Roller Girls 'Debutante Brawl' brings patina of pain to YMCA

Almost 1,000 people turned out for the Walla Walla Sweets Roller Girls introduction to the community Sunday.



Walla Walla Roller Girls Tia Ward (left) and Kimi Schroeder (center), of the LunaChix, and Katrina Morales (right) of the Blood Drive Betties, skate during the 'Debutante Brawl' Sunday at the Walla Walla YMCA.

Watch video of the Walla Walla Sweets Roller Girls debut below.

WALLA WALLA - To a crowd numbering nearly 1,000, the Walla Walla Sweets Roller Girls showed off to the public on Sunday in an exhibition bout at the YMCA.

It was the league's debut, coined the "Debutante Brawl," and it was rough and rowdy.

The event's announcers added to the camp factor, giving a shout out to a couple celebrating their first anniversary and ramping up fans with coaching sessions on when to holler.

And holler loud.

After a color guard presented by Walla Walla Amvets, two house teams - Blood Drive Betties and the Lunachix - battled through twin 30-minute sessions, each team skating like an oncoming thunderstorm to gain control of the track. With shoulders, knees and hips blocking to the left and right as opposing lead jammers approached, the gym floor was a swirl of red, black and blue - overlaid with a patina of pain.

In between bout halves, a half-time Zumba demonstration competed with booming concession stand sales of hot dogs, snacks and Walla Walla Sweets Roller Girls merchandise, including T-shirts, posters and baseball caps, some bearing the team's motto, "Walla Walla Sweets Roller Girls - We'll make you cry."

The points came early to the red-outfitted Betties and those skaters ceded precious little ground to their Lunachix sisters in the blue shirts with every manner of low-slung belt, ruffles, fish net stockings and Magic Marker tattoo.

There was a little of almost everything for a crowd that rose to its feet as if on cue and wasn't afraid to boo and cheer. Skaters took tumbles at every turn, some close to kissing the wall. Lead jammers hunkered down and gathered speed to break through knots of hormones on wheels.

By the end of the evening, the Blood Drive Betties had stomped down the Lunachix, 117-55.

Yet everyone was a winner, noted league founder and president Kimi Schroeder. With about 800 tickets sold - which did not include the peanut gallery of kids under age 5 - the league can now begin depositing more heavily into the dream, she said Monday.

"We can start investing in equipment we need, like padding that goes around the track that allows suicide seating," Schroeder said. "We can get a ‘sport court,' which is portable flooring we can move around and take with us."

The ticket proceeds will also provide scholarships for skaters and help the travel team - "Crush Town Mafia" - get to the league's first official bout in Olympia in September. That's when the Walla Walla women go up against the Bella Donnas of the Oly Rollers league.

Much better than dollar signs, however, was the love shown to the skaters on Sunday, Schroeder emphasized. Seeing the Y's main gym filled to capacity means people are excited about this sport and ready to support its derby league, she believes.

"People are already asking to volunteer for the next bout, there's all kinds of Facebook comments and one skater heard people talking about it at Safeway," Schroeder said. "There is kind of a buzz."

A bonus is that the bout produced no serious injuries, Schroeder said.

"No broken bones, no broken ankles, we were very pleased," she said.

As for the team she captains, the Lunachix, well, they got their backsides handed to them, she conceded. Her team needs to learn how to communicate on the track, mouth guards or not.

"That's a skill set we all need," she said. "You have to learn that art."

The Walla Walla Sweets Roller Girls plan to hold tryouts for incoming Green Onions, newcomers to roller derby, early this autumn and give its hometown another sweet treat of a bout mid-fall. For more information about tryouts, call Schroeder at 509-529-6614.


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