When the Rolling Hills Derby Dames held their first home bout in Pullman last March they expected 300 people. They were stunned when 2,000 showed up.
“There were no students in town because it was the first Saturday of spring break,” says still surprised team member Daquarii Rock.
Friday night at 7 the dames will defend their home turf again when they take on the Rodeo City Rollergirls of Ellensburg, Wash., at Beasley Coliseum. The two teams last met in October.
“They really spanked us,” says Rock. “They’re a real strong team.”
Roller derby, called the fastest growing sport in America, stars women. Helmets, mouth guards, padding and aggression are paired with roller skates, tutus, fishnets and hot pants. The Derby Dames are the only year-round, full-contact, flat track roller league on the Palouse. Most skaters are in their 20s, 30s and 40s and come to the sport with minimal skating skills. Most are professionals with full-time jobs and/or children. Their kids can be found cheering them on from the sidelines.
“It’s a strong thing for the community, for women who aren’t young and in college to be empowered and athletic,” says Rock.
Despite all the synergy, the dames are on the cusp of their fourth year and facing homelessness. The team has been practicing weekly at the Palouse Ice Rink which is about to be frozen for the season. They are searching for a large, open, covered space with a cement or wooden floor.
“We just have nowhere. We want to rent, buy, or build, but we can’t find anything,” says Rock.
Since they aren’t a student group they cannot count on practice space at the universities, she says. A “no-wheels” policy at area community and recreation centers has kept them out of those venues. Rock says they are also working to get “no wheels” policies revised.
Friday’s bout will feature 14 of the dames. Rock will be a referee under the name “Nutflix.” She says skaters to watch for include the Dames’ jammers, Kraken the Whip and a newcomer Heck No Techno.
The Pullman band BB Gun Incident will play the half-time show. Admission is by donation of canned food or cash for area food banks. There will be a $3 cover charge for the beer garden and all proceeds will go to Alternatives to Violence on the Palouse.
“It’s all about us trying to give back to the community as well,” says Rock.
What: Fall Brawl Roller Derby
When: 6-9 p.m. Friday
Where: Beasley Coliseum, 225 N. Grand Ave., Pullman
Cost: Donations and canned food will be accepted. Beer garden $3.