Women in Roller Skates Topple One Another (Consensually)


Ashton Akers

The Jet City Roller Derby, originally founded as the Jet City Rollergirls, has rolled onto the Edmonds Community College campus into the Seaview Gym for their 12th season.

The roller derby program was created in 2006 and remains to be Snohomish County’s only all-female roller derby league. They practice at the gym here on campus and also have competitions, or bouts here. They host here once a month on Saturdays, and give discounts to any student with an EdPass. Their next bouts are on Mar. 9 and Apr. 6, with doors opening at 4:00 p.m., the first bout starting at 5:00 p.m. and the second at 7:00 p.m.

Ivana Hercha, NO. 5 of the Jet City Bombers, helped create the Jet City Rollergirls almost 13 years ago after reading a Craigslist ad about the forming of the league. “I went to a recruiting skate at the Everett Skate Deck and… realized right away it was something I wanted to be a part of,” said Hercha. “Roller derby as a sport was still in its infancy, with early teams having formed in 2001. About 40 women came together and started Jet City. We created committees, made our own shirts, sold tickets to our events, and promoted Jet City at bars and other events in Snohomish County.”

After two years, Jet City Roller Derby decided to become a non-profit organization. Their mission is to “provide a positive environment for training and competition in the sport of women’s roller derby. We strive to improve Snohomish County by developing athletes, promoting healthy lifestyles, providing community service, and partnering with local charities,” After a lot of work, they finally achieved their goal of becoming a 501(c)(3) non-profit. They rely on donations from local businesses, families and friends to keep the program alive but driven by the roller derby motto, “For the skater by the skater,” they do not have a problem with this. Hercha states, “We are not owned by anyone, we make our own decisions about marketing, sponsorship, scheduling, and policies.”

The program consists of two home teams and one travel team, who travels nationwide to compete. The Jet City Bombers, the travel team, consists of 21 women and they rank 62nd in the world according to the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association. The two home teams, the Aviators and the Skyraiders, each consist of 22 women and they compete in the close area against roller derby teams from other counties.

The league also hosts skating lessons and roller derby training for anyone interested. Basic skate lessons consist of the basic derby skills and are open to men, women, and children. Once you pass this class, you are eligible to move up to the next step. The Jet Cadets are a smaller “team” that learns through scrimmaging and lessons from the higher teams. Once passing a skills and scrimmage assessment, it is then decided if you will move up in the program or not.  The Jet Cadets are only open to women, but the Puget Sound Outcasts are open to men. When talking about, says to anyone thinking about trying out roller derby, Twisted Spinster NO. 86 says “playing roller derby makes you tougher, but you don’t have to be tough to start playing. You just have to be willing to try.” Terror Faceoff NO.22 recommends to, “show up with confidence and an open mind. This could be the thing that changes your life for the better. It certainly did mine.”

The Jet City Roller Derby community is like a family, or according to Terror Faceoff, “a second super badass family.” Everyone is so supportive of each other on and off the track. Being a non-profit, there is a lot of fundraising, planning, designing posters or T-shirts, and “even watching each other’s kids,” Faceoff says, but they all work together to make it work. Twisted Spinster talks about the struggles of working together sometimes, saying, “While we may have different perspectives and opinions about how to do things, we come together for this league […] At times, it can be overwhelming to navigate so many different interpersonal relationships and figure out who to talk to about which thing, but that’s also the fun of it.”

All roller derby athletes have derby names as well. It is a fun way to express themselves on the court of how they perceive themselves. Twisted Spinster, or “Twist” for short, dedicated her name to the 80s glam rock band Twisted Sister. “I am a literal, metaphorical and figurative spinster,” she said. “Because I spin actual yarn with a spinning wheel, “spin yarns” in writing, and haven’t been married so far.”

Roller derby has always had an aggressive stereotype to it but really, it is made up of some of the kindest people. They all treat each other as equals and work together to win the bouts. Faceoff says that roller derby is, “where I can go to let out any aggression or stress built up from day to day life. I leave it all on the track,” where Spinster has learned many valuable life lessons. “A lot of women grow up feeling like they need to be small, get out of the way, and apologize for being too loud or too opinionated… Roller derby is all about being in the way and moving others out of your way, fighting to take up space… [it] has made me a much more confident person, willing to stand my ground and speak up when I need to.”