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By Mara Koch
Special to The PREVIEW
Over 20 women gathered together at the Pagosa Springs Youth Center to skate around in circles and hurl their bodies at each other.
Ranging in age from 20 to 45, a pack of women representing all shapes and sizes and walks of life — from mothers to athletes to professionals — converged for one purpose: roller derby.
January 2011 brought the first local roller derby practices and the formation of Rollergirls In Pagosa (RIP) — a women’s flat track roller derby league. Coached by El Chupa (also known as Jacob Miskimens), the women worked on their skating skills while they conquered “scissors of death,” burpees (on skates), sprint ladders and other feats of fitness. They jumped over boxes and perfected shoulder and hip checks, while they learned roller derby strategy and geared up for their debut competitive season in the summer of 2012.
For their first two seasons, RIP dominated the regional competition at their level. Because their numbers were always low — generally skating with seven to nine skaters, while the typical roster is 12-14 — they focused on strength and endurance during practices. Over the course of the past three years, most athletes attended practice twice a week, as well as numerous boot camps, crosstraining sessions, fundraisers and community service events.
Truly, roller derby is a passion for these women and their commitment to the sport is evidence of that passion. Women returned to skating after injuries, delivering babies and surviving cancer. Roller derby — the friendships and sisterhood of the team, the aggression and competition on the track, and the pure joy of skating and hitting another girl to the ground — fueled these women and the positive effects rippled through their lives.
Now, in its third competitive season, RIP is hosting a mix-up bout Saturday, Aug. 30, at South Pagosa Park on South 8th Street. The first bout begins at 12:30 p.m. and a bout for newbie skaters follows at 2:30 p.m. Because of low team numbers, RIP has opened up this mix-up to skaters throughout the region. RIP members Trixie Trouble, Gigi Hurtz, Rave N Fury, Juicey Brewzer and Stashe will be skating in the pack this Saturday.
“We thought it was important to host an event this summer. The community has been so supportive of roller derby and we want to make sure the fans can see their local team skate. Even though we’re down to only a handful of skaters, it’s important for us to skate here in Pagosa. Having other skaters join us in the mix-up makes it happen,” said Rockin’ Da Floss skater turned referee.
The event will also include a kids’ skate during halftime. Local kids will hit the track and future derby skaters can show off their skills. RIP has consistently skated with kids at Pagosa Springs Youth Center over the years and encouraged them to take up skating and feel strong and powerful in their bodies.
RIP is actively recruiting skaters — both rollergirls and male/female referees. Those interested in being part of the awesomeness of roller derby can check out their website — www.pagosaderby.com — or Facebook fan page for practice and volunteer information. If you’ve ever considered playing roller derby, now is the time. With dwindling numbers due to natural attrition and few new recruits, the league will need new blood in order to continue.
“So many community members have put their blood, sweat and tears into bringing roller derby to our small town. We really hope that passion and fuel for the sport will continue and that more of the community will join in to make it happen. You’ll find that we’re a fun, welcoming, and encouraging bunch of people,” said Hurtz.