Roller derby takes to the track for Vashon park

Anna Sweezey is a member of Terrormedixxx, a roller derby team. - Amelia Heagerty/staff photo
Anna Sweezey is a member of Terrormedixxx, a roller derby team.
— image credit: Amelia Heagerty/staff photo

Neither figure skating nor skateboarding has the intensity of roller derby, a fast-paced, rough-and-tumble all-female sport. And this weekend, derby’s coming to Vashon for the first time.

Skating takes on a whole new meaning when you’re talking roller derby. Ten roller girls take to the track at once, five on each team, and try to knock their opponents over and out of bounds using whatever means necessary.

Their conduct’s not always ladylike, but these ladies are more than rollerskaters. They’re athletes with sass, class and a fierce competitive nature. They dress with flair, and their noms de guerre are as fun as their striped knee-highs and fishnet stockings.

If you’ve never been to a roller derby bout, then you may not realize the magnitude of the production coming to “O” this Saturday to benefit Vashon’s skate park, which is facing a potential expansion.

Four roller girls call the Island home, but the rest of their teammates, the Terrormedixxx, will boat over from Kitsap County. Their opponents, the Death Rattle Rollers, will also ferry from Southworth.

So too will coaches, referees, scorekeepers, announcers, ticket takers, a security entourage — at least 60 people in all, said Rae Walaska, a Terrormedixxx skater.

Then there’s the gear they’ll be hauling — the penalty boxes, the scoreboards, the T-shirts, the entire derby track, which will be laid down at “O,” and, importantly, the bumpers, into which a few skaters may have the misfortune of crashing.

“I’m excited to have derby on Vashon,” said Katina Gabri, an Islander and member of Terrormedixxx. “I would love to see the skate park expanded.”

She added that she appreciates Vashon Park District’s recent creation of Girl’s Skate, a time when the skate park is reserved for female skaters.

“Usually you think of skateboarders, and you think of boys,” said Gabri, whose skating moniker is QT Krusher. “I like that they are focusing on girls, too.”

Roller derby is a workout and a commitment, she said. This year, all roller derby events for Terrormedixxx and other teams in their league — the Slaughter County Roller Vixens — have been in Bremerton. She’s glad to have a bout on her home turf, she said.

“This is way exciting,” said Walaska, who’s called Roller Rage Rosie when she’s in the rink. “To me, it’s fun to get away from our normal routine; there’s the excitement of being in a new community.”

Walaska and Gabri said nothing’s quite like roller derby. It’s a community of women dedicated to each other on and off the track, they said.

“I think of my team Terrormedixxx as a whole, and there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for any of them,” Gabri said. “I’ve never been on an organized sport, and I just love it. We are a strong, tight-knit group of girls, and I love all of them.”

Gabri and other Island roller derby competitors sometimes skate at Vashon’s skate park, located in the Burton Adventure Recreation Center just south of Judd Creek. One day, as a few women were skating, Marcella Kruley had the brilliant idea of an “Island invasion” — bringing the derby to Vashon.

The Slaughter County Roller Vixens will split the proceeds of ticket sales with Vashon Park District’s Burton park. This is the first major fundraiser for the park, which may soon get a major overhaul and dramatic expansion. An architect is designing an improved park that includes a bigger skating area, a Frisbee golf course and a bike course.

Stewards of the Burton park will sell raffle tickets at the derby bout to benefit the park. They’ll hold the raffle that night, said Susan McCabe, program coordinator at the park district.

“I think its going to be fun, exciting, something that Vashonians have been ready for for a long time,” McCabe said.

Derby at “O”

Slaughter County Roller Vixens will hold a bout at “O,” at 18870 103rd Ave. S.W, at 6 p.m. Saturday, March 28. Tickets can be purchased for $10 from Vashon Park District at Ober Park.

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