Roller Derby

August 9, 2014

7 seasons of a dream come true.

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Flipping through the New Times in August 2006, I ran across an event flyer for “All Girl Roller Derby!” with a cartoon picture of a tough looking woman on skates. I thought to myself “How cool is THIS?!”. I turned to my husband and showed him the flyer. “Cool.”, he said. I was pretty confused at his reaction as he seemed 100% uninterested. Memories of an entire childhood on skates or roller blades came flooding back. Skating was always a favorite pastime. I turned to my husband again and said “Wouldn’t it be cool if I could play roller derby?!”. His response, as I would soon learn, was the furthest thing from the truth. “You’re not athletic enough to play roller derby.”

A few days later a friend of mine invited me to take a ride with her to a salon to get her eyebrows tattooed on. While there, I noticed that her tattooist, a very sweet girl with tattoos everywhere named Colleen, had the same flyer from the New Times on display in her office. I said “Hey! I saw that flyer and I want to check it out!” She replied “You should! It’s the league I play for!” She immediately encouraged me to go and watch. When bout night came around I found myself starstruck by women I’d never seen or heard of before. Pre-bout skaters skated by in their DYI uniforms, fishnets, tutus, striped socks, bout makeup and derby gear. Body types were a montage of variation. Names like Sally Whacker, Ann Thrash, Suzy Homewrecker, Dolly de los Muertos, Phyllis Killer, and Ginger Mortis fascinated me. My mind was one big tornado.

At some point during that bout, I was looking around and spotted the sign up table. There was a girl named Dirty Martini standing there taking the names of girls who wanted to join and giving them info on the next tryouts. I believe it was 3 days later and you’d better believe I showed up. From the time I showed up to tryouts to the time I was placed on a team, only 2 weeks had gone by. I was a officially a Coffin Dragger.

My personal road to success was a bit of a rough one. My first bout, a demo bout in Cottonwood AZ, yielded me my first fight and first broken bone; a boxers fracture in my right hand. Shortly after that healed I became pregnant with my daughter. 2 months after her birth, on my birthday, I went for a garage skate with friends and wound up snapping my tibia and fibula in half. So I had almost been a Coffin Dragger for 2 seasons before I was really able to play.

The Coffin Draggers were a mostly losing team for about 4 seasons. Then we were blessed with Lora Stabs, a captain who literally seemed to stop at NOTHING to make her team championship-worthy. From 2010-2012 I was able to help my team take 3 championships in a row. During that time I received MVP a couple of times, won an award for best pivot, best blocker, jammers best friend and MVP the 2011 Championship bout. Not athletic enough? I beg to differ. I retired as a Coffin Dragger after our 3rd consecutive championship win in 2012. I took away from this experience a lifetime of memories, forever friends, and a second family. 7 seasons of a dream come true.

Vanessa Ruiz

Visit my fundraising roller derby show at Eye Lounge at 5th Street and Roosevelt
and go to the fundraising website to donate in the fight against cancer

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Wil Munny

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