There’s a bash a-brewing. But first, there’s business to handle – at long last.
Initially founded July 1, 2009, the Durango Roller Girls collective, able to field multiple rosters simultaneously in the past, will finally commence their next 10 years of existence Saturday night when the squad will welcome a foe from Los Alamos, New Mexico, to Chapman Hill Ice Arena.
“This is the first event, home bout for the 2019 season,” DRG veteran and team representative Celeste “D’Cell Punk” Hanson-Weller proudly stated Wednesday afternoon. “We’ve had a couple bumps, you could say; one team that we were going to play in July, unfortunately, they canceled at the last minute, and we were unable to fill their spot.”
Not the case with the visiting 2011-founded Derby Dames (a full-fledged Women’s Flat Track Derby Association member since Spring 2017; the Roller Girls became WFTDA-official in summer 2014), who squeaked out a 180-166 win at Northern New Mexico College’s Eagle Memorial Sportsplex in the clubs’ previous meeting last March.
“Of course, it would be great if we came out with a win,” Hanson-Weller said, addressing the question of whether payback for the nail-biter has been in the team’s thinking during recent practices. “We always hope to win, but in the end, it’s always about the competition, the camaraderie, and really appreciating everybody’s skating skill.”
The DRG now have about eight or nine skaters, and Hanson-Weller said that number could soon reach 12.
“And we’ve had a few that tapered off for a bit, but they’ve come back to play in this bout,” she said. “So, numbers wise, we have a solid team, and we’re just going to work really hard. That’s what we do.”
Successfully defending Chapman Hill has thus been an achievable goal. DRG drubbed El Paso Roller Derby’s Tex Pistols 259-129 in their 2018 home finale last August before falling 376-115 in Flagstaff, Arizona, to High Altitude Roller Derby’s Dark Sky Starlets just over a month later.
“We just love Durango, our fans, the community, and we say it over and over,” said Hanson-Weller, a Bayfield resident and one of several Roller Girls residing outside Durango. “Our fans are the best fans that we’ve ever encountered and just cheer every single person on. We’re all going to be out there working really hard.”
Roller derby is one of the biggest fan draws of any sport in Durango. Already 150 to 200 tickets have been sold, and DRG routinely packs Chapman Hill for home bouts.
Doors are scheduled to open at 6:30 p.m., with action against the Chupacabras to begin at 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased in advance for $10, either online at brownpapertickets.com or from a Roller Girl herself. Tickets at the gate will cost $15. Children 12 and under get in free.
“We really love and appreciate all the people that come out and volunteer for us because we run the bouts. We don’t hire anybody to come in and set them up for us or anything; it’s skater-owned and skater-run, so we do everything,” Hanson-Weller said. “We make sure everything is in place for the bouts. We set up the bouts, we tear down, and without help from our volunteers, we wouldn’t be able to put on a fabulous competition like we get to.”
Following the bout, the Roller Girls will host an instructional Derby 101 session Monday.
“If anyone ever has an interest, it’s their time to try roller derby, ask questions, meet all of us,” said Hanson-Weller. “It’s going to be during our practice time at Chapman, so people can show up at 6:45, get geared up and then the practice goes from 7 to 9:30.”
If people want to get involved but skating or full contact aren’t their thing, roller derby also needs referees.
“We do need referees, so we have a ref crew that trains with us, also,” Hanson-Weller said. “Then we also have a group of people that are non-skating officials that come and help do our penalty box, keep score. And we have other ways to volunteer, also. We are actively recruiting all the time!
GIVING BACK: The LADD website mentions their club’s involvement with and support of multiple community groups and, like most southwestern WFTDA members, the Roller Girls are no different.
“We try to give back every year, every bout,” said Hanson-Weller. “And this bout, our beer tips are going to the Four Corners Alliance for Diversity. So, come over and say hi to our fabulous volunteers running that beer tent!”
NAME GAME: If there’s one thing for which roller derby is certainly known, it’s skaters’ humorous, sometimes politically-incorrect nicknames, often accompanied by unusual numbers on their uniforms.
“Sometimes, a derby name is given to you. Like, people start calling you something and you just go along with it, and other times people actually come up with theirs,” said Hanson-Weller, whose own is basically a mash-up of a nickname and a steampunk appreciation.
“Numbers,” she continued, “could be job-related or be dates of their birthdays, dates of their kids’ birthdays. My number (3918TH) is an ode to my dad; it’s his battalion that he was in in Vietnam. So, numbers do have some significant meanings to them.”
WHEN’S THE PARTY: Now 10-plus years in, DRG plans to commemorate their first decade on wheels but will likely not do so until next season in order to ponder how to properly tackle such a task.
“This year is technically the 10-year anniversary of the Durango Roller Girls, and we really wanted to be able to celebrate it a little more fully next year,” Hanson-Weller said. “There have been times where skaters retire and numbers maybe go a little bit lower, and then you have to work on a re-growth and everything. So, we’re working on the re-growth this year a little bit, and then next year we are going to come out and really celebrate.”