Roller Derby Is… Perseverance

We asked some skaters to pick on word to define what roller derby is to them. Today’s profile is with Raven Mad from Guns N Rollers. We sat down to talk with her about perseverance and how it defines the sport for her.


Q. What’s your derby name? Is there a story behind it?
A. Raven Mad


Q. How long have you been skating? Why did you start?
A. Three years. At the time, it sounded cool and I wanted to try it. I had just met two skaters (Awnry and Frenchie) who told me all about the rules and how it works and I got really excited about it.


Q. Why did you pick the word you chose for “Roller Derby Is”? What does it mean to you?
A. I picked perseverance because in derby you work hard even though it takes a long time to feel successful. I find small successes to help me make it to the bigger ones. I had to continuously push myself to keep trying and to keep showing up. I still have to. It is very fulfilling to look back at where I was and where I am now. I have learned that I can’t ever be perfect, and as soon as something becomes easy there is something else just as hard that I don’t know how to do yet! The hard work never stops and perseverance is the quality that gets me there.


Q. What would your advice be to a new skater, or to someone thinking about learning to play?
A. Be determined to have fun. Only compare yourself with yourself – make time to look at how far you have come and acknowledge your accomplishments big and small. Learn how to eat – this took me way too long and it is so important – we need so much fuel in this sport!


Q. Who are the skaters who have been there for you throughout your derby career? Is there anything you’d like to say to them now?
A. So many skaters have been there for me, to teach me, to encourage me and to challenge me to be a better player by playing hard competitive roller derby. I know this list will be incomplete but here are a few that stick out right now – Frenchie and Awnry are the reason why I know about roller derby, Juvie Hall gave me the jammer cap and helped make jamming fun when I thought I’d never do it again, McGillicutty and Yoga Nabi Sorry both filled me up with encouraging words, and support when I needed it most.


Go see Guns N Rollers play against the Heartless Heathers Friday, May 6. Tickets on sale here.

Behind Roller Girl: A Q&A with Author Victoria Jamieson


Photo credit: Lisa Burke Photography

Victoria Jamieson wrote 2015’s graphic novel Roller Girl, winner of the Newbury Award and a New York Times bestseller.  Jamieson (aka, Winnie the Pow) also skates with the Wreckers, the recreational league under the Rose City Rollers umbrella. Meryl Williams (Rose City Rollers Social Media Co-Director) sat down to talk with Pow about Roller Girl, why roller derby is awesome, and what her new book is about.

MW: When did you start your roller derby career and where?

VJ: It was 2008 and I was living in New York. I read Derby Girl, the book Whip It! I based on, and I think I took lessons first. Not street skating, but like, dance skating. I tried out for Gotham Fresh Meat and, surprise! I didn’t make it. But then I moved to Portland and started skating with the Wreckers.

MW: What are some of the things you love most about the sport?

VJ: I think one of the biggest things is the community. When I moved here I didn’t know anybody. Then I joined Wreckers and had many instant friends. There were so many bad ass women in one space. One of my favorite experiences was seeing a group of women loading a sofa into a truck by the hangar. Some guy was like, that sofa is never gonna fit. And we just stared him down and said, “It’ll fit.” It was women getting it done!

MW: Why was it important to you to tell the story of Roller Girl, which takes place right here in Portland?

VJ: I love roller derby and I tend to write stories about things I really love. After I’d been playing and coaching Wreckers so long I saw more parallels between derby and life. That includes the things I went through in middle school [the age at which the main character of Roller Girl is situated]. I draw upon strength from roller derby. 

MW: What advice would you have for a new skater?

VJ: It’s easy to get discouraged because everyone else looks really awesome. But everyone stared somewhere. Don’t give up! It’s hard, but don’t compare yourself too much to other people. It’s not easy advice to follow! I can’t come to Wreckers as often as I want to but I love showing up to practice.

MW: You just had a new book come out! Can you tell me a little about it?

VJ: It’s graphic novel for young readers called The Great Pet Escape. It’s about pets who break out of their cages after school. My mom was an elementary school teacher and I remember thinking it was fun to have free reign of the school after the day let out.

MW: Do you have any upcoming events you’d like to plug?

VJ: I’ll be teaching a class at PNCA starting soon in April. It’s about writing and illustrating children’s books.

MW: Anything you’d like to add for the readers of the Rose City Rollers blog?

VJ: I love roller derby. I love it!

Jamieson’s class at PNCA begins April 5.

Roller Derby Is… Determination


We asked some skaters to pick on word to define what roller derby is to them. Today’s profile is with Iron Meg from High Rollers. We sat down to talk with her about determination and how it defines the sport for her.

Q. What’s your derby name? Is there a story behind it?

A. Iron Meg – it’s a throwback to my days of working on sailboats. I was sailing in the San Francisco bay once, and we got caught in a terrible storm; I broke my wrist while we were dropping sail and didn’t realize it at first so I kept working. A shipmate gave me the nickname (a reference to the phrase “Of wooden ships and iron men”), and it stuck.

Q. How long have you been skating? Why did you start?

A. I’ve been skating for about five about 5 years. I started because I met a woman in a bar in Maine one night who asked me if I wanted to start a roller derby league with her. I said yes, and now she’s one of my best friends in the world.

Q. Why did you pick the word you chose for “Roller Derby Is”? What does it mean to you?

A.  Giving up is never an option. Determination speaks to that.

Q. What would your advice be to a new skater, or to someone thinking about learning to play?

A. Fall and fail a lot, and be okay with it. Then laugh about your mistakes, let them go and learn to be even better by them. It’s not always easy – if it was, it wouldn’t be fun.

Q. Who are the skaters who have been there for you throughout your derby career? Is there anything you’d like to say to them now?

A. So many. Every single person on my team, past and present. I would also be far less graceful, challenged and committed if it weren’t for Hard Dash and Knife over the last five years.<3 you both always.

See the High Rollers play Guns N Rollers Saturday, April 9. Tickets available here.

Multnomah Athletic Foundation Grants $4k to Rose City Rollers!

MAF logo

Rose City Rollers wants to send out a giant thank you to the Multnomah Athletic Foundation!

MAF has generously granted Rose City Rollers $4,000 to be used for our junior scholarship program. Currently, Rose City Rollers provides qualifying youth skaters assistance with dues, skater insurance, uniforms and travel costs. In 2015, we offered 26 scholarships to junior skaters. We hope to be able to increase this number with the additional funds.

Our junior program is growing by leaps and bounds every year. These young folks not only learn an amazing sport, but also benefit from the mentorship of adult skaters, learn valuable teamwork and communication skills and also experience an inclusive community atmosphere. Junior derby is the future of our sport and we are proud to be able to make it as accessible as possible.

Thank you MAF for supporting the growth and development of this amazing sport! To read more about the Multnomah Athletic Foundation, please visit their website.

RCR Announces Community Partner for April Jrs Bout – Skate Like A Girl PDX

skate like a girl collage 2

Rose City Rollers is committed to giving back to our community. One way that we do this is by partnering with other local non profits in Portland for bout events throughout our season. Community partners receive up to a $1000 grant towards their programming as well as numerous cross promotional opportunities. You can read more about previous community partners on our website.

We are super stoked to announce that Skate Like A Girl PDX is our community partner for the April 10th Juniors All-Star double header event! Skate Like A Girl PDX’s mission is to create an inclusive community by promoting confidence, leadership and social justice through the sport of skateboarding. Sound familiar? They offer monthly clinics, private lessons, school based programs and weekly skate sessions.

We can’t wait to host this amazing non profit at our juniors event. Check back on our website and Facebook page for more updates about this partnership!

Photo credit – Rosebuds image: Regularman Photography

Darth Bling receives award for volunteerism!

Our very own Darth Bling has been recognized by his employer, The Standard, for the amazing work that he does with Rose City Rollers. Bling wears many hats here at RCR, from leading the Officials Committee to coaching a Rose Bud team to keeping the RCR forum on track. Thanks Bling for your years of service with our league. Check out this article below from The Standard recognizing Bling for his work!

(Click on the image for larger PDF version of the story)

Bling Leo Award

RCR spreads the derby gospel at MAF 25th Anniversary

Rose City Rollers skater Blox Mulder at the Multnomah Athletic Foundation 25th Anniversary Party



The Multnomah Athletic Foundation turns 25 this year! To commemorate this anniversary, they have published a collection of stories of athletic inspiration, including a piece written by Rose City Rollers’ own Blox Mulder. Blox’s story details her journey overcoming serious physical challenges through learning to play roller derby, specifically with the help of her coach, Belle Starr.

Her inspirational story shares with the world a fact we all already know, that roller derby truly can save your soul. And that an amazing coach and mentor can motivate you to be your best.

Click to learn more about the Multnomah Athletic Foundation, they truly are a great organization. Not only did they include Blox’s story in their book, but Rose City Rollers was also a recipient of one of their Community Grants in 2015. We look forward to continuing to work with MAF in the future!

Season Opener Bout Summary

2016 promises great things for roller derby and the season opener for the current world champion Rose City Rollers’ home teams did not disappoint. The sold out double header had The Hangar packed with fans from all over the Portland metro area and beyond coming together for an exciting night of hard hitting action.

As the teams were announced, the Guns n Rollers coaches, Mater Mad and Mike Wade, looked extra cool in their rock n roll inspired looks for the night. Showing tattoos proudly and rocking their GnR shirts with their new logo by Brandt Nelson of Brandtx with perfectly faded jeans. Break Neck Betties coach Cadillac brought some classic Betties style with a flower in her hair, working black from head to toe and coach Uff-da brought the red out in style with her cable knit sweater. Together, they were the perfect representation of those Break Neck Betties colors. First to hit the track was a match up that brings me back to when I first fell in love with roller derby in 2007 and saw my first bout. The Break Neck Betties faced off against Guns n Rollers.

The first jam had the crowd screaming with excitement as Starta Ruckus, number 69, for the Break Neck Betties hit the jammer line with Luna, number 81, for the Guns n Rollers. When that whistle blew it was on and after 5 jams, the Break Neck Betties came out with a solid 31 points to the Guns n Rollers 11. The Betties dominated lead jammer status in the first half, taking us to 154 for the Betties and 84 for Guns n Rollers at half time.

After Life Time Bout Passes for amazing, long term volunteers and two VIP passes to the upcoming Guns n Rollers Headbangers Ball ( were handed out, we were ready to begin the second half.

Starta Ruckus returned to the jammer line for the Betties but this time faced off against Juke Nukem, number 30, for GnR. The first jam of the second period came to an end with Starta scoring 10 points and Juke with zero but this did not mean Guns n Rollers were out by any means. After 4 more jams, the score was a close 168 for the Betties and 124 to GnR.

In the end we wound up with the Break Neck Betties winning over the Guns N Rollers with a score of 240 to 202.

The action did not stop there. After a brief intermission, we moved onto the second bout of the night with the Heartless Heathers facing off against the High Rollers. With talk of last year’s season opener game in the air, people wondered how this would play out. Would the High Rollers take it again?

As a green and gold wearing Elvis took to the crowd to pump people up for the High Rollers, Mel Mangles, coach of the Heartless Heathers, kept her cool in a mind blowing outfit that could only be described as Nordic chic. Think Game of Thrones meets Norse goddess with faux fur and sparkle all around. The first whistle blows with Headache, number 71, on the jammer line for the Heartless Heathers and Avalanche, number K2, facing off. It was a quick jam with 4 points to the Heartless Heathers and zero for High Rollers. After 5 jams, the Heartless Heathers had the lead with 11 points to the High Rollers 3. By the 10th jam, Heartless Heathers had acquired lead jammer 70% of the time and scored 36 points to the High Rollers 15. At the end of jam 17, the scoreboard read Heartless Heathers 75, High Rollers 47 but in a few minutes, everything was going to change. Jam 18 started like any other, two jammers lined up (JamaFist for the Heartless Heathers and Avalanche for the High Rollers) and the whistle blew. In what felt like an instant, the jam was over and Avalanche had scored 24 points taking the Heartless Heathers lead down to just 5 points. This was the beginning of a very intense bout, with scores way too close to call.

Jam 22, with Screaming Beaver for the Heartless Heathers and Minstrel Psycho for the High Rollers, took us to a 1 point lead at one minute in, to a lead change by the time it was done! Minstrel Psycho scored a whopping 9 points in that jam bringing the score to 91 for the Heathers and 94 for the Rollers.

After one more jam, half time hit with the High Rollers keeping their new lead at 98 points to Heartless Heathers 94.

After throwing a ton of bread around… you think I am kidding? Check the pictures! Our lovely sponsor Franz supplied us with some delicious organic bread to toss to the crowd and it was an amazing display. Sadly, I wasn’t fast enough to get some but lucky for me, I can pick some up from this wonderful local baker at almost every store around. Ok, we toss wonderful bread and now we were ready to start the second half.

Athletes are back on the track and Roarshock Tess takes the jammer line for the Heathers against Avalanche for the High Rollers. After the whistle and a track cut penalty for Avalanche, and a full 30 seconds, Roarshock is called lead jammer and scores an impressive 8 points quickly to regain the lead for the Heartless Heathers.

Ten jams into the second half, the Heartless Heathers have held onto their lead with a score of 157 to the High Rollers 125 but we all know in derby, that can change at any time and change it did. In the middle of jam 14, we had a tie game for a few seconds but in the end, the High Rollers pulled it out for a lead change taking us to 162 for the Heathers and 165 for the rollers.

The next 11 jams had everyone on their edge of their seats. The High Rollers were determined to keep their lead and it showed. Jam 17 showed us how fast roller derby can be at times with the entire pack speeding around the track with the jammers, Minstrel Psycho for the High Rollers and Screaming Beaver for the Heathers, in a full out sprint to score points. Ending that jam with a score of 162 for the Heathers and 170 for the High Rollers.

In the end, it came down to the final jam. The Heartless Heathers put Headache back on for her 17th jam (anyone notice that? Headache is 71 and she did 17 jams? Palindrome!) and Bad Wolf represented the High Rollers also on for her 17th jam. With a score of 176 to 183, High Rollers in the lead, it was anyone’s game. Lead jammer status becomes critical to controlling the outcome. As the whistle blew, I was on the edge of my seat, screaming total nonsense as the pack began to block like nobody’s business. Lead jammer status goes to the Heathers and the excitement continues to build. Hits were coming and they were coming hard when suddenly, Bad Wolf gets called for a back block penalty and there is a 30 second power jam for the Heathers. This 30 seconds is the loudest it has been all night, everyone screaming, cheering on their friend, family member, maybe their fellow skater as each player on the track fights for their team. You can see the passion on their faces and feel it all around you. Suddenly, it looks as if Headache is going to call it off but she takes a look around and sees the score and the time left and pushes onward. That final push was everything the Heartless Heathers needed. Headache was able to pull out an outstanding 14 points to Bad Wolf’s 4 giving the Heathers a hard fought win of 190 to 189. What an unbelievable start to a new year and a new season of amazing Rose City Rollers bouts. If you didn’t make it out this time, make sure you come next time because what you will see, what you will feel and what you will be a part of is athleticism at its finest and community at its best. Thank you to everyone who made the start of the 2016 everything that it was. See you next bout!

Bout Summary by Jessica Mirch

RCR Announces new Mission Statement and Core Values

Announcing our updated mission statement and core values!

RCR has been around for more than 10 years, and naturally we’ve grown and changed along the way. It was time to re-evalute what we bring to the community, what drives us as an organization, and how we interact among ourselves. Without further ado, here’s our new mission statement and core values.

The RCR mission is to serve women and girls who want to play the team sport of roller derby, connect with an inclusive community, and realize their power both on skates and off.

And in a effort to bring our best self to the league and the broader community, we’ve adopted the following core values:

Play strong, train smart, and have fun.
Be welcoming and embrace differences.
Respect the game and each other.
Keep making it better.
Bring your best self and trust others to do the same.

Gold Star Volunteer award February 2015

And the February 2015 Volunteer Gold Star Award for Excellence goes to……drumroll please…. Doc Holliday! He puts in many volunteer hours reffing adult and junior bouts and scrimmages. He takes his reffing job seriously, but we see that he has an awesome sense of humor as well.  We asked him some questions and here are his answers:

Do you remember your first Rose  City Rollers bout? Where and when?
During RCR’s season 1 in 2006, I planned twice to attend a game, but I didn’t get my tickets early enough and they were sold  out 2-4 weeks in advance. In November,  I  happened to meet Psychotica who had just been drafted to the Heathers.  She mentioned that RCR was looking for refs and I should try it out. The first RCR game I saw was the Season 2 season opener when I was reffing in the middle of the track.

BoMref by Psychotica

Doc showing his fun side as OPR in the Brides of March bout.   Photo by Psychotica

Did you ever want to be a skater?
Many times. I went to the first few PMRD practices in an asphalt basketball court, but I’ve had my own small business since before derby and if I even sprain a finger it would shut down. That has kept me from doing anything beyond reffing and just a few pick-up scrimmages early on.
Why have you stayed involved with RCR?
Initially,  it was just something cool I could do on skates. I started outdoor skating 37 years ago. Within the first few months, though, I knew there was something unusual going on. There’s a very hard to explain or describe culture within roller derby, of support and inclusiveness, that is unlike anything else I have ever seen or heard about. The movie Brutal Beauty (available on Netflix and and the short video that Cuss and and her crew released just before champs do the best job explaining it that I have yet seen. You can watch CopernaCuss’s video here: We Are the Wheels of Justice
Doc as Jam Ref

Photo by Skippy Steve

What was your favorite volunteer experience?
I went on a road trip to Vancouver B.C. with the Heathers in 2007 or 2008 which happened for no other reason than just to scrimmage and  hang out with the Terminal City league. I did a bunch of reffing and a bunch of impromptu bar tending that weekend.  It still stands out as my favorite derby experience ever.
What has being in RCR volunteer meant to you?
I’ve never done any other sports officiating before and have never been very interested in sports in general.  Reffing derby has taught me that I’ve been a rules nerd since birth. I get a lot of satisfaction in facilitating the environment in which a sports competition can take place: everyone knows the rules and they are implemented evenly and fairly.  Without that, any ‘sport’ is just a bunch of random people doing random things for no particular purpose. Also, when I try to imagine what I would be doing right now if derby never happened to exist when it did, I can’t help but think that my life would be be much more drab.
Do you have a favorite skater and/or official or a great derby crush?
Many and various over the years. That’s another aspect of the crucible of derby. People enter it from all areas and walks of life and it strips away all the clutter of the outside world and just leaves people who enjoy what they are doing for its own sake.  I’ve met and gotten to know so many people on a more basic level than I would normally know outside of a small circle of friends.  Scald Eagle is a fantastic human being.  Her amazing athleticism, goofiness, humility, and equal joy of being on the giving or receiving end of the biggest hits is a wonder to behold.
Doc 4 by Mika

Doc showing us one of his many fantastic skills. Photo by Mika

How has RCR changed since you began volunteering?
I joined RCR right around the time the league made a rule that skaters could not have a shot or three just before skating in a practice or a bout. It was very controversial. Now the Wheels of Justice train at an Olympic athlete’s level.
Is there anything RCR could do better for its volunteers?
Like everything in life, league appreciation of volunteers is cyclical. This is especially true for the refs. Everyone hates the ref at one point or another, right? At the moment we’re short on officials in all positions, so I think there’s more that can and should be done for volunteer recruitment and retention by the skaters, I’m just not sure what it is.

How does it feel to be a Gold Star Award for Excellence in Volunteering winner?
A little recognition and appreciation is always nice.
I don’t know. I’ve wondered the same thing. I don’t see myself stopping skating or moving anytime soon, so it seems likely I’d just keep reffing. I’ve come close to leaving RCR twice. There were two especially low points of skater-ref relations in the league that did drive a number of volunteers away permanently. I hung in there and things eventually turned around again.

Doc Holiday

Photo by Lucky Vantucky

Any suggestions for new volunteers or those considering volunteering with RCR?
Just try it. There’s no other sport or culture like roller derby. It’s an amazing phenomenon that’s much less common than a once-in-a-lifetime thing. It’s something you’ll be glad to remember, rather than hear stories about it years and decades from now about what you missed.
Final thoughts?
For any volunteers that have been at it a while and might be getting a bit burned out, go help out with a game for a smaller local league. I know, it doesn’t seem to make sense to be burned out and then do more, but trust me, it works. The energy in the smaller, newer leagues is more like RCR was in the early days. I find it refreshes me to be around that “OMG, OMG, OMG!! I GOT LEAD JAMMER!!!” mentality again.