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Arts & Culture

Roller Derby Tournament Roars And Rumbles Into Eugene

A major sporting event built on skates, padding, pageantry, and lots of attitude rolls into Eugene this weekend.  Nearly three dozen teams are competing in the “Big O” Roller Derby Tournament that begins Friday.  KLCC’s Brian Bull reports.  

Inside the Bob Keefer Center in Springfield, players in black or white jerseys circle each other.  Lisa Eytel, PR rep for the Emerald City Roller Derby, explains.

“We are watching a black and white scrimmage, of our junior roller derby team, the Reservoir Dolls, in preparation for their games this weekend," Eytel tells KLCC.

"You put four blockers on the track -- to start -- for both teams. And a jammer from both teams.  And the jammer’s the person with a star on their helmet, (they) kinda go around in a circle, and try to pass the other team’s blockers, in order to get points.” 

Eytel’s also known by her player name, “Abby WHAMblock”, a play on gold-medal soccer star Abby Wambach.  

Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
Tierra Arthurs (left) and Lisa Eytel (right), at a recent practice. Their player names are "Rex Havoc" and "Abby WHAMblock", respectively.

Part of the fun of roller derby is the colorful team and player aliases.  Also on the track are players named “Block and Roll”, “Ambashador”, and “Live and Let Kry”. 

“Rex Havoc” is the moniker of Tierra Arthurs, Director of the Big O Tournament.  She got hooked on roller derby ten years ago.

“I saw them in a parade one day and just knew in my heart that I was going to do that too," says Arthurs.

"My roller derby name, I came upon because I like to dance skate.  And I wanted to come up with something that was catchy and a play on “rexing” which is dance skating.” 

The full-contact, hard-hitting event is drawing teams from all across the globe. 

Credit Brian Bull / KLCC

“All are top-ranked teams, anywhere from the current, two-time reigning world champions, Rose City Rollers out of Portland, all the way to the currently ranked Victorian Roller Derby out of Australia," says Lisa Eytel.  

"We have teams coming from Mexico, various countries in Europe, Canada, South America, Chile, I believe we have a team coming from…”

This is the sixth Big O Roller Derby Tournament.  Organizers expect it to bring more than 4,000 fans, players, and volunteers to the Lane Events Center in Eugene, this weekend. 

WEB EXTRA: Watch members of the Emerald City Roller Derby junior league team, The Reservoir Dolls, practice ahead of this weekend's Big O Tournament.

Copyright 2017, KLCC. 

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