THE RULES HAVE CHANGED
The Alamo City Roller Girls Roll On
Story by: G.Tomas Vasquez 2010
Story by: G.Tomas Vasquez 2010
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If you’re planning to attend a Roller Derby bout in San Antonio this year, don’t forget to bring plenty of ice packs, wheel chair lubricant and a couple of those absurdly large bottles of generic aspirin. By the time the night is through you’re going to be driving at least one of these gals to the emergency room. Ok all joking aside, the Alamo City Roller girls are some of the sweetest ladies I’ve had the pleasure of working with; but don’t get me wrong, when push comes to shove these girls live and breathe Roller Derby. They can recite their teammates cutesy but catchy ego names plus jersey numbers like the back of their hand, they are able to quickly quote the laws of the game like scripture and still have enough spirit to toss back a beer or two with their rivals at each after-bout celebration. These accountants, students, doctors and lawyer assistants are meeting 2 to 3 times a week in our parking lots and skating rinks without our knowledge. No, they’re not up to any criminal mischief or late night sorority initiation rituals, these gals are training hard year round to face teams from around Texas and even the world.
The Alamo City Roller Girls SA,TX, was established in 2005 by” Kitty Glitter” and “Nita Spankin”. With some inspiration by a Roller Derby Event seen in Austin TX, brought the idea of a San Antonio Roller Girl team to life. “We started with two women that had an idea to get a roller derby league started in San Antonio.” states Christina “Punk Roxy” Ramirez co owner of the team, “They first saw it while attending a roller derby event in Austin and little by little started to recruit skaters along with volunteers that started to make it happen through word of mouth.”
The Austin Convention Center has been the home for many banked track roller derby competitions and due to the ACRG’s determination and commitment, the fan base in SA is now starting to grow. From the San Antonio Museum of Art parking lot practice on Wednesdays to the weekly bouts at the Rollercade skating rink at 223 Recoleta Rd every Sunday evening it seems that even their families have to schedule appointments to see them. “It’s like a second job, so you really have to be committed to it,” Jennifer Moreno aka Juno Juantes states.
You may think after seeing last year’s “Whip It” based on a true story about a roller girl from Bodeen, TX, that being a Roller Girl is nothing but late night parties, food fights, elbows to the face and typical young adult rebellion. For the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association that depiction is not entirely true. “Flat track and banked track are two different animals,” states Veronica Smith aka “Miss Treater” one the teams veteran skaters. Banked tracks may look more exciting and fast paced but it’s really more like street basketball with limited “rules”. Being WFTDA certified not only sets the regulations of the competition but also put rules into place that ensure the safety of the girls. “We’re more focused on the sport and competing,” said Punk Roxy, “Banked track leagues don’t really interact with other cities as far as trying to compete on a national level and they mainly stick to contending with their own home teams in their own city. The good thing about flat track roller derby is that you can play just about anywhere.” “Yea”, continued Juno Juantes, “Any place you have a flat smooth surface, you can skate. The roller girls from Corpus Christi play in a large area called Fairview, which has cement floors that make it almost look like an airplane hangar.” Although the ACRG’s will remain competing on a flat track, they would love to try skating on a banked track just for fun. “I think I would just love to try it”, stated Miss Treater.
Before you consider becoming a roller girl you need to realize that this sport is not a walk in the park. Some of these girls have witnessed or experienced sprained ankles, broken wrists, bruised arms and even concussions.
“During a game I saw a girl fall, hit her head on the wall and have to be carried out on a stretcher” says Punk Roxy. Miss Treater recalls an injury to a new skater on a rival team. “It was her first game; she was skating upright when she suddenly got hit. She fell backwards to the ground then stood up then fell down again, that was very scary. She was taken to the hospital with a concussion” “I remember somebody at practice that broke her ankle”, continues Baum Threat, “She had to go through really intense rehab and had to have screws in her leg for a really long time. I don’t think she ever wanted to skate again.” “Once you get over your fear of breaking something you’re good to go.” Juno Juantes states confidently while the others chuckle.
Being in a rink with over thirty sweaty women traveling at break neck speeds things are sure to get heated. I know you’re probably conjuring up images of girl on girl roller derby UFC mud wrestling action but sorry guys, during these competitions the WFTDA pretty much draws the line on that issue. “The sport has evolved so much in the past years that the rules have changed.” States Miss Treater, “Now the focus is being athletic, so if you want to fight then you’re going to get kicked out of the game because everyone is here to skate, have a good time and score points. The game has changed so much.” “It still happens though, nothing can stop an accident from happening, and I’ve even gotten punched in the face by our opponents or by girls on our own team.” Says Juno Juantes
To all you parents and husbands not to worry, the WFTDA is here to make sure all of the girls on both teams, are fully covered with insurance before even setting a single wheel on the track. “Everyone has to have insurance to play at either home or away games. “This is actually our second year that WFTDA provides us with insurance that the league pays for”, states Punk Roxy. “Everyone on our team has to have insurance to play.” Continues Yesenia Garcia aka Sally Limon who handles the girls insurance coverage. “If someone comes to our turf, we have them covered as well. It's all about safety.”
On top of practicing weekly and competing monthly the group also makes time to be involved with community events, fundraisers and non-profit organizations. Rick Garza, owner and founder of Metal Werks Garage had nothing but praise for the girls. “They volunteered to help us organize and host our 1st and 2nd Annual So-Tex Showdown Events.” The So-Tex Showdown is held once a year and is a competition that involves classic cars, hot rods, rat rods and custom bikes. “I have nothing but good things to say about the group, they helped from beginning to end.” Last year the event raised over $1,000 for a scholarship donated to a high school student to attend automated technology classes at St. Phillips Community College.
The majority of these girls at are able to share nostalgic memories of being dropped off by their parents at the local skating rink. Now, many years later, they would never have imagined they would be returning to relive those memories once again.
“I grew up at the Rollercade, so for me it’s weird to be back there skating with Roller Derby because that’s where I went when I was younger”, Punk Roxy continues “I remember going every Saturday night when there was a skate and dance, that was my stomping ground and of course I grew out of that. Years later a friend of mine from college was in the ACRG’s, her name was The Hammer, and she was with the group from the beginning. She invited me out and when I finally did I fell in love with it. From that first moment I witnessed the awesomeness of roller derby, I said to myself I’m going to do this. After that it took me like two years to get enough courage to try out and finally get in it.”
“I was taking my daughter skating when she was seven and when we arrived, there was a sign on the door that said MEET THE ALAMO CITY ROLLER GIRLS”, Miss Treater recalls, “After leaving the rink I called my husband and asked him ‘What would you think if I played roller derby? ‘I think that would be the coolest thing you have ever done in your life!’ he stated. So before I was convinced to go through with joining, I went to Austin to see a game. I had to make sure this was for me, I knew I was either going to love it or hate it. After a few minutes of watching the Texas Roller Girls in action, I could hardly contain myself and at that point I knew I had to join.”
Juno Juantes first heard about the Alamo City Roller Girls back in 2005. “After about two years I went out to see a few bouts and I wanted to be out there hitting chicks too! I knew that it was going to be a big commitment and at the time my daughter was too young. We also have to purchase all of our own gear, skates and everything so you have to be prepared financially. When you’re on the side watching it seems easy, but once you get out there you realize it’s really hard work. It becomes a passion sometimes you want to get away but then it sucks you back in because you’ve fallen in love with the sport.
“Everyone who knows me is always surprised that I play roller derby.” Sally Limon states, “My coworkers think that I’m this nice person but once I get on the rink I get to be a totally different character, I get to be aggressive and mean. I love it!”
Traveling doesn’t come cheap these days so when the girls need to travel the find any means necessary to raise money for their expenses. “We recently had a fundraiser; everyone donated clothing and used items. We actually made quite a bit of money.” Miss Treater continues “We’re also having a bar b q at the end of February as well as speed dating event in March.” “We’re working on ironing out the details yea but were definitely having this event for all our single friends.” Said Punk Roxy
“For our first travel bout we are going to be heading to Knoxville Tennessee in July and in our south central region they’re the furthest ones away.” according to Alison Baum aka “Baum Threat”, the ACRG’s interleague relations coordinator “Whoever wins that competition will affect the ranking of our region. Eventually if we beat all our competition we might be able to play a bout against a London Roller Derby Team!”
Even when the season is over there is no slowing down. The Alamo City Rollergirls will also be participating in the Battle of Flowers Parade, King Williams Parade and Multiple Sclerosis walk. Throughout the year they also team up to gather food and clothing for the homeless. The ACRG’s have practice 2 to 3 times a week all year long and they also have their tryouts every first Tuesday of the month at The Rollercade 7pm sharp.
Their first unofficial bout of the 2010 season will be with the Crude City Roller Girls in Corpus Christi March 13th and their first home competition will be here in San Antonio against the Spindle Top Roller Girls from Beaumont TX. For information about future bouts, ticket prices, and events the girls are involved in you can go to alamocityrollergirls.com
If this is the first time hearing about Roller Derby in San Antonio then you need to get out more. Those of you that say there is nothing to do in SA then you’re not looking hard enough. So grab your kids or friends and spend a Sunday evening with the Alamo City Rollergirls. They provide live music, no charge for the kiddos and ice cold beer for sale for us older kids. As far as that London versus Texas Bout, I would love to see that happen and I would definitely pay good money to see.
Backbeat Magazine #6 March 2010 Issue
Backbeat Magazine #6 March 2010 Issue