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On a roll


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POSTED: Friday, October 02, 2009
                       
This story has been corrected.  See below.

Thump. Thump. Thump. Under a hot, unrelenting sun in Hawaii Kai, more than a dozen women lined one side of the roller hockey rink at Kamiloiki Community Park.

Sporting elbow and knee pads along with helmets and mouthpieces, they took turns shoving their partners into the boards—gently at first, but soon enough their full weight was behind each blow and the women transformed from upstanding members of their community into wheeled warriors with an apparent death wish.

Welcome to roller derby, Hulagans style.

“;You really get to unleash something else while you're out on the track,”; said Sylvia Flores, also known as Tadbit Nasty (because she's mostly sweet—until you get her on the track). A former rugby player, she got involved in the local derby scene after moving to Oahu in 2008.

“;The main goal is to show Hawaii that roller derby is an entertaining sport,”; she said. “;We'd love to see it become more mainstream.”;

               

     

 

ROLLER DERBY

        HPRD Hulagans vs. San Diego Derby Dolls:
       

» Where: Kamiloiki Park, 7750 Hawaii Kai Drive

       

» When: 4 p.m. tomorrow

       

» Suggested donation: $10 ($8 if dressed in '80s attire)

       

» Info: hsblinks.com/td

       

 

       

THIS ISN'T the first time roller derby has attracted a following in Hawaii. Longtime Honolulu residents still remember the days of roller derby and professional wrestling at the Civic Auditorium on South King Street in the '50s and '60s.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of fans would pack the predecessor to Blaisdell Arena and cheer on a hometown squad as they faced off against teams from the mainland.

And the Los Angeles Thunderbirds were a mainstay on local television at the time, with their bouts recorded and shipped here for broadcast on KGMB.

Roller derby lost some of its luster in the '70s, fading away entirely in the islands after a last-gasp effort to revive it at the Blaisdell toward the end of the disco era.

While pro wrestling remained in the mainstream spotlight throughout the '80s and '90s (largely due to the efforts of World Wrestling Entertainment), roller derby became about as uncool as the four-wheeled skates used in the sport.

In recent years, however, the neighbor islands have seen a resurgence of interest, establishing two new teams—the Maui Roller Girls and the Kauai Derby Divas. Roller derby was revived on Oahu in 2007 with the introduction of the Honolulu Derby Girls, although the organization apparently disbanded sometime last year.

Hawaii Pacific Roller Derby has since taken the lead, establishing two teams of 15 to 20 women each. Members also play as the Hulagans, an all-star traveling team made up of the best players HPRD has to offer.

“;Coming into the roller derby world, it's a very different culture,”; said Flores, who handles media relations and publicity for the league. “;A lot of people think of it as an alternative, underground sport, so you get a lot of unique individuals coming out to play.

“;But then again, everyone from all walks of life can play roller derby. It really empowers women to go out and do something different, to be bold and daring.”;

WHEN HULAGANS coach Windy “;Beather”; Bailey (”;beat her”;—get it?) decided to get involved with roller derby, she didn't realize how much of an impact the sport would have on her lifestyle.

A speed skater while growing up in Texas, she laced up for the first time in more than a decade after reconnecting with a friend who was into the sport. About four years ago, she attended a bout in Florida and got hooked.

“;At the time, I was a stay-at-home mom that worked and was really sedentary,”; Bailey said. “;I didn't do much of anything.”;

Bailey confided that she weighed approximately 300 pounds when she first signed up to play, but lost a lot of weight once she started training on a regular basis.

“;It's a cardio workout at the same time as strength training,”; she said. “;And we don't just skate—we run, do pushups and situps, lots of different workouts in order to bring our bodies to where they need to be and be competitive in the sport.”;

Still, misconceptions that roller derby is contrived and the physical aspect is somehow faked continue to persist, much to the dismay of the women from HPRD.

“;The hits are real and nothing's staged,”; Flores said. “;These girls get the opportunity to wear fishnets and cute skirts and everything ... but it's not about the image. The sport comes first.”;

Roller derby fans—and potential participants—of all ages are invited to attend tomorrow's bout against the San Diego Derby Dolls, which will be followed by an '80s-themed afterparty at Anna Bannana's.

The HPRD Web site also lists an upcoming car wash fundraiser at the bar on Oct. 18, followed by an awards banquet on Oct. 24 and a bout against the Los Angeles Derby Dolls on Nov. 7.

“;Roller derby has made a resurgence in Hawaii,”; said Flores. “;We want to provide another outlet for women to come out and be empowered.”;

 

 

               

     

 

CORRECTION

       

Saturday’s 4 p.m. roller derby bout between the Hawaii Pacific Roller Derby Hulagans and San Diego Derby Dolls at Kamiloiki Park is free to attend. The admission price originally listed in this story is a suggested donation.