Phoenix New Times

Skates, Scratches, and Sisterhood



Roller derby is a fun sport to watch- what’s not to love about watching tough girls in fishnets and short shorts beat the crap out of each other? It may be a visual sport, but there’s much more to roller derby than gals dressing up and breaking a few bones.

Arizona Derby Dames are currently the second ranked banked track league in the country. AZDD kicked off its 10th season on Saturday, September 13, 2014, as four of the five league’s teams battled in a double-header bout.

The zombie-themed team, The Coffin Draggers, triumphed over the rowdy schoolgirl team, The Schoolyard Scrappers in the first bout. The second bout was a nail biting match, as the gorgeous Brutal Beauties put up a good fight against the vivacious Bombers, but eventually lost. One of the most gratifying aspects of roller derby is hip and shoulder checking your fellow gals. It can be painful, just ask any roller girl about her injury history, but the sport is also extremely gratifying. We interviewed skaters from all four teams, as well as captains, referees, Fresh Meat (skaters in training), and fans, and the one thing everyone had in common was a love of the camaraderie that roller derby brings about.

Featured in this video is the mother-daughter skate team of Pocket Change and Peek atchu. Pocket Change helped lead the Bombers to victory, while her other daughter, Rigama Roo assisted the Coffin Draggers in their earlier win. Rigama Roo had to leave early to return to Tucson, but Pocket Change spoke fondly of her blood family, as well as extended family found in AZDD. Roller derby attracts women of all ages and backgrounds. We talked to skaters as young as 17 and up to their 40s. Some girls were students, while others were lawyers and business professionals. Coffin Draggers’ pivot Devotchka DeStrange described roller derby as the “longest relationship she ever had,” and said that she could not have fully gotten through the grief of her husband’s death without her roller derby sisters. Another skater, Lumpy Skate Princess of the Schoolyard Scrappers, struggled in school while she was in the junior league as a minor, but brought her grades up due to AZDD’s good grades policy.

We talked to a variety of these women about what got them into roller derby, and what keeps them going in spite of broken bones. Check out our highlights from AZDD’s season 10 kick off in this video.