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.

Draft Spotlight: Jess in the Box

RCR Home Team Draft Night is always an exciting and emotional evening and the latest draft was no exception. Fifteen Fresh Meat skaters were up for draft but less than half of those would actually be drafted. Despite the obvious tension, draftees have a tradition of getting together for sushi prior to the draft party to show their support for one another. This is still a team sport after all, and one of the best parts of being involved with RCR is the camaraderie among the skaters.

13500567944_81086071ce_m

Draftees awaiting their team announcements. Photo by FunFrank.

March 2014 draft results were as follows:

Sweet Jane – Breakneck Betties

McGillycutty, Iron Meg, and Elicia Nesbit-Smith – High Rollers

Jess in the Box, Frankenskate, and Hannah JenningsHeartless Heathers

Becoming “draft eligible” is no easy task. Every Fresh Meat skater who gets to this point has gone through months and months of hard work and training, participated in numerous team practices and scrimmages, and dedicated countless hours to the league. Yet, each home team has a different method for choosing their new team skaters and a lot of it simply comes down to fit.

In other words, each team looks at the whole individual and their strengths to see if they will be the best fit for their particular team at that moment. This is especially critical mid-season when teams are focusing on improving their rank going into champs. It is vital for potential draftees to recognize this and to remember that every team skater was once on Fresh Meat. The best rule of thumb? Keep practicing and doing your best.

To give some more insight into the draft process, I asked a few of the new home team skaters about their personal draft experience, one from each of the drafting home teams. We will start with Jess in the Box, now a jammer for the Heartless Heathers.

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

Jess in the Box: I started skating with Underground Derby League in Olympia in March of 2010 – I had never skated before, except for maybe once or twice at other people’s skating birthday parties. In December of 2011, I transferred to the newly formed JBLM Bettie Brigade. Then I transferred to RCR in January of this year.

_MG_8673-XL

Photo by Skippy Steve.

Jess: I came into Fresh Meat and RCR after 6 months off-skates with a severe concussion and post-concussion syndrome. (Helmets people, please buy good ones!) For me, the FM experience was also the experience of getting back on skates and seeing if I could really return to playing roller derby at a competitive level. I had a lot of confidence (and oh so much endurance!) to regain. Transferring into RCR, meat grading and preparing for the draft is how I fell in love with roller derby all over again. Being drafted was amazing, but I was already living my love story.

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

Jess: I could not be happier to be a Heather. My team experience has been wonderful so far. There are a lot of really exceptional skaters on the Heathers roster right now, and I am so excited to be learning so much from each of them at every practice. There is just so much great derby happening here.

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

Jess: First off, I would say go for it. You never know until you try and there is no reason to be afraid of Fresh Meat. And also, leave space for your derby experience to grow, evolve and change – it will continue to do so as long as you skate, and Fresh Meat is just one part of this.

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

Jess: I have two skaters on my “most admired” list. Both are skaters from my first two leagues and their names probably won’t mean anything to anyone — Mary Sharp and Toni Stark (I don’t know what Mary’s derby name ended up being). Mary skated with my first league and had already been skating for several months when I joined the league. When I transferred a year later, she had just been that league’s version of MSR cleared. She is the essence of grit, determination and an unfailing positive attitude.

Toni is a similar story — she worked harder for longer than anyone I had ever seen to learn to skate and get cleared for scrimmage.

It’s one thing to show up when you’re on a team or have a bout to prepare for, when you have people watching you and cheering for you. It’s another thing to show up every day for yourself and your OWN goal. These two skaters, their drive and determination, showing up practice after practice – just working to master minimum skills – they are who have inspired me the most. They are who I look to when I need to get my head on straight.

Carrie: Thank you Jess! Go Heathers!

Check in again soon to learn about another skater’s journey. And don’t forget to purchase your tickets to Champs to see if Jess in the Box can help her team take home the top prize.

Written by Carrie Go Round

 

Team Lobster: A Benefit for Rob

Last weekend, the home teams joined forces to show their support and love for Rob Lobster. This weekend, Team Lobster expands to the full RCR community. The Wheels of Justice vs. Montreal New Skids on the Block bout will be a benefit for our dear friend, Rob Lobster.

ac8493581c5bdf25d69e609e708f409cWho is Rob Lobster? What a silly question to ask, but that’s OK! This phenomenal man has been a pillar of the Rose City Rollers and greater roller derby community for years. He has volunteered with our league since Day 1 –first as an official, then as travel team coach. Who was working the bench when WOJ made it to the WFTDA Championships? Yup, this guy. He now also plays roller derby with PMRD, skating with the Bone Daddies and Bridgetown Menace.

What is going on? Robin has recently been diagnosed with a glioblastoma — a very aggressive form of brain cancer. The cost of his treatment is unknown at the moment. But it will be expensive because he will require care and surgery the rest of his life.

How can you support?
For one, come to tomorrow’s bout!!! Click here for online sales and or click here to bid on the Best Seats of the House.

During the bout there will be amazing ways to contribute:

• Auction at halftime! Interested in 2 weekend passes to the MRDA Championships in Seattle this October? You can bid on these passes. Rumor has it that there will be more even awesome stuff available.

• Amazing raffle prizes! Want to win a Gross o Doughnuts per month for a year from Voodoo Doughnuts? They’ll be in the raffle basket. PMRD has donated some great stuff that you will want to get your hands on. Plus tons of other amazing prizes and gifts!!!

• Team Lobster t-shirts! Bashonista from Left Turn Clothing made snazzy couture for sale in all colors and sizes! These $20 shirts will be available at the WOJ merch table.

All money raised from the raffle/auction/t-shirt sales will go directly to Rob Lobster.

Can’t make the WoJ v. Montreal bout?

There is a PayPal account that you can contribute to: roblobster@voodoodoughnut.com. We will be sharing this via our broadcast Saturday night so that our far away friends can pitch in too.  (Please note that a donation to Mr. Lobster is not tax-deductible, as it is made directly to an individual.)

Introducing Rent n’ Roll

RCR is committed to making derby accessible to all.  So as we prepare for the Rosebud’s new skater intake this week, we’re excited to introduce Rent n’ Roll, a lending program that rents skates and gear to our skaters in Rosebuds.

RNR_FinalThrough Rent ’n Roll, any skater can borrow equipment they need such as skates or safety gear. Participants can use the equipment for a short period to see if they want to join derby, or they can use the equipment for the duration of their time as a Rosebud.

Between membership dues and equipment, participation in derby comes with major expenses, expenses that can hinder an otherwise promising skater from joining Rosebuds. Roller benefits youth in amazing ways by helping young skaters become more confident, engaged, and community-focused.

RCR wants to ensure that any young girl who is enthusiastic about derby – no matter what her background — can skate with the Rosebuds. RCR currently has a scholarship program to assist families with membership dues, and with the launch of Rent ’n Roll, we hope to further relieve these financial burdens and open the Rosebuds up to all.

To learn more about this program and how to access equipment, check out the Facebook page.

Or read the wonderful press we got from OregonLive and KOIN.

We’d like to extend a huge thanks to the Nike Community Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation, which awarded this grant and made Rent ‘n Roll possible. With their support, RCR will continue to create a supportive and empowering community for young girls.

 

 

Wreckers to Travel Team: Part Two

How High They Can Rise: From Wreckers to Travel Team — Part Two

When we last left off, I introduced a few of the Travel Team skaters who’d begun their derby journey in our recreational league, Wreckers.  That journey has been both trying and exhausting for our heroes in purple.

Shaolin Spocker and Roarshock Tess block on Auld Reekie, a Scottish team on their way to the Big O.

Shaolin Spocker and Roarshock Tess block on Auld Reekie, a Scottish team on their way to the Big O.

Yoga Nabi Sari, with her characteristic effusive humility, explained just how trying and exhausting.  “Wreckers to Fresh Meat felt like I was on American Idol and I was going to Hollywood!  I had only skated for 5 months so that was a very fast transition. Then because of my lack of experience I had a longer time on Fresh Meat…I felt like I would never be good enough to make a home team and really had to dig deep to stay positive and believe that I had a place in this sport.  When I finally made it on to a home team, it was a life-changing moment. A whole new world opened up. I was so happy. I realized that everything I thought I knew about derby and training was not enough and the hard work was truly about to begin. Making Travel Team was having my wildest dream actually come true.  If you would have told me when I was languishing on Fresh Meat for 17 months that I would be a member of Travel Team I would never have believed it…Travel Team has been extremely humbling and I still have feelings of ‘Who let me in here with all of these amazing people?’”

Shaolin Spocker, Nabi’s teammate on AOA and Mistress of this here shiny website, felt similarly. “Travel Team was kind of like trying out for FM all over again, except dialed up to 11,” she said.  ”This year was my first time trying out, and I didn’t expect anything from it, but there was also the added dynamic of, HOLY CRAP, everyone here is really talented and awesome and what the hell am I doing here?!”  Being awesome was what she was doing there, FYI.

OKAY OKAY I’M RUNNING NOW

But that awesomeness comes with a price.  These ladies work hard.  They practice fourteen million times a week, they cross-train, they go running.  Like, on purpose, even when they’re not being chased by a bear.  Effy Stone ‘Em, former travel team, even learned what gluten is to further her derby career.  That’s serious, y’all.

 

 

 

 

Nabi's hematoma, courtesy of Nabi herself.

Nabi’s hematoma, courtesy of Nabi herself.

And of course, there are injuries.  Tess and Nabi sent me truly gruesome pictures of their massive hematomas.  (A hematoma is like a really bad bruise, but worth more points in Scrabble).  French Tickler has broken bones.  Sprained ankles are a fact of life.

Is it all worth it?  Is all that training, the travel, the expense–and have I mentioned the running?–is playing on Travel Team worth it?  Yes.  For all these ladies, yes.

Nacho Lucky Day told me about some advice Frenchie, her fellow Heartless Heather, gave her: “A big part of getting better is pushing yourself through that discomfort. This is something I have to continually remind myself of.”  Avalanche said, “For me the goals never stop. It’s such an awesome sport because there is always room to grow and change and be better.”

That’s what unites these women.  More than anything else, they want to keep improving, keep pushing the boundaries of this amazing sport.  Their next opportunity to do that will be this weekend, at The Big O, an invitational roller derby tournament in Eugene.  WOJ and AOA will be playing, as well as our junior league, the Rosebuds.  Spocker said, “AOA feels so strong this year, and we’ve been working hard to really dial it in on our teamwork. I’m looking forward to seeing how high we can rise together.”

How high can they rise?  We’ll see.  What’s important to remember, though, is how high these incredible women have already risen.  Keep your eye on the Big O to see what amazing new things they can do. Can’t journey down to Eugene this weekend?  No problem. Wheels of Justice are taking on Montreal’s New Skids on the Block on May 17th and Arch Rival Roller Girls All-Stars on June 28th. Axles of Annihilation takes on Antagonist Roller Derby from Renton, Washington on June 27th.

WRITTEN BY JENNA ROUTENBERG

Following in the footsteps of those she so admires, Jenna recently took the next step in her own derby journey: she tried out and was selected for Fresh Meat.  She says that it’s equal parts effing hard and wicked good fun.  She’ll be reporting back from the Big O via Twitter and the blog.

Spotlight: Dancing Scott

dancing scott 3Most of you have heard of or, at least, seen the poster of Dancing Scott. He has been a permanent fixture at Rose City Rollers events since the very beginning of the league.  And with the recent celebration of RCR’s 10-year anniversary, it seems only fitting to also honor RCR’s original super-fan, Scott Erickson, better known as “Dancing Scott.”

RCR’s OG Super-Fan

Scott has been a fan of RCR right from the start. He has been around long enough to remember watching roller derby when it was played on the bank track.  So when his friend Paradise Kitty of Guns N’ Rollers introduced him to the newly evolved flat track roller derby, he quickly became enthralled by the sport.  And RCR’s most enthusiastic fan has missed very few bouts over the years.  Over the last 10 years, he claims to have attended 98% of all games. Now that’s commitment!

Fan vs. Superfan

Dancing Scott has no qualms about being labeled a super-fan.  In fact, he has specified his own qualifications for what makes him a super-fan instead of just-a-fan of RCR:

#1 – He has a well-known reputation with the league and RCR members will introduce him to others, sometimes without ever having officially met him.

#2 – He is often able to tell derby girls stuff about the league that they don’t know.

#3 – The derby girls started sending him friend requests on Facebook.

#4 – He has an absolute love for the sport before anything else.

dancing scott 4 (masonite burn)Dancing Scott’s Trademark

Other than his big curly head of hair and his friendly demeanor, you can always spot Scott at an event by his sparkly silver hat. Scott originally wore it as a joke after receiving it at a white elephant party, but now it is his identifying trademark.

Most Prized Possessions

Scott with Rita Riot.

Scott with Rita Riot.

Scott has a plethora of RCR paraphernalia, most of which is featured on his “derby wall.”  He has thank you cards from various derby girls, autographed pictures, and trading cards (including one of Belle Starr when she played for Texas), one of Rita Riot, and a complete set of 2nd generation Heartless Heathers.

His most prized possession, however, is a framed ticket from RCR’s very first bout, dated Saturday, October 22nd, 2005 at the Expo Center. In addition, he has the original program from this momentous occasion.

Favorite Memory

Scott never had any desire to play derby, but he does remember when he actually learned how to skate because of RCR. It was a GlamSkate party to benefit the High Rollers at the Fez Ballroom. The party was organized by Stella Stardust with music by DJ Gregarious.  Scott borrowed a pair of skates from Cindy Structable and remembers that he could barely stand up at the time. However, he had a most enjoyable night, fell in love with skating, and now goes twice a week to Oaks Park where you can see him practicing his moves.

The Best Parts of RCR & Roller Derby

Like the derby girls he supports and admires, Dancing Scott absolutely loves the sport of roller derby and appreciates being accepted into such an amazing community of women. His favorite thing to do is to give back to the league and all the wonderful ladies who are a part of it. Whenever there is a bout outside of the Hangar, Scott takes time off of work to organize floor moving parties, to which he always brings popcorn and beer. He also makes an effort to support the businesses and endeavors of RCR skaters.

A few of his contributions include:

  • Scott bought a pair of glasses from Visage, a company managed by Mess-O-Potamia, a former High Roller

  • He gave a ride to Roller Eclipse on her way to hike the Pacific Crest Trail

  • Shaolin Spocker designed a website for him

  • He purchased incredible art from Venus de Mileage

  • He discovered his favorite wine thanks to French Tickler: Elk Cove Pinot Noir

  • Domesticated Violence helped him purchase a condo

Scott states that the best part of roller derby is about giving and getting back by supporting the RCR community.

Scott with Scrappy Go Lucky of the Break Neck Betties.

Scott with Scrappy Go Lucky of the Break Neck Betties.

Proudest Achievements

Scott’s proudest moments include:

  • Buying Brawn Swanson her first derby beer before she was drafted

  • Giving gardening lessons to Mortar N’ Pistol

  • Convincing Rhea Derange to bring back her fire makeup

Little Known Facts

Many people would not guess that Scott is an introvert and does not like being the center of attention. However, let’s just take a moment to celebrate Scott and recognize his amazing commitment to RCR.

dancing scott 1

Scott completed a 5-1/2 month backpack trip around the biggest lake in the world, Lake Superior.

And lastly, how did he get his nickname “Dancing Scott?” Well, you’ll just have to come to an after party and find out!

Written by Carrie Go Round

Carrie a big fan of roller derby and Dancing Scott.