Who: Women’s Roller Derby Championships
When: Friday through Sunday
Where: 1stBank Center, 11450 Broomfield Lane, Broomfield
“I t’s kinda controlled chaos: 10 women skating pretty fast, things that happen by accident like tripping or elbows out there or someone skating behind you and ramming into you. And then there’s the things you’re not supposed to do, using your arm or your hand or your head to block.”
And so Denver’s Shannon Boyles encapsulates the experience of having been a passionate roller derby participant for five years.
For the first time, Colorado will be hosting the roller derby championships, bringing together the top three teams from each region as they fend for the Hydra Trophy and the title of world’s best. The series of bouts, dubbed “Continental Divide and Conquer,” will be held at the 1stBank Center in Broomfield from Nov. 11 to Nov. 13.
Now the president of the championships qualifiers Rocky Mountain Rollergirls’ board of directors — one of two area derby leagues (each with four home teams and two travel teams under their umbrellas) — Boyles remains as passionate as ever, despite an injury last year that rendered her incapable of ever competing again.
Boyles — who goes in both sport and life by her derby name Lucky 7 — pulled her left hamstring right off the bone during a bout. When Boyles was told by league doctor Dr. Leslie Vidal that this injury was something she had “never seen before,” Boyles took notice. Especially as Vidal has worked in the past as a consulting physician for the Denver Nuggets.
“It hurt so bad, I never wanted to do it again,” Boyles said.
“It’s like hockey or football in the blocking and how it’s full contact,” Boyles continued about the sport which has become one of the fastest growing in America. “Only, a person’s body is the ball, so to speak.”
When asked why she — an effervescent young woman who works in the field of marketing/media by day and had no real athletic experience prior to signing on with the Rollergirls — subjected herself to such brutality, Boyles responded with a quickness.
“It got me into great shape, gave me a lot of confidence and helped me to learn how to work in a team environment. This is something that not a lot of people can do.”
Boyles added that many of the girls she’s become close to over her tenure would agree, citing “empowerment, confidence, a sense of belonging and being in an athletic environment that’s competitive” as combined impetus for engaging in the non-profit sport. In fact, not only do those involved — from directors like Boyles down to players — receive no financial remuneration, they actually have to pay to play through dues that keep the leagues self-controlled.
“By the skaters, for the skaters” is the motto of the entire sport, it seems, as repeated by every person spoken to about the upcoming championships.
“It’s about women working together, promoting each other,” said Mona “Triple Shot Misto” Egender who graduated from the University of Colorado with a major in communications and a minor in business in 2000.
Littleton-born Egender — who took her derby name from her professed love of Starbucks and energetic reputation — has been a member of the Rollergirls for the last 13 months and says she’s “absolutely super-excited” about making it to the championships. “I’m definitely nervous and there’s a lot of pressure, too,”
Egender said that “just getting to skate” is reason enough for her to play. “When we were at regionals, I thought, ‘Wow, this is so I cool, I get to do something I love so much.'”
Noting that the derby girls work hard to eliminate the “theatrical aspects of the ’70s” that she likened to professional wrestling, Egender feels that roller derby is today “more and more being recognized as a sport.”
Lifelong roller derby fan Chuck Morris — president of event promoters AEG Live, Rocky Mountain Region — concurs.
“These are true athletes,” Morris said. “I think there’s more athleticism and less showmanship than the early days. We’re hoping, like other sports, that this will one day become a part of the Olympics.”
The “resurgence” Morris went on to discuss anent roller derby is validated in his mind by a recent bout whose ticket sales jumped from the typical 1000 to 3000 for the first time since derbies were held at the 1stBank Center.
“I think the championships will be the greatest way to promote the roller derby,” he said.