Richmond Wrecking Belles
on November 28, 2009
A group of Richmond women is enjoying bragging rights over Oakland, because they are the reigning 2009 champions of the Bay Area Derby Girls league. The Richmond Wrecking Belles skated to a perfect 4-0 season, beating the Oakland Outlaws in the fall showdown at San Francisco’s Fort Mason Center.
The derby girls’ victory has put a little known women’s sport in the limelight. But did you know Richmond even had a roller derby team? And what the heck is ‘roller derby’? Is it just a catfight on wheels?
Who are the Richmond Wrecking Belles?
The Richmond Wrecking Belles have been tearing up Bay Area roller rinks since 2006. The squad’s membership fluctuates from 14 to 22 women, who are teachers, coffee shop baristas, therapists and veterinary technicians by day. They each have sometimes clever, sometimes intimidating nicknames, ranging from Luda Kris and Golden Skate Warrior to Maura Gressive and Nina Beretta. None of the Wrecking Belles live nor work in Richmond, although one team member is from El Sobrante. The team doesn’t
practice in Richmond, either. But what the heck? The New York Giants play and practice football in New Jersey. The Oakland Athletics may wind up playing in Fremont. The San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara.
The Wrecking Belles are a part of the B.A.D. Girls league. ‘B.A.D.’ stands for Bay Area Derby. It’s an all-female league with bouts played on a flat-track (not the sloped track a.k.a. banked track roller derby, which you may see in movies or with the area’s other legendary derby team, the San Francisco Bay Bombers). The two other league teams are the San Francisco ShEvil Dead and the Oakland Outlaws. The teams practice at the Dry Ice Hockey Arena in Oakland and play at San Francisco’s Fort Mason Center.
What is roller derby?
Type the term “ROLLER DERBY” into Google and YouTube. You will definitely get a bevy of results. Or click on the video above.
Is it the equivalent of the United Fighting Championship on wheels?
Though roller derby is a full contact sport, you won’t see any clothes-lining or all-out brawls in the B.A.D. Girls league. The League rules stipulate that players are not able to impact play by grabbing, hitting or kicking opponents. But you’re still guaranteed to see some excitement around the rink, according to Jen Atherly, the league’s head of public relations.
“I think [the UFC example] is a good parallel,” said Atherley, who also plays for the Oakland Outlaws. She goes by the nickname ‘Jane Hammer.’ “Actually our league is known for the hard hitting action.”
Where can you catch the Wrecking Belles in action?
Following the championship match in late October, the season has ended for 2009. League action kicks off in Winter of 2010. But for now, you can visit BayAreaDerbygirls.com for more information.
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