EAGLE — A few years ago, Rachel Marquez was looking for an adult hobby.
“My husband plays softball, and I’m not really a fan,” said the lifelong Eagle resident. “When I heard about roller derby, the first thing I was thinking was ‘that’s kind of intense.’ The next day was the first practice for (the 10th Mountain Roller Dolls, the local team based out of Eagle), so I whipped on a pair of skates and tried it out.”
And ever since, “it’s just been so addicting,” she said.
The glamorous, 5-foot, 11-inch mother of three is now the captain of the team and at only 28-years old, she has a promising future in the spot.
“My goal is to go to the Olympics,” she said.
The team’s coach, Willow Murphy, said if she sticks with it, Marquez and the rest of the athletes who dedicate a few days per week to the sport have a shot.
“We’re getting higher and higher in the rankings, we’re winning more and more,” Murphy said.
On Saturday, the 10th Mountain Roller Dolls will put on their marquee event, dubbed Melee in the Mountains, a fan-focused spectacular which started last year and is now on its way to becoming not just an annual event, but one roller derby fans look forward to every spring.
“Last year people came up and said wow you put on a really good gig,” said Murphy. “We really like to show the city teams the professionalism we have here in the mountains.”
Taking place at the Eagle Valley Ice Rink, the doors will open at 12:15 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students and seniors. Military are admitted for free.
Tournament events include qualifying bouts, a co-ed bout and a championship bout. Spectators can enjoy brews from the Bonfire Brewing Co, a silent auction and baked goods made by the 10th Mountain Roller Dolls.
BASICS OF PLAY
Roller Derby is played by two teams of five members simultaneously skating counterclockwise on a flat or banked track. Each team designates a scoring player (the “jammer”) the other four are “blockers.” One blocker can be designated as a “pivot,” a blocker allowed to become a jammer during the course of play. The jammer wears a helmet cover bearing two stars; the pivot wears a striped cover; the remaining skaters wear no helmet covers.
The bout is played in two periods of 30 minutes. Point scoring occurs during the jams: plays that last up to two minutes.
During a jam, points are scored when a jammer on a scoring pass (every pass a jammer makes through the pack after the initial pass) passes members of the opposing team. Each team’s blockers use body contact, changing positions, and other tactics to assist its jammer in scoring while hindering the opposing team’s jammer.
“A lot of the things you used to see back in the movies are just for show,” Marquez said. “You can’t elbow and trip and there’s no chick fights. But there’s still full-on hip checks and shoulder checks.”
Certain types of blocks and other play are violations; referees call penalties and violators serve time in the penalty box.
Roller derby is a game where offense and defense are played simultaneously an aspect which considerably complicates strategy and tactics. Blockers, for example, may create a large hole for their jammer to pass through and score, but this same maneuver might also allow the opposing team’s jammer to score. Watch team members wall up, goat, whip and pass the star.
The 10th Mountain Roller Dolls are choosing The Red Ribbon Project of Eagle County as the beneficiary from this year’s event.
“It’s pretty typical, at this level of roller derby, that the proceeds will go to charity,” Murphy said.
Contributions made by Bighorn Toyota, WECMRD, Wylaco Supply Company, The Town of Gypsum, AmericInn, Hogback Pizza, Bonfire Brewing Company, The Baggage Cheque, Nedbo Construction, Ski Base, Eagle County BMX and dogtags.com helped make Saturday’s event possible. For more information, view the event at www.10thmountainrollerdolls.com