INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — A group of kneepad-clad and wrist guard-wearing women have been rolling together since last May.
The women started the The Ladies of the Lake roller derby team, along with the Sierra Regional Roller Derby League, with goals of uniting local roller derby teams and starting a team for the North Shore.
The women, from Truckee to North Lake Tahoe, invite anyone interested and willing to put on skates to come to a practice.
“We’re always recruiting skaters, referees, and anyone interested can help out too,” said Aleata Quinn, a member of the Board of Directors and a league co-founder.
The league also hopes to abolish stereotypes about the sport while having a good time.
“A lot of people still think it’s how it was in the 70s — all theatrics and staged,” Quinn said. “It’s not the fake wrestling — it’s a real sport.”
Before each practice or bout, the women gear up and put on helmets, kneepads, wrist pads and mouth guards.
Booty shorts, glam makeup and fishnets aren’t as common as athletic pants, ponytails and white tank tops.
Skater Tiffany Smith said she comes to the weekly practices for the fun and the exercise.
“For me, it’s about being able to do a sport in my mid-30s and not have to run,” she said.
When in skates and on the track, Smith is known as “Toldya Twice.” Nicknames aren’t uncommon in roller derby, and many of the members find it a fun way to embody an alter ego on the track.
“Our names are what we feel,” said league secretary Shawn Peters. “It’s a way to express yourself.”
Peters, originally from the “Show Me State” of Missouri, goes by “Show Me Pain.” She said she translates her organizational skills from her job as an office manager at a school to organize release forms, fees and travel schedules for the team.
Cynthia’s Batres sports a jersey with her derby name “Latina Mashino.” Batres said her job in a veterinary office is stressful, and roller derby helps her unwind.
“It’s the cheapest form of therapy or a good night’s sleep,” said Batres. “And it feels good getting laid out too.”
The girls’ Friday practices at the Incline Village Recreation Center last for two hours. They warm up in a track set up on the basketball court and follow drills set by Coach Josh Scotto.
Scotto blows the whistle and gives directions and drills to the girls as they skate and block, moving as a team, but also coming down on the ground, hard.
Scotto is a skater from North Dakota and enjoys helping the girls improve their skating, their blocking and their jamming — a technique where certain girls, dubbed “jammers,” try to skate ahead of the opposing team and score points.
Scotto said beginners are always better than they anticipate, and he sees a quick boost in confidence as the girls get braver on the track.
“I don’t think there are many avenues where women can come and learn a brand new sport and not catch any flack for it,” he said.
Whether for stress relief or exercise, the women all agree playing together on a team, through the bruises and bumps, is rewarding.
Quinn describes the team as women from “all different backgrounds and walks of life.”
“In work and in life, it pays to work as a team and not try to do everything by yourself,” said “Amber Ail” Heidi Bethke.
Sierra Regional Roller Derby invites anyone interested to come to a practice Friday evenings, 6:30-8:30 p.m., at the Incline rec center.
The team asks participants to bring athletic shoes, a mouth guard and water. Skates and pads are available on a first come, first serve basis.
“It’s not the fake wrestling — it’s a real sport.”
Sierra Regional Roller Derby League