IT’S OFFICIAL: LONG BEACH LOVES ROLLER DERBY!By Sé Reed
The inaugural season of Long Beach’s first and only Roller Derby league ended on Saturday night with a wallop. More than 1,800 people packed the Spruce Goose Dome to watch the Bixby Rollerettes beat the Terminal Island Tootsies, 121-81, winning the Wreck Fest of Champions and the title of Long Beach Roller Derby Champions.
Despite starting the league from scratch, with a brand-new venue and a brand-new audience, LBRD sold out all four of the games in the 2010 mini season. And it’s growing: recruitment has skyrocketed since the first bout in April, and LBRD co-founder Michelle “Estro Jen” Steilen expects an even bigger boom when the Spruce Goose Dome (or the “Roller Dome” as she calls it) becomes the official LBRD practice facility next year.
“All it takes to join is showing up to practice, ” said Steilen. “To be on a team, it’s two practices a week. To be a part of the league, and not on a team, you only have to come to two practices a month. You can show up with as much or as little skating experience as you have. We’ll teach you how to skate.”
In true derby style, however, the women of LBRD aren’t sitting around patting themselves on the back for a job well done … they’re kicking themselves in the short-shorts, already planning for an even better 2011 season.
“Next season is gonna be crazy because we’re gonna have eight games and they’re gonna be banked track,” said Dawna “Vice Versa” Bass, captain of the Terminal Island Tootsies. “Normally a jammer tries to go to the inside of the track, so the blockers won’t hit them out of bounds. On the banked track, you go to the outside, because you can’t get hit out of bounds. And whenever you come off a corner or a turn, it shoots you out, so you keep up that speed and the whole game is faster.”
While banked-track derby games tend to attract more hard-core derby fans, Long Beach fans aren’t waiting for a new track to express their love for the league: some are even calling for roller derby to be named the official sport of Long Beach. However, based on the level of excitement at the championship bout and the passion the LBRD skaters have for the game and their league, it doesn’t need the city’s proclamation: Roller derby is already unofficially the official sport of Long Beach.