Tom Jung/Daily Journal
Stephanie Vance, aka 'Moose-a-Rita' stretches at Peninsula Roller Girls practice Thursday night. Another flat-track derby athlete, Allison Kennon-Frink, aka 'Rat Frink,' broke her leg recently while playing and will be sidelined until she heals. Two local teams, the Psychopathogens and Damas de los Muertos, scrimmaged at last Thursday's practice and will play an official match this Friday in Redwood City.
If you want it, the Peninsula Roller Girls have it.
The flat-track derby specialists get their fair share of bumps and bruises and even the occasional broken leg as they attempt to reignite interest in a sport that once had millions of followers.
The Peninsula Roller Girls might have funny alter egos on the rink such as Pour Decision, Brute E. Pie and Bella Trixx the Strange but they are all serious about learning and competing in the sport of flat-track derby. Some even have ideas it will one day be an Olympic event.
This is not co-ed banked-track roller derby. There are no elbows to the head, chairs flying or the theatrics of big-time wrestling.
Today, modern roller derby is dominated by all-female amateur teams and has 1,200 leagues all over the world.
"This is a contact sport and a place to get out a bad day,” Allison Kennon-Frink said before practice Thursday night at the Redwood Roller Rink in Redwood City. Her alter ego on the rink is "Rat Frink” but was not practicing with the rest of her team, the Damas de los Muertos, because of a broken leg thanks to the sport she loves.
"I never had a lot of female friends, I was more of a tomboy growing up and always hung out with the guys. This is a place we can come together and don’t have to be all girly-girl. You can take out your aggressions here. It is something women don’t do enough of,” Kennon-Frink said.
She found the Peninsula Roller Girls by "tooling around” on the Internet.
The Peninsula Roller Girls currently field two teams, the Damas and Psychopathogens, and are about ready to field a third team.
About 80 people are associated with the group, 60 of them women. The two teams have 17 players and each one could not join until going through a boot camp to learn the sport, said Kelly Knight, who handles public relations for the group.
They even held a draft for the two squads at an International House of Pancakes.
While the athletes may have alter egos on the rink and wear the occasional face paint, they come from diverse backgrounds.
Stephanie Vance, 41, is a middle school teacher in Redwood City who took up the sport in the last two years.
Her alter ego is "Moose-a-Rita” and emblazoned on her buttocks is the phrase "Moose Caboose” on her costume.
She stands tall in her skates and is mostly a blocker, assisting the team’s jammer to score and trying to block the opposing team’s jammer from scoring. You play defense and offense at the same time in roller derby and the final scores can read 150-90. A jammer is the team’s designated scoring player who scores by lapping players on the opposing team.
Vance teaches physical education to eighth grade girls and lets them know that it is a good thing to be fit and active.
Vance even works out twice a week with a personal trainer to keep her fit in skates.
"As a teacher, this is a great stress reliever,” Vance said. "I sleep good on derby nights.”
Vance even traveled to Brazil and practiced with a team there called the Brazil Derby Girls. She contacted them online before her trip and encountered a bit of a language barrier explaining why she was there but once in her skates and on the rink, not speaking Portuguese was no problem.
Roller derby, she said, has given her loads of confidence and is bonding women worldwide.
It also does not matter what "your shape and size is,” Vance said. "There is a role for everyone.”
This Friday, the Damas de los Muertos and Psychopathogens have a rematch at the Redwood Roller Rink. If you show up, you might see a group of students wearing moose hats in the crowd to cheer on their favorite teacher.
The match is 8 p.m., Friday, July 20, Redwood Roller Rink, 1310 Main St., Redwood City. For more information visit www.peninsularollergirls.org.
Bill Silverfarb can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 106.