The need for speed


What has eight wheels, fishnet stockings and a fierce desire for speed? Give up? Why the wild women of roller derby, of course.

Roller derby is seeing a huge resurgence in the past couple of years due, in some small part, to the popular movie Whip It with Drew Barrymore. In it, a misfit teen finds her true self after joining a local roller derby team. While that may be true for a few of the women of Resurrection Roller Girls, I’d bet it’s safer to wager that they joined the team for the fun and pure athleticism of the sport. That rights, athleticism. Gone are the staged slapstick antics from roller derbies past. Today’s roller girls are strong and fit but they play by the rules – lots of rules.

Take Sonoman, Jen Martini. After spotting a notice in The Sun some years ago, Martini was encouraged by her husband to check out the advertised Monday night Back to Basics event at Cal Skate in Rohnert Park. Although interested, taking the next step was a little harder for her to accomplish. “It took me six months to work up the nerve to walk into the rink and face 40 very strong women,” said Martini. But her jitters were quickly assuaged as the women took her under their collective wings and taught her the ropes of roller derby.

“I was really wobbly on skates at first and I fell a lot. I hadn’t skated in years but the girls on the team were so encouraging. I was absolutely euphoric on the ride home and realized that I was hooked that first night,” said Martini.

Five weeks and dozens of drills later, Martini tried out for and made the league. She’s now been skating for about three years – with a brief break in the middle to have her fourth baby. She practices an average of two times each week and participates in games on the weekends. The season officially opened at the end of April and an upcoming bout called, “Who’s Your Mama?” is scheduled for May 28 at 7:30 in Cal Skate. It is sure to be a sell out.

But it’s not all about derby. These women are also interested in giving back to the community at large and donate a portion of their proceeds to local needy organizations. “We want to use the excitement to get people in the rink door and then use that momentum to benefit the community.”

It should be pointed out that, as a homeschooling mother of four children between the ages of 11 years and 18 months old, Martini’s “Me Time” is critical to her well being. “Don’t get me wrong, I love being with my children and homeschooling is a wonderful option for our family. But after a long day, skating is something fun that is just for me. And the best part is that I get to connect with so many other women with an incredible variety of backgrounds.”

Indeed, between the two teams in the Resurrection Roller Girls league – cleverly named the Cinderollas and the Combustin Betties – there are 35 skaters that range in age from 18 to 40-plus. At any given Back to Basics session, there are another 15 to 20 women who’ve come to check it out. Still, according to Martini, the league is always looking for new skaters.

“This is a great sport that you can pick up at any age and ability level. We are always looking for skaters and non-skating volunteers. No one needs to feel intimidated because they don’t know how to skate – we’ll teach you,” she said. “The best part is that it’s completely family friendly. There is even a Junior Derby League for younger girls. I love it.”

For more information about Resurrection Roller Girls, visit their web site at resurrectionrollergirls.org or see their YouTube video at youtube.com or contact either Christine DeWitte at cedewitte@yahoo.com or Monique Evans at mo8evans@msn.com.


One Response to The need for speed

  1. I’m sorry I was not available yesterday when Jody tried to contact me…..I live in Sonoma and are so proud of Jen and all the women of Roller Derby. My father invented the game in 1935 in Chicago, and I promoted it until its demise in 1973. A group of women in Texas restarted in 2003 and today it is one of the least known but most widespread sports in the world, with over 778 leagues in 30 countries, ranging from Australia and Japan to the UK, Germany, Israel and South Africa with some 35,000 participants. These leagues are all amateur, supported by the skaters themselves and the games are completely legitimate. You probably will see Jen and the others in the Olympics within 8 years. Take the family and see a game. they are truly family entertainment with none of the fighting, etc of the old Derby.