Q&A: Season Opener for Angel City Derby This Weekend

All photos by Matthew Becker Photography.

Meet Angel City Derby (ACD), a fierce bunch of women, girls and gender non-conforming individuals with one thing in common: They love to skate competitively in the form of roller Derby. The Pride L.A. spoke with three skaters to see what derby life is all about. Check it out:

In one sentence, what is Angel City Derby?

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Buenas Tardis – I feel like Angel City Derby is community made to make women and those marginalized feel empowered.

Coco Butther – ACD is a highly competitive roller derby league that focuses on sport and athleticism.

D/Vide-N Stomp-Her – A place where you can find your type of weird and be celebrated for it.

Why did you join?

Buenas Tardis – I joined ACD because I was curious about the sport and also was at a place where I felt I needed to do something to get out of the rut I found myself in. I wanted to do something challenging that scared me. Something that would challenge every facet of my introvert personality.

Coco Butther – I loved to skate as a teen and wanted a place to continue my love of 8 wheels. I’ve also always competed in sports and was looking for a way to continue doing that as an adult. Plus fitness and fun were next on my list. 

D/Vide-N Stomp-Her – I was always into team sports and being in LA for about 2 years at the time I felt that I needed  to get healthier since going to the gym is super boring to me. It helped that the sport seemed super cool. 

What did you think of roller derby before joining? What do you think about it now?

Buenas Tardis – Before joining Roller Derby I only really had the representations of it through TV and Film so I thought it was this magical crazy sport where women and all sorts of people became superheros for themselves! Having been at ACD for close to 6 years I still feel very much the same. Sure, my perception of Derby is much more grounded in reality but to me it’s still an incubator where people find their inner power to become everyday superheroes or really just be empowered.

Coco Butther – I thought those women are tough and badasses! I still think the same now. But now I see that people come to derby for different reasons; but typically everyone is looking to fill a piece they have been missing. For some it’s community. For some it’s athleticism and competition. For all it’s a journey to push yourself to do more than you thought you could.

D/Vide-N Stomp-Her – That it was fake, like wrestling. Definitely not fake, those hits are real and the game is very strategic.

What have you personally accomplished/achieved since joining?

Buenas Tardis – I found my passion for athletics through Derby. I consider that a huge accomplishment because in my younger years I  was never considered “sporty” or athletic. I very much enjoyed doing indoor activities. But through Derby I’ve accomplished amazing physical feats I never thought I’d ever be able to do. I have achieved a high respect and love for my body and really all types of bodies. Also the friends and diverse community derby fosters gives me so much more insight to the world as a whole. It’s awesome! To me that’s a huge personal accomplishment.

Coco Butther – I lost 60lbs before starting roller derby. I’ve managed to keep the weight off for four years due to the physicality of the sport. I went from being a b/c skater to moving up to the regional A team and being a leader and skater who starts most games. I was nominated and won Best Blocker three years in a row and my first season I was awarded Best Newcomer. These awards mean more that they came from my team and league mates, than any other award I’ve received.

D/Vide-N Stomp-Her – After 8 seasons, I’ve been on almost every team in the league and been a captain for 3 seasons. I’ve gotten physically and mentally stronger. Most importantly I’ve found my tribe here, they are my chosen family. 

What are some recent team achievements?

Buenas Tardis – Last season the team I play with, The Road Ragers had an UNDEFEATED season! We all worked so hard and gelled so well!

Coco Butther – The Shore Shots came back from hiatus and are working to revamp the team with new blood and new skaters that will take the team into the future.

D/Vide-N Stomp-Her – The Shore Shots are the fun team to watch, we know how to work a crowd. The Shots also play the local A-level teams which makes for fun rivalries.

What’s in the future for ACD?

Buenas Tardis – The future of ACD is grounded in inclusivity. I see ACD really taking on the mantle of being a progressive league as well as taking on accountability when we make mistakes. So much of today’s sports glosses over issues that affect the communities their players belong to. I see ACD really showing the derby/sports world what it means to be an inclusive sport and what that looks like. Derby always has been a progressive sport and ACD especially takes pride in being inclusive. But as a sport and a league we have a ways to go and I see ACD working hard to grow and learn as our community becomes all the more diverse.

D/Vide-N Stomp-Her – To continue to grow the sport of Roller Derby and to integrate ourselves within the communities where we practice and skate.

 

Since it is women’s history month and ACD is a safe space for women, trans and nonbinary individuals, how is ACD empowering to women, girls and gender non-conforming folk?

Buenas Tardis – The fact that ACD accepts all bodies and gives women and really all people a space to be loud, fail, and try again and still feel good about themselves within a supportive community is…rare. It’s empowering in the way that ACD tells a person ‘hey it doesn’t matter who you are or what type of body you have…come play.’  For a little girl that message is powerful and for a grown adult that message it transformative. I know I’m not the same woman I was when I first joined derby and that’s a good thing. Derby has empowered me to use my voice and take ownership of my body and more that that had me make connections with people I now consider life long friends. If that’s not enriching and empowering then I don’t know what is.

Coco Butther – Roller Derby in general is a female led sport. Young girls can see that they can be any shape, size, color, ethnicity, etc and find a home in this sport. It is empowering for young people to see moms, professionals, students… on the track taking space and doing what they love

D/Vide-N Stomp-Her – Speaking as a skater, our sport encourages strength and power. We want to see all our members do their best and achieve their goals.

How is it inclusive with the LGBTQ+ community?

Buenas Tardis – I think ACD really takes pride in our diverse member base. I haven’t found a sport that really communicates ‘all are welcome’. With the rise of social media I believe ACD has really made strides to communicate to the world that ‘all are welcome’ here. There is no set image of femininity, masculinity, or heteronormativity one has to fit into to skate with ACD. Everyone CAN play and everyone SHOULD play. Being a bisexual cis woman I had never prior to derby met more people within the community. It gives us all a safe space to express ourselves with the added benefits of being physical in a way that the society might say isn’t the norm. 

Coco Butther – Many queer people have found a home in roller derby because the sport has always been a safe haven for those that don’t feel accepted by society. As a bisexual woman of color, I see myself in many of my peers who skate or officiate. ACD has undergone training to be more sensitive and understanding of the LGBTQIA community and how to speak in a way to be inclusive of all.

D/Vide-N Stomp-Her – As a bisexual I was so happy to find so many others like me at Angel City. It’s definitely a safe space for the LGBTQ+ population.  I often joke that Angel City LGBTQ+ outnumber the amount of straight people in the league, which is also pretty refreshing.  I think what makes ACD so inclusive is the fact that being LGBTQ+ is a such  non factor, like having brown eyes or curly hair, it’s like “oh that’s cool, hey want to get food after practice?”

Angel City Derby’s season opener is this Saturday, March 23 in Culver City. For more information, visit the ACD website at angelcityderby.com.