Author: Sara Bezdjian

Molly Morbids vs. Ladies of the Lake. Photo: Cody Hoagland

On Saturday, March 22, the Molly Morbids played the Ladies of the Lake at the Hive in Spanish Fork. If you’re accustomed to warehouse-type roller derby venues, the Hive can be hard to find. You’ll find it if you look for an old Food For Less—now decked out as a total paradise for derby-lovers. The Hive has a concessions stand, plenty of seating, and even helpful signs which explain referee signals. As you walk in, the Happy Valley Derby Darlins give spectators a handy flyer which features an explanation about the rules of derby as well as the roster for the Molly Morbids.

The bout started off great, with some amazing blocking from the Morbids. In only the first five minutes, the score was 15 to 36 for the Morbids. Time after time, Pain in the Nikki broke through the pack and gained lead jammer status for the Molly Morbids. The great thing about Pain in the Nikki is that she was able to get through the pack and get points for her team without succumbing to the temptation of selfish derby. After getting a few points, she called off the jams early and successfully prevented the Ladies of the Lake from getting any points.

The WFTDA (Women’s Flat Track Derby Association) has just released new rules for roller derby, which include a shorter penalty time. This means the jams go faster (and they are much more exciting to watch). At 18 minutes left in the first half, the Molly Morbids had the lead of 44 to 23. Unlike other sports, a 20-point spread in roller derby is not very much. With the help of some smart blockers, a skilled jammer can diminish that spread in a single jam.

The Molly Morbids had some seriously unbeatable team strategies, though most of the time, they had the pivot or another blocker skating backwards in the pack. Then, they “welded” themselves together, creating a nearly-unstoppable wall. In fact, on one of the jams, neither jammer broke through for a full lap. Finally, Hip Knock-it Therapy from the Morbids broke through and called the jam off quickly when she knew she couldn’t get more points.

Unfortunately for the Ladies of the Lake, their downfall came from their jammers getting too many penalties. This gave the Morbids more power jams than total number of team bruises after a bout. In fact, Xena Whorrior Princess and Pink Eye Candy from Ladies of the Lake were both sent to the penalty box twice in just one jam. This gave Mili Megahurtz from the Morbids a great power jam, spreading the score in their favor— 90 to 24—with 11 minutes left in the first half.

The domination of the Morbids continued in the second half, with the Morbids breaking 200 in just a dozen or so jams. “Ladies of the Lake have a lot of experience on their team,” commented the seasoned derby referee and player, Brian “Eff’n” Horman. “But I don’t think they have the frequent opportunities to scrimmage on a track like the Molly Morbids, which leads to a lot of silly mistakes.” The Morbids skated hard until the very end, the final score being a mere 74 points for the Ladies of the Lake to a whopping 317 for the Morbids.

For more information on Happy Valley Derby Darlins, including their 2014 schedule, visit http://www.happyvalleyderbydarlins.com/.

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Sirens of Steel vs. Daughters of Anarchy. Photo: Cody Hoagland

On Saturday, April 5, the derby warehouse known as the Hive drew in crowds better than a real honey hive draws in bumblebees. The event, christened “April Fool’s Xanadu,” was an excellent bout. According to the dictionary, a Xanadu is a word “used to convey an impression of a place as almost unattainably luxurious or beautiful.” And beautiful is exactly how I would describe the incredible skating of the Sirens of Steel and the utter ballsy attitude of the Daughters of Anarchy.

Located in Spanish Fork, the Hive is a great location for derby. Kids get in free and the whole place is very spectator-friendly. Scoring a couch seat on the front row, I watched the skaters warm up around the track. The Sirens of Steel were clad in orange and sported an array of intimidating face paint. Dressed in black, the Daughters of Anarchy had a team design on their shirts intentionally similar to the Sons of Anarchy logo. Both teams took advantage of wearing belts—a strategic move that proved helpful later in the bout. The Sirens and the Daughters are actually two of the four teams from Utah County’s all-women flat track roller derby league, the Happy Valley Derby Darlins.

The derby bout started with excitement from the skaters and anticipation from the fans. Advertisements for the bout assured that this was going to “be a close game.” Bratty Cakes from the Daughters of Anarchy broke out in the first jam, scoring 10 points for her team. Despite their point lead in the first few minutes of the game, the Daughters of Anarchy underestimated the Sirens of Steel and their ability to dominate the rest of the game.

Just before the end of the first period, things started getting intense. With the score of 86 to 42, the Sirens started feeling a little comfortable. Not so for the Daughters. Mili Megahurtz from the Sirens had a quick break through the pack, but Pain in the Nikki was right on her tail. Nikki was so determined to get some more points for the Daughters that she was a blur as she raced around the track. The official ruling allows the jammer (in case of emergency or for strategic reasons) to pass the panties to the pivot. This means that the pivot has now transformed into jammer and can score points. So Mili passed the star helmet cover (informally referred to as the “panties”) to Bloody2Shoes, after which the jam quickly ended. In fact, there were probably more star passes during this game than there were skaters wearing fishnets. In the last jam before halftime, Honey Guns gave her jammer Ace of Aches a nice whip right on the apex of the track, sending her speeding through the rest of the skaters.

At halftime, the score was 111 to 63 with the Sirens in the lead. Although it is pretty difficult to make a comeback from a 50-point spread, it is not impossible. As far as the Daughters of Anarchy were concerned, they could still win. After a halftime show consisting of traditional raffle prize drawing and a less-traditional dance performance by the Dragon Celtic Dancers, the game continued.

Unfortunately for the Daughters of Anarchy, the Sirens kept up their pace. Soon, the score was 120 to 63—the Sirens almost doubling the points of their opponents. For a moment, it seemed that the Sirens were in real trouble when their skater, Scarlet Viper, was knocked down. She remained on the ground for several moments while the rest of the skaters took a knee. Fortunately, she was fine after taking a break on the sidelines. The Sirens were still in the lead, but the gap was getting smaller, with the score at 133 to 91. At this point, both teams were using the belts of their teammates to propel themselves and make stronger walls in the pack. With the help of Pain in the Nikki, the Daughters of Anarchy pushed the score to 138. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to beat the Sirens. The final score was 215 to 164, with the Sirens of Steel taking the victory.

After the bout, I got a chance to talk with one of the best skaters of the evening, Pain in the Nikki. She’s got a tall, sleek build and a friendly smile. Standing in her black Daughters of Anarchy shirt and pink, blue and black striped tights, Nikki looked tired, but happily agreed to answer a few questions.

SLUG: So how long have you been playing roller derby?
NIKKI: This is my fourth year.

SLUG: What started it all? How did you get into derby?
NIKKI: “Raggedy Slam” was coming to Utah from Oregon and she was starting a team, so I signed up.

SLUG: At that point, had you ever skated before?
NIKKI: Just as a kid, like at Classic Skating and stuff. But nothing big.

SLUG:  So how did you get your nickname, Pain in the Nikki?
NIKKI: My kids picked it out. It fit. My name’s Nicole.

SLUG:  Why do you do roller derby?
NIKKI: I love sports—sports that are competitive, active. And derby fits that.

SLUG: You look pretty athletic, have you played other sports?
NIKKI: Yeah, I played soccer and lacrosse.

SLUG: If you could sum tonight’s match in a sentence, how would you describe it?
NIKKI: I don’t know. Good game!

SLUG:  So what’s your favorite part of derby?
NIKKI: Jamming. I love to jam.

All in all, it was a great bout. Both the Sirens and the Daughters nicely executed an exciting game. The Cinco de Pile, the next event at the Hive, is scheduled for May 3 at 7:00 p.m. You can check out the details and the Derby Darlins on their website at www.happyvalleyderbydarlins.com.

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Lil’ Misfit of the Daughters of Anarchy and Hip Knock-It Therapy of the Rollin’ Rebellion vied for the win at Saturday’s bout. Photo: Drew Card (Ef-Stop).

On Saturday, June 21, skaters clad in black or purple rolled up on the Hive’s track for what would surely be an exciting bout between two teams of Utah County’s Happy Valley Derby Darlins (HVDD). The Daughters of Anarchy are known as “the lawless ladies of HVDD” while the Rollin’ Rebellion skaters are famous for “wreaking havoc on the track.” Sound like a good slice of roller derby? You can bet your skates on it.

Neither team wasted any time — from the first whistle of the first jam, the bout was action-packed. Flower Bomb, of the Daughters of Anarchy, broke through the arms of Rollin’ Rebellion skaters but was later sent to the box, giving Wild Child the opportunity for a power jam. Without the jammer of their opponents, the Rollin’ Rebellion took advantage of the situation and stacked up points almost as quickly as the number of fans trying to get a good seat.

Both teams did a good job of utilizing bridges; when one team knocked out an opponent, the skaters spaced themselves out down the track, forcing the knocked-out skater to come back in much further behind the spot where they had been knocked out. This is a great defensive move and also keeps all the skaters constantly on their feet. That’s because bridging forces the knocked-out teams to backtrack but if it’s done too aggressively, bridging can lead to a “no pack” situation, which hurts both teams.

In the first few minutes, Rollin’ Rebellion pulled in the lead with 17 points to 0 from the Daughters of Anarchy. At one point, RR’s jammer, Thrash’er had broken through the pack, attaining the status of lead jammer. But shortly after, DoA’s Wham Bam broke through the pack as well. Thrash’er decided (and wisely so) to call off the jam. Although it can be tempting to outrace the other jammer at that point, most experienced skaters will tell you that it’s better to not let the other team score anything than to prolong the jam to get a couple of extra points.

If I were able to vote for MVP of the evening, I would nominate Bizee Hummingbird. She was relentless, both as a determined blocker and a dependable jammer. She didn’t give up unless she legally had to and many of the DoA takedowns were thanks to her perseverance. At one point she was jamming and she slammed the other skater into the middle of the track, leaving no opposition to her status as lead jammer.

The most riveting incident in this bout was a pretty threatening injury. It all happened so quickly that more than half the crowd wasn’t sure what had exactly happened. It appeared that a tumble had resulted in some serious abrasions. The announcers informed the crowd that, as far as they know, this was the first time that blood has been on the Hive’s track. Everything stopped as EMTs huddled on the track to help the injured and others cleaned up the blood. But a little bodily fluid never discouraged a bunch of tough roller derby skaters — especially not ones from the Happy Valley Derby Darlins. So within a few moments, everything was back on track and again rolling towards victory.

At halftime, the score was 46 to 87 with Rollin’ Rebellion in the lead. As Period 2 started, the commentators reminded everyone that a 41-point spread doesn’t really give any room for comfort. A couple of power jams and the score could be leveled, no problem.

Pain in the Nikki, a regular skater on the Hive’s track, was on the Daughters of Anarchy bench during this bout due to a foot injury. It must have been hard for her to be on the bench coaching instead of skating, but there definitely wasn’t a lack of passion from this great skater. And her tips definitely helped her fellow teammates.

Although Lil’ Misfit from the Daughters of Anarchy had some sweet moves and a great power jam, scoring over 13 points in one jam, the DoA just couldn’t quite catch up to Rollin’ Rebellion. With just a few minutes left in the bout, Rollin’ Rebellion’s Wild Child racked up her 70th point for the evening leaving the score 101 to 157 for the RR. The final score was 108 to 154, with the Rollin’ Rebellion taking the victory. Both teams played great but it wouldn’t surprise me if the Daughters of Anarchy’s loss made them feel a little bit like the US soccer team after Sunday’s game against Portugal.

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Jammer Dr. Octopushy speeds around the track. Photo: Void Pointer
Shouting and whistles echo through the warehouse, christening the “Derby Depot.” I walk by the oval-shaped track where nearly two dozen skaters practice to the rhythm of blasting music.


Some girls are strapping on pads, others are skating backwards and a few are stretching as they glide past others on the track. These skaters belong to Midnight Terror, Wasatch Roller Derby’s travel team. The Derby Depot hosted the WFTDA (Women’s Flat Track Derby Association) Division One International Playoffs in September of 2014. Since then, there have been a lot of changes in the management at the Derby Depot.


I have the opportunity to speak with Sara Baldwin, a.k.a. “Penny Slain,” about how the recent change in Wasatch Roller Derby’s management has transformed the community, the skaters as well as the future of roller derby in Salt Lake City. She’s one of the two co-captains of Midnight Terror. With over five years of roller derby experience under her belt (and the majority of that with WRD), Penny knows the ins and outs of derby and the league.


Penny begins telling me about how the recent passing on of Wasatch Roller Derby’s (WRD) management has affected the roller derby community. “After years and years of derby and building [Wasatch Roller Derby] to what it is, Honey (Lacey Peterson) and Medusa (Brandi Olsen) were kind of done,” Penny says. Back in 2008, this derby duo started Women’s Wasatch Club. This nonprofit organization was the umbrella business over all the teams at Wasatch—Wasatch Roller Derby, the Red Rockettes (recreational derby), Uinta Madness (men’s team), and the Juniors (for those 18 and younger).


Although they were ready to retire from roller derby, Honey and Medusa wanted to keep their non-profit, Women’s Wasatch. However, because the lease, DBAs and other legal aspects of the Derby Depot were in Medusa’s name, transferring both the logistical and legal responsibility of Wasatch Roller Derby to another person became much more complicated.


Hoping that someone would step up to take over the Depot, Honey and Medusa got a six-month extension on the lease before they retired. But the lease for the Derby Depot is very expensive (around $85,000 for two years) and, needless to say, not everyone jumped at once for the opportunity.


To make a long story short, Wasatch Roller Derby had a 45-day window to find a person to step up and sign the lease and commit to the responsibility of running WRD. In the end, Jen Jessup (Wreckless), Orange CrusHer (Angelee Dean), and Jane Accostin (Carrie Snow) stepped up to the plate. In Penny’s words, “They took on the risk. We saved the warehouse and all the leagues are more united because of that.”


With the new leadership, the help of some generous private donors, detailed talks about the budget and promotional potential, as well as a holiday fundraiser that gathered $5,000, the warehouse was back in good hands and on the road for a secure, revamped future—all in a miraculously short period of time.


With the new management, the different teams combined to start their own LLC called United Roller Sports of Utah (URSU for short) and are currently doing their best to convert this to a non-profit. (Due to certain groups which exploited the benefits of non-profit organizations, the IRS has made the requirements much more strict, making it harder for URSU to become a non-profit organization quickly.)


So what does the new management mean for the community? Under Honey and Medusa’s management, over 40 percent of the net profits went to a highlighted charity of the month, resulting in thousands of dollars of donations. Some of the organizations Wasatch Roller Derby has donated to in the past are: Camp Hobé, The Utah Humane Society and Wasatch Gardens. The new management wants to continue this legacy of charitable donating, both to previous charities and to new organizations in the future.


For Midnight Terror, this year and last year have been all about building up the team. At the peak of their career, the team ranked 19th nationally; now the team ranks 33. The league’s goal is to make it to the top 20 and maintain a high-ranking position. “Having a Division One team brings in a lot of interest, talent and transfer skaters,” Penny explains. “It’s more marketable, too—we can host tournaments like we did last September.”


Although Wasatch is looking for additional involvement from the community, this search isn’t limited to those experienced in roller derby. They would love to have help from individuals with experience in accounting, knowledge in 501(c)(3)s, good connections with other non-profits, or just a desire to get involved.


That involvement includes the basics—new skaters. As for newcomers who might be nervous about intentional collisions while racing around a track, don’t worry. Penny says not to be discouraged. “My first bout, I was on my ass more than I was on my skates,” she says.


Derby might be right for you if you’re looking for…
  • a social group
  • a new hobby
  • a fitness routine
  • something to empower you or make you stronger


According to Penny, seeing the empowering effect of derby on herself and others is part of what keeps her playing. Her advice for someone who hasn’t heard much about derby and wondering how to find out more? Check out a bout. For Penny, her introduction to derby was seeing a bout—“it changed my life, she says” Then, talk to a derby girl. She’ll give you the scoop on the derby scene.


As Penny says, “Wasatch as all levels of derby,” for men, women, juniors, officials, and fans. So whether you’re a natural athlete or you’ve never skated in your life, “there’s a level of derby for you.” That being said, the next bout at the Derby Depot is on May 16, featuring the Black Diamond Divas vs. Hot Wheelers. You can check it out and, like Penny says, “See if it piques your interest.”


For the full schedule, check out the league’s events here or explore their website.

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