I Am a Roller Derby Girl in Honolulu
Injuries, drama, dedication, victory—associate editor Tiffany Hill laced up her skates to rumble in Honolulu’s fastest-growing sport.
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Hold fast. Members of the South Shore Sirens, Pacific Roller Derby's town-based home team, looking fierce.
Pow! It all happened so fast.
One second I’m looking over my left shoulder (wrong way, in hindsight), the next second I’m on the ground. No worries; I’ve fallen many, many times before. OK, get back up, I thought. Only I couldn’t. I wasn’t in pain, but something was off. My left hand went instinctively to my right shoulder. It felt weird. There was a saggy gap between where my shoulder should be, and where it was. I officially freaked the hell out as I realized I had dislocated my shoulder. I heard the pounding of the EMTs’ shoes as they ran over. I struggled to catch my breath. The EMT later told me that I “hyperventilated back into place.” I didn’t even feel my shoulder go back in. He helped me up and over to the bench area. The crowd clapped as I plopped down next to my teammates. Fifteen minutes later, I was back in the game. My name is Scornful Redenblocker and I play roller derby.
I originally stumbled upon Hawaii’s roller-derby scene by way of the late, great John Heckathorn, HONOLULU’s former dining editor. He showed me a photo of a tough-looking derby girl he had met. It was fate, when I met Sylvia Flores, aka Tadbit Nasty, a few weeks later at an online news conference. She handed me her card, emblazoned with an illustration of a fierce girl baring her teeth, pigtails under her helmet, the words Pacific Roller Derby underneath. She put me in touch with Pacific Roller Derby’s (PRD) then-New Girl trainers, and the rest was blood, sweat and tears. Literally.
Before I met Tadbit, my knowledge of roller derby was limited to the time I watched the movie Whip It on Netflix. Movie theatrics aside, roller derby looked fun (turns out, it is). It’s also one of the fastest-growing sports nationwide, with a thriving community in Hawaii. On Oahu, women skate for PRD, as well as the Kapolei-based startup, Aloha City Rollers. There’s the Maui Roller Girls, and the Big Island has two leagues: Paradise Roller Girls and the Echo City Knockouts. Kauai boasts the Garden Island Renegade Rollerz. We all practice outdoors, on basketball/volleyball courts or in street-hockey rinks.
When you think of roller derby, babes fighting in fishnets might pop into your head. Or maybe you watched the popular, WWE-style bouts with big, choreographed hits televised in the 1970s and ’80s. It’s still very much a contact sport, but nothing is staged, and its participants are athletes, not entertainers. You’re not allowed to skate—and wouldn’t want to—without a helmet, mouth guard, wrist guards, elbow pads and kneepads, all atop old-style quad skates with toe-stops. Most derby players skate on flat tracks, not banked ones like in Whip It.