The Rushmore Rollerz are back for another season of hip checks, shoulder shoves and fast jams.
The Rapid City-based women’s roller derby team begins its third season tonight, hosting A’Salt Creek Roller Girls from Casper, Wyo., in the parking lot of the RapidSpa at 7 p.m.
This isn’t the televised roller derby of the 1980s with scripted fights, planned finishes and banked tracks.
“I would call the old roller derby the WWE of our sport,” the Rollerz’ Tara Flanery said. “Ours is more of a sport. There are legal hits, there are block zones and real rules. But we play using the rules of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association.”
Women’s roller derby is played on flat tracks where skating ability and toughness are key attributes that come into play the most. Each team plays with five skaters — four blockers and one jammer — per side. To score points, the jammer has to get through the pack, with each blocker passed counting as one point.
Scores from games can vary, ranging anywhere from the 50s to the 180s in some cases.
The sport has increased in popularity recently, with many leagues popping up across the country. South Dakota has two WFTDA-level teams — the Rollerz and the Sioux Falls Roller Dollz, the Rollerz’ mentor team. Flanery said there is a new team in the area — the Deadwood Regulators.
“Derby is getting bigger and bigger every year,” Flanery said.
The Rollerz play by WFTDA rules but are not yet an official member of the sanctioning body. The WFTDA requires a team to be in existence for three seasons, a mark the Rollerz have reached, before they will accept membership.
“We are in the process of being approved. We hope to have our membership approved any day now,” Flanery said. “We are really excited. (The WFTDA) has all of our stuff in to be approved.”
The names on the Rushmore roster are a colorful bunch, with Flanery’s Danger Girl, Pinkee B. Witch, Bulldog Babe, Summer Storm, Ab-Salute Attitude and Sugar Muff of Doom as well as Cherry Cyanide, Em-Urgent-C, Tina Tequila, Verucca A. Salt, Scarlotte’s Web, Daisy-Dukes-A-Lot, Chiquita Wantcha, and Bunny Bruiser making up the team. Adora Diamond and Kickasstrafee coach the team, and referees include Mr. Kalashnikov, The Jail-Her, Devious Red, SunShiner, Curvacius B and Kick-Butt Blondie.
Don’t be fooled though. The girls are terrors on the track, but they couldn’t be nicer off it.
All of the proceeds from the Rollerz’ home games go to Working Against Violence, Inc., a Rapid City-based organization that assists victims of domestic violence.
“It is free and any donations will go to WAVI,” Flanery said. “All of the work we do is for charity.”
The Rollerz are scheduled to play four home games in the Black Hills. The team will also hit the road for games in Norfolk, Neb., Billings, Mont., Casper, Wyo., and a tournament in Sioux City, Iowa.
“There are rules and it is lots of fun, but we always try to explain what we are doing,” Flanery said.