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Mother-Daughter Roller Derby

Togetherness between mothers and daughters is divine. Taking in the lavender festival, perhaps attending a high tea and a play together are classic ways to celebrate that special bond.

What about roller derby?

I met Jenny Hunt when I wrote a column about old movies in the Gold Hill library. She’s a server at Sawyer Station Café when she’s not jamming and knocking fellow skaters to the floor. She and her teammates represent Southern Oregon on the Sis-Q Rollerz. Her skater name is Jump-On Jen, and she loves her derby and her roller-derby family. She’s been racing around and putting them down for more than eight years.

“Derby is a way of life. It’s part of you, not just a sport, but a direct extension of who you are. Without my derby girls, I wouldn’t have made it through my second divorce.”

What I recall of roller derby is a rough, vindictive brawl with helmets and pads. I looked at Jen, a "jammer" on her team, and thought she must be tough. Better leave a decent tip. But she was friendly and loved talking about her sport.

Roller derby is a contact sport. I asked her whether skater girls really were mean, vicious dames who hated their opponents. She assured me that was a stereotype. She said they often get together for a beer after the bout. They do refer to them as bouts, however. Like boxing. As in punch, punch, jab, jab. It’s a contact sport.

Until recently, they had no local place to practice or hold bouts. That's changed. Their new location is 649 Crater Lake Ave., in Medford. You may be familiar with it. I know I am. Our daughter attended school there and played basketball and volleyball in the First Baptist gym as a grade-schooler. Ah, that carpeted gym floor. But the floors were refinished years ago. Today, the thunder of 20 quad skates, with teammates battling it out on a circular track, and playing offense and defense simultaneously, has taken up residence there on Monday and Friday evenings. Kudos to FBC for making its facility available.

The Sis-Q Rollerz will hold their debut bout there at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 28, where they’ll take on the Flood Water Roller Derby from Roseville, Calif. Doors open at 11:30 a.m., and the junior gals, ages 11-17, known as the Rogue Skate Cartel, will skate at noon. Check out the Rogue Skate Cartel Facebook page for pictures and contact information, which brings me around to the starting line.

Jenny’s daughter, Tori, aka, Krazy Kitty, or Kra-Kra, recently joined the juniors and showed impressive moves in the ring. Her mom should know. Though the women and juniors don’t compete together, Jenny and Tori trail skate together.

“She’s 12 now,” Jen said of her daughter. “It’s a tender age when she’s starting to pull away. It kind of keeps us connected.”

It’s hard to imagine better exercise. Now, if you’re heading for the laptop to visit Fast Girl Skates, team sponsor that sells skates and derby gear, but you’re thinking, “But, I’m not athletic. I was always left weaving dandelion stems on the playground during team picks,” Jen says your size or athletic ability don't matter. Big and small, short and tall, there’s a position for you if you want to give it a shot.

You’re in luck too, because at 3 p.m. today, adult skaters can join them at the FBC gym for Fresh Meat Boot Camp. I didn’t make that up. They will teach you all you need to know even if you’ve never skated. They have gear to loan, so no need to purchase until you’re hooked.

Many team members consider their derby girls the closest thing to family. Roller derby is a positive outlet, empowering women and providing a sense of accomplishment we can all use.

Peggy Dover is a freelance writer living in Eagle Point. Reach her at pcdover@hotmail.com.