Members of Stockton’s Port City Roller Girls have just kicked off their fifth season and are looking to continue their tradition of aggressive but friendly play and avid community involvement.
Initially popular in the 1970s, roller derby has made a comeback in recent years, with teams appearing in different cities.
The PCRG are the only team in Stockton.
The team has come a long way from session skating at Hammer Skate and practices, rain or shine, at Peterson Park.
The roller girls began their 2011 season on April 30 against the Redwood Rollers at a brand new home venue.
“We used to practice out at Peterson Park,” said PCRG president Lisa “2 Quik” Anderson. “After practicing out there and sweating our butts off, we came to the fairgrounds, and now we have our home bouts at the Stockton Indoor Sports Complex.”
Along with the venue change, the PCRG have been rebuilding, as players come and go. New recruitment is never really a struggle, as the team is open to women of all skill levels.
“There’s about 28 of us girls, all different ages,” said Anderson. “You have to be at least 18 years old to skate, and our oldest member is in her 60s.”
The team is coached by Will “Roadkill Will” McNeel, with the help of his parents, known as “Mama and Papa Roadkill.”
For safety, team member must pass certain endurance and skills tests before they’re allowed to bout.
“We teach you all the fundamentals,” said Michelle “Malice” Storrs. “We’re not going to put you in before you’re ready.”
Those who have seen the 2009 film ‘Whip It’ may have an idea of how the sport works, but someone who has a true interest in roller derby should bear in mind that scripting and dramatization take away from the core sport.
“I think (Whip It) captured the love of the game. I don’t think it captured the true sport,” said Storrs.
There really isn’t any need for the Hollywood glamorization. Even without the thrown elbows, which would be illegal by the PCRG’s league’s rules, it’s a fast-paced, hard-hitting game.
“It’s the only women’s sport where you can actually beat the crap out of each other and drink a beer with each other later,” said Storrs.
The camaraderie is not only within the team, but between the other teams as well.
“It’s like a sisterhood,” Maria “Harley Misbehavin’” Ramos added. “It’s not just about derby. We’re very family oriented.”
Ramos, who watched roller derby as a kid in the 1970s, joined the team in 2007.
“It’s really neat because there are so many different walks of life that come together, and derby is our common bond,” she said.
The PCRG team is one of great diversity, not just in age.
Women on the team come from many different professions, from nurses to train conductors.
“It’s pretty diverse,” said Storrs. “You have your straights, your lesbians, your bisexuals. That’s part of it too, we welcome it all, we love them all. We don’t discriminate.”
Overall, these women have found a place to make friends, get a work out, give back and have fun.
“It looked like a good way to meet people,” said Brenda “Mean Mothertucker” Ramsey, who can no longer skate due to injuries, but is still very much a part of the PCRG family. “I work with predominantly men, I needed to meet more women around my age, and get my butt off the couch.”
“We’re a great group of women,” said Storrs. “We’ve got people who are professionals, and we have some housewives, and this is their after dinner drink. This is what we do. This is how we get our aggression out. On the track, we’re a family, off the track, we’re a family, and I think people who come out can see that.”
Catch the PCRG’s next home bout on May 21 at the Stockton Indoor Sports Complex.