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Posted 11/5/2013

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By Bill Dowell
Public Affairs

For some, extracurricular activities are traditional sports like bicycling, running, basketball, golf,
softball or hiking. But for two Seattle District employees, brandishing helmets, elbows pads and eight wheels to join the rough-and-tumble, girl-powered sport of roller derby fits their passions.

Roller derby origins began in 1930s banked-track roller skating marathons. It culminated 60 years later as a form of sports entertainment with figure-eight, banked wooden tracks and pro wrestling-style choreography – complete with body slams.

But the sport’s 2002 grassroots revival, predominantly made up of all-female amateur leagues, is constantly evolving to emphasize athleticism and skill, said Ashley Dailide, a district Environmental and Cultural Resource Branch archaeologist and two-year roller derby veteran.

Though she hadn’t roller skated in more than 15 years, Dailide was immediately drawn to roller derby, an increasingly popular sport known for its physicality and the strong bond fostered within the skating community.

"I played a lot of sports over the years; soccer, softball, basketball, skiing and snowboarding, but this is a sport which, in its current incarnation, was created by women for women," Dailide said. "Men play it, but there’s a lot of female empowerment and support which isn’t available in most sports. It’s also a good way to work out aggression and meet people with similar interests."

The teams go all out during bouts and aggression leads to a lot of bruises and sometimes serious injuries. The game is now played on a flat track, making it easier to hold bouts in gymnasiums and rinks. WFTDA, Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, serves as the sport’s sanctioning body, conducting national championships and publishing a meticulous rulebook. WFTDA is made up of 176 full member leagues and 199 apprentice leagues nationwide.

The Dockyard Derby Dames, Dailide’s league, is made up of four home teams, and her team, the Marauding Mollys, is the defending league champs. She is also a member of the league’s All-Star travel team, Wave of Mutilation, which competes nationally as one of WFTDA’s full member leagues.

Rule books, bruises and athletics aside, there are still some theatrics for the fans, according to Dailide. The theatrics aren’t about game play but more about the costumes some players wear during local bouts and the adoption of derby names like, Anita Hit Sum Won, Damsel of Doom or Clock N Deck’her.

"Many fans are first drawn to the sport by its alternative image, they are drawn back by the strategy and athleticism of the game," Dailide said.

Wearing number 65mya (million years ago), Dailide goes by the name Tia Wrecks, sporting Tyrannosauras rex-like face paint, and serving as one of her team’s primary blockers on the track.

Being on a roller derby team is a big commitment with at least monthly league bouts and three to four practices a week. Dailide is also head of the league’s Bout Production committee and acts as the league volunteer coordinator, working as much as 40 hours a week, on top of her Corps job.

"It’s a great way to become involved in the community and become role models for young girls," Dailide said. "We partner with a charity for each bout and participate in a number of community events."

The district’s second player, Anne Holdener, is in her rookie season. Holdener, a budget analyst for Mud Mountain and Howard Hanson Dams, goes by the derby name Holdener Hosstage. Donning number 33, she played in her first career bout in April with her team, the Rainier Roller Girls, losing a last second, back-and-forth battle to the Grunge City Rollers.

"It’s great to be involved in a physically demanding sport alongside other women with the same level of commitment and dedication," Holdener said. "I was involved in triathlons before but no one was ever committed to doing them. I was always by myself."

Holdener enjoys the competitiveness and physical fitness of roller derby. These traits are obvious motivators which helped her to be inducted into St. Catherine University’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2012 for in and outdoor track and field. Between 1999 and 2003, the three-time team captain captured nine top-three school marks for indoor competition and 12 top five marks for outdoor.

At the time of her induction, Holdener held eight school records. Her indoor records include pole vault, long jump and pentathlon. Her outdoor records include sharing the top spot for the 200-meter dash, as part of the 4x100 and 4x800-meter relay teams, pole vault and heptathlon.

Even with all her athleticism, roller derby injuries happen. Holdener was sidelined for what would have been her first bout a few months ago, separating her acromioclavicular, or AC, joint a week before. The AC joint is the connection between the shoulder blade and collarbone.

"I took a really hard shoulder check," Holdener said.

The injury was from a teammate during practice. For Dailide and Holdener their passions seem to be taking them "Cruisin’ for a Bruisin.’"