Wheels of Justice Complete First Steps Toward a Third World Championship

Carousel and header photo by Christina Hellslinger Capobianco

Earlier this month, Portland’s Wheels of Justice took their first steps toward a third consecutive World Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) championship by going 3-0 at the Division 1 Playoffs held in Seattle, Washington. The Wheels of Justice are the Rose City Rollers’ all-star team and represent some of the best roller derby athletes that the city—if not the world—has to offer.

Over the course of the weekend, the Wheels of Justice experienced once again the global nature of roller derby by playing Team Osom from Buenos Aires, Argentina, and the New Skids on the Block from Montréal, Canada before facing the Hollywood Scarlets from Los Angeles, California.

Don’t let the team names fool you: today’s roller derby is a long way off from the theatrical roller derby that many remember from the mid-1980s. Today’s skaters routinely demonstrate a degree of athleticism—and mental toughness—that astound audiences.

“Our preparation for post-season play has been rigorous,” says Wheels of Justice captain Elicia Nisbet-Smith. “We practice four nights a week, often for three hours at a time. This is the level of training that has helped us win championships, and with our competitors nipping at our heels, it’s more important than ever that we maintain match fitness.”

The team’s three wins in Seattle mean that the Wheels of Justice will head to the International WFTDA Championships in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as the number one seed.

“Now that we’ve achieved back-to-back championship wins, the heat is on,” says Nisbet-Smith. “We know our top competitors will be analyzing our playoffs games, but we now have plenty of time to refine our strategies and have new plays ready by the time championships comes around.”

The Wheels of Justice’s success on the track is no coincidence: Rose City Rollers—Portland’s hometown roller derby league—has over the past several years emerged as a powerhouse in competitive roller derby, attracting skaters from across the country to play on its four home teams.

“The incredible skill and high level of competition trickles down from our All-star team to all other teams and programs in the league,” remarks Kim Stegeman, Execute Director of the Rose City Rollers. “Rose City trains some of the highest skilled skaters in the world, at all levels of play. We love being able to share that with the Portland community”

If you are interested in seeing a roller derby bout before the International WFTDA Championships, check out the Rose City Rollers’ Events page. We have a full weekend of derby coming up at The Hangar at Oaks Amusement Park:

  • On Friday evening at 8:00 p.m., the Break Neck Betties—one of Portland’s home teams—will be taking on the Palouse River Rollers All-Stars from Pullman, Washington
  • Rose City Rollers’ junior programs kick off their 2017-2018 season on Saturday afternoon at 1:00 p.m
  • On Sunday afternoon at 1:00 p.m., the Rockets—Portland’s training ground for its future home team skaters—will take on Los Angeles’ Renegade Roller Girls

Rose City Rollers also has opportunities for girls and women at all skating levels who are interested in derby; to see what those programs are and learn how to join them, please visit this page.

About Rose City Rollers:
The Rose City Rollers 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. (We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, formed in 2004, and a founding member of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association)

Posted in WOJ

Rose City Rollers is in the Give!Guide!

We got into the Give!Guide for the second year in a row and we are so excited!

What is the Give!Guide, you might ask?

The Give!Guide is an awesome program run by our local Willamette Week newspaper. It is a website and print guide to a number of local nonprofits, encouraging philanthropic giving amongst a younger generation. The site makes it easy to learn about and support local organizations.

We are thrilled to be a part of this program, giving us the chance to spread the derby gospel as well as raise needed funds for our programs.

Mark your calendars for November 2, 2017 to donate and help us promote the Give!Guide!

Rose City Rollers is a 501c3 non profit organization whose mission it 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. All donations are tax deductible.

If you would like to make a donation with a check, please send it to:

Rose City Rollers
Attn: Realize Your Power
PO Box 86886
Portland OR 97286

 

Gold Star Volunteer October 2017: Amber Waves of Pain

If you have ever been to the hangar on a bout night, you probably seen Amber (Waves of Pain) slinging merchandise for the league and watching the bout play out. She is as dedicated to RCR as she is to roller derby itself, and gives them both 100%. Rose City Rollers is more than proud to honor Amber for her time, effort, and energy poured into helping shape the community, as our Gold Star Volunteer recipient for October. Make sure to stop by the merch booth, grab a sweet t-shirt and tell her congratulations.

Why have you stayed involved with RCR? Beyond learning the skills needed to play roller derby, RCR has given me the opportunity to become part of a strong, supportive community of people—some who have become my dear friends. I joined the league during a transformative period in my life and as a result, grew stronger mentally and physically both on and off the track.

What was your favorite volunteer experience? I love working at the league merchandise table because I get the opportunity to talk to roller derby fans from all over the world. Whether it’s their first or 30th time attending a bout, the fans possess an excitement that’s electricrifying. I get to share that moment with them and hear firsthand the love, support, excitement for the sport of roller derby, for our awesome league and our dedicated skaters.

What has being an RCR Volunteer meant to you?
Simply put, it’s the opportunity to contribute to a community and sport I love as well as a chance to be a part of something bigger than myself.

Gold Star Volunteer November 2017: Fleur de Lethal

Rose City Rollers is proud to recognize Fleur de Lethal as our November Gold Star Volunteer. If you started your derby journey in Derby 101, chances are you’ve been coached by Fleur de Lethal. Her style of coaching is the perfect combination of guide, mentor, and no-nonsense, fostering a sense of courageousness and can-do attitude for skaters. Her contributions to the league don’t end with coaching – She has done a little bit of everything, including NSOing. We are so happy she is our November Gold Star and excited to see what the future holds for her with our league.

What was/has your favorite volunteer experience been?

Getting to work this past year on the new league MSR system has been incredibly rewarding. I love seeing the entire league work together to problem solve and grow and move forward in this sport. I am so very proud of everything we have been able to accomplish and I feel like RCR is a true leader in the world of roller derby, not just through our skaters’ skills, but in our ability to function cohesively as a large league and leverage the strengths of our members to be the strengths of our league.

What has being in RCR volunteer meant to you?

This sport and this league have given so much value to my life, that volunteering is a way I can give back and also help support the journeys of each new wave of individuals who come to RCR to find strength, support, community, and engagement in their lives. It takes a village to raise a league and we are so much stronger together.

Is there anything RCR could do better for its volunteers?

Some of the most rewarding volunteering I have done with RCR has come from me recognizing areas of improvement and finding ways I can use my strengths to help create the growth I am passionate about. Things change in this league when people are passionate about the possibility of growth and are willing to do the hard work to get there. I think sometimes with a league of this size it’s easy to feel like it’s too large for anyone to have an effect on it, and that can be frustrating or demoralizing for folks who see the things in the league that are not so great, who are waiting for RCR to fix the issues. I want RCR to continue to message the reality that all league members are capable of affecting the change they want to see and it is the responsibility of ALL of us to step up and help move RCR forward. It’s easy to get burned out being in one role for too long, and I think it’s important to share the load and shift tasks frequently to make sure I, as a volunteer, am always excited and passionate about the work I am doing, and enjoying my engagement, so I can always bring my best self to my volunteerism.

Gold Star Volunteer September 2017: Beyond Thunderdame

Beyond Thunderdame is September’s recipient of the Gold Star Volunteer Award for Rose City Rollers. This award is well-timed, as Dame celebrates one year with Rose City this month. Since arriving in Portland, she has thrown herself head first into all aspects of the league, including coaching. Volunteering isn’t just a thing she feels obligated to do, she believes that it is the heart of why this community thrives so well. 

RCR: Is there anything RCR could do better for its volunteers?

Dame: I think the number and passion of our volunteers is a testament to what people feel like they get from being a part of this league and community. I hope we do enough to show appreciation for all our amazing volunteers, because they really are what makes this league unique. The incredible support allows our competitive team to focus on the sport while knowing the league is running smoothly, and I really hope every single volunteers feels like they play an invaluable part in our having a world championship winning team.

RCR: What has being a RCR volunteer meant to you?

Dame: Being a volunteer to me has meant having a chance to give back to the community, and to pay forward all the amazing all the amazing help and support getting to where I am today. We all started somewhere, and I came to a small league in New Orleans without knowing how to skate. I wouldn’t be here without the help and support of wonderful skaters who took me under their wings and taught me the basics. I have found so much joy in playing roller derby, not just in the sport itself, but in the amazing community of people that are brought together by it. If I can play some small part in helping someone else feel confident on their skates and in themselves, in helping them feel like they belong, then hopefully I’ll pay forward the support and love I’ve found in roller derby.

RCR: Any final thoughts?

I hope everyone realizes how special and unique Rose City Rollers is, even in a world of great roller derby leagues. RCR is like no other community I have ever been a part of, and we are so lucky to belong to this amazing space we all create TOGETHER, day after day. I hope my love of this league shows, on and off the track, and I’m so happy to be able to contribute to the best roller derby league in the world!

Gold Star Volunteer August 2017: sHellcat!

Shelley (sHellCat) McPeek, NSO, RCR Board member, and all around bad ass derby enthusiast is this month’s Gold Star volunteer award winner. Her dedication and excitement for this sport has followed her through participation in two other leagues and found a home here in Portland with the Rose City Rollers. Her first encounter with RCR was an impromptu invitation to come and NSO at an exhibition being held in Pioneer Square, something she thought was crazy and fun. She doesn’t foresee not being a part of derby world anytime soon, with the ever-changing sport and it makes her passion of being a lifelong learner continue.

Do you have any favorite officials?

Favorite official – Danger Muffin (from Bay Area Derby). He was one of my first derby mentors when I started officiating and I credit him with helping me be as successful as I have been in the community at large. Derby officiating is still at least partly politics, and he made sure I had the right skills AND met the right people. Plus he’s an absolutely delightful human.

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

It’s absolutely awesome to be awarded the Gold Star Volunteer award! I put a lot into derby and into Rose City and it’s a huge honor to be recognized for that. All of our officials work very hard and sometimes it’s thankless…this goes a long way (I hope for all of us).

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

For folks considering joining RCR – don’t overcommit, but DO come join us! Derby is an amazing community and we all want to share it with everyone. We love new friends, but I would caution that if you aren’t careful with your time you’ll realize you’re doing five different things in the league and your dog has forgotten what you look like. Take it slow and get to know the league, find your tribe within the tribe, then dive in!

Interview by: Natalie Williams

Photo credit: Dave Wood

Wheels of Justice is heading to WFTDA Playoffs!

 

In just a short couple of weeks, Wheels of Justice will make their way to Seattle for WFTDA Division 1 Playoffs! We are the top seed for the event, followed by Angel City, Jacksonville and Bay Area. Our top seed status gives us a second round buy, skipping all game play on Friday. Saturday afternoon sees us matched up again either Windy City or 2X4 Roller Derby of Buenos Aires. Get your tickets to Seattle Playoffs or your watch pass for wftda.tv online at Tournament Central!

TT Skater and Derby Daze Coach Spotlight: Envy Atoms #260

We are so stoked for Derby Daze this coming weekend! One of the coaches, Envy Atoms, made some time to chat with us about roller derby, life, and skating for the Wheels of Justice!

How did you come to discover derby? Did you play sports before derby?

I saw roller derby on tv when I was twelve, but the closest league was forty five minutes away. When I turned 18, I found a league closer to me and started skating the next week. I did martial arts for twelve years, but was never a sporty person.

What is the origin of your derby name?

I stole it from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Envy Adams is my favorite character.

How long have you been skating?

Since 2011

What other teams have you played for, and when did you transfer to RCR?

I started with Monterey Bay Derby Dames, then transferred to Santa Cruz Derby Girls and played for the Boardwalk Bombshells travel team, now I’m here

What made you want to move to Portland and join WOJ?

I saw Wheels play in 2012 and knew I wanted to skate on this team. I didn’t actually think I would ever move to Portland, but when Luna told me she was moving, I told her to take me with her

How long have you been on TT?

Since May-ish 2015

After you transferred, you came up through the ranks really quickly to make WOJ rosters regularly. What do you think contributed to you crossing the threshold to start making rosters? What did you have to do to get there?

I’m really hard on myself, as most people on this team know, and I don’t like being bad at things, so I tend to push myself until I get where I want to be. I knew coming in to this league that it was going to be really hard to get on Wheels, and I was ready to hustle.

You’re known for your aggressive style of blocking, particularly backwards. What do you like most about being a blocker, and specializing in bracing and backwards clears?  

I love blocking because I get to play with my friends on the track. I like skating backwards because my neck is always messed up and it’s easier to see the track when I’m turned around.

What are your goals right now?

My goal for the last six years has been to communicate more on the track, maybe in another six years I’ll actually be good at it

What makes being on WOJ worth it?

WINNING. And also knowing that I’m playing the best derby in the world.

Other than skating, what has derby taught you over the years?

Velcro scratches hurt

What is the best derby advice you have received over the years? And what advice do you have for skaters looking to join their league’s travel team?  

The best advice I’ve gotten is don’t be so hard on yourself (spoiler alert: I have yet to take this advice) I would tell other people to believe in yourself and know that you can do anything you want to do.

Come check out Envy Atoms on the track on August 19th against Rat City All-Stars!

Carousel photo by Regularman

TT Skater and Derby Daze Coach Spotlight: Frisky Biscuits #1

What a busy summer! Wheels of Justice is just back from their stint in The Big Easy at Sweatfest and are ready to coach Derby Daze on August 11-13th and take on Rat City on August 19th. In between practice, scrimmage, and crossfit, we were able to catch up with jammer Frisky Biscuits and chat a bit!

Photo credit: Keary Ortiz

How did you come to discover derby? Did you play sports before derby?

I was skating around the local rink in Santa Cruz with some kids I was taking care of and a local derby girl approached me and basically said I should come check out a practice, I showed up with nothing but my skates and an old bike helmet and the women there threw all the spare gear they had at me and I haven’t looked back since. I never played sports before but I’ve always been very competitive and always loved skating.

What is the origin of your derby name?

I wanted to be Whisk-her Biscuits because I thought it was fun and silly but my old league didn’t feel like that was “family friendly”, so Frisky it is.

How long have you been skating?

5 years

What other teams have you played for, and when did you transfer to RCR?

Originally I skated with a rec league in the Santa Cruz mountains, then I did brief stints with a team called the Mizfitz and also in Monterey before playing for Santa Cruz Derby Girls. I transferred to RCR a year and a half ago.

What made you want to move to Portland and join WOJ?

Love 😉

How long have you been on TT?

This is my 2nd season.

After you transferred, you really quickly moved up into the rostered jammer rotation. What did you have to do to start making rosters?

I just try to work as hard as I can and do my best.

Coming to Rose from another league can be a bit of a shock for some. What is your advice for transfers who move from “big fish, small pond” leagues to a team like WOJ?

Photo credit: Regularman Photography

I don’t think it matters where you come from, coming to a new team gives you a bit of culture shock. It can be really hard but you also get to learn so much from skating at such a high level.

What are your goals right now?

Right now I’m really trying to develop a style of jamming that feels right for me and has the right mix of speed, strength and agility with but also with some cool shit thrown in. I want to feel confident every time I go on the track that I have the ability to adjust my play to destroy any wall I come across.

 

What makes being on WOJ worth it?

Knowing that I’m on the best team in the world is pretty cool. I don’t mind those gold medals we got last year either.

Other than skating, what has derby taught you over the years?

Derby has taught me to not give up just because something is hard or frustrating.

What is the best derby advice you have received over the years? And what advice do you have for skaters looking to join their league’s travel team?

“You have to be undeniably good”. Derby is hard and sometimes I end up telling myself oh you just have to be good enough, but I know in my heart that shouldn’t be my goal. You should always try to be better than the very best.

Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not good enough. I was sat down by a coach in my old league and told that I would never make it as a high level jammer because I was too fat, but I didn’t let that stop me from working hard for what I wanted.

Catch Frisky Biscuits as a coach at Derby Daze on August 11-13th and on the track jamming against Rat City Roller Girls on August 19th!

 

TT Skater and Derby Daze Coach Spotlight: Beyond Thunderdame #16

Derby Daze and our August Wheels of Justice bouts are right around the corner! To continue our chats with WOJ skaters and DD coaches, we caught up with recent transfer Beyond Thunderdame. Dame hit Rose City like a storm last fall, getting picked up by the Break Neck Betties and then Wheels. She is also coaching our recreational team, the Wreckers! She is such an asset to the Rose family, we are stoked to sit down and chat about Mad Max and MC Hammer.

How did you come to discover derby? Did you play sports before derby?

I had some friends, Lenore Gore and Clawed Monet, that played derby and planted the idea in my head that I might enjoy it. It took me years to actually get up the courage to try out! I hadn’t played sports since I was 16, but I did ride a bike everywhere.

What is the origin of your derby name?

Two women enter. One woman leaves.

How long have you been skating?

I started skating in September 2013.

What other teams have you played for, and when did you transfer to RCR?

I started skating with Big Easy Rollergirls in New Orleans, and transferred to Rose in September 2016.

What made you want to move to Portland and join WOJ?

I wanted the opportunity to learn from the best skaters and coaches in the world. I’d already gotten to experience their excellent training firsthand when Left Turn Coaching put on a clinic in New Orleans. I grew up in Oregon City, so taking the chance to come play roller derby for my hometown team was something of a dream for me.

How are you finding practices and scrimmages with the team so far?

Intense, challenging, competitive, and inspiring. Everything I was hoping for.

WOJ has a team of jammers and specific “jammer time”. What do you learn at jammer time, and what do you like most about it?

Stop. Jammertime! Like the name implies, we learn and hone skills that help us say “U can’t touch this” as we get through the pack.

You’re working so hard and improving at such a rapid rate! What are your goals for the rest of the 2017 season?

Photo credit: Regularman Photography

Thanks! I really want to continue to mesh with my teammates and get better at playing with my offense.

What makes being on WOJ worth it?

My incredible teammates. I’m constantly in awe of the people around me. It’s not just their talent and dedication, but the quality of their character. Practicing and competing at this level can be exhausting, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well.

Other than skating, what has derby taught you over the years?

A sport is a just a sport. Roller derby to me has been about the wonderful people I’ve met and the challenges we overcome to learn and succeed at this game.

Register for Derby Daze and skate with Beyond Thunderdame! And don’t forget to grab tickets to the Rose/Seattle bouts to grab a glimpse of her on the track!

Carousel photo credit: Frank LaVelle