen said. "We are the premier banked track league of the Pacific Northwest."
"Together we have this league, where it is OK to be yourself, no pressure to fit into a clique or be of a certain social status," said Olsen "We are so much more than just a league of individuals. Roller derby is, in itself, its own culture and community."
Renegade Rollergirls Tryouts
6pm Thursday, June 24. Visit
renegadesor.com to receive