Winning Sick Town Derby Dames Offer Butt-Kicking Junior League
“[Derby] teaches girls to be strong and powerful, and not apologetic for being that way. It teaches them ownership of themselves and their bodies—there’s a certain kind of confidence that comes along with playing derby, you just can’t play a game like that and not feel good about yourself.” – Sick Town Derby Dames’ Katy January, AKA Hotboxxx
Corvallis’ Sick Town Derby Dames kicked off their fall season on September 29th with a bout against the Southern Oregon Roller Girls, whom they handily trounced!
As the crowd roared, Sick Town skated to a devastating victory, piling up a massive, un-passable lead against Southern Oregon—but you know what? The crowd cheered Southern Oregon, too. Skaters from opposing teams shared high-fives, and the announcer made note of how tough Southern Oregon could make it for our jammers to break through the pack. While the competitiveness and pride of each skater is practically palpable, the respect and sportsmanship, in the midst of aggressive hip-checks and bruising crashes to the track, was unbelievable—something you sure don’t see at most football games.
“I needed this when I was a teenager. I was super self-conscious, I was a lot bigger than the other kids—if I’d had derby, I think that I would have found the happiness and self esteem I found as an adult a lot sooner,” said Shannon Pfingsten, AKA Jollie Knock-Hers, a Sick Town skater.
So when the teenage daughter of Dianne Nelson, Sick Town’s Velma Meana, declared that she, too, wanted to skate, Jollie and Velma, with the help of Sick Town, founded the Candy Stripers Jr Derby League for 10-17 year-olds in the Willamette Valley.
“it doesn’t matter if you’re a punk rocker, it doesn’t matter if you’re a straight-A student—we have cheerleaders, rugby players, band nerds—everybody gets along, and they have this one thing in common that they love to do,” said Jollie, who is now a vice president of the Candy Stripers Jr Derby League. “I can be who I am, and you can be who you are—it’s a thread that binds very different people, very different families, together.
While the Sick Town Derby Dames is a 21-and-over league, local kids now have the opportunity to become directly involved in derby, a fast-growing and fast-paced global sport. And girls who finish junior derby at age 18 can try out at a younger age for a spot with the Sick Town Derby Dames.
“The parents have been super supportive, they’ll do anything to support their kids in this. They’re as excited about the changes they see in their children as we are about their skating ability changes, and that’s a really exciting thing to be a part of,” said Jollie.
Local junior derby participants are fully insured through USA Roller Sports—for juniors this cost is covered by Sick Town—and they have access to some of the most talented, enthusiastic skating and derby coaches in the Valley.
Started this past January, the Candy Stripers Jr Derby League has so far undergone three recruitments, and about 30 kids skate regularly—enough to form two home teams. And when they’re ready, they’ll scrimmage against Bend’s Lava City Roller Dolls’ Cinder Kittens, Eugene’s Emerald City Roller Girls’ Junior Gems, Cherry City Junior League in Salem, junior leagues in Seattle, and Portland’s Rose City Rollers’ Rosebuds, ranked number one in the world.
“Our first group of recruits is just about the get into scrimmage eligibility – we take kids who’ve never skated before and we teach them how to skate, and we take our time to make sure they aren’t thrown into something that is unsafe,” assured Jollie.
And boys don’t need to feel left out—with men’s leagues popping up all over, including Eugene’s Lane County Concussions, the Candy Stripers accept boys, too. Although for the most part, adult leagues remain single-sex, junior leagues can benefit greatly from the participation of both boys and girls.
“Boys aren’t better than girls, and girls aren’t better than boys,” said Jollie, “I love the girl pride and I love the female positivity that comes out of it, but I also like, as men’s derby is coming about, this equalizing of the sexes—we can play together, and we both have strengths and weaknesses.”
The Sick Town Derby Dames want junior derby to be affordable for all, even to parents who have three kids skating. Not only is junior insurance covered, but learner gear is available for those who want to try out the derby before making the investment. Derby skaters need skates, knee and elbow pads, wrist and mouth guards, and helmets—buy these through Corvallis’ favorite skate shop, The Uprise, and get a 10 percent discount on all junior derby gear. And remember that the derby is self-supporting! Keep an eye out for fundraisers, and feel free to make donations—they also accept new and used gear.
The Candy Stripers Jr Derby League will hold a New Skaters Day on October 13th from 4:30-6 p.m., at 6547 Old Salem Rd. NE (two-story warehouse) in Millersburg. This is for any and all 10-17 year olds who are interested in derby. Bring any quad skates and gear you have; some loaner equipment will be available—and get excited!