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Derby Dames hit the big leagues

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By Tris DeRoma

The Los Alamos Derby Dames have roller skated into the big time at last. Actually, they’ve always been pros, but the league they were apprenticing in, the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, recently made it official by making the Los Alamos league an official member of the WFTDA. The team started as apprentices in April of this year, and graduated into full membership this year. 

Part of the requirements included having a mock sanctioned game, which they did with the High Altitude Roller Derby team from Flagstaff. Altitude came up in the ranks with the Dames, and they became full members around the same time. 

The Dames will be playing them again on the Altitude’s home turf in Flagstaff, Arizona, on Saturday. 

The game will be the first time the two teams have met since becoming full members.

“They’re a full member and we’re a full member, and we’re going to have a full, sanctioned game on Saturday,” LA Roller Derby Dames member Michele Holtkamp said. “It’s going to be exciting.” 

Being a member of WFTDA will also allow the Derby Dames to be ranked, which will give them a path and a direction to eventually become a top ranked league. As they move up in rank and class, the league will also be able to have a vote on how the sport is played and organized.

“We can actually have a say in how games and tournaments are structured, it’s very exciting to become a part of the sport and eventually have a say in how it evolves,” Holtkamp said. 

The games will have the same competitive edge and hard-hitting action fans have come to expect, but behind the scenes, there will be more staff support and other changes to reflect their new status. Other changes that really don’t have to do with the new status include a new logo and the league’s other team, the M’Atom Bombs, merging into the Derby Dames league. The Los Alamos league now consists of a home version of the Derby Dames and a traveling team. The Derby Dames also achieved their 501(c)(4) status in 2016, which makes financially supporting Los Alamos’ only WFTDA league easier.

The team is also raising funds for new uniforms that reflect the new logo. The league does a lot of community outreach, and has partnered with Judy Gail’s Place, a local organization that helps residents with domestic violence issues.

The Dames’ next home game will be May 20 at the Los Alamos County Ice Rink, where they will play the Albuquerque Roller Derby. Tickets are $5, kids 12 and under are admitted free.

The WFTDA league contains more than 400 teams from around the world.

“More than anything, it’s going to give us more consistent gameplay, because there are so many derby leagues in the region, the country and the world are joining WFTDA,” Holtkamp said. Holtkamp predicts that the Derby Dames will be more competitive team this year, as the league has spent much time recruiting and training new players. 

Occasionally, about three times a year, the Dames have a “Skate School” where anyone can come in and try out for the team. Their next school is April 30, and it takes place at the Los Alamos County Ice Rink.

There’s room for every type of athlete and official for the women’s team and league. Members say being an LA Derby Dame and a member of the Los Alamos league is both a physical challenge and a lot of fun.

“We don’t require that anyone has any experience with skating,” said Derby Dames athlete Amanda Storey said. “We really teach the basics. Most of us haven’t been on roller skates since we were 12.” Unlike those days, the Dames will show newcomers how to maneuver, stop and perform other moves that will transform them into athletes ready for competition. Officials stress that despite the stereotypes out there, Roller Derby is indeed a sport with many rules and regulations like any other. Being a Derby Dame also means being a true athlete and learning the finer points of sportsmanship. Later in the curriculum, students will learn about the rules of competition and contact maneuvers. The age to join is 18 on up.

“There is no age limit,” Storey said. We have people in their forties and fifties.”

The league meets once a month, but officials suggest making contact through their Facebook page or their website first. There, people thinking about joining can see what it’s all about before making a commitment. 

 

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To learn more about the skate school and the Dames, type in Los Alamos Derby Dames into Facebook’s search bar or log onto http://laderbydames.com/