The U Valley Vixens, Derby Girls
Rollin’ in from Montrose!
Story by Kathryn R. Burke
[Montrose, Colo. February 17, 2015] Roller Derby is making a comeback in Colorado. Google the sport and you will find a number of Colorado teams, the most ‘notable’ probably being Denver Roller Dolls or Rocky Mountain Roller Girls, both based in Denver.
Here on the western slope, we have about six teams. Our home town Derby Girls, the U Valley Vixens (UVV), were founded last April and are coming up on their one-year anniversary. The UVV consists of 20 women, and they are looking for more members. A couple men have joined as referees. “It’s great exercise,” said UVV treasurer, Crystal Mullen, “and it’s so much fun.” The group welcomes women of all backgrounds and skill levels. Women must be 18 or over to participate. “We have women from their early 20s up into 50s. All are new to derby. For some, it’s their first time on skates since they were children. Derby is easy to pick up as you go. Most people come at it little to no experience.”
Roller Derby is an international contact sport dominated by all-female amateur teams. The sport originated in the 1930s and by 1940 more than five million spectators watched in about 50 US cities. Worldwide, it has continued to grow and by 2014 the Woman’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) had 301 member leagues and 92 Apprentice leagues. The sport is under consideration for the 2020 Olympics.
As interest grows, more and more derby events are being scheduled. Locally, the UVV plan to participate in Rollin on the River, Montrose, this summer. Still in the planning stages, the event will feature a mix-up roster of skaters from different leagues. “It’s just a bunch of girls having fun,” Crystal declared. “And we hope to add a kind of a brewfest, except we will have more distillers than brewers, maybe call it Whiskey and Wings.”
The UVVs are looking for a permanent home, at least for the winter. Until the weather warms and they can practice at River Bottom Park, the team has been using Friendship Hall in Montrose. About the only available time is Sundays. “We need an airplane hanger or bigger building to rent through the winter months,” Crystal said.
Because it’s a contact sport, team members wear protective gear, including a helmet, elbow and knee pads, wrist guards, and a mouth guard. “Part of the training is to learn how to fall correctly,” Crystal explained. “There are a lot more rules than there were back in the 70s as far as how to contact a person. It’s not like wrestling.”
Two teams compete. Each team has two ‘jammers,’ the women who score points by skating past one of four ‘blockers’ from the opposing team. Each ‘jam’ lasts about two minutes, and each bout (comprised of multiple jams) is about 60 minutes. As for the team itself, “It’s a neat dynamic,” Crystal said. “We are a balance of team sportsmanship and individual skill and motivation.”
This article also appears on website for the Woman’s Club of Ouray County. Designed and maintained by Kathryn R. Burke