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Take 2

A different spin on sports by The Seattle Times staff and readers.

January 18, 2014 at 12:36 PM

As Rat City Rollergirls open 10th season, a skater looks back

By Carmin Thomas (aka Clobberin’ Mame)

Carmin Thomas is a founding skater and vice chairwoman of Rat City Rollergirls,  who roll into their 10th season Saturday, Jan. 18 at 5:30 p.m. at KeyArena. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster.com or in-person at Fast Girl Skates and Rudy’s Barbershop.

Clobberin' Mame, one of the founding skaters of the Rat City Rollergirls, shows that she won't back down.  Photo by Jules Doyle

Clobberin’ Mame (third competitor from left), one of the founding skaters of the Rat City Rollergirls. They started from scratch 10 years ago and open their season Saturday.
Photo by Jules Doyle

It’s hard to believe it was just 10 years ago when three women sat around swapping stories and wide-eyed dreams about a roller derby resurgence in Texas.

Shortly thereafter, I walked into my first Rat City meeting fresh from my auto tech job covered in brake dust. I instantly fell in love with it all because it was new, it was something I was building from the ground up and it was so fun!

Within weeks, that conversation led to the formation of Seattle’s Rat City Rollergirls, the first flat-track roller-derby league in the Pacific Northwest.

This was my childhood dream come true! As a kid I would always get in trouble at Skoochies Roller Skating Emporium rink pretending that I was playing roller derby with the other kids

The early days on the track we were wingin’ it; It was messy, chaotic, but it was glorious. Looking back, the skating was hilarious.

The track boundaries were a joke – we often landed in the laps of fans in the front row yelling “Lift your beer!” There were fights, long meetings over beers and bar food and fishnets … ugh. What has been constant from day one is that we skate hard, hit hard and we can be very aggressive.

And, so went the growth of roller derby in Seattle. As word got out in the city what this small group of punk-rock roller skaters was doing, sellout crowds flocked to see our emerging pro-female, full-contact sport in action. Over the years, we went from playing roller derby in a crowded Southgate roller rink to an airplane hangar by the water, and for the past four years, as an anchor tenant at KeyArena after the NBA’s SuperSonics left in 2009.

Now, rolling into our 10th season, we have evolved well past the original quirky ideas that included penalty wheels and fog machines into a well-established, yet untraditional part of the city’s sports landscape.

Roller Derby remains the fastest growing sport among young women, and its popularity isn’t showing signs of letting up.

The fights and fishnets are gone in favor of athletic compression pants. Now some skaters even choose to go by their real names. The thing that remains the same is the community, the sisterhood, the competition and heart. That is why I stay.

Want to be a reader contributor to The Seattle Times’ Take 2 blog? Email your original, previously unpublished work or proposal to Sports Editor Don Shelton at dshelton@seattletimes.com or sports@seattletimes.com. Not all submissions can be published. The Times reserves the right to edit and publish any submissions online and/or in print.

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