Sac derby girls host Western Regionals

The Women's Flat Track Derby Association 2010 Western Regional Tournament is coming to Sacramento this weekend. And the Sacred City Derby Girls are stoked.

The skaters in one of Sacramento's two flat track roller derby leagues have not only become eligible to compete in the regional playoffs for the first time — they won Sacramento the honor of hosting one of four qualifiers for the national championship in November.

Sacred City's travel team, the Sacrificers, and teams from as far away as Colorado and New Mexico will be skating at Memorial Auditorium Oct. 1-3.

The league's founder, Gabriell Garcia, also known as "Chica Loca," said skating at the auditorium will fulfill a dream for many girls on the team.

"We've wanted to play at the Memorial ever since we started," she said. "Big dreams for little girls."

But at 5 feet 11 inches without her skates, Garcia is no little girl. She sports a skull and crossbones tattoo under her right ear and a gap-toothed smile when she's not wearing a plastic mouth guard.

They wear other protective gear, too, such as helmets and knee and elbow pads. While Garcia didn't lose her tooth skating, injuries are part of the full-contact sport of roller derby.

Last week, the 37-year-old Limelight bartender joined two dozen other women at their last scrimmage practice for the upcoming tournament. Sacred City bought an old, 12,000-square-foot brick warehouse at 1501 N. C St. last year. They practice there on an 8,000-square-foot multi-purpose sport court six days a week.

Last Tuesday night, skaters warmed up with a pace line looping around the track. Women with nicknames such as "Rose Villain," "SpillHer" and "Malevolent" practiced bumps, pivots, stops and how to get back onto the track quickly without cutting in front of opposing players, to avoid penalties.

Coach Donny "Dirty D" Welch, once a competitive in-line skater, taught strategy and moves, such as how to get around a block or send another skater flying out of bounds.

The skaters range in size from petite fireballs to solid hitters like Rena Garcia, a 36-year-old Vacaville resident whose nickname is Shadow Soldier. Every one of them has their strengths, said 27-year-old Nelly Wollenberg, aka "Attila the Honey."

"I love the fact that it's a place where women can still be women but we can be aggressive," she said. "This isn't a league of weak-spirited people. These are all strong women."

The sport has exploded since skaters formed the WFTDA and created a standard set of rules in 2005.

The WFTDA now has 98 league members around the country. The Western region has 27 teams and is considered the organization's most competitive region. So just getting into the tournament is an accomplishment.

Sacred City qualified for the No. 10 spot. That means Sacramento's derby queens will be going up against teams that are all considered better. Competitors include the Oly Rollers of Olympia, Wash. — the 2009 WFTDA national champions.

General admission is $20 on Friday and $25 Saturday or Sunday. Three-day passes are $60. Children under 6 get in free. The tournament will bring 200 skaters, 100 referees and statisticians and 1,000 to 2,000 spectators to the Memorial, Garcia said.

Sacred City's first bout is set for noon Friday, when they take on the No. 7 team, Jet City from Everett, Wash.

If they win Friday, Sacred City Derby Girls will advance to a higher bracket and compete against the best teams in three more games over the weekend. If they lose Friday, they'll play two more games. The top three ranked teams go to Chicago for the WFTDA Championship Nov. 5-7.

"We're just trying to come out a better team than when we go in," Welch said.  


Photos by Suzanne Hurt, a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press.

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September 28, 2010 | 1:10 PM

One correction:

“Coach Donny “Dirty D” Welch, once a competitive in-line skater, taught strategy and moves, such as how to get around a block or send another skater flying out of bounds.”

Dirty D is a former quad speed skater, not in-line.

Thanks for the great article! Sacred is very excited about showing Sacramento what roller derby is all about this weekend!

September 28, 2010 | 2:41 PM

Saw that….funny the first comment!!!

September 28, 2010 | 1:52 PM

I love roller derby! So glad such a prestigious tournament is coming to my hometown! Thanks to everyone who made it happen.

September 28, 2010 | 1:53 PM

It’s so true that roller derby is an everywoman’s sport! Sacred is having tryouts on October 17th if you think you’ve got what it takes… check the website for details

Suzanne- are we gonna see you at tryouts now that you’ve gotten a taste?! It looked like your interest was peaked ;)

September 28, 2010 | 2:26 PM

As many in the DIY derby world are saying, “Westerns are the new Nationals(now called Championships, but old habits die hard)”. This event being held in Sacramento is going to be just AMAZING with the matchups, skaters, and enthusiasm that will be there. I myself grew up in the Sacramento area and will be coming back just for Western Regionals. I can’t wait!!!!

September 28, 2010 | 2:41 PM

Super excited to be a part of history in the making this coming weekend for SACRED and the WFTDA’s presence in this region!….Sacramento and other local residents should not miss this! Hopefully SACRED will be able to bout in 2011 at the MEMORIAL – we shall see! Sacramento…..come out to support your team!

September 28, 2010 | 5:23 PM

EVERYONE should come out this weekend (Oct 1, 2 & 3) to see first hand what derby is all about. This is going to be something you DON’T want to miss. I can’t wait to see it all = )

September 30, 2010 | 9:16 AM

So excited to be a part of such a huge event taking place in our very own Sac. Go Sacred!!

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