Roller Derby takes over Sac State

Roller derby teams, the Capitol City Punishers go head to head against the Folsom Prison Bruisers for the Ultimate Derby Radness held in the University Union Ballroom on April 21.

Roller derby teams, the Capitol City Punishers go head to head against the Folsom Prison Bruisers for the “Ultimate Derby Radness” held in the University Union Ballroom on April 21.

AJ Taylor

The University Union Ballroom was taken over Thursday night by 26 aggressive women on roller skates.

The Sac City Rollers, Sacramento’s first all-women’s flat track roller derby league, finally made it to Sacramento State to lay down its tile floor, bruise a few bodies, smash into a few chairs and eventually get a game in featuring the Folsom Prison Bruisers and the Capital Punishers.

As students, fans of the league, and community members made their way into the Ballroom, each was handed a pamphlet which explained the rules of roller derby and gave beginners to the sport some information on the strategy behind the game.

“It was easy to pick up,” freshman photography major Logan Smith said after the game. “I understand the rules a lot better now, and I understand the objective and how they score points. I’d never seen a game before. It’s a really cool sport.”

The pamphlet also helped to educate fans about roller derby’s referee hand motions. The pamphlet gave the history of the Sac City Rollers, which formed in January 2006, and it highlighted each team.

A brief explanation of the rules sufficed to give fans enough information to enjoy the event. Each team places five skaters on the track at a time: one pivot skater, three blockers and one jammer. Each period is 30 minutes, consisting of two-minute jams in which the points are scored. A jam can be called off at any time by the lead jammer, lead jammer status is obtained by the jammer who passed the opposing skaters first. The jammer scores points by lapping the other team’s skaters.

Seats surrounded the polyurethane playing track, the front rows were only a few feet from the action.

“It was easy to get pumped once I saw how close we would be to the game,” said social work major Victoria Huber. “We were so close I could feel the intensity of the girls.”

The event, which was hosted by UNIQUE, was one in a series of UNIQUE’s weekly Thursday night shows from 7:30 to 9 p.m.

KSSU 1580 AM, the campus radio station, was also there to give in-game commentary and rule explanations to further assist spectators when making sense of the violent pack of ladies that whirled before them.

The game began backed by scores of Michael Jackson, The Black Eyed Peas and other pop artists. All game long, the skaters jammed to these tunes.

The Punishers jumped out to an early lead. Shanghai Shamrock, one of the Punishers’ top jammers, was scoring early and often. Over the course of the 30-minute first period, Shanghai Shamrock and the rest of the Punishers were out to a 76-58 lead.

Fans who had never experienced roller derby got an early view of quality play when they saw the Punishers and Shanghai Shamrock dominate the floor in the first period.

First-time spectators saw that on the drop of one single jam the game can change. Two jams into the second period The Bruisers jumped out to a 98-77 lead.

Things only got worse for the Punishers; in the third jam of the period, Shanghai Shamrock hit the floor hard. She did not return all game.

The Punishers caught a break when the opposing jammer was sent to the penalty box. The Punishers won 141-134.

“It was my third jam in a row and typically as a jammer you jam once or every third jam or every other at the most,” Quick-Fire said. “But I was trying to get past the exhaustion and get the points for my team.”

Psychology major Abby Kenshalo had prior roller derby experience; she said the competition at Sac State was “more laid back. It was less physical, but it still got intense.”

UNIQUE had been trying to bring the Sac City Rollers to campus for more than three years.

The event was seen as a success and UNIQUE would like to bring the league back for another game next season.

“It’s a growing sport in Sacramento, and in other cities it’s a really big deal. It’s something different,” said UNIQUE Programs adviser Zenia LaPorte. “No one else on campus has hosted a roller derby event. I think it’s something that students should be exposed to.”

You can reach AJ Taylor at [email protected]