By Gary George
The Dirt City Roller Rats (DCRR), the High Desert’s all-female roller derby team, will celebrate their 5th anniversary this August.
The team is composed of roughly 30-35 women, “depending on who is pregnant or hurt,” said coach Kerrick Patterson. The team fields 12-14 players per game depending upon pre-game negotiations with the opposing team.
On March 29, the Rats played Bad Fish, a team from Long Beach, at the Holiday Skating Center in Victorville. The attendance was heavy on both sides of the rink. Seats close to the oval wooden skating track bore a sign with a salute to the DCRR—a drawn rat’s head above crossed bones, and a warning—“Suicide seats. Sit at your own risk.”
Roller Derby is not a violent sport, but a rough one, and spectators are not wearing the protective gear that the players are. Helmets, mouthguards, knee and elbow pads are worn. Even wrists are wrapped. Common injuries are broken ribs, ankles, thumbs and collarbones as well as sprains and pulled ligaments. Even the referees are wearing safety gear.
The humorous nicknames the players take on belies their serious play.
Team member More Tisha (real name Dana Bordner) works at a mortuary. Her player number is “6 feet under.”
“There is good exercise and friendship here, and a good release of anger,” said the 32-year-old Bordner, who is in her second year of play.
Lee Mendez plays as Lethal Explosion. She’s not out to hurt anyone, she explains, but “I get a lot of frustration out.”
Relief of tension is often mentioned by the players but it’s not the only reason to play. Machine Gun Kelli (aka Kelli Nelson) had never even skated before she started roller derby.
“I did this as a chance to be involved in another routine other than being a mom,” said Nelson.
But the husbands and kids often come to watch mom and are very supportive said Nelson and Mendez.
The players enjoy each other as “a wide and diversive derby community.” Players jobs include police officer, nurse, dental assistant, veternarian assistant, mortician, sales rep and moms. Ages range between 18 and 48, players are straight and gay, and include asian, black, redheads, mexicans, etc.
Aside from clever names like Scarrie Underwood, Suzee Painmaker, Mohawk Mayhem, Scarlett Pain, Block Lobster, Vegan Mary and Lady MacDeath, the players accessorize themselves with interesting costuming and makeup. Makeup depicting lips sewn shut and “Blade Runner” eye bars, interesting clothing such as leopardskin elbow pads, and annotations to gear and skin such as “Skate and Destroy,” add to the spectacle and fun.
The DCRR were undefeated last year in nine games. They played in Las Vegas, Orange County and San Fernando Valley. Teams visited them from all over. They play about two games a month, four to six of them at the Holiday Skating Center. Their undefeated season has allowed them to play better teams, said Coach Patterson.
The team is on Facebook as the Dirt City Roller Rats.