Times-Herald (Vallejo)

Roller Derby comes back to town

Carquinez Quad Squad hosts event at Solano County Fairground­s

- By Thomas Gase tgase@timesheral­donline.com

The COVID-19 pandemic forced people to miss a variety of things. Whether it was hanging out with family, attending music concerts or being able to watch a ballgame in person, it definitely felt as if precious moments were lost.

For Meg Luce it was a little different.

“Well, I've missed hitting my good friends,” Luce said, with a chuckle.

That time has passed, however, as Luce brought back a favorite past time by competing in roller derby with the Carquinez Quad Squad on Saturday at the Solano County Fairground­s.

The contest against the Monterey Bay Roller Derby team was the first home contest for the Quad Squad after two road games and two long years of waiting for actual competitio­n.

Carquinez Quad Squad is the first flat track roller derby league

in Solano County. Its mission is “to educate, empower, and develop a community of roller derby, while providing an opportunit­y to engage in a volunteer-driven, competitiv­e and health focused sport.”

In 2021, the Carquinez Quad Squad joined the California Derby Galaxy (CDG) — a coalition of WFTDA-ruleset roller derby leagues in the greater Bay Area. The purpose of CDG is to provide diverse and numerous opportunit­ies for roller derby athletes and officials to both train and compete, at a variety of levels and frequencie­s.

CDG also has a commitment to lowering barriers to entry for systematic­ally marginaliz­ed participan­ts by providing fiscal relief to enable their participat­ion.

“I'm really excited to play this year because it's been almost two years,” Luce told the Times-Herald on Wednesday. “But it's been nice because we've been able to keep a lot of the same members of the team during the last two years and we've developed a great camaraderi­e.”

Corby Selzer, known on the team as “Madeya Ink,” said that many people rediscover­ed roller skating or tried the activity for the first time during the pandemic, saying they wanted to do an activity outside. She also said that the pandemic forced the Carquinez Quad Squad to adapt.

“I think we were able to spend more time focusing on basic skating skills and that really helped the team come together,” Selzer said. “It allowed us to progress in those type of skills where maybe we wouldn't be able to do that before.”

Shana Krallman “Hittsburgh” agreed with her teammate.

“He couldn't have any contact whatsoever due to the pandemic so we had to find other ways to push the team,” Krallman said. “We became more creative in what we were doing. We were asking ourselves constantly, `How can we do this drill differentl­y?' We became much better skaters during this time.”

Krallman is a teacher when not competing in roller derby, but has always found herself very competitiv­e.

“I played sports all my life including rugby,” Krallman said. “I was working on the East Coast in Maryland and I didn't know anything at all about roller derby but my students kept coming to me saying I would love roller derby and enjoy it. I kept telling them no for about a year until I decided to do it just to get them off my back basically. I had no idea how to skate or play but I fell in love with the sport right away.”

Roller derby is a roller skating contact sport played by two teams of 15 members. Roller derby is played by approximat­ely 1,250 amateur leagues worldwide, mostly in the United States.

Game play consists of a series of short scrimmages (jams) in which both teams designate a jammer and four blockers to skate counter-clockwise around a track. The jammer scores points by lapping members of the opposing team. The teams attempt to hinder the opposing jammer while assisting their own jammer — in effect, playing both offense and defense simultaneo­usly.

The endurance races began to transform into the contempora­ry form of the sport in the mid-1930s, when promoter Leo Seltzer created the Transconti­nental Roller Derby, a monthlong simulation of a road race between two-person teams of profession­al skaters. The spectacle became a popular touring exhibition but soon declined in popularity.

However, roller derby began its modern revival in Austin, Texas in the early 2000s as an all-female, woman-organized amateur sport. By August 2006, there were over 135 similar leagues and there are over 2,000 amateur leagues worldwide.

“I needed to something of a hobby on my own,” Selzer said. “The first time I saw roller derby I remember saying, `Yeah, I want to do this, where do I sign up? And that was in 2012.”

Selzer said one of the things she likes about the current league is that it is run by the people that compete in it.

“We have a board, we have meetings and we make decisions for ourselves,” Selzer said. “It's a big time investment, because all of us have jobs outside of the league, but it's worth it. We're all in and it's very encouragin­g. We try and meet people and build them up.”

Luce began playing roller derby in 2019 and took an immediate liking to it. Like Krallman, Luce played many sports growing up on the East Coast, mostly in Vermont.

“I was a pretty tenacious competitor, but I remember growing up in the early 90s and seeing ice skaters like Tonya Harding, Kristi Yamaguchi , and I thought I could be like them and just fling myself for a double axle,” Luce said, with a laugh. “Instead I was falling on the ice over and over again. Soon after I found out about roller derby. I showed up at the first team meeting and from there I've been a big part of helping to navigate the business management side of things as well as competing.”

Although the sport has been known to have a theatrical side in the past, especially with alternativ­e creative names for the players, Luce said the players are trying to rewrite that narrative. She said the sport isn't something she transforms into later in the day after work, in fact she'll often wear tshirts having to do with roller derby to help spread awareness.

“The derby names we create, that aspect of it is really fun, but I'm me,” Luce said. “Playing roller derby is just an extension of me and my personalit­y. It's had a big positive impact on my life and I've been able to make some great friends because of it. I'm so blessed to have the relationsh­ips I have with this team and the people involved. I really look forward to practices and now games.”

For more informatio­n on the league visit info@carquinezq­uadsquad.org, www.instagram.com/carquinezq­uadsquad or www.facebook.com/carquinezq­uadsquad.

 ?? CHRIS RILEY TIMES-HERALD ?? Members of the Carquinez Quad Squad squeeze the jammer from Monterey Bay during their flat track roller derby match at the Solano County Fairground­s.
CHRIS RILEY TIMES-HERALD Members of the Carquinez Quad Squad squeeze the jammer from Monterey Bay during their flat track roller derby match at the Solano County Fairground­s.

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