When the Brawlin’ Betties lace up their skates and take to the rink, it’s all about business — the business of winning.
[media-credit name=”Photo Courtesy of Sean Lieberman” align=”alignleft” width=”250″][/media-credit][media-credit name=”Photo Courtesy of Sean Lieberman” align=”alignleft” width=”250″][/media-credit]Santa Barbara’s first and only all-female roller derby team, the Mission City Brawlin’ Betties have yet to drop a game (they’ve played two) and are looking to extend their perfect season when they play the West Coast Derby Knockouts next month at the Earl Warren Showgrounds. The team is made up of women from all over Santa Barbara, including several UCSB students.
Roller derby is played on an oval track, with five roller-skate-wearing players on each team. Teams score when the team’s jammer successfully laps all members of the opposing team. But there are defensive players who attempt to slow the jammer, while simultaneously trying to move their own jammer along. The sport is highly physical, and hitting opponents is not only encouraged, but necessary.
“Hitting people is not only allowed, but it’s a necessary tool of the game,” said Virginia Yapp, a fourth-year film and media studies major and Nexus Artsweek Editor, who goes by the name Bonnie von Blitzkreig in the rink.
But as Viva Violence! — a.k.a UCSB mechanical engineering graduate student Kari Moran — pointed out, the Betties haven’t reached perfection by simply hitting their way toward victory.
“We haven’t been around that long, but our focus has been on strategy as opposed to just relying on physicality,” Moran said. “Using strategy has helped us come a long way really quickly.”
“You have to be aware of what everyone on your team is doing, and what your role is at that moment, team member MelAdapted Misfit explained. “It is a matter of having a heightened sense of awareness and learning how to move within this group of people.”
“The dynamic among the girls on this team is very special,” Misfit added. “Everyone is constantly trying to improve. The sport is not just a hobby for everyone. It’s a passion.”
The Brawlin’ Betties’ next game is May 8 against the West Coast Derby Knockouts, an all-female team based in Ventura.