MS. REBECCA SHEIR
I'm Rebecca Sheir. Welcome back to "Metro Connection." This week we're talking teamwork. And in this part of the show we're going to explore teamwork of a particularly physical athletic sort, as we turn to sports.
MS. ADRIENNE SCHREIBER
All right. Ladies, we're going to have to focus on communication and sticking together. And if we communicate and stick together, that's going to automatically keep our penalties low.
Were' in Southeast D.C. at the D.C. Armory, where a dozen or so women in helmets, kneepads and roller skates are huddling before a practice scrimmage.
All right. Let's bring it in. One, two, three, mean and green, whips, whips, whips (all talking at once).
Mean and green, whips, whips, whips is the battle cry of the Majority Whips, one of five teams in the District's only roller derby league, The D.C. Rollergirls.
The team names are fantastic.
Adrienne Schreiber is the president of the D.C. Rollergirls.
My derby name is Velocity Raptor. And we just call each other by our derby names, including at birthday parties and in public.
And Velocity Raptor, then, says all the team names have some sort of tie to D.C.
We've got Scare Force One, which is my home team. And The Majority Whips, the Cherry Blossom Bombshells and the D.C. DemonCats. Oh, the Capital Offenders, that's our B Team. We're pretty entertaining.
Not to mention, pretty fierce.
During the Rollergirls' scrimmages, they pull no punches as they furiously skate around the track, each team's scoring player or jammer, trying to lap members of the opposing team. And while the whole thing isn't quite as violent as you'd see in a movie like "Whip It," many of the skaters are nursing their share of cuts, bruises and lumps.
The Rollergirls have been holding scrimmages and bouts at the D.C. Armory since their second season, in 2008. And the beauty of the space, says Velocity Raptor, is it's so enormous. The league can lay out anywhere from four to six practice tracks at once. Plus, it's right near a bunch of bus stops and the Stadium-Armory Metro.
We do have a lot of League members who don't drive. So being accessible by public transportation is probably priority number one.
The Armory opened in 1941 to house the D.C. National Guard. In recent years, under the auspices of Events D.C., the official convention and sports authority for the District, the Armory's been hosting a whole range of other things, too.
So that's car shows and, you know, a marathon here and Army Reserves there.
But, as a result, says Velocity Raptor, the space's availability comes and goes.
It's not that they're closing us out from being here, it's just that they have our contract to juggle on top of a lot of other things.
And that contract, she says, isn't cheap.
But then, when it all comes down to it…
All of D.C. is expensive.
And the D.C. Rollergirls should know. With their teams growing and the Armory's availability shrinking, the women have been seeking a new space for their scrimmages and bouts, ideally, some sort of warehouse.
MS. SAMANTHA MCGOVERN
So that we could practice 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Because right now, says Samantha McGovern, a.k.a. Green Eggs and Wham.
I go by Wham for short because Green Eggs and Wham is sort of a mouthful.
The league is so at the mercy of the Armory's schedule, that it can't set its own schedule. Hence the need for its own space.
We've come close a couple of times. Like, we've actually found spaces that work. But financially it just wasn't a sound jump for us to make, because most of these places have five- or ten-year leases that we'd have to commit to. So we need to make sure we have the finances to back that up before we take it to the next level.
That's why the D.C. Rollergirls have launched what they're calling the Warehouse Fund. The goal, $25,000.
MS. JENNY LINDSTROM
We want to have a nice kitty so that we can really look hard and not have to settle for something that isn't quite a good fit.
Jenny Lindstrom skates under the name Slam Grier.
My number is 11'4" because it's the reverse of my height. I'm the shortest player on the League, as far as I can tell.
And she says raising those $25,000 for a new, permanent home wouldn't just allow the roughly 80 D.C. Rollergirls to keep on skating. It would allow them to expand.
We just started a rec league, which is great for people who just wanna learn and develop and hopefully one day be on one of our teams. And with our own space, it'd be easier to have things like that.
But, here's the thing, despite all the challenges the league has been encountering, in true fierce, hard-core, roller-derby fashion, president Velocity Raptor says she's keeping her hopes high.
Having a space of our own, it would be amazing. We're not there yet.
I like that you say, yet, though, because that implies that it's going to happen.
Oh, it's going to happen. Absolutely it's going to happen, yeah. This has been our focus for our strategic plan that we put together, was to find that dedicated space for the league. And it'll in the long run save us lots and lots of money and time and headaches.
Indeed, though given the rather aggressive nature of the sport, maybe a new space won't help so much with those headaches, literally, anyway.
The D.C. Rollergirls hold their next bout on Saturday, March 30, at the D.C. Armory. To see photos of the Rollergirls and to find a full list of their names, including the oh, so very D.C. inspired Condoleezza Slice, Martha Squashington and Stabigail Adams, visit our website, metroconnection.org.
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