A Eugene-based junior Roller Derby team is going to compete on the national level this month. Several of the skaters have also been invited to the Junior Olympics. The team is raising money to travel to Nebraska for the competitions.
The Reservoir Dolls are a team of mostly girls. Their coach, Wade Buchan, also known as Dr. B, describes how roller derby works:
Buchan: “Roller Derby is played on a circular track, kind of like the track that was banked back in the 70s and it’s now flat.”
The sport is known for lots of body slams and spills as players skate around the rink.
Buchan: “And we still have newer rules and regulations that keep us safe and keep a fun amount of play still.”
Buchan and his coaching partner Vickie Vince lead the team through practice at Willamalane Center in Springfield. The teens wear helmets and knee pads. They’re confident and steady on skates as they push and shove, jockeying for position.
Alexia Vinje is 15. She’s been doing roller derby for 4 years.
Vinje: “I'm Psychotic Angel and I skate for the Reservoir Dolls.”
That’s her roller derby name. She describes why she loves it.
Vinje: “It’s super aggressive and I really like aggressive contact sports.”
Vinje is one of 5 girls on the team who is also competing in the junior Olympics which recently added Roller Derby.
Her teammate Lily Fleming also goes by Move-fasta. She says this is the one sport she likes.
Fleming: “I tried a lot of different sports growing up and none of them really stuck with me and then I remember my best friend telling me, ‘Oh hey, I’m going to this roller derby practice since they’re like starting up, and I went with her and I loved it and I’ve been doing roller derby for 4 years now.”
Fleming says there’s a real sense of community in the Roller Derby world. Heron Navarro, one of two boys on the team, agrees. He says he’s excited about going to the national competition. The Reservoir Dolls are among just 10 teams invited.
Navarro: “Obviously, there’s not a lot of teams that get to go so it’s quite an exhilarating moment for your team when you get to realize you’re training for such a gift for all the hard work you put out.”
Coach Buchan says the Reservoir Dolls have had a really good season and that’s why they got invited to the national Roller Derby.
Buchan: “It’s a really big achievement for us. It’s our first year being part of the junior roller-derby association and we played a lot of games this year against teams we’ve never played before and had really good outcomes that allowed us to become ranked and be one of the top ten teams that can be invited to go to nationals. And it’s huge for us.”
Buchan says it’s gratifying to see his team doing so well. There are lots of rewards for this volunteer job.
Buchan: “I’m there watching these kids grow into adults and trying to give them the tools to be responsible and respectful. It’s really humbling to see them excelling, doing well in school.”
Many of the older kids on the team plan to continue with Roller Derby and join the adult Emerald City team when they turn 18. The Reservoir Dolls compete in the Junior Roller Derby Championships this Saturday in Lincoln, Nebraska. The Junior Olympics are also in Lincoln, just after the nationals.