This Saturday night the San Francisco ShEvil Dead will take on the Oakland Outlaws at Fort Mason to kick off the 2010 roller derby season in the Bay Area.
This year each of the three teams in the league only play each other once, instead of twice like in years past.
The Bay Area Derby Girls will spend a lot more time playing teams from other leagues this year, and in March the Oakland Outlaws got things started with a trip North to Humboldt County to battle the Redwood Rollers, who they played and beat in 2009.
I was born and raised in Humboldt County and was up there visiting when the Redwood Rollers played their first bout ever in May of 2007, which I was lucky enough to attend.
Wow, what a long way they’ve come in less than three years. The league now has an all-volunteer, non-skater board of Directors who take a big burden off of the skaters in terms of planning and set up for the events.
At the bouts, the board members wear bright orange Ben Davis shirts that can be seen from across the track in cases of panic and peril.
At the double-header in March I spoke with board members Toby Walker, Steven Santos and Lewis Call who said, “We take care of the business [which] allows skaters to focus on skating. They don’t need to be bothered with buying the pizza and paying the bills.”
If only the If only the Bay Area Derby Girls were so lucky...
As far as they know, the Redwood Rollers are the first roller derby league to have a non-skater board and I think it is a great idea.
Right now they are re-organizing to become a non-profit, something B.A.D. Girls have already done, and in 2009 they sold out almost every bout and ended up donating nearly $10,000 to other local non-profits.
The Redwood Rollers have outgrown their venue of at Redwood Acres that holds 750 paying customers and their “long term goal is to get a bigger venue so we can have a banked track and a bigger capacity,” said Santos, the league treasurer who goes by they name Vault.
The bouts sell out almost immediately which bids well for getting people to volunteer to be guaranteed a ticket to the hottest thing in town.
Board member Toby Walker, aka Scrambler, said, “The reason I got involved is because I came and got shut out so I decided to volunteer.”
When I was there, the local modern rock station KSLG was broadcasting the bout live on the radio so the other people who got shut out could still stay in the game.
The league also has a 20-person marching band called the Dirty Derby Blowhards that play in-between jams or periods as well as an announcer who rivals Michael Buffer and does tricks with his pet Shadow the Derby Dog at half-time.
Roller Derby videographer Hell Ocho was in town shooting some video and figuring out the possibilities of doing derby on public access in Humboldt.
Ocho shoots for the well known LA Derby Dolls and the more obscure Flint City Derby Girls and said, “Humboldt is in the middle of [being] a little start-up and the professionals. They have just the right pitch, fan support and enthusiasm. Derby and Humboldt is a perfect match.”
Oakland Outlaw and Bay Area Derby Girl Event Coordinator Chesty Gillespie was a bit jealous to see how easy it seemed to be for the Redwood Rollers with all of their community support.
Gillespie said, “It’s hard to find people in the Bay Area who are as into derby as the skaters are because there are so many competing things to do.”
The Bay Area Derby Girls have to do everything themselves from organizing the events and renting the space to finding the vendors and cleaning up after the event. If you want to help out you can volunteer, or at the very least you can support by heading down to watch some flat track roller derby this Easter weekend as the Oakland Outlaws take on the SF ShEvil Dead at Fort Mason, a venue they may soon be leaving for a return to the East Bay.