All Girl Flat Track Roller Derby Jams in Bay Area

Women from around the Bay Area get together to compete in flat track roller derby.

Remember the old films and video of San Francisco native Ann Calvello, the "Demon of the Derby," kicking butt in the Cow Palace on quad-skates taking out any and all opponents?

Calvello passed away in 2006 so she won't be able to welcome the new wave of roller derby skaters and fans this Saturday night as roller derby returns to San Francisco.

The Bay Area's very own all-woman flat-track roller derby league, the B.A.D. (Bay Area Derby) Girls, will compete in San Francisco for the first time in their four season existence after sealing a deal with Herbst Pavilion at Fort Mason. (Full disclosure… my wife is Deadly Nightshade, a skater for the Oakland Outlaws.)

Places like roller rinks, bowling alleys and ice skating rinks have been closing their doors all over the Bay Area in recent years, which has made things harder for the B.A.D. Girls, a grassroots, nonprofit, D.I.Y. organization, to find places to practice and compete.

In Calvello's time, roller derby was very theatrical with bouts sometimes looking more similar to WWE wrestling than to an actual sporting event.

But things have changed with this decade's resurgence of roller derby, which Pia Mess, former Seattle skater now skating with the San Francisco ShEvil Dead explains, "when it first came back about five years ago, there were some pre-planned roll-around fights, but now, any blood or injuries you see are absolutely 100 percent real."

There are three teams in the B.A.D. Girls league, the San Francisco ShEvil Dead, the currently undefeated Oakland Outlaws, and reigning champions from 2007, the Richmond Wrecking Belles.

Most skaters in the league have a pseudonym that they go by as an alter ego, with their real-life professions ranging from stay-at-home mom to sheriff sergeant and at-risk youth counselor.

According to the Bay Area Derby Girls Web site, there are more than 70 full-time members in the league, which has an all-star team that is ranked sixth in the West and ninth in the nation through the Women's Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA).

To learn more about roller derby, check out the video or go to the B. A. D. Girls' Web site: this link.

For the best lesson, head down to the Herbst Pavilion at Fort Mason Saturday night for an action-packed evening of roller derby smack down where the San Francisco ShEvil Dead go up against the Oakland Outlaws. The event, which starts at 8 p.m. is 21 and older and it costs $17 at the door.

Also, the Bay City Bombers, Calvello's old team, is still alive and well here in the Bay Area and they will be setting up the familiar-looking wooden banked track in Alameda High School's area for an exhibition on July 19, 2008.

For more information about that team and league, check here:

For more information about the Bay Area Derby Girls, check here:

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