By: Herman Delgado
The Borderland Roller Derby (BRD) ladies glide smoothly around the rink, picking up speed, and coming to a complete stop in the blink of any eye. They stare out at the crowd trying to lure them into their own skate world for the next two hours. A beautiful Sunday evening at El Paso County Coliseum’s Judging Arena and it’s Las Diablas rolling up on Las Viudas Negras in “The Roller Horror Picture Show-Championship Game”. These ladies have been going at it throughout the year and they finally meet to see who will take home the Championship Skate. At first sight, you think these ladies look too pretty and fashionable to be going at each other, but once that horn sounds off, make no mistake…they’re here to compete, inflict some pain, and do some damage. They’re not out to hurt anyone, it’s just the nature of the sport and all these ladies have that competitiveness in them. As I observe these ladies skate, position themselves, body check, push, block, and speed around the track, I can see the intensity in their eyes, the smack talk going on, and bodies slamming on the track floorboards, this is not your back in the day roller skate disco party. These ladies are all business and at the same time they have a lot of respect and love for their teammates and opponents. They play hard, and they leave it all on the floor.
Ivy Ruiz (Miss Prettie Poison) of The SeXecutioners, who is also the General Manager of BRD gave me an insight and a mini-crash course on what “the jammer”, “the pack”, “the blockers”, and a few other derby terms meant, and it helped me understand much of what goes on during these bouts. BRD is made up of five home teams and one traveling team, “Las Chicanas”. They have traveled to Houston, Phoenix, Austin, and plans for California were scratched off due to Covid. BRD hold league practices twice per week and team practices once per week. “We sign up to this sport, so injuries are bound to happen,” said Ruiz. “So that’s the reason we train.” These skaters are not paid, they all pay a skater fee, like a gym membership fee. “They pay to workout, to be part of this organization,” said Ruiz. She makes it very clear to all the ladies that want to be part of BRD. “Before you guys are even a team, you have to remember you are a league, you guys are a sisterhood,” said Ruiz. “And teams are part of that sisterhood. Whatever happens on the track, stays on the track.” Skaters with BRD range in ages 20 through 50.
BRD is composed of the full gamut of El Paso, Teachers, Therapists, Health Workers, Media Relations, and many more. It’s clear that all skaters are onboard with Ruiz’ philosophy, but everyone has their own way of coming across. Miranda Amaya (Cruella De Kill) of The SeXecutioners, summed it up for me in this manner. “It’s my life…once you start playing, you can’t stop. It’s like a bunch of weirdos who all get together and hang out…it’s so much fun, it’s nothing like I’ve ever been part of before.”
Kristy Young (Atomic Blossom) who has been part of BRD and Las Viudas Negras has been involved in this sport for five years and loves the competition and what this league brings out of her. “It’s an alter ego kind of thing…It’s just one big sisterhood,” said Young. I mention to her how hard these ladies go and how tough they are, and she makes it very clear to me, “It’s completely real, a lot of people think it’s staged like wrestling, but it’s not!” I witnessed several ladies get slammed hard and then assisted off the track on this day, and I concur with Young’s sincere assessment of the sport she loves and is part of. Clarissa Marquez (Trixie Polverizer) of Las Diablas shared a similar opinion about the relationship between these ladies and all teams. “I love the camaraderie , I love the different people that come in, and the different women I get to meet,” said Marquez. “It’s very empowering and it’s very fun to be around. When we’re off the track or at practice we’re buddies…we complement each other.”
Lilly Cordero (Mazzy Star) of The SeXecutioners summed up BRD for me when I asked her what she enjoyed most about this sport, “It keeps me young, keeps me going…I love it!” And with such positive vibe from all these ladies, in the words of the BRD announcer, “Delgado calling off the jam!”