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Thrills and spills Phillip Brents | Sat, Aug 07 2010 12:08 AM

Their names are La Cuete, Lil-D, Lady Deevious, Full Service Sally, Porn Scar, Killher Flea, The Trooper, Retrophelia, Bitsy Bonecrusher, Mamarazzi, Rachel Tensions, Cannibal Kitty, Assaulter and Pepper and Moxie Von Rotten. Collectively, they are the San Diego Renegades Rollergirls.

And they appear to have a fan following.

“I don’t even want to look at the crowd when I’m skating,” said Laura, aka The Trooper. “If I look at the crowd, then I start thinking that all these people are here to see me eat it.”

The Trooper took her share of spills on the flat-track course at Skate San Diego during last Saturday’s Renegade League encounter against the visiting Arizona Rollergirls. But she also got to dish out a little bit of punishment.

“The hits are totally real out there,” she said while rubbing her elbow.

The Trooper is one of 14 women who comprise the San Diego roller derby team. The sport is making a comeback locally despite the closing of several roller rinks throughout the county.

The National City facility remains one of the few roller rinks not only left standing but still in operation. About 200 fans attended Saturday’s event. The SD team drew 400 fans to one match earlier this year.

The local squad is comprised of women from every walk of life — from accountants to school teachers, from stay-at-home moms to health professionals. Women 18 and older with any skill level are invited to join.

The Renegade League was established in Phoenix in 2004. The San Diego team has been active since 2005.

There are six other Renegade leagues nationwide, with the founding league being the Arizona team.

The San Diego team, with its mix of punk-, Goth- and Rockabilly-inspired characters, was recently featured on a segment of Fox 5 News.

With her oversize silver (prescription) glasses, The Trooper sports a retro look, though she doesn’t peg herself into any one category.

“Actually, I listen to NPR on the radio,” she said matter of factly. “I’ve also been known to listen to classical music.”

The Valhalla High School grad initially had no intention of rolling onto the floor on classic quad skates. “I knew a couple of girls on the team and wanted to come out and practice just for exercise,” she said. “But then they found out I could skate and kept asking me to join the team. I finally said OK and did it and fell in love with it.”

The Trooper has become a regular member of the SD team, having now appeared in about 15 matches.

“It’s totally fun,” she said.

Teammate Diana Sanchez, aka Lady Deevious, heartily concurs on that point.

“When I was younger, I rollerskated at RollerSkateLand off H Street in Chula Vista,” she said. “The rink was right next to Farrell’s — my biggest hangout in my teen years. As I grew up and joined the work force, I missed the good ol’ days of skating and hang’n with friends.”

As in countless other cases on the team, it took a friend to rekindle old vibes. “Val, aka La Cuete, has been my friend for over 14 years — she was one of the first girls to join the Renegade League when it hit San Diego from Arizona,” Lady Dee said. “The Renegades skated at RollerSkateLand until it shut down. One day, Val just asked, ‘Hey, come skate again, don’t worry, it’s a great workout.’ It took one practice for me to be hooked and I’ve been doing it for two years.”

For those old enough to remember the old L.A. T-Birds and their nemesis, the New York Bombers, on late night TV from the 1960s and 1970s (direct from the Olympic Auditorium), the Renegade League offers a reincarnation of the sport sans the theatrical spectacle. This isn’t the WWF on quad skates. The Renegade League, according to Lady Dee, brings a “fresh perspective on roller derby” by offering the first no-penalty, full-contact, “no holds barred” roller derby in the country.

“There are rules but no penalties,” Lady Dee said. “The game highlights a skater’s skill and allows the audience to see some of the ‘outlawed’ moves of the sport in action.”

While primarily a flat-track league, the Renegade Rollergirls’ motto is “any surface, any time.” Games have been played on asphalt, tennis courts, concrete and even at the Fremont Street Experience in Las Vegas.

There are three 15-minute periods in a typical roller derby match, with a series of one-minute jam periods during which teams can score points.

The Arizona Rollergirls captured last Saturday’s match by a score of 93-30, though none of the fans were really counting, nor are official standings kept, according to team members.

“We just go out and skate and have fun with the other girls,” The Trooper said.

Camaraderie is a strong point on the team.

“We are family,” Lady Dee said. “Being on this team means that we protect and help each other on and off the rink. We pull together when one of our own needs help. We all struggle in life one way or another, but what roller derby means for us is that if we can play this sport, we can handle anything life throws at us. We see ourselves as strong athletes and entertainers. We love to show off the hard work we put into this game and events.”

While hugs were exchanged after the match between the teams, the third period featured several on-court fights. Loud cheers from those in attendance went up every time an Arizona player was sent into the crash zone.

One SD player — Full Service Sally — had to retire early from the proceedings because of an injury. She watched the final two periods from the team bench with her arm in a sling.

“The other team will go after the quicker skaters — they got me early,” Full Service Sally said.
Besides offering fans a taste of up-close roller derby action (seating was literally just outside the crash zone), Saturday’s event also served as a fundraiser for the upcoming Susan B. Komen Breast Cancer 5K Walk/Run Nov. 7 in Balboa Park.

Roller derby matches are scheduled about once each month, with a typical season running from March or May until November. The San Diego team has an away “royal rumble” scheduled Aug. 21 against the SoCal Renegades and will play two more road bouts before returning to Skate San Diego for matches Sept. 18 and Nov. 20.

“This sport is growing, though our rinks are disappearing,” Lady Dee said. “We are in the middle of trying to save a rink in Linda Vista, Skateworld. Our league believes in community involvement. Not only do we help our own but we try to better our communities and our neighbors.”

For more information on the San Diego Renegade Rollergirls, visit www.facebook.com/rrgsd or www.RenegaderollergirlsSD.com. The team can be reached by e-mail at sandiegorenegades@gmail.com.

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