By Anna Kasner
You wake up covered in bumps, scrapes and bruises from last night’s bout. That’s what Phila Sting! and other members of the Bellingham Roller Betties roller derby league experience.
“I’ve had a few pretty decent hematomas on my hips, six plus inches of deep dark bruising,” Blunt-Force Trauma Roller Betty captain Phila Sting! said. “ I’ve had bursitis in both of my knees at one point, which is just super swollen bursa on your knees. I’ve had a minorly torn rotator cuff and sprained wrists.”
The Roller Betties finish their season and begin a six-week recruiting process, called “Booty Camp,” at the end of August. For those who think they’re tough enough to be a part of the Roller Bettie league, “Booty Camp” is the place to get noticed.
The camp runs every Sunday from late August through the first week of October at the Lynden Skateway.
Whether a flawless skater or someone who’s never worn skates before, anyone can participate and learn more about roller derby.
The first few weeks focus on the basics, and then the recruits start hitting and learning other technical aspects of the sport, such as blocking.
“At the end of the six weeks, people that we feel have the commitment and we think are going to be safe, we invite to join the league,” F.L.A.S.H. coach Dottie Hazzard said. “It really builds so that anybody can come and try it out.”
“Roller derby can be a bonding experience,” Wendy Belltolls said, who skates for Cog Blockers and Blunt Force Trauma.
“Sometimes, when you’re really close friends, they ask you to be derby wives,” Belltolls said. “They ask you to marry them and you have each other’s backs.”
Tough Love, F.L.A.S.H. and the Cog Blockers are the three teams in the Roller Betties organization that go head-to-head each season.
In the 2018 season, F.L.A.S.H. won the Championship with an undefeated league season.
The Roller Betties also have an all-star team, Blunt Force Trauma, that travels nationally to compete against outside organizations.
“This year, [Blunt Force Trauma] moved us up about 60 points in the rankings. That’s due to the commitment of the players and the coaches and getting those sanction games in and winning them,” Hazzard said. “I see us improving even more next year.”
Teams practice inside the rink up to three hours per day, four days per week. Players are encouraged to spend time cross-training via activities like CrossFit, boxing, running or hiking on their days off to prevent injury and to build strength.
There is plenty of time commitment and dedication required to be a part of this competitive and growing sport, but it all seems to be worth the effort, said the players, coaches and staff of the Roller Betties league.
“I just think that’s it’s a one-of-a-kind sport. Everyone should try it,” Sting! said.
The Roller Betties’ 12th season competing on the rink is right around the corner.