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The art of being bad-ass

The Dockyard Derby Dames roll out Saturday

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When you go to watch Season 1, Bout 1 of the Dockyard Derby Dames at the Tacoma Soccer Center Saturday, May 5, you might not know what you’re watching, or what’s involved in what you’re watching.

So who better to explain to a newbie observer than a newbie skater herself?

Doxie Crux, self proclaimed “newest of the new new new,” won’t be skating in this bout with her team, the Femme Fiannas, but she took some time to talk about what it takes to be a roller girl, and what we should look for as we’re watching.

You might notice that the Dockyard Derby Dames look a little different than skaters did in ’70s derbies — uniforms may have similarities, like team identification, skater name (which has to be completely unique and registered nationally) and short shorts, but that’s about where it ends.

Unlike the quads of the ’70s, today’s derby skates have specific wheels, bearings, plates and lubes.  Also different, gear-wise, are the pad requirements, including knee-pads, elbow pads, helmets and mouth guards. These, says Crux, are “crucial: if you take a tumble without them, you’re done.”

Another crucial element: training.  Skating to “Dream Weaver” in the ’70s required a different skill-set than derby; according to Crux, “You have to be able to stop, slow down, skate on one foot, jump, skip, and get from one foot to the other.”

The one-footed hopping, switching skills prove valuable during bouts, when the opposition can come along and skate-check a blocker to help get her jammer through.

What does that mean?

In Derby, there are effectively three positions: blockers, pivots and jammers.  Blockers make up the pack, and work to help their jammers through to the front of the pack, as well as helping prevent the opposing jammer from getting through.  The pivot essentially starts the pack off, setting the pace and helping her team’s jammer get through.

The contact portion of this contact sport is fairly limited, with the majority of the contact allowable only between hips and shoulders, and never from behind or with the use of elbows.  But don’t let that fool you — these girls are out for contact, and as tight as the pack moves, anything can happen.

On the track, it’s growls, sneers, and the odd, “you’re going down, bitch,” says Crux.

But off track, “They’re all so nice.”

And collectively, these women — moms, nurses, librarians, teachers, financiers, and all-around good citizens — plan to get out and show Tacoma one hell of a good night.

[The Soccer Center, Saturday, May 5, doors at 5 p.m., $15 at www.brownpapertickets. com, $17 door, $10 kids and military members, 2610 Bay St. E. by Tacoma Dome, Tacoma,]

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