Spokane’s own Lilac City Roller Girls get ready to ‘bout it out’ on the track for charity
The knee gasket protects her knee as she falls to the floor. In less than three seconds, she is up again. Flying down the track, the jammer catches up to the skater in the pink skirt and white helmet. The jammer passes her and enters the mass of skaters. Weaving through the blockers she emerges from the mass, earning four points for her team.
That is the scene of the Lilac City Roller Girls scrimmaging at their practice before their upcoming bout on Thursday, Nov. 17. All profits from the game will be donated to benefit the local YWCA, which has the motto of, “Eliminating Racism, Empowering Women.” The team practiced at Pattison’s North skating center in north Spokane on Nov. 7, the same location where their Nov. 17 bout will be held.
The Lilac City Roller Girls is a non-profit organization that began in 2006. The roller derby sport has increased in popularity since the film “Whip It” came out in 2009, along with general interest in staying in physical shape.
“I was kind of a chicken and didn’t know it was something you just joined,” said Marissa “Baby Face Kill-Her” Flinders, a blocker and jammer on the team. “Then ‘Whip It’ came out and I thought I’d try it.”
Spokane’s Lilac City Roller Girls teach women 18 years of age and older how to play roller derby. They also provide an opportunity for the women to compete on and against other roller derby teams. They have competed against the Rat City Rollergirls of Seattle and the Atomic City Rollergirls of Tri-Cities.
In roller derby, each woman has her own skater nickname, usually a play on words that has an aura of toughness and is displayed on the player’s helmet or jersey. The sport is continually evolving and becoming more competitive.
“It’s not about fist fights and fishnets anymore,” said Tammy “Princess Punish Her” Rose, blocker on the team.
Roller derby is a contact sport played by two opposing teams. Each team has five players on the track at one time. Of the five players, one is designated the jammer, the person who scores, and the other four are the blockers.
“The jammer is most essential,” said Elizabeth “EB Teeze” Oliver, a blocker on the team. “The jammer has to be good at everything.”
The players skate counterclockwise around the track and the jammer tries to pass opposing players, while the blockers try to block the other team’s jammer. The jammer earns points for every opposing player she passes.
“It is a team sport, so you need others to be successful,” said Heather “Suppa BaDass” Suppa, a jammer and blocker on the team. “Practicing together is the only way to learn how to work with each other in order to be successful in a bout.”
The skaters usually have two or three intense practices per week. On Nov. 7, coach Matthew “Tank” Darjany, who coaches once a week, drilled the skaters. They performed conditioning drills and scrimmaged to prepare for the upcoming bout. The season is almost the entire year and the skaters compete locally once a month, at Pattison’s North or Roller Valley Skate Center, and away once a month. They have competed as far away as Canada.
Fresh Meat orientation is the name of a special practice that happens the third Saturday of every month, said Lori “Coogrrr Bit’cha” Scouton, a blocker on the team. Women who are interested in roller derby can come to this practice, rent skates for $2, borrow skating pads and join in the practice. The first three practices are free.
“Fifty percent of girls don’t know how to tie skates when they first come,” Baby Face Kill-Her said. “It’s a sport you can show up to and join when you’re 40.”
Fifty-year-old grandmother Coogrrr Bit’cha echoed the encouragement.
“I joined totally on a dare,” Coogrrr Bit’cha said. “Two years later I’m still coming. We are always in need of more girls.”
Although all women are welcome to join, it takes dedication to become a roller derby girl. Before becoming part of the team, women must pass both a written and a skills test. Suppa BaDass said they are tested on different stops such as T-stops, toe stops and plow stops. Everyone is taught how to fall correctly to avoid injuries. There are five different ways to fall and the players have to be able to get back up in three seconds. They are also taught not to use their hands when falling so their fingers are not run over. Also, they are tested on agility, crossovers, and how well they skate with others.
“Once we pass the basic skills then we are allowed to scrimmage at practices,” Suppa BaDass said.
But passing the tests is only the first step. With sweat sliding off their faces and coming in short of breath after racing around the track, the women are challenged physically.
“It’s the best exercise program,” said Joy “Joyful Destroyful” Katterfeld, a jammer and blocker on the team. “It cleanses your body. You don’t come out exhausted; you come out invigorated.”
Joyful Destroyful runs the sponsorship and PR committees. She explained that one of the Lilac City Roller Girls’ goals is to own a building where they could skate.
“A lot of our money goes to renting out rinks, so that would help if we could have our own place,” Joyful Destroyful said.
The Lilac City Roller Girls are also involved in the Spokane community.
“Roller derby is a sport and hobby, but we also contribute locally and we feel that is important,” Joyful Destroyful said.
Once or twice a year, the team has a bout in which they donate the money they earn. Joyful Destroyful said in past years they have raised money for medical supplies for Rwanda team surgeons and Inland Imaging. They also help the homeless and clean up under freeways.
Volunteering together, practicing together and competing together allows the women time to get to know each other.
“You build life-long relationships,” Princess Punish Her said. “You really learn to trust the girls.”
Doors open for the Nov. 17 bout at 6:30 p.m. and starts at 7 p.m at Pattinson’s North. Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for students and seniors.
Here's a little more about some of the women on the team:
“Princess Punish Her”
Name: Tammy Rose Position: Blocker Operations Manager for American Leak Detection
As a little girl, Princess Punish Her used to watch roller derby games. One of her childhood dreams was to be a derby girl. When the sport began emerging again, in 2006, Princess Punish Her decided she wanted to skate.
“As an adult I wanted to aspire to some of those dreams I used to have,” she said.
Princess Punish Her has nine children, and scheduling can be difficult for her, but she works roller derby in.
“If you love what you do, you’re going to do it,” she said.
Name: Elizabeth Oliver Position: Blocker Employee at American Eagle
EB Teeze has been a part of the Lilac City Roller Girls on and off since fall 2009. EB Teeze not only enjoys the fun group and the exercise, but also the change in identity that comes with roller derby.
“You get this whole alter ego,” she said. “You break out of the social norm.”
She explained that the games are all about multi-tasking. “You’re always strategizing and listening to your coach from the sidelines.”
“Baby Face Kill-Her”
Name: Marissa Flinders Position: Blocker/Jammer Patient Access Representative at Group Health
Baby Face Kill-Her is a pre-nursing student by day, roller derby girl by night. Baby Face Kill-Her, a junior at Eastern Washington University, has been a roller derby girl for the past two years. She decided to finally try it out after the movie “Whip It” came out. She went to a Fresh Meat practice and has been a roller derby girl ever since.
“There is a rush of getting to just cream someone while there’s an audience watching,” she said. “You can hit other girls on skates — what could be more fun?”
Name: Heather Suppa Position: Blocker/Jammer Patient Coordinator/Dental Assistant
Despite working two jobs, Suppa BaDass has been involved in roller derby for the past two years. Like Baby Face Kill-Her, she was inspired to finally try it out after seeing “Whip It.”
“I like being competitive,” she said. “It’s tough to find something competitive as you get older.”
Suppa BaDass said she enjoys the workout and the release of energy roller derby provides. Even after breaking two fingers in the sport, she’s skating strong.
Name: Lori Scouton Position: Blocker Full time elementary school secretary
As a grandmother of six, 50-year-old Coogrrr Bit’cha is still out in the action. After dressing up as a roller derby girl for Halloween one year, she was dared to actually be a roller derby girl. After the first practice, she was hooked. She’s been a roller derby girl for the past two years.
“It really strengthens yourself as a woman,” she said. “You just lose all your fears. It’s crazy what it does to you physically and emotionally.”
Name: Joy Katterfeld Position: Jammer/Blocker Marketing & Sales Manager at SpeedPro Imaging
Like Princess Punish Her, Joyful Destroyful, age 52, remembers watching roller derby as a young girl. Two and a half years ago, she saw women promoting roller derby at a motorcycle show. It was then, as a grandmother, that she told herself, “I’m doing it.”
“It is a big vent release,” she said. “You’re always able to go there and de-stress. On a stressful day you can go there and it turns into the best day.”
Story By Kelli Raines Photos by Jo Miller
Note: This online story contains two corrections to errors made in the print story regarding Princess Punish Her and Suppa BaDass' occupation.