Wild Scallions find appeal in home opener

The YMCA’s junior roller girls toughed out a loss, but gained experience.

Junior roller girl Nellie Nail Her of Walla Walla's Wild Scallions sucks down some water and keeps a sharp eye on the action during a bench break Saturday night against the visiting Cinder Kittens.

Junior roller girl Nellie Nail Her of Walla Walla's Wild Scallions sucks down some water and keeps a sharp eye on the action during a bench break Saturday night against the visiting Cinder Kittens. Photo by Jeff Horner.

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WALLA WALLA — The YMCA Wild Scallions junior roller derby team had their first full bout on home turf Saturday, and for many it was the first chance to see how demanding the sport is on girls who range from 8 to 17.

“It made me realize that our community hasn’t seen that. And for them to see these kids playing such a hard sport, and the tears, I think that might have bothered a few in the community,” coach Kimi “Purl Slam” Schroeder said.

Before Saturday, the only full bouts the Scallions played have been away games, though there have been a few halftime scrimmages for the Scallions during home games of the Walla Walla Sweets Rollergirls women’s team.

So Saturday’s bout was the community’s first chance to see tough competition and girls having fun, even amid the falls, bruises and at least one split lip.

In the end, having the home team advantage wasn’t enough; the Scallions lost 338-83 to the Cinder Kittens of Bend, Ore.

“These girls are very tough when it comes to being on the track. And in the older girls the tears come out when they are angry. And the younger ones they come out when they are frustrated,” Schroeder said.

“For us,” she added, “it is more about this being the best game that you have played and that you are having fun. And that is what we always ask them, if they have had fun and if they have excelled in their own personal goals in the game.”

For jammer and blocker Kailey “Jolly Dodger” Busch, the answer was yes to both, even though she was intimidated at times.

“It was good. We worried a lot. But their girls were really, really nice,” Busch, 14, said. “It felt good because it is not about the competition but about having fun.”

Even a first-year rookie and one of the youngest jammers on the team, Neliah “Nellie Nailer” Williams, 10, said her case of nerves was worth the experience.

“I got nervous…but I learned that when your Jammer is in trouble you help them out,” she said.

Schroeder added that parents are completely supportive and often are the ones encouraging their daughters to tough it out.

“Derby is a hard sport,” she said. “Most of the time it is the parents, when they see that there kids are struggling during the bout, they say ‘OK, you got this one. Now you need to go out there again.’”

The Scallions did get out there again and again, for two 30-minute periods.

“It was easier to skate because when you go somewhere else you don’t know where the bumps are,” Williams said, explaining that the YMCA’s track has a high spot or two.

Despite the Scallion’s loss, 3-year veteran skater Abby Clark, 9, noted that the team came out ahead when it came to what was gained.

“I learned to listen to teammates and coaches,” Clark said.

She also had a trick to deal with skating against older and larger girls: “I just basically looked down.”

Alfred Diaz can be reached at alfreddiaz@wwub.com or 526-8325.

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