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.