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Reflections on the Dockyard Derby Dames winning season

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Maybe it's the athleticism or an escape from the kids or a third wave of feminism, but for a growing number of women in the T-Town area, roller derby rocks.

Just don't get caught in the corners of the 180-foot oval track where the "bouts" are held - you could wind up on your face.

Roller Derby is a contact sport comprised of the explosiveness of football on four-wheeled roller skates (called quads) in which two teams of five roller skate in a counterclockwise direction around the track.

About 110 feet of the track is made up of corners.  Put differently, participants have a slightly better than 60-percent chance of being knocked on their kissers.

During two, 30-minute "bouts" (apt word, considering the sport), a team's three "blockers" and one "pivot" attempt to get its "jammer" from the back of the pack to the front of the opposing team's pack.

The opposing team tries to prevent the other team's jammer from getting through.

This is where the corners come into play.

The execution of this simple movement is what gives the sport its excitement.

Each team uses body contact - which cannot involve the use of hands, elbows, heads or feet - to keep the other team's jammer from moving ahead of the pack and scoring points.

Hips work, though, and that's where the corners come into play.  Lots of spills, lost tempers and the occasional injury occur there.

There's a reason EMTs are sometimes on hand at these events.

"It's a sport for Amazons," Hanna Lane of the Dockyard Derby Dames said. "It's about girl power, and it's fun."

The "Amazon" reference - warrior women who kicked ass - caught my ear.

"You'll see there's dexterity, speed and strategy involved," Lane added. "And there's a little bit of bad assness."

Another interesting aspect about the sport is the pseudonyms, or "skater names," the women skate under.

Clever and creative examples of word play, names like "Chocolate Coma," "Brat Capone," "Wicked Whip" and "Mia Smackabitch," prevail.

Colorful uniforms, loud music, beer and fishnet stockings are also prevalent.  As to the crowd, it's pure T-Town blue collar.

After watching a couple of bouts, I began to see Lane's point about Amazons, and that safety lay in those 70 feet of straightaways.

At this end of Puget Sound, the Dockyard Derby Dames rule supreme.  And in a championship match held June 30 in Pierce College's Health Education Center, the Marauding Mollys, Femme Fianna, The Trampires and Hellbound Homewreckers met to determine who the 2012 champion roller derby team would be.

In the first bout, the Hellbound Homewreckers and the Femme Fianna collided.  When it was all over, the pink and black-clad Homewreckers had demolished the green and orange-garbed Femmes. In the championship bout, red-clad Trampires and the purple-clad Marauding Mollys squared off.

The corners started to look like the gridiron during the last seconds of a championship game. By the end of the first bout, one member of the Trampires had been ejected for skating on the rough side.

"We females get our aggression out on the track," Jessica Soper, a Trampire member, told me.  "But we're good friends once we're off the track."

You certainly don't want these women as your enemy.

During the second bout, hard hits, lost tempers and more ejections followed.  But in the last 20 seconds of the bout, the Marauding Mollys pulled out the victory.

Pandemonium ensued.

"Many people may not know this, but some of the money raised from these bouts goes to charity," Mary "Mischief Mary" McKenney told me over the din.

A member of the Point Defiance Pirates, McKenney and some of her fellow pirates were on hand to cheer on the Mollys.

"This is an exciting and fun sport," she said. "And you're invited to participate."

Wanna play?  Skate over to

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