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Oly Rollers roll on

Olympia Roller Derby battle it out, and party, this weekend

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Smash! Bang! Kapow!

Bodies colliding at high speeds. Bruises, bumps, and (occasionally) broken bones.

While the above description may evoke thoughts of the NFL playoffs, I’m actually talking about Roller Derby — and specifically the Oly Rollers, who will do battle against Kitsap County’s Slaughter County Roller Vixens Sunday, Jan. 20, at Skateland in Olympia.

At this point, unless you’ve been living under a mossy rock or spent a good chunk of your life harvesting mushrooms in the forests of Olympia, you’ve probably heard of Roller Derby.

Originally started by a classic American visionary in Chicago during the Great Depression — combining skating and dance marathons — Roller Derby experienced a heyday during the ’70s and has come back with a vengeance over the last few years.

Like Tacoma’s Dockyard Derby Dames, Olympia’s Oly Rollers are a growing collection of tough-as-nails women (school teachers, nurses, and mothers by day) who love nothing more than strapping up the old skates and doling out some punishment on the rink.

But there’s a lot more to it than simple aggression and competition.

“Our mission is to promote and foster individual members’ self-confidence, sportswomanship, athletic ability and overall fitness, while providing amateur athletic entertainment to the Olympia community,” states the Oly Rollers mission statement on

“We will train regularly and rigorously to proudly represent Olympia in local and national competitions. We are dedicated to promoting the sport of Roller Derby by working collaboratively with local athletes, artists, musicians, and businesses. We will actively give back to our community as positive female role models and through regular involvement with local charities.”

The Oly Rollers came into being in February of 2006 and have been picking up steam ever since. The team now boasts 35 to 40 women of varying skill levels and has enough bodies to field two squads — a traveling squad of veterans known as Cosa Nostra Donnas and a team of newbies known as the Prima Donnas or the “fresh meat team,” according to Oly Rollers president Heather Lechner (aka Connie Pinko). The Prima Donnas are made up of the newest Rollers and many women giving Roller Derby their first go. This weekend’s bout in Olympia will be many team members’ first chance to shine.

“I think (Roller Derby) appeals to everyone. (We’re) not your stereotypical athletes, which is one of the things I enjoy about it,” says Lechner.

“I think crowds enjoy it because it’s not just an athletic event; it’s very theatrical. I think the bout on Sunday will be good with two pretty equally matched teams.”

A limited number of tickets will be available at the door for this weekend’s bout and also are available at the team’s Web site — though Lechner warns the Rollers have sold out all of their bouts to date and expects this weekend’s throwdown to be no different.

Not only will the Oly Rollers do battle this Sunday at Skateland, but they’ll celebrate afterward at the Brotherhood Lounge, 119 Capitol Way N., during the official Oly Rollers After-Party. Lechner expects good things from it as well.

“It’s a good chance to see all the bruises. On the rink, everyone’s a competitor. At the after-party, we’re all friends.”

Come see what everyone’s talking about this Sunday at Skateland and this Sunday night at the Brotherhood in Olympia. Doors open at 6 p.m.

Crash! Bang! Kapow!

It’s Roller Derby.

[Skateland, Sunday, Jan. 20, 6:30 p.m., $12 at, $17 at door, 1200 S. Bay Road N.E., Olympia, 360.352.9943]

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