As We See It: Think you know roller derby?

November 12, 2009 

When you read the words “Central Coast Roller Derby” what visual image comes to mind? What assumptions do you make?

We all make assumptions. Some are about serious topics, some are not. Do we assume that a good high school wrestler cannot be a valedictorian? Do we assume that a pampered blond socialite cannot be an effective CEO? Do we assume that Tom DeLay cannot dance?

And, what about that roller derby? Do you remember the 1950s black and white TV roller derby contests? Did it seem like it was all for show — like today’s wrestling matches? Did you believe that the women skaters then were hard-bitten and tough competitors with whom you had little in common?

And did you believe, like we did, that roller derby had faded away to a fond memory? Well, things are happening for women here on the Central Coast because of this sport and the women who choose to skate.

The Central Coast Roller Derby was founded in January 2006 by two local women who were looking to widen their friendship circle and have some fun. The thriving non-profit organization now serves two purposes: The first is to form teams of women to skate competitively, and the second is to raise money to benefit local charities that empower and encourage Central Coast women.

Carey “Cheeba” Jones is one of those co-founders, and Heather “Rotten Peaches” Coss is the other. Although both had enjoyed skating, neither had participated on a roller derby team. When Carey now talks about her experience in this sport, the word she keeps returning to is “sisterhood.” The two Central Coast Roller Derby teams consist of women ages 21 through their late 40s. They are our nurses, teachers, housewives, secretaries and lawyers. They are married, single, divorced. They are tall and short, slim and not-so-slim. Some have children, some do not. They choose their skater nicknames and practice three times weekly. They face life challenges together, they skate to support each other and they skate to support the women of the Central Coast. The letterhead for the organization says, “Central Coast Roller Derby — Cheaper Than Anger Management.”

Thanks to the vision of the founding members, through gate receipts, sponsorships and their volunteer efforts, CCRD has been able to donate more than $15,000 in just three years to local causes such as the North County Women’s Shelter, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Women’s Legacy Fund and the De-Groot Nursing Home for Children.

They have prepared and served food to the homeless, they have bowled for Hotline, they have solicited dog food and toys for Woods Humane Society, they have Relayed for Life in Arroyo Grande and collected toys for our tots.

We assume and categorize based upon names, titles, formal education, accent, appearance, political affiliation, residence, jobs and skin color. In so doing, we limit our understanding about one of the most important characteristics we share as human beings — the ability to learn from each other about our common goals, thoughts and emotions; we limit our ability to envision ourselves in someone else’s shoes.

Maybe that initial mental image of a roller derby queen was not quite right after all.

The Central Coast Roller Derby matches (called bouts) are held at the Paso Robles Fairgrounds. They are exciting to watch and a good way to support CCRD efforts. The next bout is Nov. 14 against teams from Los Angeles and Ventura. For more information, go to www.central coastrollerderby.com.

Editor's note: This is another column written by five local women with extensive ties to the county. Their intent is to “stimulate intelligent thought and debate on important issues” in our county, all the while “promoting civility and constructive exchange.” “As We See It” will appear periodically on this page.

More Info

The Central Coast Roller Derby matches (called bouts) are held at the Paso Robles Fairgrounds. They are exciting to watch and a good way to support CCRD efforts.

The next bout is Saturday against teams from Los Angeles and Ventura. For more information, go to www.centralcoastrollerderby.com.

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