Roller derby league includes Glenwood women, participates in fundraiser
If You Go...
Who: 10th Mountain Roller Dolls
What: 3rd annual Melee in the Mountains Roller Derby Mix-up Tournament
When: Begins at 11 a.m. on Saturday
Where: Eagle Pool & Ice Rink, 1700 Bull Pasture Road, Eagle
How Much: $8 pre-sale, $10 at door, $5 for students and seniors, free for children younger than 5 and military
Elbow and knee pads colliding, skates stomping the floor, female voices grunting and hollering — these are the sounds of roller derby, and they fill the Glenwood Springs Community Center’s melted ice rink once a week when the 10th Mountain Roller Dolls practice there.
The Roller Dolls league is made up of 18 skaters and officials from Eagle, Garfield and Summit counties. It’s the result of a merger between Eagle players and a handful of women on a league called Roaring Fork Roller Derby, which was started in Glenwood Springs five years ago and which joined forces with the 10th Mountain Roller Dolls two years ago when membership in the valley began to wane.
“We were trying to build it here in Glenwood, but then the 10th Mountain girls started as a rec league,” said Michelle Smith, a.k.a. Chelle on Wheels, a Glenwood Springs resident who has been on the league since 2010. “They partnered with their rec center and started a class. They just had a huge amount of interest in that, and it was an easy decision for us that if we wanted it to continue, we needed to join with them.”
Since joining forces, the league has gotten bigger and better. Last year, they won almost all their bouts, and just this January, they became a Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) apprentice league, meaning they can earn points and move up a scale as they compete.
Their bouts and scrimmages are held all across the state of Colorado, and just last weekend they competed in Nebraska. On Saturday, they’ll play in a fundraising event for Girls on the Run, a national non-profit organization with a Western Slope location that encourages athleticism and confidence among women and girls.
“We have two fundraisers a year, and traditionally we had done a community partnership for each event,” said Catherine Zaikis, a.k.a. Feroll Cat, who handles events and public relations for the Roller Dolls. “This year, we really wanted to match roller derby with athletics for women and girls. We voted as a league, and Girls on the Run seemed to be the absolute best choice, seeing as our mission statements align perfectly.”
The event on Saturday will be held at the Eagle Pool and Ice Rink, and it will feature double-elimination tournaments, a championship and a bout between the Western Slope and Front Range. Spectators can also enjoy brews from Bonfire Brewing Co., a silent auction and baked goods made by the Roller Dolls.
While most members are from Eagle and Summit counties, two players live in Glenwood Springs and one in New Castle. They’re hoping to build a stronger presence in Garfield County in the future, and one way they hope to accomplish that is by scheduling a scrimmage at the Glenwood Springs Community Center during Strawberry Days on June 20.
“We’ve always wanted to keep it alive in Glenwood,” said Diane Chapin, a.k.a. Die’an Grenade, who lives in New Castle.
“We’re hoping to get a lot more game time out of the Glenwood facility because it’s so large, and it’s a great place to hold games,” added Smith.
The women said they’d love to have more participation from Garfield County residents, especially since playing roller derby has had such a positive impact on their lives.
“The girls are awesome; they’re fun,” said Chapin. “It’s really hard to meet girls in this valley with the same kind of interests — health, exercise, teamwork and commitment. Plus, I just love the sport. It’s a lot of fun to play.”
Smith said she joined after her sister encouraged her to give it a try. Plus, she was a married mother of four with a full-time job, and she needed something that was hers.
“I needed something else, and I needed something to challenge myself because I wasn’t active enough,” she said. “This definitely did it.”
Zaikis agrees that the athleticism is one of the biggest perks of roller derby.
“I wouldn’t otherwise work out six nights a week,” she said. “And it gets a bunch of women who need something to foster our well-being all together supporting each other. It’s just an amazing group of people.”
“I Googled it, and there was no turning back since then,” Smith said. “Just to see how it’s grown since we joined with 10th Mountain has been amazing.”
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