Photo by Joe McGarity
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There’s more going on at Big League Dreams than men’s softball. On the far side of the batting cages stands the field house, the home of the Northstate’s very own roller derby team, the Redding Roller Girls. As Redding Youth Hockey League players finish their game, the women lace-up their traditional quad roller skates and prepare to take the field. The Fantom Penguin spoke with Canna Bull, a jammer for the Redding Roller Girls, who explained the rules,
“The sport is essentially a physically hard race. You have two jammers that are on the back line and then you have a pack of four girls from each team on the front line. When the ref blows the whistle, the first pack takes off. After the last girl crosses that first line, then the ref is gonna blow two more whistles. The jammers, which is the position that I play, they then take off and they try pretty much their hardest to get through a pack of eight girls that are trying to stop you by pushing you out of the way, trying to block you. If you manage to make it through that pack and come all the way back around the track, then you can start scoring points. For every person, or blocker, on the opposite team that you pass you score one point. At that point, if you’re the lead jammer, you can either call it off or you can keep going until the refs call it off after two minutes.”
Although the competition is fierce and to the untrained eye can seem like a violent free-for-all, Roller Derby, as sanctioned by the U. S. Roller Sports Association, has strict rules.
Canna Bull explains, “Roller Derby is a full-contact sport but there are many rules that keep us from physically injuring other players on purpose or hitting them in the face, elbowing them. We all play a very clean game and those players that do not are asked to leave the game.”
The rules are serious and so is the training, but showmanship and theater are also a traditional part of roller derby. Each member of the team takes on a “skate name”, her persona in the rink.
Canna Bull concludes, “I think if you’re a woman that wants to be involved in sports, roller derby is the best sport to be a part of. There is nothing like the camaraderie that you get from hitting your own friends at practice.”