Issaquah skaters carve out niche in roller derby community

June 5, 2012

By Ana Sofia Knauf

Sheri ‘Jamaica Hurt’ Greenman (far right) stands at the starting line seconds before the start of a OneWorld league game. As her team’s ‘pivot,’ Greenman is marked with a striped helmet and sets the pace of the 90-second jam. Contributed by Sheri Greenman

Maybe you’ve seen “Whip It,” Drew Barrymore’s 2009 film about a fictional, rebellious teen pageant queen-turned roller derby enthusiast. While the film offers a glimpse into the world of roller derby, the portrayal of the sport is a bit exaggerated, according to local residents Beckie Bogart and Sheri Greenman, who both skate in the OneWorld Roller Derby league.

On June 10, OneWorld’s Seattle and Bellevue teams will go head-to-head in an old-school roller derby game.

OneWorld Roller Derby was founded in Seattle in 2010 by former Rat City Rollergirls skater Donna “The Hot Flash” Kay. Instead of forming an exclusively competitive league, Kay developed an instructional side to roller derby for those who were interested in derby, but who may not have the time to dedicate hours to practices or who were interested in the athletic aspect of the sport. Above all, Kay wanted roller derby to become an accessible sport that could be used to build players’ self-esteem rather than demolish it.

Kay, 55, said she was “tired of seeing girls leave tryouts crying.”

Issaquah skater Beckie Bogart, 34, is one of the many players who benefitted from Kay’s program. Aside from skating, Bogart works as a speech and language pathologist for the Lake Washington School District. However, three days per week, she drives to the Bellevue Skate King for practices with other skaters, including her teammates on Wretched Excess.

“I didn’t think I would kick ass enough to do something like roller derby,” Bogart said. “But once you get bitten by the derby bug, that’s it!”

In the spring of 2011, Bogart took to Google for more information about roller derby, happened upon OneWorld’s website and decided to attend one of the league’s practices. She did not begin practicing full time until October. The camaraderie Bogart encountered upon joining OneWorld kept her coming back for more.

“I liked that it was all-inclusive. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming,” she said. “There wasn’t that feeling of having to impress everyone. For me, it gave me confidence. I never really had great confidence and self-esteem. OneWorld makes you feel like you can do awesome things.”

As part of Bellevue’s Wretched Excess, Bogart, known as “RedZilla,” is one of 45 skaters who represent OneWorld in competitions. In each game, five players from each team participate in a 90-second “jam” on a flat track. At minimum, there are 40 jams per game, which are broken up into eight periods.

If you go

OneWorld Roller Derby 

  • Skate King
  • 2301 140th Ave. N.E., Bellevue
  • 6:30 p.m. June 10
  • Tickets are $12 for adults, $8 for ages 6-13, and children 5 and younger will be free.
  • http://oneworldrollerderby.com

See video of local residents Beckie Bogart and Sheri Greenman, who both skate in the OneWorld Roller Derby league, at http://youtu.be/PcSNV894nzY.

Teams participating in the jam are comprised of five players per team. Each group has one “pivot,” who stands at the head of her team and sets the pace. Three blockers follow behind the pivot, acting as both defense and offense to allow their “jammer,” the only player able to score points, to get around the other team.

Points are scored when the jammer laps the other team and passes its skaters. After each jam, players are given time to regroup and to switch positions if desired, which allows skaters to grow and expand upon their skills, Bogart said.

Unlike Bogart, Sheri Greenman, 42, who lives on the Maple Valley-Issaquah border, had been part of a league previous to OneWorld. While roller derby is fun and fosters a supportive community for those involved, other leagues tend to be more emotionally demanding and time-consuming, Greenman said.

“I was ready to hang up my skates,” she said.

Then she joined OneWorld, where she became known as “Jamaica Hurt.” As a result of its founder’s mission to create a learning environment for skaters, Greenman was able to experience roller derby from various angles.

“Within a week, I was already placed on a team,” she said. “In two weeks, ‘Hot Flash’ asked me to coach a team in Bellevue.”

Greenman has been the coach of the Bellevue Brawl since March and still skates competitively. While she is grateful for OneWorld’s welcoming atmosphere, she appreciates the physical demands of the sport.

“I like the challenges that it poses for me. You can get out on the floor and get out your frustrations at the same time,” Greenman said. “One gal hit me and knocked the wind out of me and it took me a minute to get up. I got up and high-fived her. That doesn’t happen that often.”

Ana Sofia Knauf is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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