Derby girls roll into season
Speed, endurance, muscle and defense. One player tackles another while the crowd cheers them on. This is not Sunday night football — this is roller derby.
Tucson Roller Derby is starting off its season with its traveling team, the Saddletramps, playing against the Tent City Terrors from Phoenix on Saturday.
Tucson Roller Derby was founded in 2003, starting with its first team, the Furious Truckstop Waitresses. Since then, the league has only grown in size and has become an underground gem of Tucson.
Gigi Onowen, also known as Pixie Axe, said that she is most excited about the new talent on the team this season.
“I’m excited to see how far we can go,” Onowen said. “There are always new influxes of people that come in, and I’m excited to see how we all grow and change together.”
Onowen is the team captain for the Saddletramps and a fourth year graduate student in geography. When preparing for bouts, the term designated for a roller derby competition, players have certain rituals that will ensure luck to the team.
“Metal Maiden didn’t wash her socks for a whole season,” Onowen said. “I just try to get a good night’s rest.”
Beverly Cooper, also known as Kosma Nauti, doesn’t have a specific ritual before a bout.
“I mainly like to stay calm,” Cooper said. “Some girls insist on shaving on game day, and some girls refuse to.” Cooper said that the team likes to relax and “laugh it out” together on game days.
Cooper and the Saddletramps have been preparing for the bout against the Tent City Terrors for weeks.
“We look at the other team’s strategy,” Cooper said, “and at certain players’ strengths and weakness. Mostly, figure out how we can surprise them.” Cooper said she is excited to see how the team will work together in their first bout against Phoenix.
“Phoenix is a huge league,” said Arnie Bermudez, a fan of Tucson Roller Derby. “It’s amazing to see how much talent and skill all these girls have.” Bermudez’s girlfriend, Goldie Roxx, is on the Copper Queens. He said he tries to go to every bout in the season.
“It’s almost like a rock concert mixed with a wrestling match,” Bermudez said. “It’s very energetic, with a lot of athleticism and showmanship.”
Even with a lot of new members, the Saddletramps are still confident in their team.
“This is our first chance to really skate together as a team,” Cooper said. “I can’t wait to see who we are as a team this season.”