Roller Derby 101, Attending a Rose City Rollers Game

January 27, 2011 in Insider Tips, Travelogues by Kim Minter-Rohrich

Last week, I suggested checking out the Rose City Rollers action on Saturday night if you were stuck in the same old weekend rut. Well, I took my own advice and went to the opening of the 2011 season for Portland's very own women's flat track roller derby team. I was more than impressed with the number of enthusiastic fans filling the Memorial Coliseum. The excitement level emanating from not only the lady skaters on the track, but the audience as well, were telling of how Portland has seemed to embrace this sport.

Having never been to see roller derby, the only thing that kept coming to mind was that old movie called "Kansas City Bombers." As I entered the Coliseum for the RCR's Season Opener Scramble Saturday, it did feel a bit like stepping into a time warp. It's the transition from roller derby's dated past to its fresh future, that the women skaters of the Rose City Rollers want to be a part of and encourage. RCR's 100+ derby women consider themselves pioneers in the rebirth of roller derby and hope to support its growth. They are not only athletes with a mission, but with a cause as well. RCR is a non-profit that has supported numerous local charitable causes and events since its inception, including the American Cancer Society, Muscular Dystrophy Association, Oregon Humane Society, Sisters of the Road Café, and the Pixie Project Animal Rescue, just to name a few.

Break Neck Betties vs. High Rollers

Break Neck Betties vs. High Rollers © Kim Minter-Rohrich

2011 marks not only a new season, but the addition of another venue for bouts – the Memorial Coliseum. In past years, the RCR has held its events at the Hangar at Oaks Park and at the Expo Center. This opening event at the Coliseum had me taking in all the sights and sounds of roller derby mania. There were the stars of the night – the skaters in colorful uniforms with nicknames on the back that in most cases were on the raunchy side. And there were absolutely no shortage of tattoos to admire. Heck, I even saw Elvis there! The King was the mascot for one of the teams and was strutting his stuff in a green jumpsuit across the track. However, my favorite of the night wasn't a sight, but a sound. It was the announcer over the loud speaker saying to the skaters, "Please check your teeth . . . . there is a mouth guard on the track."

Rose City Rollers is a league that consists of 4 home teams, 2 travel teams and a junior derby team (Rose Buds). Home teams include the Break Neck Betties, Guns N Rollers, Heartless Heathers and the High Rollers. The travel teams are made up of All Stars from the home teams: the Axles of Annihilation and RCR's nationally-ranked "A" team. The home teams play head-to-head with the other home teams. The Axles of Annihilation compete against other Northwest teams. The Wheels of Justice compete in the Women's Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA), and go against some of the best teams from around the country.

I learned a few things about roller derby. First on the list being, that in order to really know what's going on out there on the track you've got to learn a few basics about the sport in order to appreciate the jam-packed pace.

Guns N Rollers vs. Heartless Heathers

Guns N Rollers vs. Heartless Heathers © Kim Minter-Rohrich

Okay, so here's a little quiz in Roller Derby 101, and if you ace it, well, then you're probably already a fan and have been to your share of events. If you flunk the quiz, then what are you waiting for? Grab some friends, buy some tickets, and get ready to jam! The next event is RCR Season 6 - Game 1 which will take place Saturday, Jan. 29 at 6 p.m. at the Oaks Park Hangar. It will feature Guns N Rollers vs. Break Neck Betties. You can also go to to see when all events are scheduled and for more information.

Roller Derby 101 Quiz

1. 2011 marks how many years that the Rose City Rollers have been hitting the track in Portland?
• a. 2
• b. 5
• c. 10
• d. 6

2. Each team has a skater who wears a star on her helmet and is the one who can score points while on the track – what is this skater called?
• a. Passer
• b. Runner
• c. Flyer
• d. Jammer

3. The first jammer to emerge from the skating pack without incurring penalties is designated by the referee as the lead jammer. How the does the referee indicate this?
• a. Points with his left hand to the jammer and blows the jammer a kiss with his other hand
• b. Extends both arms fully in the air above his head
• c. Grasps the point of his elbow and makes a jutting motion toward the jammer
• d. Blows a double whistle blast and holds his arm in an "L" shape with right hand pointing at the jammer

4. The skater who is the "lead jammer" can end the jam at her discretion. To call off the jam, the lead jammer signals this by doing the following:
• a. Crosses both her arms in front of her and lifts her elbows out
• b. Puts her right skate in, then puts her right skate out, then she shakes it all about
• c. Does a double axle, followed by a double toe loop
• d. Places her hands on her hips

5. There are both minor and major penalties in derby – minors do not harm players or affect game play, majors, however, do. Which is not an example of a major penalty?
• a. Any block above the shoulder or below the thigh
• b. Skating in the wrong direction on the track
• c. Unsportsladylike conduct
• d. Tripping

6. Roller derby has 3 player "positions." Which is not one of these positions?
• a. Pivot
• b. Blocker
• c. Jammer
• d. Tight end

7. What is it called when a jammer scores 5 points – the maximum available - in a single scoring pass?
• a. High Five
• b. Five Golden Rings
• c. Take Five
• d. Grand Slam

8. Which is not the "name" of a skater on the RCR's High Rollers Team?
• a. Napoleon Blownapart
• b. Minstrel Psycho
• c. Sedusa Destroy
• d. Missy Rammer

9. When attending a derby bout, according to the fan code of conduct, audience members are required to refrain from certain behaviors. Which type of behavior is not prohibited at events?

• a. Yelling obscenities
• b. Heckling or taunting the skaters
• c. Getting drunk and rowdy
• d. Excessive cheering

10. Besides skates and uniforms, what will you see quite a few of the female roller derby skaters wearing?
• a. Lipstick
• b. Fishnet stockings
• c. Tattoos
• d. All of the above

Rose City Rollers Poster

The answers to all 10 questions were the letter "d." How'd you score? Ready to check out the action? Go to to find out where and when.