Las Cruces Magazine

Fall/Winter 2015-16

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Things To See Written by Jessica Muncrief Photography by Bailey Bonfantini What could a stay-at home mom, a surveyor for the National Park Service, and a sign language interpreter possibly have in common? Turns out they all get their kicks strapping on roller skates and jamming, blocking, and whipping laps around a flat, elliptical track. And they're not the only ones. Roller derby has made a major comeback, and it's attracting people from all walks of life. "What's great about derby is that any- one can play," explains Kat "That Darn Kat" Sanchez, board president of Las Cru- ces' Crossroads City Derby. "Come out to a practice or a game and you'll see all different sizes, different shapes, different age ranges. A lot of our ladies are moms. Derby gives everyone an opportunity to be physical and bring their own awe- someness to the track." ROLLER REVIVAL Roller derby dates back to the early 1920s when crowds gathered to watch speed and endurance races. It evolved into a team sport with rules similar to those imposed today in the late 30s. By the 70s, however, the sport became more about entertainment value than athleticism. Televised bouts emphasized the fighting and collisions and dramatized the action with scripted story lines and predeter- mined winners—think WWE on skates. The modern revival of roller derby started in the early 2000s in Austin, Texas. It became primarily a women's sport—although men are involved as referees, coaches, and non-skating offi- cials—with organized leagues run by the women themselves. These days, derby isn't about fisticuffs; it's about strategy, teamwork, and camaraderie. "What we're doing is a legitimate sport," notes Joslene "The Venomous DiMilo" Morgan. "There are rules. We don't elbow each other in the face, and if you do, there are penalties. There has been a lot of a negative stigma attached to derby. People think it's just a show or a performance as opposed to a sport. We work really hard. We're ath- letes." Joslene got hooked on the sport after watching derby games in Austin and El Paso. She and two friends founded Cross- roads City Derby, a Women's Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA)-sanctioned league in Las Cruces. "We made a flyer and about 10 people showed up to the first meeting at High Desert Brewery," she remembers. That was in 2009, and in the six years since, they've grown to four contact teams, a non-contact team, and a "Fresh Meat" training program for rookies. The home teams, the Reguladies and the Spit- fire Sallies, regularly compete at Meer- scheidt Recreation Center. The traveling teams, the Santas and the Susias, compete with other WFTDA-sanctioned leagues around the region and as far away as Prescott, Arizona and Fort Collins, Colo- rado. "The Susias are the A-team," Kat explains. "They play against other teams in order to be ranked. We are currently ranked at 21, which is the highest-ranking 30 I lascrucesmagazine.com

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