Port Scandalous Derby Dolls take off — yep, roller derby returns

PORT ANGELES — Angie “Tiny Tornado” Moore skims the blue rink, a blur in a frilly white miniskirt.

Holly “Wickedslam” Wickersham, who is also the Peninsula Daily News classified supervisor, swoops like a low-flying plane around the curve.

Staci “Kitty Kabooty” Botts flashes her black-outlined eyes at a bystander before streaking toward the string of roller derby dolls.

These aren’t just any dolls. And they definitely aren’t the fragile porcelain kind.

Meet the Port Scandalous Derby Dolls, women on the prowl for what they unabashedly call “fresh meat” — the term for newcomers.

Every Monday night at the Olympic Skate Center at Seventh and Chase streets in Port Angeles, these roller skaters are welcoming the new, the strong, the babes with balance, into a sport that could turn into one huge thing.

Since their start just last spring, the Port Scandalous skaters have swelled their ranks, with more fresh meat arriving just about every week.

Check them out: Kari “Soc-Her-to-Me” Bailey, Heather “Milady Misery” Harris, Randa “Randa-monium” Maxhimer, Tiffany “Sk8tality” Passaro, Trish “Fairy Flick-Her” Coville, Misty “Vicious Red Delicious” Rains, and that’s enough for right now.

It all began when Julie Jones, a 43-year-old Port Angeles resident who works the switchboard and patient check-in at Olympic Medical Center, went to see Seattle’s Rat City Rollergirls at Key Arena last April.

‘I have to do that’

Her reaction: “Oh my God. I have to do that.”

Jones hoped to get a few other women to skate with her, so she told some friends, and they put the whole idea of a Port Angeles roller derby league up on Facebook.

And that, plus plenty of old-fashioned word of mouth, spread the news as fast as a madly scoring derby jammer.

By May, Port Scandalous was reality and Jones the president. She took the name — OK, in derby lingo, it’s a “slave name” — Rowdy Couture, in a nod to Randy Couture, her husband Charlie’s favorite mixed-martial arts athlete.

Then, “at the first practice, we had a core group” of women rough and ready to roll.

The dolls are not, mind you, a high-school-ish clique. They’re full-grown women determined to be inclusive, determined to celebrate strength and grace together on the hard rink.

If you look around online at roller derby teams across the country, you might be a little shocked, just at the nicknames and the, well, aggressiveness, Jones acknowledged.

Rebellion against ladylike rules

It’s all part of the roller derby rebellion against those tired old “be nice and ladylike” rules that still prevail in this country.

The key thing about roller derby culture, Jones said, is acceptance of all kinds — and the Port Scandalous dolls make a glorious example.

They’re in their 30s, 40s and 20s; they’re nurses and college students and office workers; there’s also a phlebotomist, a pizza vendor and a forensic investigator.

Come to a practice, and you’ll see legs in black fishnets and hot-pink socks, scarlet T-shirts and helmets in black, white and purple.

And you needn’t be a roller-skating stuntwoman to join.

Learned to skate

When Josette Hodge, aka Iron Baroness, showed up here, she did not skate. At all.

“I had never done any athletic anything,” said Hodge, 31.

But when she found out about roller derby, she plain wanted to do it.

“I spent a lot of time being afraid of a lot of things,” she said. “I never felt like I fit in,” but she saw right away that the dolls, and derby, were different.

“I needed some kind of outlet . . . I’m fitting into clothes I haven’t worn in years; I’m toning up and getting stronger,” said Hodge, adding, “thank you, Universe,” for this sport.

“Very carefully,” Botts, 38, quickly retorted.

“You just suck it up and do it.”

Not surprisingly, the moms help each other out.

Some have teenagers who watch over the little one like Botts’ daughter, Jubilee, 6, during practice.

Last Thursday, Port Scandalous hit the rink for another 2 ½-hour session, with coach Perry “Sass Squash” Olander.

The turnout was healthy, with:

• Kirsten Poole, who goes by “P.M.S.,” as in Pretty Mouthy Skater.

• Serena “Scarlett O’Tear-Ya” Staples, the team’s captain.

• Anita “A-Nighta Terror” Hicklin.

• Jessica “Blood Spilla” Carvell.

• Angie “Diva Derail-Her” Wilhelm.

• Michelle “Yakuza Bruza” Gibbs.

Travels from PT

Gibbs, 22, travels from Port Townsend for Port Scandalous’ thrice-weekly practices.

This is preferable over what she used to do, which was drive to Bremerton for the Slaughter County derby league sessions.

Then there’s Christine “Screaming Weasel” Stockman, 37, a Peninsula College student planning on becoming a nurse.

“I hadn’t skated in 30 years,” she admitted.

But she came out to the rink a month ago, and the dolls “welcomed me with open arms, right from the get-go.”

This camaraderie, Stockman said, “is cheaper than therapy.”

Practicing jamming

On Thursday night, the players practiced jamming, the scoring play in which one skater wears a “panty” on her helmet and aims to get past the pack of blockers.

At one point, Passaro took a bad fall and lay on her side, clearly in pain, while all around her the dolls “took a knee,” or knelt down, while Botts ran for an ice pack.

As a couple of players walked Passaro off the rink, her teammates clapped their affirmation.

This sport, Botts said, is a way for women to banish their fears and be themselves.

“It’s a sisterhood. We cheer for each other . . . and we have all levels,” she added.

“It’s about not being scared of falling — because you are going to fall.

“You just keep getting up,” with help from those women with the terrifying names.

“Just come and skate with us,” Botts said.

The dolls have scrimmaged so far with teams from Olympia and Whidbey Island, and hope to have full-on bouts — hourlong matches — by early next year.

And they’re intent on using their growing notoriety to benefit local charities, particularly those for women, children and animals.

In the works are a Sept. 18 benefit concert for the Olympic Peninsula Humane Society at the Coo Coo’s Nest in Port Angeles, a haunted house in late October and a sock drive.

The rollergirls, along with their volunteer referees and coach, practice Thursdays, Sundays and Mondays at the Olympic Skate Center.

Information is available at their website, www.PortScandalousDerbyDolls.com and on www.Facebook.com, where they’re easily found with the search words “Port Scandalous.”

Botts is hearing a buzz about the rollergirls these days.

She’ll walk into a restaurant and overhear a conversation about the derby dolls, and the Facebook page recently topped 500 fans.

“It’s moving like a freight train,” she said.

________

Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3550 or at [email protected]

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