10 Things To Know Before Attending Your First Santa Cruz Derby Girls Game

Santa Cruz Derby Fans

There are two types of people:

People who love derby, and people who have yet to experience derby.

If you’re new to Roller Derby then you’re in for a treat when you attend your first game. However, there are a few things you should know before you attend your first game in order to get the most out of the experience. So, consider this your unofficial newcomer’s guide to Santa Cruz roller derby. Here’s what you need to know…

Derby Ticket Giveaway

Before you dive into the post below we wanted to let you know that we’re giving away 2 free tickets to the upcoming game.

So go ahead and read on to learn about Derby, then scroll back up here when you’re done to enter the giveaway.

See you at the game!

1. The Rules

Let’s get one thing out of the way right off the bat:

Roller derby is a bit confusing.

It’s common to hear fans discussing the rules in the stands. Do yourself a favor and learn the basics before you go to the game. Here’s a quick one minute primer that explains the basics:

Grasp the basics explained in this video and you’ll know enough to enjoy the action. If you don’t mind investing a few more minutes into your derby education then the following video is well worth your time as it covers some additional details not explained in the video above.

These rules are all specific to flat track roller derby, which the Santa Cruz Derby Girls play. There are some unique variations in banked track roller derby that aren’t worth getting into here.

2. The Teams

If you catch a single game you could see any one of 5 local teams that make up the Santa Cruz Derby Girls league:

Boardwalk Bombshells

The Bombshells are SCDG’s All-star team, consisting of the league’s strongest and most competitive skaters. As members of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA), the Bombshells travel the country (and even traveled to Spain for the playoffs in 2018), battling the world’s best teams to compete for a spot in the WFTDA Championship every fall.

Harbor Hellcats

The Hellcats are the league’s “B team” and the pipeline for up and coming Bombshells. Hellcats compete against teams locally and travel throughout California, preparing for the call-up to the All-star team.

Seabright Sirens

Rookie skaters who complete SCDG’s Fresh Meat program are placed on the league’s “C team”, the Sirens. Sirens play at home and travel regionally to gain valuable game experience versus similarly matched teams.

Santa Cruz Derby Groms

The Santa Cruz Derby Groms are SCDG’s junior derby league with two full-contact teams, the Gromshells and the Saltwater Sassies, for advanced and intermediate skaters between the ages of 10 and 17.  For beginning level skaters, the Grommets are open to all skaters between the ages of 7 and 17. The Gromshells are made up of the league’s most competitive players who travel across the US to play for Junior Roller Derby Association rankings. The Gromshells took 1st place at the JRDA championship in July, 2018!

3. The Names

One of the strongest indicators that you’re at a unique sporting event are the names of the players. Sure, the Derby Girls are regular women from our local community, but they take on an almost superhero persona when they take to the track.

Like Clark Kent transforming into Superman, our local players transform from everyday community members into the likes of Victoria Mayhem, Skirt Vonnegut, Jurassic Snark, and Yeti or Not, Here I Come.

Derby names aren’t restricted to the players. Officials also don derby names. Just ask Hue Refner. And the voice you hear over the loud speaker is none other than announcer, Lawrence of a Labia.

Common angles that players take to create their on-track personas:

  • Incorporate their own name (Chelsea Smile)
  • Incorporate their profession or personal interest (Queen Litigious) 
  • Pop culture references (Adrian’s Revenge – bonus points if you get this pop culture reference).

4. The Beer & Wine

Civic Auditorium Beer & Wine

If you pop into the lobby and check the menu at the concessions stand you’ll find one thing missing: beer & wine. Not to worry, you’ll find them around the corner on the side of the arena.

5. The Family Friendly Fun

Kids halftime show at SCDG

Throughout the 2018 season our 6 year old and her friends all enjoyed spending time in the lobby visiting with puppies from the SPCA (the 2018 SCDG non-profit of the year). But the family-friendly fun isn’t all about puppies. Kids often get to participate in half-time shows. The photo above is from a kids half-time derby game in which kids attending the game got to volunteer to compete against each other in a skate-less derby dash.

6. The Featured Non-Profit

Santa Cruz SPCA Santa Cruz Derby Girls sponsor

Each year the Santa Cruz Derby Girls support one local non-profit. The 2018 featured non-profit was the Santa Cruz SPCA, and they have provided countless smiles to attendees who get to spend time with their pups in the lobby.

Speaking of non-profits, the Santa Cruz Derby Girls are a 503(c)(3) non-profit. This means you can support the Derby Girls with tax deductible donations. For more information, click here.

7. The High Fives & Post Game Rituals

The Santa Cruz Derby Girls seem to take every opportunity to connect with their fans. One example is the post-game high-fives. As soon as you hear the final whistle you’ll want to pop out of your seat to make your way down onto the track.

Immediately after the game fans form a ring around the track and give high-fives to the Derby Girls (both our own Santa Cruz Derby Girls as well as the visiting team).

After the high-fives you’ll often see the teams taking photos together in the center of the track. Afterwards there is usually an unofficial meet and greet in the lobby where fans can chat and take photos with their favorite Derby Girls.

8. The Post-Game Party

Usually when a sporting event ends the players and the fans go their separate ways.

Not so with derby.

The Santa Cruz Derby Girls often host post-game parties at local venues. Listen for the announcement during the game to find out where the post-game get-together is taking place. Common venues include the Crepe Place and Coasters at the Boardwalk Bowl.

9. The Community

One of the reasons we love the Santa Cruz Derby Girls is that their contributions to the community go well beyond entertaining us on the track. Throughout the year you can find the Derby Girls leading ocean and river cleanups, and participating in community events like the Human Race.

10. The Chance for YOU to Get Involved

There are plenty of ways to get involved If you find that sitting in the stands just isn’t close enough to the action.

Every year the SCDG host two bootcamps for prospective players interested in refining their skills. Tryouts typically take place once per year. For more information, click here.

The Derby Girls are always interested in hearing from folks who want to volunteer. There are plenty of on-skate and off-skate volunteer opportunities. They are also always on the lookout for great  entertainment for halftime performances.

So, what do you think? Ready to join us at the next game?

Join us at the next game

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About Ethan Oates

Ethan Oates fell in love with Santa Cruz while visiting as a child. He has lived in Santa Cruz since the mid '90's, and is happiest when spending time with his family.