Vixens skate into Port Orchard

Port Orchard will be hosting the first exhibition bout of the county’s roller derby league tonight, as the Slaughter County Roller Vixens will strut their stuff at Sk8town.

Officially launched last October, the nonprofit league of skaters has grown steadily from just a handful of women to about 60, said Port Orchard resident Aimee Durgan.

“When I joined, there were six of us,” Durgan recalled, explaining that largely by word of mouth, more and more women began joining. “We appeared in Fathoms, Whaling Days, the Cruz and at Kitsap Pride. At each event, we ended up getting a lot of girls.”

For tonight’s exhibition, Durgan said the Vixens will be divided into two teams — red and purple — and will compete in two 30-minute halves. For the bouts, the skaters form “packs” of five girls that complete as many two-minute “jams” as they can in a half.

Each pack has three positions — the Pivot, Blocker, and Jammer — with distinct roles. The Pivot leads and controls the speed of the pack, the Jammer attempts to break through the pack and score points by passing opposing players, and Blockers try to prevent the other team’s Jammer from passing them.

Durgan said traditionally, leagues are divided into four teams for bouts, and occasionally invite nearby leagues for guest appearances.

She said such a league is now operating in the Seattle area — the Rat City Rollers — and since that league has gained steam over the past few years, other leagues have popped up in Tacoma, Olympia and Everett.

After tonight’s exhibition, Durgan said the next big goal for the Vixens is to reach their goal of 81 skaters and embark on an official season.

“Then we will split into out four, permanent teams and begin training for our season,” she said, explaining that a season is eight months long and includes one bout a month.

To join the Vixens, Durgan said skaters need only to be women over 21 — if you can’t skate, she said, just come to practice and learn.

“If you’re worried, just come to a match and see what it’s all about,” she said, describing the league as a completely democratic organization that is “by the skaters, for the skaters.”

However, she did warn spectators that the sport can quickly take over your life.

“I saw one Rat City Rollers bout, and by the time I left, I was hooked,” she said, recalling that she was all ready to try out for that league when she found out that one was sprouting here.

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