Corvallis’ Own Sick Town Derby Dames Need A New Practice Space

Li'l Pwny (L) and Blood Stain Brettaigne (R) hold back Lava City jammer, Photography by Tim Berg

“We swear to spread the infectious sport of Roller Derby wherever we go, contaminating all that think they are immune to our hip checks, body blocks and awesome jamming. We offer no antidote or regret for the rapid escalation of contaminated STDD supporters and will continue to expand our league, teams, and fans with this outbreak of DERBY FEVER. We Are Contagious!” – Mission Statement of Corvallis’ Sick Town Derby Dames

Roller Derby is the fastest growing sport in the world. Over the past 10 years, Oregon alone has sprouted 13 new teams, including Corvallis’ Sick Town Derby Dames started in 2008, and the West Coast is home to the most talented, competitive skaters on the planet.

“People who have never watched Derby, they have no idea what’s going on, but they can’t contain it and they lose their voices screaming and yelling at it. Everyone who goes to it loves it so much because it’s just fun to watch,” said Katy January, AKA “Hotboxxx,” a Vice President and Head of the New Location Task Force for the Sick Town Derby Dames.

Some may have an antiquated view of Derby, but it’s evolved significantly in the past decade. “The current incarnation of Derby is extremely athletic and competitive – we’re paying our insurance ourselves and we don’t want to get our teeth knocked out, that kind of stuff is illegal.  If you punch somebody in the face you’re going to get kicked out of the game just like you would in other sports—it’s bad sportsmanship and it’s not how we play,” affirmed Hotboxx.

But our own Sick Town Derby Dames are facing a major dilemma—they’ll be losing their practice space within a matter of days.

Even now, Sick Town’s practice arena isn’t ideal. It’s located in a grass seed warehouse North of Albany—not in itself a problem—but it’s not heated or insulated, and it has no running water. In winter when outside temperatures drop into the 20s, practice arena temps plummet into the teens. It’s a tough situation, especially with Corvallis’ budding new Candy Stripers Junior Derby team for kids aged 10-17; parents who come to watch their kids skate shiver in the cold for hours. Sick Town missed over 16 practices last winter due to the conditions of their practice arena. The roof leaks and the floor seeps—it’s an unsustainable space.

If the team doesn’t find a new space ASAP, they’ll be relegated to a nearby warehouse that doesn’t even have electricity, and to practicing outdoors on basketball courts until Oregon’s seasonal rains force them to stop. Currently, adult team practices are held four evenings per week—in the new warehouse they’ll only be able to practice on Saturdays while it’s light enough to see.

What the Sick Town Derby Dames need is a new practice space, and if you’ve got that space there are plenty of reasons to want these ladies in it. The Sick Town Derby Dames are a highly dedicated, fully insured, 501c3 non-profit organization. Sick Town’s 50 skaters are required by their governing organization, the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, to perform community volunteer hours each month. While Sick Town can’t pay high rent prices—current real estate costs are about four times higher than they can afford—any rent that they’re not charged by a landlord can be considered a tax-deductible donation. They even have their own porta-potty.

“We can help someone pay their taxes, pay their insurance; cover the costs of having an empty building just sitting there,” added Hotboxxx.

The team holds bouts at the Linn County Fairgrounds, but it’s not an ideal space and it can be expensive—after ticket and merchandise sales, they’re lucky to break even, and the space is limited to a too-small max of 1000 people.

However, “If we find a practice space we could play in, we could pay a lot more money in rent,” said Hotboxxx. And by supporting the Sick Town Derby Dames, a landlord will be supporting our local community.

“Derby is a very grass-roots thing—we have professionals, professors at OSU, we have research assistants, we have teachers; I’m a bar manager,” added Hotboxxx.  “It’s super community-driven, community-oriented. All of our bouts have a kids’ table run by Frogs and Pollywogs Toys in Albany. Parents don’t have to babysit—if their kids don’t want to watch Derby they can sit close to their kids and still watch the game.”

The space the Sick Town Derby Dames need has some specific requirements. It must be 130’x90’ (125’x85’ at the very least), and have a dry floor—concrete works fine (the team is adept with quikrete); no dirt or gravel for safety reasons. Additionally, the space should be a clear span truss building, and electricity is a must. Plumbing and insulation would be fantastic! A Derby practice space would be located within 15 miles of Corvallis or Albany, with Tangent being the team’s ideal location.

If you have (even a temporary) empty space that you think would be ideal for Corvallis’ Sick Town Derby Dames, contact the team at Let’s get our team a new practice arena!

By Genevieve Weber