Truckee to get double dose of roller derby with weekend matches | SierraSun.com

Truckee to get double dose of roller derby with weekend matches

Sylas Wright
swright@sierrasun.com

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Add roller derby to the list of rising sports in the Truckee/North Lake Tahoe area.

Sierra Regional Roller Derby, which was formed in 2013 by a group of five women and has expanded to include three teams, is set to host its first-ever home bouts at Truckee River Regional Park on Saturday.

"We're really excited. It's nice to be home," said Christine Bettera, one of the founding five and a player on two Sierra Regional Roller Derby teams — the Ladies of the Lake and Sierra All-Stars.

Saturday's action begins with a 4:30 p.m. match between the Sierra All-Stars and the Fresno Derby Alliance. It continues with a match between the Ladies of the Lake and Carson Victory Rollers at 6:30 p.m.

The doubleheader, which will take place on Regional Park's ice rink/basketball court, is free to attend.

Bettera and friends started the Sierra Regional Roller Derby League with the goal of bringing the sport to the North Lake Tahoe area while uniting regional leagues. The Ladies of the Lake was their first team. The league later added the Sierra All-Stars and merged with the Battle Born Derby Demons from Reno.

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"We were looking to bring a higher level of derby to the area that just wasn't happening in these smaller leagues," said Bettera, who previously played for the Tahoe Derby Dames based out of South Lake Tahoe.

"We wanted to extend the pool of skaters to pick from for our team. So we did that by forming Sierra Regional, and then we invited Carson, Reno and skaters from all over to try out for the team. And that has given us a much higher level of players."

While the league is steadily gaining traction, it's been a slow road to acceptance, Bettera said.

Many people associate the sport with theatrics and violence based on its history, which includes a 1989 television program called RollerGames that featured scripted story lines and fights. Roller derby has evolved for the better since then, Bettera said.

"People don't really understand what roller derby is and they have a lot of misconceptions about it. They think that it's just rough and tumble and just a bunch of girls beating each other up, which it is not at all," Bettera said.

"The girls are highly skilled and there are a lot of rules and strategies. It took us a while to convince people that we're actually playing a sport and not just out there beating each other up. It's nothing like what was on TV. There's no fake fighting or elbows."

Played on roller skates, the sport pits five athletes at a time on a circular course. Both teams have a designated player on the course called a jammer, who scores points by passing opposing players, called blockers. Jammers range from quick, "slippery" skaters, Bettera said, to brutish women who plow through the opposing team's wall with sheer force.

While rules have helped tame the game, roller derby remains a contact sport complete with hip checks and bumps, which explains the required equipment of knee and elbow pads, wrist guards, mouth guards, and helmets.

"You can't elbow, punch or clothesline, but there's a lot of physicality," Bettera said. "You work with the other blockers to create an impenetrable wall. That's the goal. But you can't just hit people out of bounds because the jammers are so good. If you make a big hit, she'll jump in and get in front of you before you can even recover. So that's where the strategy comes in."

Adding to the sport's appeal, roller derby athletes often select tough-sounding and clever names.

Members of the the Sierra All-Stars include Malice N. Chainz, Jam An Eye, Slamuel Jackson and Creature Feature. Names like Pixie PowHer, Stilla Menace and Cryma Passion highlight the Ladies of the Lake roster, while the Battle Born Derby Demons boast names such as Ego Bruiser, Gnarly Nailer and Parker PaxaPunch.

Sierra Regional Roller Derby has several more home bouts on its schedule, including July 11 against a team from Red Bluff. Find more information about the league and a full schedule at http://www.sierraregionalrollerderby.com.

If you go

Sierra Regional Roller Derby is hosting its first-ever home doubleheader at Truckee River Regional Park on Saturday. The Sierra All-Stars will take on the Fresno Derby Alliance at 4:30 p.m. The Ladies of the Lake will take on the Carson Victory Rollers at 6:30 p.m. The event is free. Seating is limited and attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs. Find more information at http://www.sierraregionalrollerderby.com.