By Dominique Wald
Team member Christa Hernandez, who goes by the derby name “Takillya Rose” while in the rink, said she was faced with some questions from her peers when she joined the team.
“A lot of people asked me if I was afraid to join such an intense sport with men,” Hernandez said. “Honestly, I’m not scared of the guys. I’m scared of the women who want to skate with the guys.”
Josh Mantyla, also known as “Llama of Death,” became interested in joining the Whitman Hitmen after serving as referee for other roller derby bouts.
“The game is such a huge adrenaline rush,” Mantyla said. “You’re constantly playing offense and defense at the same time.”
The rules to roller derby are simple: Each team chooses a single point-scoring skater, otherwise known as a “jammer,” whose main objective is to lap as many opposing skaters as he or she can. To score, the jammer has to stay on the track when passing someone. Jammers get a two-minute time period, called a jam, when they can score points. The team with the most laps around the track in those two minutes wins.
“Being out there as a jammer is the coolest thing in the world,” Mantyla said. “Sometimes you’ll be trying to score and the timing and circumstances will line up perfectly. There’s nothing like it.”
Primarily known as a women’s sport, the formation of the Whitman Hitmen a year ago allowed both men and women 18 and older to join the fun.
“These women really kick my ass,” Mantyla said.
Mantyla said people unfamiliar with roller derby make the sport out to be a brutal and gory affair.
“People think it’s a lot more violent than it actually is,” he said. “But it’s an athletic endeavor. … We train and practice just like with any other sport.”
This weekend’s Rack the Pack event will be the first ever co-ed roller derby bout on the Palouse. The event, open to all ages, will also feature a beer garden. All proceeds from the beer garden will be donated to Gritman Medical Center’s Bosom Buddies, a program that provides free mammograms to local women who otherwise would not be able to afford one.
If You Go
What: Rack the Pack
When: 4:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Beasley Coliseum on the Washington State University Campus
Cost: Tickets are $5 at the door. Children 10 and younger are free.