The 2019 season brings a full roster, more games, and “a lot of hope”
While it never hit quite the same heights as televised wrestling, women’s roller derby has long been part of the American culture canon: The 1949 short film Roller Derby Girl was nominated for an Oscar; Raquel Welch starred in the 1972 drama Kansas City Bomber, and in 2009, Drew Barrymore starred in and directed roller-derby comedy Whip It. Then, there are documentaries, such as Blood on the Flat Track (2007), Hell on Wheels (2007), and Roller LIfe (2016), the last of which contends, “America’s fastest growing sport is flat track roller derby.”
Though not as theatrical as it once was, roller derby is still an adrenaline-pumping, heart-pounding sight to behold, and behold it you can on Saturday, Feb. 16, at the first bout of the Treasure Valley Roller Derby 2019 season, when the Treasure Valley Rollergirls take on the Bend, Ore., Lava City Roller Dolls at Expo Idaho.
“It’s exciting,” said team member Shelby Gamber. She said roller derby popularity has waned in the last 10 years, but there’s a renewed energy this season.
“People even came out of retirement to play this year,” Gamber said. “We have a full roster of skaters…and we want to have 10 games instead of [the usual] five or six. We dropped from Division 2 last year…we want to get [back] there again.”
Gamber said even though it can be difficult with jobs, families, school, and other responsibilities, team members are committed to practicing several hours every week to improve their playing skills and to make sure spectators have a great time, as well. She added that it’s usually a pretty full house at the season opener, but audience attendance often drops off for the rest of the bouts. Gamber said she and her teammates think this season will be different.
“This is going to be a good rebuilding year,” Gamber said. “We have a lot of hope.”
If you’re still on the fence, here are three more reasons to attend the Treasure Valley Roller Derby 2019 season opener:
1. The TVRD B-team takes on the Wasatch Roller Derby B-team from Salt Lake City following the TVRD All-Stars vs. Lava City bout. It’s a double header!
2. The Summerwind Skippers are performing a half-time show.