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Club's new plan for roller derby is to include dudes
Instead of David vs. Goliath, the spectacle may be more like Daisy battling Goliath … on roller skates, not with a slingshot.
But going up against some husky fellas doesn’t faze one of the youngest and smallest skaters who will take to the track for a coed roller derby bout Saturday night at Sk8Town.
“Not really,” says 17-year-old Blaine Ewig. “I’m 4-11, so if I can take it, anybody can take it.”
Ewig, who grew up in Port Orchard and went to Marcus Whitman Junior High School, started skating four years ago with the Kitsap Derby Brats, a local Junior Derby (U-18 girls) team. Even though her family moved to Tacoma before she started high school, she’s still on the team.
She’s also a member of Skate Club, the group hosting Saturday’s coed bout, which will include male and female skaters age 16 or older.
“We’re kind of breaking new ground, kind of pioneering,” says Aimee Durgan, one of the main Skate Club organizers, who used to coach the Derby Brats and is a roller derby competitor herself, going by the nickname Brawlyanna on the track.
“In some ways Skate Club is different from everything else; it’s the first official coed roller derby league (in Washington),” says Durgan, 33, who lives in Port Orchard but skates for the all-women’s team Port Scandalous in Port Angeles.
And while Skate Club isn’t exactly a league yet, Durgan hopes exhibitions like Saturday night’s bout can be the impetus for creating a regional coed roller derby league.
For this event at Sk8Town — which sponsors Skate Club — there will be 28 skaters divided into two teams. The skaters are from assorted teams and leagues around the Northwest, such as the Slaughter County Roller Vixens, a women’s team that practices at Sk8Town and a Bremerton rink and holds bouts at the Kitsap Pavilion in Silverdale.
“We’re hoping this will kind of start off a chain reaction to get us some opponents,” either regular coed teams or women’s teams that would add some male skaters for a bout against Skate Club, says Durgan, who works part-time for Sk8Town as roller derby coordinator. “We did get an invitation from a team in Seattle, and I believe they’re starting up a similar format.”
As for rough physical contact between the coed skaters, Durgan says the women “are more sleek and athletic,” and can counter the males’ edge in upper body strength by getting their bodies low as they skate.
“It’s entertaining in an entirely different way,” she says. “It’s a real crowd-pleaser, and it’s really fun to participate in.”
For Ewig, a high school senior who’s in the Running Start program at Tacoma Community College, the intimidating part of the coed bout isn’t competing against men, but rather being on the track with some of the top roller derby skaters — male and female — in the Northwest.
“There’s going to be some nationally ranked skaters there Saturday,” says Ewig, or Whamsday Addams as she’s known in roller derby.
The skater who also plays guitar followed her mother, who coaches the Kitsap Derby Brats, into roller derby. Ewig said she didn’t do well in more conventional youth sports, but she tried roller derby and “it actually turned out be something I was really good at.”
“Roller derby is great for all sizes and shapes and everything, so it was a good fit,” she says, adding that she plans to continue skating during college and hopes to work her way up to national-level competition.
Skate Club held its first coed exhibition bout in December but didn’t publicize the test run. This time, Durgan says, the club is selling tickets and promoting the event, and hopes to draw a couple hundred spectators for the bout.
“I’m pretty stoked about it,” says Ewig, er, Whamsday Addams.
If you go ...
• WHAT: New Year’s Retribution coed roller derby bout hosted by Skate Club
• WHERE: Sk8Town, 1501 Piperberry Way in Port Orchard
• WHEN: Saturday, 7 p.m.
• TICKETS: $8 (plus service fee) general, $6 military and seniors, kids under 10 free. Available at brown