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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Sure, not everyone gets along 100 percent of the time, but watch skaters during a drill at practice, or after a bout—even if she did trip you 20 minutes ago—and you’d never know. “Derby creates friendships between people who may have nothing in common,” says Andrew Bugreyev, a PRD coach since 2010. “There’s that common misery, that shared experience and the humility of being on the same path.”
In my short time with the league, I’ve bonded with the girls with whom I skate, a diverse group of strong, smart, funny women: teachers, marine biologists, opera singers, occupational therapists, hair stylists, tattoo artists, mothers. Derby players aren’t just lesbians, or 6-feet tall, or listen only to punk. And if some are, so what? Some of us are 5-feet-tall, have a weird love for owls and work in a cubicle. Derby accepts everyone. “I’m always blown away by how everyone supports each other,” says Misfit. No matter where we came from or what we do, when we step onto the track, we are all derby players.
From Fresh Meat to Derby Player
I skated nervously around the track, dodging scattered white pellets, escaped ammunition from the air-soft range next door (they’re small, but they will take you down). Last August, I had started attending New Girl practices at an old, ratty volleyball court in Kalaeloa. We had to bring our own toilet paper for the bathroom, and feral cats came out at night. At that time, Mike Crinella, aka Handsome, and his wife Kim, Kat-Atomic or Kat for short, ran the practices. (They have since left PRD and started Aloha City Rollers.) On that particular day, Handsome was going to hand out invitations for to an intensive, six-week derby boot camp. I had just started skating again, and hadn’t had much practice to begin with, so I wasn’t exactly a shoo-in. I don’t think I’m gonna make the cut. I watched the other girls, who were already doing things I had no clue how to do. My heart sank even more.
He silently skated up to me, handing me a paper. It read, “You are cordially invited to roller derby boot camp. You have shown the potential skill and determination that it takes to become a derby girl.” Allright! So maybe I’m not that bad! “Thank you!” I shouted.
It was a grueling six weeks. Eleven of us would meet each Sunday, Monday and Wednesday evening for practice, which usually lasted until it was too dark to skate.