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South Sound women blow off steam with roller derby
Bumps. Tumbling falls to the pavement. More bruises than one has fingers and toes on which to count.
Not exactly a relaxing day at the office.
But for Auburn’s Kyndall Bayard and many others who comprise Dockyard Derby Dames roller derby league in Tacoma, it adds up to a sport that provides a relief from the ordinary.
Not to mention relief from the daily grind.
Several of the women have families and jobs that command their attention. But they also have a competitive desire that can only be satisfied by a sport that is growing rapidly around here and around the state. Matter of fact, there currently are more than 10 of the fast-paced, hard-hitting leagues in Washington.
Women hailing from Auburn, Kent, Covington, Maple Valley and surrounding areas feed their bruising appetite at the Soccer Center in Tacoma, where the Dockyard Derby Dames league plays its games.
It’s a setting where anything is possible in a physically-demanding roller derby league comprised of four teams vying for state supremacy. The league includes The Hellbound Homewreckers, Femme Fiannas, Marauding Mollys and Trampires. The teams compete weekly, while also exhaling a breath of relief from the rigors of everyday life.
DDD is in its second season, but originally formed in 2005 and used the additional year to create teams and find locations to compete. Each squad, which consists of one pivot/blocker, three regular blockers and one jammer, will send its top stars to represent the The Dames on July 12 in San Diego. The four teams within the league also have at least one Saturday per month when they compete at home.
DDD’s next bout is slated for July 26 at the Soccer Center, with the fifth bout on Aug. 23.
Auburn’s Bayard, who goes by the skating name “Vitamin V,” never imagined that she would compete in such a league until last December at a Christmas party. Bayard has been an avid roller skater all her life and has become a regular at the Auburn Skate Connection, where she has known the rink owner since she first began lacing ‘em up.
But it was her children’s skating coach who sparked Bayard’s roller derby interest. Bayard finally gave the sport a chance this past February during an open tryout, though she had doubts at the time whether she was good enough to skate competitively.
Bayard knew a number of skaters in a more physically demanding league in Seattle – known as Rat City – but her skepticism vanished the second she practiced and connected with a flurry of new friends and teammates on the Hellbound Homewreckers squad.
“It wasn’t my thing,” Bayard said of her first impression. “I got there and the girls are super great. I’ve made so many new friends and the league is just awesome, and I love it.”
Bayard works in a pharmacy at a local Auburn hospital while also raising three children. Her children attend each competition, and think the world of their mother and the sport.
“My kids love it,” Bayard said. “They think it’s the coolest thing ever.”
‘Match made in heaven’
Kassandra “Franky Bones” McElwain has been a part of the league since its creation three years ago and has been skating for 17 years. Her mom previously worked for a company that owned the TLC Family Skating Center on Kent’s East Hill, so McElwain took advantage of the access by skating for hours at a time.
McElwain, who grew up in Covington and now lives in Bonney Lake, competes for the Mollys and received her nickname from her husband’s military friends. She found solace at the rink when her husband spent a year in Iraq for the military.
She also was teased by others for having an infatuation with roller skating, but McElwain couldn’t care less. Her long tenure with roller skating eventually led her to the roller derby, answering a lifelong question to her purpose in the sport.
“I know I’ve been skating for this long for something, so I may as well put it to good use,” McElwain said. “I found my niche. It was like a match made in heaven.”
ABOUT ROLLER DERBY
• WHAT: The Dockyard Derby Dames are Tacoma’s own all-women flat-track roller derby league. There are more than 10 leagues in Washington state. The Dockyard Derby Dames include players from, among other areas, Auburn, Kent, Covington and Maple Valley.
• WHERE THEY PLAY: The Soccer Center, 2610 Bay St. E. Tacoma.
• BY THE NUMBERS: Five players comprise a roller derby team. The Dockyard Derby Dames is a four-team league. Each of the league’s four teams consists of 10-player rosters with two alternates.
• HOW IT’S PLAYED: There is a group of eight “blockers” (four from each team) which make up “the pack.” Each team has one blocker designated as a “pivot” who serves as a leader within the pack and who can be identified by a striped helmet cover. The pack starts when the official blows the whistle. After the pack moves about 20 feet down the track, the official whistles twice to start the “Jammers.”
• SCORING: The “Jammers” are the point-scoring players and can be identified by the star on their helmet. They race each other through the pack. On their first pass through the pack, Jammers compete to earn “Lead jammer status.” The lead jammer can strategically call off the jam before the end of the two-minutes. Beginning on their second pass through the pack, each jammer earns one point for each member of the opposing team that she passes (plus a point for each member of the team that might be serving in the penalty box).
• ON TAP: The next Dockyard Derby Dames event will be Saturday, July 26 at the Soccer Center in Tacoma.
• ON THE WEB: Visit www.dockyardderbydames.com.