Feels like team spirit for Grunge M'ville roller derby team

Members of the team practice at the Skate Inn in Marysville.  - Brandon Adam
Members of the team practice at the Skate Inn in Marysville.
— image credit: Brandon Adam

MARYSVILLE — The Grunge City Roller Elite, based in Marysville, is an all-girls roller derby team.

Headed by team captain Shawna Jean St. James, the squad originated as a pick-up team in 2012 but transitioned into a full-fledged roller-derby team in January.
“We basically wanted to become a legit organization,” St. James said.
The team consists of seasoned veterans to newbies.
St. James has roller derbied for seven years.
The 38-year-old works full-time as a childcare provider; many of the other participants hold down careers as well.
She began her career as a referee, but then wanted to become part of the action.
Now she “eats, sleeps and breathes,” she said. “It becomes a sickness.”
That sickness has passed on to other players as well.
Mandy Davis, 28, only started roller derby practice a couple of months ago. She can’t skate with the team yet because she has to pass a knowledge and skill-set test.
“My friend made me join,” she said. “I like the exercise.”
She is catching on fast and hopes to skate with the team next January.
Roller derby is a contact sport.
Four players from each team take the track at one time. The front-most players consist of the “pack” whereas the two rear scoring players are referred to as the jammers.
The jammer must battle her way through the pack in order to pass the other team’s jammer. Whichever jammer is able to pass the other jammer first legally, scores a team point.
“I like the competitive atmosphere,” St. James said. “You can do really well as a team or as an individual.”
The pack’s role is to try and obstruct the jammers, using their hips and torso. Use of elbows, head, legs and arms are prohibited.
Because of the physical nature of the sport, common injuries include battered knees, elbows and even injuries to the face.
The athletes are not paid and must fend for their own dues, uniforms and gear.
Depending on how often a player practices, they could pay dues between $40 to $50, and buying skates and gear can easily cost hundreds of dollars more.
“That’s dedication,” Skate Inn owner Dianne Groves said. “They take a lickin’ and keep on tickin.’”
So far the team’s record is 1-4.
“We’ve been playing high-level teams,” Mallory Sokolis said. “We’re losing but were learning a lot.”



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