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Around the Horn: Derby Style

San Diego is the premier place to find the fastest growing female sport in the country.

We have not one, but two Roller Derby leagues here in America's Finest City: The San Diego Roller Derby (SDRD), who launches their season this weekend in Linda Vista at Skateworld, and the San Diego Derby Dolls.

For more info on the SDRD launch, read our other story in the Sports section.

The San Diego Derby Dolls are our very own nationally ranked champions of the roller derby rink.

This full-contact sport is gathering speed both on and off the rink, as it makes its push to move to the next level -- into the professional sport limelight – by gathering recognition from national sponsors and making appearances on television shows, such as CSI.

Our local Derby Dolls (there are other teams in other cities in the Derby Dolls league) are on the forefront of this push, not only because of their high caliber athletes, but also by having the first hybrid team in the nation.

Roller Derby has two types of tracks it competes on. One is a flat track, which is exactly as it sounds, flat. Flat track takes place on a roller skating rink style floor. The other type is a banked track. The banked track is raised on the corners and flat on the straight-aways, similar to a NASCAR track.

Our local Derby Dolls Wildfire team is the first hybrid team in the Nation. The Wildfire will take on their opponent no matter what track the competition throws at them. The Derby Dolls also have two other teams; the Swarm is the Home banked track team and the Hard Corps is the up and coming flat track team.

Roller Derby 101

The sport of Roller Derby mixes together the speed of a track athlete, the toughness of a football player and the agility of a soccer player.

The object of roller derby is for a single player on each team -- the “jammer” -- to make it through the pack (consisting of four defenders per team) while moving around the track at high speeds. If the jammer can make it past the defenders in the pack, the jammer scores points for their team.

A roller derby “bout” (game) has two 30-minute periods. Each Jam lasts one minute with a 30 second intermission between Jams.

The roller derby athlete has to not only see what is going on in front of them while skating at high speed, but also defend their position from attacks coming from behind them. Teammates take turns at the ‘jammer’ position throughout the bout.

Getting Down and Derby

Think what you have it takes to take it to the rink?

The Derby Dolls always welcome a new potential Doll to the rink. They come from various backgrounds and ages.

Officially, in order to be a Derby Doll you must be 18 years of age and head to the Derby Dolls Boot camp. The boot camp starts with orientation, where you will learn about all things Derby Doll related.

Once you decide to get started, you will be taught how to skate, the rules of the sport, and advance through levels of training. No previous experience on skates is required. Many of the Derby Dolls’ best players have either not skated in years, and many have never skated before.

There are three levels you must advance through in order to become a full-fledged member of the Dolls team. At that time, you would be eligible for recruitment or try out for one of the various Derby Doll teams.

Whether you have limited time to commit, or you would like to turn to a life on skates, there is a place for you with the Derby Dolls.

Although the Derby Dolls is a female-only team, there are opportunities for men in the organization as well. If you are a man or woman who would like to be involved outside of the ring, you can volunteer to be part of the “Stripes” crew. The Stripes are the referees and there are opportunities on and off skates to work with the Stripes crew.

For more information on either joining the Derby Dolls or the Stripes crew, contact the Derby Dolls through their website.

Skating Ahead of the Pack

The San Diego Derby Dolls are at the forefront of the sport for multiple reasons. First of all the Derby Dolls have one of only ten banked tracks in the country. They are committed to staying on the cutting edge, leading by example with innovation and striving for excellence in every aspect of their sport.

The Derby Dolls are also very committed to giving back to the community they live, work and play in, and actively participate in various charities in the community.

The next time you will have the opportunity to take in Derby Doll action in San Diego will be on March 26th at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. The Wildfires will be playing host to the #1 Flat Track team in the nation, the Rocky Mountain Rollergirls. This action will be way too good to miss. Get your tickets now on the San Diego Derby Dolls website: sd.derbydolls.com/events

Shameless Plugs

The San Diego Surfers Women’s Rugby Club will be having a fundraiser this Saturday at Bareback Grill downtown.

The Surfers will be celebrating last season’s accomplishments while providing support for the upcoming season.

If you purchase a $5 wristband, you will get 10% off food and drinks, as well as having an opportunity to win raffle prizes and help contribute to their team.

For more information see event on the Surfers Facebook page or visit their website

Tonee is a legally married sports fan who has received most of her writing experience through college papers on the way to her MBA. A 10-year transplant originally from Minnesota, she has participated in the local LGBT community's softball, bowling and dart leagues. To contact Tonee, send e-mail to aroundthehorninsd@gmail.com.