Gold Star Volunteer September 2018: RollsMary’s Baby

RollsMary’s Baby isn’t only an amazing skater for the High Rollers and the Wheels of Justice, she is also a rock star volunteer for our league. She coaches the awesome juniors team, the Voo Doo Dolls, helped revamp the new MSR system for assessing skaters, and has done countless other things to help fill in roles for the league. Her commitment to her teams, this league and the sport of roller derby as a whole shows extreme dedication at its best. Rose City Rollers is more than fortunate to have Rolls as one of our own and we are ecstatic to present her the Gold Star Volunteer Award for September. Congratulations Rolls!

Why have you stayed involved in RCR?
Honestly, it would be hard to imagine my life without this league. RCR has such a good community of people, and with everyone here focused in on making this sport and league better, the experience is like no other. Getting to be a part of the league and a voice in the grand scheme of things is an honor to have, and I love seeing the change that I help create. After all this time, my kids that I coach and my continuing passion for this league is why I stay involved. 

What was your favorite volunteer experience?
The best volunteer experience for me is the kids I coach. The Voodoo Dolls are a team that I love and have loved since I started coaching them years ago. My kids make every practice, even ones at 8am, the most fun. It is so rewarding to teach these kids about roller derby and watch them grow and learn and come into their own. My kids will always be my favorite volunteer experience. 

Any suggestions for new volunteers or those considering volunteering with RCR?
Find the thing that you are passionate about and get involved. There are opportunities at all levels in the league, and when you find the thing that you really want to do, then that passion you have for it can affect the league. When you find what you want to be involved in with the league, it can be so rewarding to see the change that you put into it. It can be all consuming work, but it also can bring forth some of the most rewarding results. 

Final thoughts?
This league has done a lot for me over time, and I am so honored to receive this award. I love my kids, I love my teammates, and I love this sport. 

Gold Star Volunteer August 2018: Peanut Butter Kelly Time

It’s… Peanut Butter Kelly Time, where you at? (Now you’ll have that in your head on repeat for the rest of the day. You’re welcome.) PB Kelly Time has been with the Rose City Rollers for quite some time, she loves this league and community pretty fiercely. Like many, this is PBK’s second home, a place to learn and grow. PBK is receiving the Gold Star Award for Volunteering, for her skills on the heat press, getting out fresh pressed jerseys for the numerous skaters in our league
in a timely manner. Unfortunately for us, Peanut Butter Kelly is moving on for now and taking her kind smile and fierce derby skills to another city. We here at Rose City Rollers wish you the best PBK, you will be sorely missed. Congratulations on your award and your next adventure.

Why have you stayed involved with RCR? What has being in RCR volunteer meant to you? What
was your favorite volunteer experience?
I have stayed involved with RCR because the Wreckers program allows me to play derby at a level I am comfortable with while also having time to enjoy my other hobbies. I love the supportive and inclusive environment at Wreckers. Because Wreckers is such a large program, volunteering was a way to find my niche. Joining Team Heat Press allowed me to get to know some of my teammates on a deeper level, while also providing me an opportunity to connect with skaters from all levels of RCR. Having a set volunteer role and being part of Wradmin allowed me to know what is going on in the league, participate in decision making, and feel like a member of the community. I loved being involved with heat press specifically, because I was
so excited when I got my Wreckers jersey. Having never played team sports before, it was so validating to get that jersey and know that I was part of the team. Getting to make jerseys for my teammates and see their excitement when they receive it – often for reasons similar to mine – is so rewarding. Pressing numbers onto shirts for folks at the non-MSR cleared open
scrimmages is often met with similar excitement as skaters get to wear their number and actually play roller derby for the first time after months of hard work and practice.

How does it feel to be a Gold Star Award for Excellence in Volunteering winner?
I am so humbled to win this award. The volunteers who have won in the past have contributed so many hours to this league and have done amazing things. I feel loved that my league mates would think of me when considering nominees for this award. There is a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes into making heat press operations run smoothly and sometimes being on
Team Heat Press means standing in front of a 350 degree metal plate when it’s 100 degrees in the hangar. I am proud of the procedures I have put in place and the shirts I have created and I appreciate being recognized for doing this job.

Any suggestions for new volunteers or those considering volunteering with RCR?
Just try something. You might not end up liking the first job you try but along the way you will figure out what you do and don’t like about volunteering that will help you determine what kind of job you do want. You will also make friends and build community, learn about volunteer roles you didn’t even know existed, and find yourself wanting to get more involved.

Final thoughts?
Huge thank you to Rodent for teaching me everything I know about heat pressing, Gnar Wall for being an amazing co-manager, and Feara, Starknado and Tessa for being a fabulous heat press team. I may be heading to the Midwest for now, but I am a Wrecker For Life.

Gold Star Volunteer June 2018: Darth Bling

Darth Bling has been here, there, everywhere and then some with his derby career, dedicating himself not only to our league and making it better but to the sport as a whole. His consistent and persistent attitude is inspiring, helping pave the way of where derby is going in the future and applying his knowledge of where it was. With over six years of reffing under his belt, he has had the opportunity to watch our league grow and change into what it is today, volunteering under several different umbrellas, as a coach, official, ref, and committee member. We here at Rose City Rollers are more than happy to present him with the Gold Star Volunteer Award. Congratulations Darth Bling, as a league we thank you for your years of dedicated service and look forward to the years to come.

 

Why have you stayed involved with RCR?

I continue to find officiating fun and challenging. Since I started reffing almost 6½ years ago, I’ve gone through five rule set changes, with numerous hand signal and verbal cue updates. Each change is unique and challenging, forcing you to break trained habits and relearning new ones. I’m also still working towards my goal of one day officiating on skates at WFTDA Championships. Coaching the juniors has also been incredibly rewarding and has allowed me to practice my dad jokes (much to the delight of the children). And not least of all, the officiating crew at Rose City is amazing. I thoroughly enjoy hanging out with the officials, even outside of derby. I can’t say my body has necessary enjoyed my tenure at Rose, but my spirit definitely has. 

What was your favorite volunteer experience?

Two answers:  The first would be 2016 WFTDA playoffs in Vancouver, BC. It was the last game of the weekend, with Angel almost beating Victoria.  That game was incredible crazy and tough, but nailed officiating it.  The second would be coaching the juniors at our own tournament here in Portland this last spring, where I won four out of five official reviews over the weekend.  

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

The more you put into volunteering, the more rewarding it can be. Whether you want to spend all your time volunteering with roller derby or just causally help out, either is fine. If you decide on becoming a referee, that’s great. Just remember a few key things… derby is constantly changing, so if don’t keep up with the change or you become complacent, you’re going to find yourself struggling. Also, it may take you several months to a full year before you start making consistent calls. It’ll likely be frustrating and hard, but it’s certainly worth it. 

Final thoughts?

Becoming a roller derby official was of the best decisions I’ve ever made. And I couldn’t have been luckier than to start my career here at Rose City. When I started, we had outside white boards, minor penalties, poodling, two-whistle starts, pizza vs lasagna debates at officiating clinics, knee starts, and probably a bunch of other things I’m forgetting. I couldn’t have gotten to where I am today without great mentors. Big thanks to Wench Warden, Oedipus Ref, and Stegoscorus, for being my teachers. Also a big thanks to Andy Oakley for originally getting me interested in roller derby in the first place. 

 

RCR Response to It Happens in Derby Blog Post

This blog is in response to Madeline Morrison aka Frisky Biscuits post about her removal from RCR.

The Rose City Rollers pride ourselves in fair and transparent processes, meant to uphold the rights of all our members. Our Accountability Committee process for lodging a complaint against another member is laid out in our handbook and clearly states that a complaint will be shared with the person being complained about – a person has a right to know accusations being lodged against them. Further our AC is comprised of RCR members including lawyers and a retired judge who work through complaints in an unbiased fashion, interviewing all witnesses willing to speak on someone’s behalf and delivering their findings.

Below is an account of events that lead to Frisky’s removal from RCR:

  • Following travel team tryouts, OMG lodged a complaint with their captains alleging Frisky tried to injure them at tryouts
  • Frisky filed a complaint with our Accountability Committee (AC) against OMG alleging sexual harassment this year and last
  • OMG filed a complaint against Frisky alleging trying to inflict bodily harm stemming from transphobia
  • Our AC Committee declined to prohibit either party from participating in practice while they investigated the complaints
  • Frisky secured a temporary Sexual Abuse Protective Order against OMG the day the AC was prepared to deliver their findings
  • Once the temporary order was granted, RCR needed to let the courts take their natural course
  • The restraining order barred OMG from being in the Hangar and playing in Big O
  • After a WOJ team meeting, Frisky offered not to play in Big O
  • A hearing was scheduled, which would have either overturned or made the Order permanent
  • Frisky called 911 falsely claiming OMG was breaking the restraining, putting them at risk of getting arrested, OMG’s lawyer was able to keep an arrest from happening
  • Frisky (via her lawyer) dismissed the protective order prior to the hearing
  • The outcome of the AC Committee was that OMGs complaints were substantiated, where Frisky’s were not
  • We were told Frisky & OMG’s lawyers would draw up an agreement between the two of them that would also include Frisky voluntarily leaving the league – this has not been completed to date
  • Rocket Mean, RCR Executive Director, and Mike Sahagian, RCR’s lawyer, requested a vote from the RCR Board to remove Frisky

Roller Derby and Mother’s Day

The clacking of the skates on the track is an unmistakable sound: with it comes ten skaters, two of whom—the point-scoring jammers—are pushing their way through, dancing around, or jumping over the edges of the blockers that stand in their way. Seconds later, they all have skated further around the track, surrounded by a cloud of whistle-blowing referees.

If this seems like an odd start a story for Mother’s Day, it probably is…if we were anywhere other than The Hangar, the home of Portland’s Rose City Rollers.

Ranked the number one roller derby league in North America and the number two league in the world, Rose City Rollers is home to over 550 skaters ranging in age from 7 to 55 and supported by about another 500 volunteers. Within Rose City Rollers’ ranks are mothers, children, siblings, spouses, and significant others.

Give the holiday, we thought that we’d take a moment and ask some of our mothers—current or former skaters, or the mothers of our current skaters—how derby has shaped their lives, or the lives of their children. From them, we hear stories about body positivity, community and connection, and seeing one’s child grow with and through the sport.

All Shapes and Sizes: Roller Derby and Body Positivity

Robyn Liu is a medical doctor and who formerly skated with Rose City Rollers’ recreational league, the Wreckers, under the name Lioness. Now she cheers her daughter, who skates under the derby name of Square Not, on from the bleachers.

“Our society is such a treacherous place to raise daughters,” she says. “When Square Not was born, I promised myself that I would stock her life up with as many role models and cool aunties as I could.”

“A few months before we met roller derby, Square Not came to me distraught about her weight,” says Liu. “Understand, this is a child who had always been petite and slender—and she was only eight years old—but already she had gotten the message that weighing too much was something to be ashamed of. I didn’t have a clue about how to combat this. It kept me awake at night.”

Once Square Not started skating, though, things changed.

“Her coaches and her teammates were all different shapes and sizes, and they all praised and encouraged her for what she was learning to do with her body, and she in turn encouraged them right back,” says Liu. “You see other girls who look different from you who are also achieving, and you can develop this deep, intuitive appreciation for the fact that appearances are so much less important than determination and hard work.”

“Now, when she talks to me about her body, it’s to show off how much thigh muscle she has gained.”

Communication, Community, and Connection: Derby Opens Up The World

Leslie Pierce, who skates for the Rose City Rollers’ Wreckers under the name ManaTease, is mother to the now 12-year-old Screamsicle. For Leslie, roller derby has been as much a matter of personal growth as it has been watching her daughter continue to grow into a strong and adventurous kid.

Leslie Pierce and Screamsicle trackside at a recent roller derby bout.
(Permission to use photograph for this article granted by Leslie Pierce.)

“Two weeks in Screamsicle told me her coach, sLoLo, said I could play too,” says ManaTease. “My initial thought was that I wasn’t tough enough or young enough to tackle roller derby.  I knew that these weren’t reasons that sounded valid enough to share with an impressionable 9-year-old. So I put the skates on and it’s been a wild and fun ride ever since.”

Fast forward three years to today.

“Screamsicle is now a 6th grader and navigating all of the life changes that occur during this challenging period. Roller derby has also made the world a less small place: she doesn’t rely wholly on her school friends for social validation because she also has her teammates—girls from 12 to 18 with a myriad of body shapes and sizes and world experiences—to help her grow.”

This sense of community and closeness is not limited to Screamsicle and her teammates.

“Roller derby has also opened and connected our worlds by giving us a language that only comes with roller derby,” adds ManaTease. “At a time when it can feel hard to connect with things that are real versus what our smart phones are telling us, the bruises, frustrations, and highs that come with playing roller derby give us a solid way to connect. Being surrounded by strong, confident, and inclusive skaters has been a true inspiration for us both.”

Cultivating One’s Sense of Self: Moving Past Labels and Limitations

“I could talk for hours about how roller derby has changed my kid’s life and my own,” says Bettie Newell, mother to skater Alexander Slamilton. “Slamilton came out to us when they were nine. They were really struggling to find a place to fit in. There are great resources for trans- and non-binary kids in Portland, but Slam wanted to be out in the world, not tucked away with other gender non-conforming kids.”

“When derby was recommended to us, Slam’s initial response was a hard ‘no’ because it was perceived as women’s sport. We came to watch a bout a few months later. I’ll never forget the moment Slam turned to me and said, ‘I want to do this!’”

As a mother to a non-binary child, the community in and around roller derby impressed Newell.

“It was so refreshing to step into a community that represented so much more of the broad and beautiful gender spectrum. It was no small thing for Slam to come to a practice and see other skaters with their pronouns on their helmets, and to see that those pronouns were not limited to she/her. Slamilton has forged strong and authentic friendships with other kids, the kind of friendships that can only come from being able to show up fully as you are.”

Bettie Newell and Alexander Slamilton at the Skate Park.
(Permission to use photograph for this article granted by Bettie Newell.)

This sense of empowerment is not limited or felt by Slamilton alone: last summer, Newell, along with “some of [her] favorite derby mamas,” started Rose City Rollers’ Derby 101 program because it looked like fun. Nearly a year on, roller derby has had as much of an effect on her as it has had on Slamilton.

“I had no idea that I would fall in love with the sport. Playing roller derby has allowed me to examine my own self-limiting labels,” says Newell. “When I arrive for a practice, I can be fully in my body in a way that I’ve never been able to. I can take up space without apology. I am surrounded by—and have the support of—fierce, incredible athletes. We are taught to embrace and utilize the things about ourselves that maybe we’ve never seen as assets. There is no one right way to have a body, no one right way to identify in the world. My ideas of what it means to be a woman, a mother and an athlete have grown exponentially.” 

Coaching, Compliments, and Making It Better: A Coach’s Perspective

Sharon Ferrier, who is better known as Maye Daye with the Rose City Rollers community, has a slightly different perspective: in addition to playing roller derby since 2012 and skating with the High Rollers since 2014, she sits on the Rose City Rollers’ Board of Directors and coaches the Killer Bees, one of Rose City Roller’s four teams for skaters aged 7-12. Her daughter, T.N.T., was just drafted onto a Petals Team—the league for 7-12 year olds—after successfully completing the Butterflies Program, which prepares young skaters for increasingly competitive play.

“Throughout the past year, I have learned so much about them, myself, and how roller derby can be used at every level to guide discipline, self-confidence, and supportive communities,” says Ferrier.

No small part of Ferrier’s success and satisfaction comes from Rose City Rollers’ relationship with organizations like the Positive Coaching Alliance. Rose City Rollers, like every roller derby league, strives to ensure that its skaters’ experience on the track supports their physical and emotional growth.

“For our youngest skaters, roller derby is not about being perfect: it is about journey to learn and eventually master individual skills and team gameplay. I love to recognize the persistence it takes to keep getting better.”

As the mother of a young skater, Ferrier does not just see the power of this persistence in young skaters at the track; she also sees it in her daughter.

Sharon Ferrier and T.N.T. smile for the camera after a bout at The Hangar.
(Photography Credit: Steven L. Price)

“I see the reflection of what T.N.T. has learned on the track every day. Her growth mindset is at work, her persistence is constant, and her awareness of others is on point! I am so proud to be raising a child that I know will contribute to making it all better.”

“Keep making it better” is one of Rose City Rollers’ core values.

If you would like to know how you or someone you love might get involved roller derby, check out Rose City Rollers’ aptly-named Get Involved page. If you have never been to a roller derby game, you can see all of our upcoming bouts on our Events page. If you don’t live in the Portland-area, there are over 400 World Flat Track Derby Association-affiliated roller derby leagues around the world.

Gold Star Volunteer May 2018: Zeriosa

Zero

Zero

Rose City Rollers is pleased to announce May’s Gold Star Volunteer, the exceptional Zeriosa (Kate Finedaniels). Zero takes her love of the league to a whole new level with volunteering, showing her commitment to the league across many programs. She has mad coaching skills, officiating know-how, and takes care of Rockets draft coordination, on top of several other volunteer gigs. Zero’s commitment really shines and her love and dedication to our community helps our league be the best we can be.

Why have you stayed involved with RCR?
First of all, I barely left my house before joining the league and so all my friends are here! Also, volunteering gives me a way to meet people across the different programs in the league. This is my community and I want to help sustain it. When I see a need, I want to jump in and support the people and things I care about as a way of giving back the support that has been given to
me.

What was your favorite volunteer experience?
Being a captain of Rockets! It was my first experience of feeling like part of a team and it was fulfilling even when it was hard. I had to step outside my comfort zone and do things I’ve never done before —  I could go on and on about how much I learned about leadership and humans and teamwork, not just from the experience but from my co-cap and teammates. I still love all of those people and I’m rooting for them always, even though many of them are on different teams now.

What has being an RCR volunteer meant to you?
I’ve gotten to watch people across all the programs I’ve participated in and invested in (whether it’s Wreckers, Rockets or officials) develop as skaters and officials over the last four years. I see so many people around me who want to be excellent at whatever it is they do. It makes my heart happy to see hard work rewarded with success, whether it’s someone doing a hockey stop after they said they could never, trying out for travel team or getting to be a tournament head official for the first time.

Is there anything RCR could do better for its volunteers?
Recognition! Some volunteers may get overlooked because we’re such a huge league with lots and lots of diligent and capable volunteers. When you think in your head that you appreciate
someone or the work they do, remember to say it out loud to them too.

Gold Star Volunteer April 2018: Ill PresiDante

Rose City Rollers is happy to present the prestigious Gold Star Volunteer Award to Ill PresiDante (street name Dante Buccieri), an esteemed member of team Zebra. Dante has filled many roles within the league, willing to help where needed and contribute knowledge to all. He loves Rose City, roller derby, his league family, and all the amazing folks he has met along the way. Congratulations Dante, your recognition is well deserved and we here at Rose City Rollers greatly appreciate all your hard work and dedication.

Do you have a favorite team?

Officials aren’t allowed to choose favorites! But seriously, my favorite will always be Team Officials.  There’s an incredible camaraderie within officiating crews, and we regard each other as teammates.  We all are here to bring each other up, and support each other during great games and rough ones.  There is communication, strategy, and best practice sharing, just like any other sports team.  We work together, we train together, we grow together, & we succeed and fail together.  Everyone here has the crew’s best interests at mind.  If that’s not a team, I don’t know what is.  They’ve got my back, and I have theirs.  I wouldn’t trade Team Officials for anything.

 

Why have you stayed involved with RCR?

I’m no different than many folks who joined roller derby.  I never really found a group that I fit in until I found the sport.  When I moved to Portland in 2014, I knew no one but my parents.  RCR officiating and RCR at large took me in with open arms.  The officiating crew has become a surrogate family and that’s meant the world to me.  My derby husband Kill Nye has become one of my best friends within or without derby.  Keiran Duncan and Darth Bling became by mentors.  I’ve gotten to help grow some great officials in Knitty, Doesn’t Matter, Jersey, Xtra Chris P, and too many others to name.  We’re all in this together and we help make world-class roller derby happen.  Team Officials is why I stick around.

 

What has being a RCR volunteer meant to you?

I grew up in the Boy Scouts of America and it instilled me with an appreciation for being part of something bigger than myself.  Being part of Rose City Rollers gives me that same sense of pride and personal satisfaction that what I’m doing matters.  At its core, RCR provides a nurturing space for people to grow and empower themselves through this wonderful and weird game.  Being an official gives me a unique opportunity to watch skaters evolve from Bambi On Ice at their first scrimmage to competing for spots on Wheels of Justice.  I’ve seen people become leaders, teachers, mentors, organizers, and arbiters.  My involvement with RCR means the development of not just our skaters, but also the officiating crew, our announcers, our event staff, and our administrative staff.  This goes beyond teaching people to skate or helping someone understand how to construct a track.  This organization has helped people, myself included, become better versions of themselves.  I can’t ask for a greater sense of satisfaction than being part of an organization that changes lives.

 

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

Don’t get intimidated by the size of RCR.  I started my derby career with Connecticut Roller Derby (formerly CT Roller Girls) and we had about 50 people between skaters, officials, and administrative personnel.  I came to Rose City and was frankly overwhelmed that this league was literally ten times larger than CTRD.  We’re a big organization, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have a place.  We want you here, and we want help you in.  Don’t be afraid to ask, and we’ll help you find where you need to be.  

 

Final Thoughts?

I think that sometimes it is difficult for some volunteers to remember that other folks have lives, hobbies, careers, and friends/family outside the Hangar.  Not everyone can volunteer an insane amount of hours, and that’s okay.  There’s a place in RCR for people who’ve organized their lives around roller derby and those who do it for fun.  I think we do a darn fine job of supporting our fellow volunteers, but that doesn’t mean we’re perfect.  Find some time to love and appreciate your fellow volunteers more, and reinforce the positive culture we have here.  Things go haywire once we start to rest on our laurels.  Stay vigilant about honest and open communication, and assume good intent.  We’ve got a great thing going here, and it takes every last one of us to keep our culture positive and welcoming for new and old members alike.

Gold Star Volunteer March 2018: Tammy Lita Sanders

Roller derby is the type of community that draws everyone in – SOs, kids, siblings, aunts, uncles, parents and grandparents. And that is exactly how Rose City Rollers met this month’s Gold Star Volunteer winner. Tammy Lita Sanders came to RCR to support her amazing grandkid & Rosebud All-Star Captain Raven Spencer, but discovered a home for herself in the process. Lita (or Loco Lita, if you ask Raven) has taken on the role of Junior Program Merchandiser for all levels at both home and away games. It’s a job that has given her a sense of purpose and she tells us that she can’t imagine not ever being a part of Rose City Rollers and the Rose City Rollers Juniors Program. We’re proud to present Lita with our March Gold Star Volunteer Award – Congratulations, and please don’t ever leave us!

Gold Star Volunteer February 2018: Jasberry

Jasberry (Jasmine Crandall) is the Rose City Rollers Gold Star Volunteer for February. In her time at Rose City, she has taken all the volunteer opportunities thrown at her. Some have fit and some haven’t – She is not shy to tell us what she excels at and what she sucks at (her words, not ours)! Reffing, coaching, NSOing, MSR coordinator and team captain of the Rockets, derby is her jam and she wants to know it on all levels. Jasberry came to roller derby like a lot of us – By accident, coincidence and good fortune. We at Rose City Rollers are so glad she did. Congratulations Jasberry!

Why have you stayed involved with RCR?

What else would I do? When I started I had no idea I would become as involved as I have. I never felt like I had a place before I came to Rose City, but I really feel like I belong here.

What was your favorite volunteer experience?

 

Reffing the WOJ vs Rat game in August of 2017. It was my first D1 game as a ref and it was incredible- I’m really glad it was in The Hangar. I felt like all of the training I’ve received set me up for success and that I made my mentors really proud.

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

Try everything! I worked a bunch of weird positions before I found the ones I do now. Reach out to HV and tell her what your strengths and weakness are- and be honest. If you don’t like leadership positions in real life, you aren’t going to like them in volunteer world. I really thought I would coach more when I tried that, but it turns out I’m just not that great at it and that’s okay! You will find the place you fit in, whether it’s behind the scenes or in the spotlight. There really is a place for everyone here if you’re willing to be part of a community.