It’s FINALLY Bout Day! Tonight, your Brawlers will kick off their FIFTH season, and you DO NOT want to miss it!!! For more information about the event itself, click here. Also, as an added treat, there will be performances by the CFHS Dance Teams and the W-SR Dance Team at halftime. Think you’ve got it in you to make a night of it? Join your Brawlers at the after-party at Spicoli’s. Doors open at 5PM. See you there!
We are days away from kicking off our fifth season, and we want you in the stands to see it. Whether this is the first bout you’ve ever planned on attending, a die-hard Brawler fan, or a visiting derby sister, the following is a list that will help you get to know our league better. This sport that we love, that we LOVE oh so much, is relatively young and can be somewhat confusing. These are seven things that I’d like for you to know about our sport and our league.
1. This is a LEGIT sport with LEGIT athletes. As with any other sport in existence, our sport is ever evolving. In its very early birth, Roller Derby was somewhat of a spectacle. Where the focus was once drama and entertainment, the sport has evolved to become the sport we want you to experience with us. Roller Derby has grown tons to become the display of teamwork, skill, strategy, and strength that it is today. Today’s Roller Derby runs on a very specific rule-set, a rule-set created to promote fairness and safety for all involved. The rule-set we follow is laid out by WFTDA. WFTDA (Women’s Flat Track Derby Association,) is an organization that CVDD is proud to be a full-fledged member of.
While you will see sixty minutes of solid derby action, we put in so many more hours in preparation to make us the athletes that we need to be to make us the best Brawlers we can be. Each week we put in six-ten hours of practice, and work-out on our own time. Roller Derby is exhilarating, but exhausting to a body that isn’t finely-tuned. Quickness, agility, mental strength, and stamina are all necessary components to being good at this sport. We work out together, as well as separately, as a deposit to our team strength. Don’t believe me? Just challenge Di to a vertical jump contest (on-skates if you’re an over-acheiver,) hit up Schwing for a footrace, let chaos lead you in a core workout, or ask Halo for a hip-check. These ladies are LEGIT athletes.
2. No Fishnets here. Uniforms for UNITY. Every league has the option to allow their skaters to design their own bout-fits. At the birth of our league you may have seen fishnets and hot-pants, but those have been lovingly left in the past. Today’s Brawlers can all be identified at home by the following: Black pants, purple Brawler uniform top, white helmet, all the appropriate safety gear, and a look of determination. As we are one team; we wear one uniform. And, the fishnets? They are actually awful. Ask any skater who has slid across the concrete floor at McElroy in them. Those things leave a mark, and wow does it burn….
Who knows though. Maybe Risky Frizness and Dani DeBeato have their fifth season bout-faces ready to paint on. Glitter? Well, yes there will still be glitter, of course.
3. Speaking of CONCRETE, yeah it’s that hard, and yes we fall, but we get back up just as fast. We play our bouts in McElroy Auditorium, on the National Cattle Congress grounds in Waterloo, Iowa. If you want to know how to get here, click here. Flat Track Roller Derby is the epitome of full-contact. Part of our training is learning how to fall (and most certainly to deliver those big hits,) with the safety of our bodies, and the safety of those around us, in mind. On the sidelines Saturday night you’ll see certified EMTs, our team chiropractor Jennifer Rasmussen, and all the appropriate medical equipment. Injuries sometimes happen, but both teams playing that night are in great hands.
4. Our Roller Derby redefines DIY. Usually when you hit up a sporting event as awesome as this bout will be, you see staff and interns running all over helping to execute the event. Maybe you spot a merchandise stand with a colorful array of goodies to buy to support your team that is staffed by a separate entity. Suppose you take in how the venue has been set up, by yet another group altogether. Not us, that’s not how we roll, pardon the obvious pun. Our league members and volunteers do everything from start to finish with each bout. The scheduling, the set up, the merchandise for sale, the promotional materials you have hopefully spotted around town, the halftime entertainment–all us. Each of us brings our own special skills to the table to make these things happen–in addition to our time on skates. We do it because we love it, and we want you to love it too. So high-five a volunteer, hug an emcee, and cheer extra loud. That’s all the recognition needed.
5. On the topic of love, have you heard of Derby Sisters? We are a family, these are my sisters. We’re in it for the long haul, through thick and thin. We know each other — really know each other, and genuinely care about each other. We know all about each of the families we have at home, the challenges in our careers, and the happenings in our personal lives. Throughout it all, we support each other, on and off the track. These are relationships that will last forever.
Hours and hours of sweat and tears have been shed in making this the best Brawlers team yet. Veterans like Desmo and After School Special join forces with new faces like Kickin Schwing and Pix C Pop to form a whole new kind of team. A team focused on athleticism, strength, and unity. A team focussed on winning.
Our Derby Sisterhood reaches well-past our league boundaries. Take a look around Saturday night, and I bet you see some other league colors out there supporting us. That’s how amazing this sport is, we all support each other. We flat-out just love being able to play this sport, this is evident in the post-bout pictures. Win or lose, there’s always smiling faces.
I can gush about derby family and derby unity, but maybe you ask Coach Flash Saturday night how he feels about wrangling all of us twice a week for hours at a time….
5. What the HELL is going on? So, you get to the bout, you read the rules handout lovingly prepared by our refs, and you feel like you kind of understand the sport after you’ve perused the info-graphic on the program…. And then all HELL breaks loose. There’s whistles and penalties, and oooh what a hit! All you have is questions. Do you know what we want you to do with those questions? ASK US!!! We have league members all over the venue who would love to explain this sport to you. Seriously, just ask, or even throw up your hands in the stands, someone will find you and answer your questions. We want you to know more about the sport. The more you understand what awesomeness is playing out in front of you, the louder you’ll cheer. We like loud cheering.
6. Why on Earth do we do this?!?! I think this is one of the most important things I can convey to you. We do this because we LOVE this sport. We all ended up here from all kinds of different life-paths, but we find a common thread in each other through this sport. There’s an ‘Uncle Leon and the Alibis’ song called “Roller Derby Saved My Soul” (to read the lyrics click here.) There’s another side to this ‘soul-saving revolution’ that he’s not necessarily singing about: What this sport; this team does for us.: the camaraderie, the relationships, and working toward our common goal is something that each of us has found as a Brawler. Ask any of them, they’ll probably tell you that ‘Roller Derby Saved Their Soul.’
7. What do I want from you? I want you to show up. Maybe you’ve never been, maybe you have always wanted to go, maybe you’ve never missed a bout. I just want you to see this. I want you to be a part of this. We LOVE our fans, as much as we love our sport. Did someone ask you to buy a ticket? She didn’t do that to increase ticket sales, she asked you because she wants to share this with you–to make you a part of this growing Brawler family. So, now all you have to do is find a ticket. You can buy $8 advance tickets from any CVDD league member, at Mohair Pear in Cedar Falls, Plaid Peacock in Waterloo, or the National Cattle Congress office. You can listen to 97.7 KCRR for chances to win tickets, or go to their website to enter to win tickets here. On Saturday, January 24th, our box office will open for $10 ticket sales at 5pm. Kids 8 & under are free. The Brawlers first jam against the Rockford Rage will begin at 6pm.
I’ll see you all Saturday night! Brawlers on THREE!
PS: If you miss this one, our next home bout is Fifty Shades hotter than anything else you’ll be doing that night on Saturday, February 14th.
Your BRAWLERS are back, and back with one goal: VICTORY. The BRAWLERS will take on the ladies of Rockford Rage Roller Derby on Saturday, January 24th, 2015 at McElroy Auditorium in Waterloo, Iowa. Doors open at 5pm, first jam at 6pm. This season’s BRAWLERS are made up of some very seasoned veterans, some returning vets, and some seriously talented new skaters. This first bout will do nothing but demonstrate the time and effort our teammates have put into their own skills and the deep seated team cohesion that can only be developed by working with a coaching staff that encourages growth. Tickets can be purchased from any skater in advance for $8, or at Mohair Pear, Plaid Peacock, Spicoli’s Grill, or the National Congress Box Office. Tickets at the door are available on January 24th for $10.
Say “roller derby” to almost anyone and the most popular reaction will be entirely outdated – witticisms of fishnets and tiny shorts, cannonballs and fist fights. Not exactly giving credit to the revolution of athleticism that the sport really entails. Generally speaking, derby athletes also illicit a mixed reaction as spectators quietly search for tattoos and piercings. None of these things are exclusive of one another but none put the acts of athletic grace and power that these athletes possess front and center.
Like every other athlete, professional or otherwise, an athletic pastime generally leads to an athletic and health conscious lifestyle. “I was hoping that derby would be the workout I knew I needed and that two days a week would be enough since we were skating around three hours each night at that time.,” said After School Special. “I was sadly mistaken.”
Special joined the team March 2011 and since then has undergone a personal health transformation. She joined Farrell’s Extreme Bodyshaping doing 5-6 cardio kickboxing and resistance training workouts in addition to two derby practices a week. Not the only one to amp up her fitness regime outside of practice, Desmo has also been active and her workouts managed to include the entire week of RAGBRAI this past summer.
Many athletes on the team have made time for additional workouts outside of practice, commonly running, weight-lifting, and CrossFit. This is not to say that Coach Flash isn’t pushing the team; he certainly is. The team practices five hours a week in addition to any games, mixers, or tournaments the skaters may be participating in. Practices include a technical warm-up to help fine tune individual skaters’ footwork, aggressive blocking and jamming drills, hitting, and endurance.
However bodies aren’t solely made in the gym (nor on the track). The kitchen is an important part of creating a fit body. What this has meant for Desmo is that she had “to really look at what I was nourishing my body with and how I was expecting my body to perform. For me, this just means backing off refined carbs (especially the sweets), and balancing my carb intake with protein.”
Special added, “…Now my diet through FXB [Farrell’s Extreme Bodyshaping] consists of six small meals per day including a healthy protein and a healthy carb and vegetables. Portion control was not part of my vocabulary and I would often eat until I was overfull, but now it is small portions more frequently and using food as fuel rather than just to eat.”
Both athletes want to stress though that nothing is off limits and they, like many others on the team, are working to master portion control and moderation. Food and fitness are supposed to be healthy parts of ones life, athlete or not, and that includes having a healthy attitude towards both.
“Find one small thing you can do to be healthier, and then do another,” Desmo advised.
If there was ever a time to question the level of athleticism of derby athletes, last season was not a good time. Roller derby, as most people understand it, was once a show of acting rather than a show of sport. These athletes today spend hours on the track practicing minute footwork, long stretches of endurance drills, and taking (and giving) hit after hit. The Brawlers have a lengthening history of being dedicated athletes who also make safety the highest priority in this raucous sport.
Unfortunately, as the team discovered during the 2014 season, some things just can’t be avoided. The team suffered the injury of three skaters: a broken elbow from the now-retired jammer, Moon Tang; the tibia/fibula fracture of 40 Watt Halo; and the fibula fracture of Heidi Almighty. After a long process, all skaters are healed, but not without difficulty.
“I was in a fiberglass cast for five weeks post surgery (August 13th),” commented Halo. “I then transitioned to a brace and compression sock for about six weeks…There was a lot of swelling which required my leg to be elevated as much as possible, especially the first few weeks during recovery.”
“The whole recovery process took about 15 weeks, so almost 4 months before I was allowed to put skates back on,” added Heidi. “I spent the first four weeks in a cast.”
Heidi’s injury came in the end of June during practice and Halo’s injury was in the final games of the season when the team went to Steven’s Point, Wisconsin for a tournament weekend and was certainly not how either had planned to spend her off-season.
A skater’s injury, unlike a skater’s persona, is not something that can be safely tucked away when not in a derby atmosphere. “It affects everything. It makes simple things that we take for granted challenging – driving, cooking, cleaning, using the bathroom, going up and down stairs. I had to take a week off of work. My family, friends and co-workers had to assist with nearly every little task,” said Halo.
“If you suffer a setback you should continue to work out or exercise in any way that is possible,” advised Heidi. “Even if it’s just doing leg lifts repeatedly. Also make sure that you align yourself with a good support system everywhere that you go. The support system will pick you up when you are feeling down.”
Being a good patient can be a difficult thing for anyone, but is certainly no picnic for a group of independent, determined athletes. The Brawlers are thrilled to welcome their teammates Halo and Heidi back to the track and are hopeful for a healthy Season Five that kicks off with their home opener, Saturday, January 24 at 6:00 p.m. at McElroy Auditorium. Ticket information to follow.
A profile of resident Brawler photographer, Donna Olmstead
I had an amazing conversation with Squint today and got the privilege to get to know her better. There is much I can say about her; she’s a wife, mother, stray cat savior, blacksmith, quilter, world traveler, and career hobbyist. Most importantly, she is the Brawler photographer and I frickin’ love this lady!
If you’ve ever been to a bout at McElroy, Squint is the shy lady with glasses, a smile on her face and two cameras around her neck. You might have caught a glimpse of her climbing the poles to mount additional lighting. She takes photographing derby seriously. If you’ve ever played in a bout at McElroy, she’s the one who captures your hits, your falls, and your goofy faces, but never posts an unflattering picture of you. It’s against her morals.
Squint photographed the Brawlers’ very first home bout and has watched the team and play evolve through her ever changing lenses. She says derby has given her an excuse to upgrade her equipment and with that, her skills. She used to use the “spray and pray” method to capture action, the camera taking several quick sequential shots in a small amount of time. Now it’s the “wait and anticipate”, knowing the skaters and the game allows her to better predict when engagement will occur.
Squint is like a derby player in a lot of ways. She sacrifices travel time with her husband (her derby widow) to photograph events. She prepares for the bout by checking her equipment and packing her bags with all the things she might need. Where a skater packs extra wheels, she packs extra batteries. There are certain shots that are always on her list: the crowd cheering, the scoreboard, the refs, the NSO’s, our jammer, the other team’s jammer, and the blockers. Mostly though, she tries to follow the action to see what unfolds.
Squint says she has learned something about herself since joining the Brawlers, “I am a story teller.” To her, photographing derby is more than grabbing action shots. Her favorite pictures are those that tell a story; a story about the struggle and about the mental and physical anguish skaters experience, the good and the bad times. Anyone viewing her photo stream can watch the bout unfold before them.
Want to catch Squint and the Brawlers in action? The first bout of the 2013 season will be held at McElroy Auditorium on the Cattle Congress grounds in Waterloo, IA on March 2nd, 2013. View Donna’s work, including all past Brawler bouts, by liking her Facebook page: Donna Olmstead Photography.
An essential part of enjoying the sport of Roller Derby is understanding the action on the rink.
The Women’s Flat Track Derby Association is the international governing body for the sport of women’s flat track roller derby as well as a membership organization for leagues to collaborate and network. It’s the WFTDA that sets standards for rules. As such, their website does a thorough job of explaining those rules here.
We’re sisters in skates battling to be our best. You’ve seen us in the arena, imagine what we’re capable of without boundaries. We are athletes and role models; we’re good sports and good citizens. We’re tough. In this sport and in this world, you’d better be. We’ll show you our speed, agility, endurance, teamwork, and heart. We’ll show you our bruises. And you’ll see… this isn’t a show; THIS IS ROLLER DERBY!