Charleston Bound: Wheels of Justice Roll to Playoffs

Portland, do you know what you have on your hands?

Not only are the Rose City Rollers a super fun non-profit organization, but they’re also home to one of the best roller derby teams in the world. The Wheels of Justice, Rose City’s All-Star team, are ranked #4 in the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA), and they’re headed to playoffs.

Before you stands a team. Photo by Skippy Steve.

How do Playoffs work?
There are four playoff tournaments, and teams are invited and seeded according to their WFTDA ranking. Stick with us here. Because the Wheels of Justice are ranked #4 overall, they’re a #1 seed going into this weekend tournament.  WOJ dukes it out, and if they’re one of the top three teams coming out of this tournament, they join the other winners at Championships in a month.

Does it matter if they win the playoff, or do they just need to be one of the top three teams?
Whoa whoa, let’s not put the cart before the pegacorn here, but it does help to win your playoff weekend. You get better seeding at Championships that way. *knock on wood*

Who’s the big competition at this playoff?
Victorian Roller Derby is a Australian juggernaut. WOJ beat them handily at home last year, but a year does make a difference. WOJ also beat the Philly Roller Girls earlier this spring, but this Philly team is known for peaking at tournament season and excelling under pressure.

The four and five seeds for this tournament have Championship experience, so don’t count anyone out.

OH NO WHAT HAPPENS IF WE LOSE?
Rose City gets a bye in the first round. If they lose their first game? Hello consolation bracket, goodbye Championships. If they lose their second game, they still get a chance to play for third place and a chance at Championships. Now calm down and check out this bracket, sports fan.

WHAT HAPPENS IF WE WIN?
Celebrate! And get ready for a trip to Nashville!

Can I watch?
Sure, of course! You can purchase a pass on WFTDA.tv to watch the weekend’s games online, or come hang out with us at one of our super cool watch parties.

Watch party?! Tell me more!
Details are still TBD, but we’ll probably have a low-key BYO-snack-type watch party on the big screen at The Hangar. Games are early due to the three-hour time difference. Keep an eye on our Facebook page and fan forum, and we’ll let you know the details as they’re sussed out.

What else do I need to know?
Wear purple, and prepare to do a lot of cheering.

What do we want?
JUSTICE!
When do we want it?
NOW! 

Yinger, Mercy, and Mutch

Fun AND fearless. Photo by Skippy Steve.

 WRITTEN BY FRISKY SOUR

 

Welcome the Newest Draft Class

On Friday, September 26, the RCR community gathered at one of its newest sponsors — Buffalo Wild Wings — to find out which members of Fresh Meat were being welcomed onto home teams.  With the home team opener than usual this year, expectations were that this was going to an exciting draft.  And boy was it!

heathersSix draftees went to three different teams.

The High Rollers had no open spots available due to the recent return of Heidi Go Seek. Fortunately, that did not mean we would have to miss out on the magic of Bad Wolf in a cat unitard.

To the Heathers:
Allison Millak
Story Johnson
Jenna Routenberg, aka Sui Jennaris

To Guns N Rollers:
Anne Kim, aka Pain Goodall
Linsday Pont, aka Hound of BadAsskervilles

To the Betties:
Malorie Sneed, aka Phylla Bust-Her

So let’s meet the newest Bettie — Phylla Bust-Her.

How did you choose that name? As a political science major (and current law student), it just made sense.

How did you first come to learn about derby? I saw Whip It and just knew I had to give derby a try, as impossible as it seemed for me at the time. Little did I know I would still be going strong four years later!

PhyllaWhat took you from fan to skater? During my last year of high school I went to all of the Ft. Myers Derby Girls bouts (my hometown league) and got hooked even further. I figured that the only thing more fun than watching derby would be playing it! By the time I started college and was eligible to start skating with my former league, the Bradentucky Bombers, I knew I was ready.

What were your first experiences on skates? I had skated maybe a couple times on my mom’s ancient pair of quads, when I was very young. I distinctly remember the first time I put on my very own pair of R3s at age 18 and struggled to even stand up! I had to learn how to skate as an adult, and it was definitely not easy. I’m not ashamed to admit that a ref once told me that I was like Bambi on skates when I first started bouting! I’m still learning at every practice.

Who helped you or influenced you the most during the early days? I was completely amazed by so many of my future teammates on the Bradentucky Bombers. Well before I knew who Suzy Hotrod was, I was blown away by how fast Crash Test Barbie could skate (now also on the Ft. Myers team) and with how little effort Blaque Jac (now on Tampa) could deliver devastating hits. It took serious effort for me to even stay on my feet then, but I continue to admire what these ladies can do on the track.

When did you tryout for Fresh Meat? I transferred to Fresh Meat just a few days after moving to Portland this past July.

What was your experience like on Fresh Meat? It was definitely challenging! It was great to be coached by so many talented skaters, and scrimmaging with and against them was an awesome introduction to the level I’m striving to play at now. Although I’ve been playing derby for years, skating with a WFTDA league of this caliber is a completely different animal and I love the continual challenge it provides me.

Any advice you would give to skaters thinking of trying out for Fresh Meat? Do it!!! Be prepared to work hard and devote a lot of time to derby, but if you want it badly enough, it shall be yours. (Editor’s Note: Tryouts are this Friday!)

What was draft day like for you? The week leading up to it was so anxiety-ridden, but the day of I really just prepared myself mentally for rejection. I had zero expectations of getting drafted so soon after transferring, so it was nice to finally breathe that sigh of relief and acknowledge that my hard work had paid off. It was much more nerve-wracking waiting to hear which team I would be on!

What makes you most excited about the upcoming season? Just practicing with the Betties will be amazing! I can’t wait to see my team repeat their success from last season, and hopefully be a part of it. I have so much to improve on that getting rostered is a far-off dream, but the prospect of skating in my first WFTDA bout is too exciting for words.

Who on your new team are you most excited to skate with? Scylla Devourer. Not only do our names rhyme, but she gave me feedback on blocking at Derby Daze this summer, and it’s insane to think that she’s now my teammate! I’m going to learn a lot in my futile attempts to get past her.

Meet Mike Wade: WOJ Coach

Wheels of Justice is vigorously getting ready for their chance in the Division 1 WFTDA playoffs. Rose City Rollers Wheels of Justice are the number 1 seed for the bracket in Charleston West Virginia, taking place October 3-5.

Mike Wade has been charged with coaching the top talent or Rose City Rollers and preparing them for this annual event. Let’s spend a moment and get to know this new coach and see what has been taking place in his preparations.

wade2

Photo by Skippy Steve.

Can you give a brief synopsis of your skating experience?
I grew up playing hockey in Cleveland, Ohio, and can say most of my life has been on skates. The weather is rough back home, so for 8 months you are either a bowler or a skater.

I first started skating for the St. Louis Gatekeepers 2010 until I moved to Portland in June 2013. In that time we were ranked #1 twice and never fell below #4. Coming in 2nd place in the MRDA Championships in 2012 losing by 1 point in the final jam.

I currently skate for Portland’s Bridgetown Menace (Ranked #5).

What is your background with coaching WOJ?
I first got into Roller Derby in 2009 watching Burning River Roller Girls in Cleveland, Ohio. Later moving to St. Louis, Missouri, I started refereeing for Arch Rival Roller girls from 2010-2011 and 2013. I spent 2012 as a bench coach for one of their local teams the M-80’s, who won the championship that year. I also started playing for the St. Louis Gatekeepers men’s team from 2010-2013. I have been a student of the game since the first whistle of the first jam I saw.

What do you believe is the greatest strength of Wheels of Justice?
I think the greatest strength of WOJ is the fact that each and every player is playing for the name on the front of their jersey, not the name on the back. We have a unique team here. The mentality of each player is that every thing they do at practice and every achievement reached is for the betterment of the team. They push themselves to be the best skaters and teammates possible each and every practice. This team has never hit a plateau because they are always setting and reaching new goals.

Who are the most improved skaters on the team?
I would like to give a lot of credit to Tess Yinger. She has been an absolute delight to coach. She set a goal early in the season to work her way up from AOA to Wheels and she not only did this, but she was voted MVP for the bout against Rat City.

wade3

Photo by Regularman.

Who is the skater that surprised you most?
I would say Loren Mutch has surprised me the most, and still does. She really pushes the envelope every time she is on skates. Its kind of funny, I’ll go over and tell her she did an awesome job at something, and she gives me this look and sighs and says she can do it better. I’ll be honest, sometimes I think to myself “yeah right, not possible” and the very next lap around she somehow does it. You hear a lot of the Bonnie Thunders in the roller derby world, put money on this, the derby universe is all going to know Loren Mutch by the end of playoffs.

Do you have a game plan that you work from jam-to jam, or is it really per sequence of jams?
Our game plan is pretty consistent the whole game. Our blockers know our jammers, know what they like, what works for them and where they have some difficulties and we all work together to put everyone in the best situation. We work hard to understand all types of scenarios that might present themselves at any given time so we can quickly react. We go out to win every jam, so you can say we work jam to jam.

Do you spend time scouting other teams and skaters that you will face in playoffs?
This could honestly be considered a second full time job for everyone on this team. The more you know about a team and the tendencies of their players the better.

Are there any opponent skaters or teams that you expect to challenge WOJ?
I fully expect the road to winning the Hydra to be difficult. All the teams we will be matched up against have been putting in long hours, sacrificing time with friends and family and pushing themselves just as hard as we have, so we expect each and every team to be giving us their all. We expect to give everything we have too. You can’t just show up, you have to perform.

What do you contribute most to WOJ?
What I hope I have contributed is confidence in each and every player and I hope they know I believe in each and every one of them as we go into playoffs.

Wade1

Photo by Skippy Steve.

What has been the most rewarding part of coaching WOJ?
The most rewarding part of coaching WOJ, is simply that I get to be a part of something absolutely amazing. I get a front row seat to watch these amazing athletes surpass goals, triumph over challenges and take the track and leave the track as a team.

What has been the most challenging part of coaching WOJ?
I think the most challenging part of coaching WOJ is continuing to find new challenges and goals for the team. Sometimes I think we might need to spend an entire 2 hour practice on something, and they have it down in 20 minutes.

WRITTEN BY TYSON LEGGATE

Draft Spotlight: McGillycutty

First we met Jess in the Box. Then we met Sweet Jane. Now with another home team draft right around the corner, we are proud to introduce McGillycutty, who was drafted by the High Rollers last spring.

Rose City Rollers is fortunate to have an abundance of hardworking, homegrown skaters, including the aforementioned draftee McGillycutty! Roller derby is not easy. Not even a little bit. Most derby players, even our travel team heroes, did not show up knowing how to skate, block, juke, and jam.  Everyone started somewhere, and for many involved with the Rose City Rollers, their first time skating (or struggling to stay on their feet rather) was at Oaks Park in a Derby 101 class. After months, even years, of practicing and perhaps a zealous obsession with derby, they finally make Fresh Meat. After even more maniacal discipline and devotion to skating, they get drafted to a home team at long last.

Gillian Bayless Brimberry, aka McGillycutty, is a prime example of this ardent dedication, jumping from Derby 101 at Oaks Park to High Rollers in 2 years.  In addition to being a featured skater, Gilly is a mother of two, wife, and full-­time interior designer. In addition to her busy personal life and her awesome blocking skills on the track, she also has taken an active role in the league serving as Wreckers communications admin, RCR mascot, Fresh Meat co-­captain, and now tackles sponsorship for the High Rollers; no wonder they drafted her!  I asked Gilly to share with us some of her insight, experiences with RCR, and what it’s like being drafted to a home team.

Continue reading

August Gold Star Volunteer Award: Tyger Bomb

This month’s Gold Star Award for Excellence in Volunteering was awarded to the lovely Tyger Bomb. We were fortunate to learn exactly why she is so excellent.

Do you remember your first Rose City Rollers bout? Where and when?

It was sometime in 2007, at the Expo Center.  Shortly afterwards I became a yellow shirt so I could be part of RCR.

Did you ever want to be a skater?  Yes, immediately!

Merch sales, 2010

Merch sales, 2010

Why have you stayed involved with RCR?  I volunteer with RCR because I think it’s important to give back.  I have learned so much from skaters, coaches, officials, leadership, and other volunteers.  I could not have had the incredible experiences I’ve had playing this sport if not for the hard work of so many people who came before me who helped to create modern roller derby, and everyone who helps to keep our league running today.  I am so proud of the programs our league has developed, like Rent N Roll, to make derby more accessible to everyone.

What was your favorite volunteer experience? 

Ava Skatrix was my first derby crush.  During warmups for the first bout I attended, she gave somebody a leg whip and I just melted into a giant puddle of fangirl.  Fast forward to a few months later – I was yellow shirting at a bout and she rolled up to me and thanked me for volunteering.  It was like meeting a movie star.

Do you have a favorite skater and/or official or a great derby crush?

I think I could get myself in a lot of trouble if I start announcing favorite officials, so I’m just gonna say I appreciate ALL of our officials.  They volunteer countless hours to do a really hard job and sometimes their only thanks is eye-rolling or tantrums.  They are amazing.  My derby crush of the moment is Freight Train.

Painting numbers on Rent N Roll helmets, 2014. Photo by Marybeth Olmstead

Painting numbers on Rent N Roll helmets, 2014. Photo by Marybeth Olmstead

How has RCR changed since you began volunteering?

RCR has continued to grow and develop.  We’ve had to create policies and programs to meet the needs of the world’s largest derby league, and sometimes we’ve had growing pains.  But we have amazing programs now (junior derby, Wreckers, Derby Daze) that didn’t exist when I started.  I am excited to see what happens next, and how much more we can grow once we get into a larger space!

Is there anything RCR could do better for its volunteers?

I think we can all make a point of saying thank you.  Say it sincerely and often, to lots of people.  Everyone in this league is a volunteer at some level. Everyone donates their time to be here and to make the league run.  I don’t think people are doing that for rewards or recognition, but everyone should be acknowledged for their hard work.

I also feel like our photographers are kind of the unsung heroes of the league. Without them we would not have photos to show off in the old folks home to prove that we used to be badasses.  Can we make them all cookies or something?

How does it feel to be a Gold Star Award for Excellence in Volunteering winner?

I am humbled and grateful.  That sounds super corny but it’s true.  I don’t think I’m doing anything extraordinary – I just try to help where I can.  It’s kind of mind boggling to be singled out and I wish we gave this award out on a weekly basis because there are so many people who deserve it.

UCP event at Oaks, 2013

UCP event at Oaks, 2013

Do you think you will ever stop being a part of RCR?

When I die I will have myself stuffed and you can use me as a mannequin for merch sales.  So no, I have no plans to go anywhere.

Any suggestions for new volunteers or those considering volunteering with RCR?

Speak up!  It can be kind of overwhelming being a part of something so large with so many moving parts.  What are your skills?  What skills would you like to learn or develop?  There is a committee or program that needs your help and in many cases you can get training or experience that you can apply in the “real world.”  If you don’t like the volunteer job you’re doing now, ask around and see if you can find something that’s a better fit.  When you find a volunteer job you love, it doesn’t even feel like work!

Final thoughts?

Everybody has something to contribute.  The league runs because we are all doing our part.  THANK YOU.

Rose City Rollers’ Search for a New Home (Part 3)

It was late 2013 when the Rose City Rollers (RCR) officially began their search for a new home.  The RCR Executive Director, Kim “Rocket Mean” Stegeman, began by seeking the aid of a real estate agent.  She came upon Jon Rubey, a real estate agent with a proven history of identifying solutions for this type of entertainment use, from Colliers International.  After discussions with him, it became evident that the RCR needed to truly define what they were looking for.  Rocket Mean soon put together a group of skaters and board members, creating a formal search committee.

In early 2014, a meeting was held between the search committee and Jon Rubey.  The outcome of the meeting lead to a formal document outlining all of the needs and wants for RCR.  Also to come from the meeting was a more defined communication line, with Rocket Mean becoming the point of contact for the search.

Rose City Rollers New Venue Requirements:

  • Building Size: 16,000-20,000 sq ft rectangular building. (For reference: Hangar is 11,000 sq ft, Track 8,000 sq ft).

  • Structural Details: 20 foot ceilings, minimum, void of pillars (at least the middle 10,000 sq ft).

  • Minimum Building Amenities: Available space for seating on at least 3 sides of the 110 foot x 90 foot track. Bathrooms, or at least the appropriate plumbing for installation of bathrooms.

  • Location: Easy-to-access property from major roadways. Close access to public transportation and bike-friendly.

Additional wants:

  • Location preference: Southeast Industrial area, ideally close-in

  • Event Seating: 1000-1500 person capacity – ideally bleachers would be retractable from the side-walls

  • Flex Space: Ideally the space would be able to accommodate 2 tracks for practice

  • Second story mezzanine seating (capacity is flexible)

  • 2 locker rooms that can each accommodate 20 players

  • Storage: at least a 100 sq ft

  • Lighting: preferably in the 80,000 lumens area

  • Retail space with outside/street-front access

  • Office and meeting spaces

  • Security: needs to be able to be locked down

Other Concerns / Ideas:

  • Parking/Parking Agreement with possible neighbors

  • Formulate an agreement with other clients to give access to meeting rooms when not in use.

  • Make space available to other non-profit groups

The Search Timeline

There are many steps involved in RCR finding a new home.  All of the properties that have been considered thus far have not made it past Step 2.  Here are simplified steps in the process for RCR to find a new home:

STEP 1: Find a location

STEP 2: Conduct preliminary evaluation of building and compare with goals of the league.

STEP 3: Negotiate economic terms of a lease and improvements with owner.

STEP 4: Evaluate property and actual requirements for building modifications.

STEP 5: Officially put together a design team (architect, general contractor and engineers).

STEP 6: Design modifications, construction permitting, etc. (This will take the most time).

STEP 7: Construction of building modifications.

STEP 8: Move in!

Findings

Jon has been able to locate numerous potential properties, but only a select few fit all the criteria.  Three of these properties (shown below) have been found and inspected by Rocket Mean and Jon.  Let us take a look at each of these properties and evaluate their Location, Value, and Potential:

NOTE: All of the potential properties would be a larger equivalent to the Hangar with little setup and teardown for the events.

Property: “Sandy” – 2316 NE Oregon Street (NE 24th & NE Sandy) – Portland

Location: Good

The property is close-in in the NE quadrant with a fair amount of parking and very good access to public transportation.  It is conveniently located directly adjacent to Interstate 84, while also close to neighborhoods and local businesses with great biking access.

Value: Fair

The rent would be too high once required improvements were completed for what RCR is looking for, but there is 20,000 square feet of space, which is enough for two tracks.  Some major renovations would be required to add office space, retail space, and prepare the track space.  Some major renovations include removal of a large elevated slab and metal support columns running the length of the main room.

Potential: Good

The space has bathrooms, meeting rooms, storage, and additional spaces for a skate shop, bar, chiropractic, training rooms, and more.  This new home would be more than adequate to meet the expansion goals of RCR.  The addition of a skate shop and bar in this already commercial area would improve the fan experience by attracting fans and casual patrons to the property on non-event days.

Notes: There would need to be a large amount of interior structural work to be completed. Due to the extent of the work needed for their occupancy the Landlord declined to pursue this opportunity.

Property: “Milwaukie Building” -9592 SE Main Street, Milwaukie

02-MilwaukieLocation: Fair

The property is located just outside of Portland, but very close to the center of the RCR fan base.  The industrial complex has a good amount of parking and is located directly off of Highway 99E.  While this is great for car commuters, it’s not friendly to pedestrian and bike traffic.  However, it is nearby to the TriMet and Park & Ride station under construction.

Value: Good

The rent is high, but the space is move-in ready with minimal renovations to do.  The space is 30,000 square feet of open space, with an additional 4,900 square feet for offices.

Potential: Fair

The building offers additional space for creation of a skate shop, bar, training room, etc.  However, it is located in an industrial area, not catering to daily pedestrian traffic.  Similarly, the space is plenty large, but there are no marked features that would significantly improve the fan experience.

Notes: This property was not looked at in depth due to the high rent and it not being located in the City of Portland.

 

Property: “Division” -2705 SE 8th Avenue (SE Division & SE 8th), Portland

04-DivisionLocation: Good

The property is located just in the heart of the RCR fan base and in close proximity to the growing SE Division street area.  There is plenty of parking available and it is only steps from the new MAX line under construction and major bus lines.

Value: Fair

The rent is high, and there is a lot of building renovation that need to be done.  The building does, however, have enough open space for two tracks and additional room for RCR amenities.  This building offers plenty of capacity that RCR wants.

Potential: Good

The building offers additional space for creation of a skate shop, bar, training room, etc.  The space does meet the current needs of RCR and it is located in a growing part of Portland.  The close proximity of this venue to current popular areas will make a great setting for attracting fans and casual patrons to the property on non-event days.

Notes: This property is the most recently viewed property; however, this building is in high demand and will be able to bring in rental rates well above the budget of RCR. The ownership is willing to wait for the right tenant in order to achieve the upswing in lease rates that is occurring, especially in the close-in markets.

Moving Forward

Unfortunately, RCR still hasn’t found a property with the perfect mix of location, affordability, and potential for expansion.  Once we do, there’ll be additional work to be done to modify the space to suit our needs.  This’ll take time and money — not to mention a willing landlord!

As the market continues to get stronger, rental rates will continue to climb so it will be important to continue to raise support and most importantly funds in order for a new home to be secured.

How You Can Help

Here are some ways you can help:

Look for yourself: If you know of, or come across a potential location, send an email to Rocket Mean: rocketmean@rosecityrollers.com

Provide project support: If you have a skill that may fit in with any of the steps listed above, send an email.

Contribute: Any tax-deductible donation to Rose City Rollers can go toward the new home.

 WRITTEN BY TYSON LEGGATE

Rose City Rollers’ Search for a New Home (Part 2)

THE HANGAR (2009-Present)

Rose City Rollers (RCR) began to use the Hangar at Oaks Parks for a majority of its bouts in 2009.  Ten bouts were held at the Hangar and there were over 200 skating members.  The location quickly became the sole place for everything RCR does, however, the path of RCR making the Hangar their home was laid out many years earlier.

Photo by Fun Frank.

Photo by Fun Frank.

Three years before, RCR had come upon the potential of using the Hangar for practices.  After negotiating with Oaks Park staff, theywere open to the idea, but there was a lot of work that needed to be done.  Prior to that year the Hangar was seasonal storage of picnic tables, bleachers and other things for Oaks Amusement Park.  Once all of the items used by the park were relocated, the building was prepared for use as a roller derby venue.

PREPARATIONS

In late 2005, RCR made an assessment of the building, compared it with what was needed, and moved forward with renovations.  The biggest step in the process was to clean up the concrete floor, which needed to be patched up and refinished.  Then, modular track was purchased, and installed.  The office was concurrently constructed in the northwest corner of the building – complete with window overlooking the track.  The office and the track were all that was needed to make the Hangar a great place to have league practices.

By the time the league considered using the Hangar for formal bouts, additional modifications were needed.  Lockers were added for skaters’ and officials’ use.  RCR rented bleachers from Oaks Park.  After the first season, portable restrooms were purchased.

As soon as the home for RCR was completed, the league was primed for growth.

LEAGUE GROWTH

Once RCR had created this centralized practice facility, they sought ways to improve their skills as skaters by creating new skating programs.   The new programs provided skaters opportunities to learn skills at a younger age or with more experienced members.

Photo by Masonite Burn.

Photo by Masonite Burn.

The first training program to be added to Rose City Rollers was Wreckers, the recreational league, in 2008.  Originally created for retired skaters to stay involved with roller derby, it has evolved into something more.  Today, Wreckers has become an avenue for skaters to gain the experience and skills to become the best they can be.  The program includes the basic skating skills-focused Derby 101, and Wreckers Skills and Drills, and a Wreckers scrimmage hour.

At about the same time Wreckers was created, so was the Fresh Meat program.  These skaters practice with the home teams and with each other while they improve, in hopes of being drafted onto a home team.

Two RCR skaters wanted to work with youth, and Rose Buds was formed in 2007.  The program is geared toward skaters between the ages of 12-17.  It had a small beginning but steadily grew over three years.  In 2010 the program became large enough to create 4 home teams and begin to have bouts between one another.

Photo by Masonite Burn.

Photo by Masonite Burn.

The most recent program added to Rose City Rollers is the Rose Petals.  Skaters ages 7 to 11 participate in drills to teach the proper form and technique of skating.  It was just earlier this year that the program fielded two home teams and had a game against one another.

Outside of the training programs, we can’t forget about the home and travel teams that make use of the Hangar for practice, scrimmage, and off-skates workouts.  Today, the four home teams and two travel teams make up about 10% of all the RCR skaters, but they use the Hangar for the most amount of time.

In addition to these four training programs, there are additional skating groups that make use of the track, including Portland Men’s Roller Derby and Skating Officials.

All of these programs, established during the first few years of the Hangar-as-home-base, have helped to put RCR on the roller derby map–and the Wheels of Justice, our travel team in the Top 10 in the WFTDA rankings.  The skating programs have exceeded their goals of expanding RCR, but also have maximized the use of the Hangar.

THROUGH THE YEARS

By the 2010 season, the league had established itself with all ages and abilities, and the season showed it.  Expanding more than it had before, 22 Hangar bouts took place, along with 3 bouts at the Expo Center.  The league had 40-plus hours a week in practices exclusively at the Hangar.  It should be noted that it was the first year that the bouts were broadcasted.  That year, the league put in place strategic planning for locating a more profitable venue.  They were unable to find a permanent space, but the City’s mayor played a big role in tracking down a venue to use for special events.

The new venue that was discovered was the Memorial Coliseum.  The two bouts that were held during the 2011 season were bigger than the league had anticipated.  Using the Memorial Coliseum opened up more avenues for sponsorship and advertising.  The special venue space was such a big hit, that RCR now uses it three times each season: Season Opener, Championships and a special exhibition 4×4 with Rat City.

The idea of RCR needing to find a bigger, permanent facility was looming.  The growth of the RCR’s popularity was continuing to grow, but the league itself was ‘business as usual’ for the next three years.  In short, the last three years of the league went like this:

2011: 163 skaters, 26 Hangar Bouts, 2 Coliseum Bouts, 1 Expo Center Bout

2012: 208 skaters, 26 Hangar Bouts, 4 Coliseum Bouts

2013: 239 skaters, 21 Hangar Bouts, 3 Coliseum Bouts

THE SKATERS AND FANS

This first home of the Rose City Rollers has been a good place for the league to really come into its own and mature.  As it has matured, the Hangar has become very well-liked by the skaters and fans.

oaks_park_june_07_088__small__100Seemingly the biggest benefit for the skaters is the location of the Hangar.  RCR has built relationships with many businesses in SE Portland.  Most skaters have relocated to the area to be closer.  Oaks Amusement Park also has a skating rink and pro shop that can benefit the skaters needing equipment maintenance.   Aside from the physical parts of the Hangar, it just feels like home to the skaters as it is a space that is not used by anybody else.

From the fans’ perspective, the compact space of the Hangar has created an intimate and laid back atmosphere.  Over time the lighting and sound has improved so much and it has become a party atmosphere at the same time.  The concessions are now contracted by RCR and the proceeds go directly to the league.  Overall the Hangar is a very affordable venue with very friendly Oaks park staff that are more than willing to help out.

Photo by Fun Frank.

Photo by Fun Frank.

Despite all of the things to like about the Hangar, some of the drawbacks have become evident as the league has grown.  The building itself is limited to only twelve weekends of use in the year according to fire code restrictions.  The prime complaint from the skaters is wanting more time on the track.  As for the fans, it would be great if the bouts wouldn’t sell out weeks in advance.  For everyone involved in RCR, something has to change, and soon.

ASSESSMENT OF THE HANGAR

Location – Good

The Hangar is a great central location for the league, its fans, and the skaters.  The venue is a short distance from a major state highway and provides adequate parking for all bouts and practices.

Value – Fair

The Hangar is a very affordable venue for RCR to use as it is their own rented space.  There is little to no setup involved with each game beyond the concessions and the minor track adjustments.  The venue is adequate for a moderate fan base, however, it would be advantageous to have capacity for additional fans.

Potential – Poor

The Hangar is purely a destination for practice and bouts.  A full-time skate shop, food or bar cannot be a part of the Hangar as it currently stands.  The future needs of the league are expansion, and the Hangar is incapable of providing the space needed for the league to expand in any capacity.  The venue itself has a limit on the amount of space, and the venue’s selling out early and consistently.  In order to advance RCR forward, more space is needed.

CHANGES

During the last couple of years, the management team has explored possibilities for modifying the Hangar to better suit the league needs.  In 2013, RCR representatives met with Oaks Park and a City of Portland City Planner to discuss the possibilities for property development.

oaksIt was discovered that the Hangar is very limited in any development possibilities due to the property zoning.  The Hangar is in close proximity to the River and is located adjacent to a protected wetlands.  Development is possible, but the permitting costs are very high in the protected area.  After discussion within RCR staff, it was decided that development of the Hangar was not an option.

Rose City Rollers discovered many years back that the Hangar was limited in its ability to grow with the league.  Also, since the Hangar is unable to be changed to accommodate the league’s needs, RCR has to be looking toward a new venue and practice space.  Rose City Rollers has had a search committee charged with locating any space that is available to become the new home of RCR.  Join us in the third part of our series as we look into the possibilities of a new home and meet who is helping in the search.

 Stay tuned for Part 3… our future.  Missed Part 1?  Click here to read it now.

WRITTEN BY TYSON

Gold Star Award Winner: TallyHussy

Meet TallyHussy – the June 2014 Winner of the Gold Star Award for Excellence in Volunteering. Hussy was nominated by a fellow official and we’re thrilled to get to speak with her about her extensive time with the league! In addition to this award, she’s also been voted Oregon’s best Non Skating Official (NSO) two years in a row.

Smiling NSO at WFTDA Division 1 tournament.

Smiling NSO at WFTDA Division 1 tournament.

This experience is a bit bittersweet as the Champs bout will be her last with us since she’s moving to another state to explore new adventures. We’ll miss her, but wish her nothing but the best in her future endeavors.

Do you remember your first Rose City Rollers bout? Where and when?
My very first bout was in Buffalo, NY. It was the Nickel City Knockouts versus someone in 2008. I had decided to learn to ref and bought all the gear, then I decided to move to Portland, sold my gear except my skates and moved here in June of 2010. My first bout was in August of September of 2010 and I’d already contacted the league to start as a non-skating official. It was at the Hangar and I got Rockstar tickets, because I didn’t know what the venue would be like. I sat next to the couple that had Season Tickets 1 and 2, but have no recollection of who played.

Before they were team skaters, Mad-Eye and Whippet skated with Hussy.

Before they were team skaters, Mad-Eye and Whippet skated with Hussy.

Why officiating?
I didn’t know about a lot of other options and had reffing in mind from before, so I just sought out Rose City’s program. I’m glad because officiating provided more opportunities to travel and meet people from other places.

Why have you stayed involved with RCR?
Oh, maaaan. It’s my family! I moved to Portland in June of 2010 and only knew my grandparents. I came and learned things and had fun. It’s what I was doing while I lived in Portland. I’ve enjoyed watching the growth and change in the league and I’ve met awesome people.

What was your favorite volunteer experience?
Oh Mylanta. There’s no way. I don’t have Kill Nye’s crazy memory. It’s one big derby glob. There were 25 events between January and June just this year. Probably the most altering was the trip to Denver for championships. It’s a mixed bag but the opportunity to travel with ten other RCR people to introduce Rinxter to the derby world – that’s what I like to hold onto. That and meeting Plastik Patrick at the Montreal bout. He kissed my cheek.

Hussy & Plastic Patrick

Hussy & Plastic Patrick

What has being in RCR volunteer meant to you?
It’s hard. It’s meant I have a place to go every Wednesday and every bout weekend. I met some of my dearest friends, gotten hugs from amazing athletes, and got called mom and it was okay.

Do you have a favorite team? Skater? Official?
I have a really hard time watching derby, so no favorite team because I don’t watch often. I will always bleed a little purple for Wheels of Justice. Of course Soulfearic Acid and White Flight — seeing the play was mind blowing and amazing. They helped me form a way to watch and learn. For officials, there’d be a lot of names to list. Kill Nye holds a place in my soul — he’s my derby Partner in Crime. Bipola Lola is an amazing ref to work with. From the moment I met her it was true love.

Hussy-Kill

Hussy & Kill Nye

How has RCR changed since you began volunteering?
The culture for sure. There is a lot more respect for officiating. The biggest change I’m most proud of is that it is now “thank you officials,” instead of “thank you refs.” That has also spread to PMRD [Portland Men’s Roller Derby].

There’s also additional support. Not just in the skater culture, but in the officiating crew, too. We [the officiating crew] recently went back and watched the first 4×4 at the Coliseum. I don’t remember working with 90% of those people, but there’s been a great shift where we’ve become friends. It took white a few months to meet people when I started. It’s more welcoming to volunteer now.

Official discussion

Official discussion

Any suggestions for new volunteers or those considering volunteering with RCR?
Don’t settle.
Be passionate.

There are a shit ton of opportunities in RCR. If you come in to do something and realize you have skills somewhere else, go to the thing you want to do. Dont’ settle for “just being.” Officiating requires more of you.

And whatever you’re doing, fight for what will make your job easier, but also for what you need to do your best.

Final thoughts?
Just “thank you.” Thank you for letting me be a loud mouth bossypants and for encouraging me to do things.

tallyhussy-1

Rose City Rollers’ Search for a New Home (Part 1)

Roller derby is one of the largest growing sports in America.  The Rose City Rollers, already the largest league in the world, would like to be part of the trend of growing the sport further, right here in Portland.

As any fan who has attended a bout at the Hangar at Oaks Amusement Park, you have come to realize it is the epicenter of the Rose City Rollers. Since 2006, the Hangar has been the home of every part of RCR.  The league now encompasses 14 teams within six programs: Rose Petals, Rosebuds, Wreckers, Fresh Meat, Home Teams and Travel Teams.  From Sunday mornings to late Saturday nights, a large portion of RCR’s 550+ active skaters come to the Hangar at least weekly for practice.

Yet, the Hangar has only one track that is shared between all skaters and programs, creating a limit in the league’s growth and our ability to serve our community.  Track time is at a high premium.  On average, the track is in use 50 hours per week. As the league and its popularity has grown, our venue has not been able to expand with us, and Rose City Rollers is on the lookout for a larger space. This series of articles will explore RCR venues of the past, present, and future of our league.

Assessment of Venues Past, Present, and Future

For RCR there are three ideals for any venue: location, value, and potential.  The following questions will be answered as we explore each venue.

LOCATION

VALUE

POTENTIAL

What is the location of the venue compared to the center of the RCR fan base in SE Portland?

How affordable is the venue for RCR to use?

Does the space offer intangible amenities beyond the sport?  Is there room for sources of additional, necessary revenue, like a bar or a retail area?

How convenient is it to travel to this venue location, especially for our biking and public transportation-riding volunteers?

How much setup and teardown is required for events in the venue?

Can the space meet the current and future needs of the league?

Is there a fair amount of parking available at this location?

Is there capacity for the numbers of RCR fans, volunteers, and skaters?

What can the space offer to improve the game experience of fans?

VENUES OF THE PAST

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the Rose City Rollers.  In 2004, RCR was formed by a group of women who simply liked to skate.  This group was meeting wherever they could rent space to practice, including Gresham Skate World, outside Buckley School, Mount Scott Community Center, and the basement of Grand Central Bowling.  The league grew to 40-60 skaters and three teams were formed.

Photo by Steven L. Price (Skippy Steve).

Photo by Steven L. Price (Skippy Steve).

Late in the first year, the league lost its primary practice space (Grand Central Bowling) and the organizers were faced with the first search for a new home.  As a result, in the months that followed, over half the skaters had left due to the inconsistent schedule and practice locations.

In early 2005, after scrapping the three original teams, the skaters were practicing at The Armory (NE 33rd Ave / NE Columbia), holding Wednesday scrimmages at Golden Skate (Vancouver, WA), and making use of the Oaks Amusement Park for  additional practice on Sunday evenings.  There was a lot of driving involved for everyone, but with no additional programs within RCR, everyone had the opportunity to skate.  The current four home teams were formed, and the first bout was scheduled to take place that fall at the Portland Expo Center.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Courtesy of the RCR 10th Anniversary Video.

THE EXPO CENTER (2006 – 2008)

The first full season took place in 2006, with 6-8 bouts, all held at the Expo Center.  The support was overwhelming, and all of the bouts were sold out with as many as 2,800 fans.  Fans attending the bouts in the first season experienced something special: an intimate setting, dramatic lighting, and captivating sound and music.  The Expo Center, however, only provided the space, not any execution of the event; that was up to the league and the skaters.  

Photo by Steven L. Price (Skippy Steve).

Photo by Steven L. Price (Skippy Steve).

On the Friday before each Saturday night bout, the skaters were tasked with setting up everything that went into the event.  The league purchased a modular track, which needed to be put together, then  measured out and marked.  The lighting and speakers had to be placed or hung with cables run around the perimeter.  The bleachers had to be set in place, and the concessions stands needed to be set up and wired.  The setting up the track, lighting, speakers, stands, and concessions took upwards of six hours, followed by a Friday night dress rehearsal for bout introductions.

The set-up took a lot of time and effort from the skaters, but it was well worth it once the event took place. When bouts began, the special lighting and sound system made it feel like a “big deal” to the fans and skaters alike.  The Last Regiment of Syncopated Drummers’ (LRSD) thunderous coliseum-like performances opened each game.  The cinematic lighting focused on the center of the track, where all the action took place.  The skaters were able see the fans and interact with them while the bout was happening.  In these early days of RCR, fans could sit right up on the edge of the track in the “crash zone.”

Photo by Steven L. Price (Skippy Steve).

Photo by Steven L. Price (Skippy Steve).

The following year, 2007, the league continued to grow (150+ members) and the Rosebuds program was formed by two of the league skaters.  At this time, the league had also started to make full-time use of the Hangar at Oaks Park for practice.  It was the largest season to date for RCR, with 10 bouts being held at the Expo Center.  The format continued of set-up and teardown for each bout, with virtually no off-season.

2008 was slated to be an even bigger year with 10 bouts scheduled, but the economy had other ideas.  Despite the league’s popularity, not all of the bouts were sold out, and the league lost money.  As the season progressed, the league had begun to assess the value in the use of the Expo Center for its bouts.

IMG_2120aa

Courtesy of  the RCR 10th Anniversary video.

First generation skaters were starting to get burned out on constant promoting and games.  The Wreckers program was formed with the intent to be a place for pick-up games for retired skaters.  The track was getting worn down due to all the set up and teardown between the Hangar and the Expo Center.  The fans attending the bouts were required to pay for parking, and high cost of concessions.  Not all of the sales from the concessions were not going to the benefit of RCR.  It became fully evident that use of the Expo center full-time for bouts was not sustainable.  By seasons’ end, the league began negotiations with Oaks Park for use of the Hangar for bouts.

ASSESSMENT OF EXPO CENTER

Location – Poor

The Expo Center venue is far away from the center of the RCR fan base.  It offers ease-of-access, and plenty of parking, but there are no other businesses in the area that could offer after-party space.

Value – Fair

The use of the Expo Center was affordable to RCR, but only if the bouts were sold out.  The league was tasked with a full day of setup and teardown for each bout.  The large venue had plenty of capacity for large crowds, but none of the beer sales money went to RCR.  The big advantage for this space was the intimate setting with great lighting and sound making each bout a “big deal.”

Potential – Poor

The Expo Center space was purely used for a venue, and is not intended for use outside of the day of the event.  The future needs of the league are not defined, but we want more than just an event space.  The league would like to offer more for the fans on a day-to-day basis beyond just the games.

Want to learn more about the early days of RCR?  Then check out  this anniversary video.

Join us in Part 2 of the series as we explore the further growth of the Rose City Rollers league at The Hangar at Oaks Park.

WRITTEN BY TYSON

Draft Spotlight: Sweet Jane

Getting drafted is the ultimate goal of every skater who joins Fresh Meat. However, how long it actually might take to reach this goal is a mystery because every skater’s journey is unique. Some skaters may get drafted in a matter of weeks or a few months. Others spend a year or more on Fresh Meat. It may surprise you, but some of the best team skaters spent over a year on Fresh Meat. Or maybe it’s not surprising. RCR has one of the best Fresh Meat training programs in the country.

RCR’s amazing reputation draws not only large numbers of homegrown skaters, but transfer skaters from across the globe. In the last draft, two skaters, Hannah Jennings and Elicia Nesbit-Smith, transferred here from New Zealand. Another Fresh Meat transfer, Juke Nukem is from Australia. Recent transfers, Shaina Serelson and Jes Rivas, came from only a few states away in Denver, Colorado, but both ladies skate for Team USA!

Sweet Jane with her new captains. Photo by Fun Frank.

Sweet Jane with her new captains.
Photo by Fun Frank.

Last post we met Jess in the Box a transfer who was recently drafted by the Heartless Heathers. In this post, we will meet Sweet Jane (aka Ruth Robertson), the newest draftee to join the Break Neck Betties.  She too was a transfer — she came from Wasatch Roller Derby in Salt Lake City, Utah.  However, Sweet Jane spent  just over a year on Fresh Meat before being drafted. She worked hard as both skater and Fresh Meat co-captain, and has quite a bit of insight about Fresh Meat and the drafting process.

Go Go: What is your history with RCR and /or skating experience?

Sweet Jane: I skated with Wasatch Roller Derby in Salt Lake City for about a year, from November 2011 to June 2012, but then I took about 8 months off due to an injury. I joined RCR’s Fresh Meat in February of 2013.

Go Go: What was the drafting process like? What do you feel was the biggest challenge?

Sweet Jane: Fresh meat is tough on the body and the mind! The biggest challenge for me was becoming confident in my abilities and maintaining that confidence when I had a bad practice or I didn’t get drafted.

Go Go: How do you feel now that you are on a team?

Sweet Jane: I feel at home and totally gratified. My teammates are all insanely awesome and talented women, and I’m still a little in awe that I get to skate with them week after week! I also feel fired up and even more motivated to be my best. The end goal is not to get drafted, it’s to get rostered and play!

Jane jamming for Fresh Meat. Photo courtesy of Masonite Burn.

Jane jamming for Fresh Meat. Photo courtesy of Masonite Burn.

Go Go: What kind of advice would you give to those thinking about trying out for FM?

Sweet Jane: I’d tell them to definitely, definitely try out for Fresh Meat if skating for RCR is something they really want. The program will make you so good so fast. RCR Fresh Meat has the luxury of being coached by world class skaters, and I have felt so lucky to learn from them.

Go Go: Is there anyone in derby who you admire or who has helped motivate you? And/or what kept you motivated through your FM/draft experience?

Sweet Jane: I especially admire Knife because she’s an amazing coach, a super-human skater, and she’s always been there for me. I also admire Scrappy Go Lucky because I cannot get around her and I’m really glad I’m skating with her instead of against her! Everyone on Fresh Meat kept me motivated. They’re all so talented and everyone is so hungry. You can’t slack at all or someone is coming for your spot, but at the same time there’s great friendship and support. That mix of competition and camaraderie is pretty special.

Go Go: Thanks Jane! Go Betties!

The Betties are going into Champs undefeated on June 14th! Don’t forget to purchase your tickets, and see if the Betties are able to continue this amazing winning streak.

Written by Carrie Go Round

Go Go is currently on Fresh Meat skating hard and making her own unique experience so hopefully she can feature herself in a blog. Lover of humans, coffee, and mixed tapes.