Sierra Martin | Managing Editor
SAN MARCOS — The San Marcos River Rollers have skated through obstacles after taking a two-year break during the pandemic. The River Rollers have just finished a 12-week Bootcamp where they trained about 20 new members and taught them basic skating skills and game rules.
The San Marcos River Rollers are a 501c3 skater-owned and operated, flat-track roller derby league founded in 2017 by a small group of women. The group fosters a culture of acceptance, empowerment, and support on and off the track. The River Rollers promote inclusion in their organization and welcome members of all ages, skill levels and the LGBTQ+ community to join.
The game of Flat Track Roller Derby consists of two teams that try and gain the most points during two-minute “Jams.” During a Jam, four of the skaters are called “Blockers,” and together, the Blockers are called a “Pack.” The fifth skater on the team is called a “Jammer.”
Two Jammers begin each Jam behind the Pack and score a point for every opposing Blocker they lap on the track. Since they start behind the Pack, the Jammers must get through the Pack and around the track to be eligible to score points on opposing Blockers. The team that has the most points from Jammers passing the Pack wins.
Each member of the team also comes up with their own derby name, which is often a reflection of who they are both on and off the track. Some of the name on the River Rollers included Kraken, Kayoss and Focker Block-er.
“The goal is to empower people around the area to fall in love with roller derby and have a sense of athleticism and encouragement and motivation that’s inclusive, welcoming all kinds of people to our organization,” said Strawberry Stompcake, Founder of the San Marcos River Rollers.
Many River Roller team members said the organization has helped them work through a difficult time in their lives, find a place they felt they belonged and build their confidence.
River Roller member Stephanie Schultz, whose derby name is “Sass n’ Brass,” or “Sassy,” is a new member who joined in February of 2022 but began skating during the pandemic.
“Getting involved in derby has been really awesome. It’s been a really good community to be a part of; everyone is super encouraging,” said Sass n’ Brass.
“Somebody said you build each other up to knock each other down, and that is exactly what derby is all about. I love it,” said Sass n’ Brass.
Kiara Nicholson, whose Roller Derby name is “Siren,” has been a Head Official for the Roller Derby League since 2019. As a Head Official, Siren helps enforce the rules of the game, and among other responsibilities, she keeps score and calls out penalties during gameplay.
“I just came to it in a place where I just wanted to be somewhere really empowering and learn how to use my voice. And I think that roller derby playing gives you the opportunity to do that because you, of course, get to create a new persona, and you get to try out something new,” said Siren. “But I think sometimes people forget that being an official can give you that voice too. Because you have to yell and you have to make calls and trust yourself to make those calls, and you learn how to blow the whistle, and it did sort of helps you to feel more confident, which is nice.”
The San Marcos River Rollers and planning a public scrimmage sometime in October with the hope of re-engaging with the community after the pandemic.
“The public can come and watch as we rebuild the league,” said Siren. “So our whole purpose of having the skate camp was for people to just get back out have community but also to take advantage of the fact that rollerskating became really popular over the pandemic and there are probably going to be more people in our communities looking for a skate community to join.”
Currently, the team has two weekly practices, on Wednesday and Sunday evenings from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at River Ridge Park in San Marcos. More information on their upcoming events and practices can be found on their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/sanmarcosriverrollers.