Saturday night, the San Diego Wildfires took on the Olympia Oly Rollers in a banked track roller derby bout at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. The Wildfires are a part of the San Diego Derby Doll league that attracts hundreds of spectators to watch the full-contact sport. The night was full of agile skating, big blocks, fierce competition and a few injuries.
The Oly Rollers, who finished second in the nation at the Women's Flat Track Derby Association National Tournament for the past two years, finished the game 123-102 over the Wildfires.
If you don't know the rules of roller derby, here is a quick explanation: A match is called a bout. Each bout has four 15-minute quarters. Each quarter is made up of scoring periods called jams that can last up to a minute. Each team has five players on the track in each jam: three blockers (defense), one pivot (who help control the pace of the pack) and one jammer (the scorer who wears a star on her helmet).
The objective is for the jammer to pass the opponent’s pack. A point is earned for each opponent the jammer passes. Points are not scored on the initial pass, however; the jammers really need to work for it. Throw in some strategy, penalties and short shorts, and you have the basics of roller derby.
Wildfires blocker Summer Crush said she found a post on Craigslist about the Derby Dolls a few years ago. She signed up and was hooked.
"It is easy to become addicted to it," said Summer Crush, whose real name is Gretchen Knoblock.
Now in her third season, this Wildfires teammate and mother of two practices three nights a week for bouts that have provided her an opportunity to travel as well. The San Diego Derby Dolls has four teams. The Wildfires are the Derby Dolls’ all-star traveling team.
"One of the best parts is signing autographs after the games," she said.
The next Derby Dolls team to play is the Diego Rollers on March 24 against the LA Fight Crew at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Tickets can be purchased online or at the door.
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Editor's Note: The original article incorrectly said the bout took place Friday night.