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Bombshell Betties, Rat Sass, Hellvira, and K-LoKa tear up the training floor while strutting their stuff during Wednesday night’s weekly practice. The Betties are back in action, seeking more Betties to come out and join the ranks. / Laura Austin Photo

You are invited to become a Bombshell Bettie

By LAURA QUEZADA News Review Staff Writer–  Pre-pandemic, you may have seen the Bombshell Betties around at various functions. These are women on rollerblades in fully protective gear. Somehow, they make knee pads, elbow pads, wrist pads and helmets look good. They train in Sage Hall at the Desert Empire Fairgrounds on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 5:30-7:30 pm.

They are back in action and rebuilding. If you are a female over the age of 18, you are invited. (Transgender folks must have identified as female for a full year before joining.) You don’t even have to want to compete in matches. You can just come for exercise, fun, and companionship.

Right now, there are about eight women participating. The energy is high in Sage Hall as the women whiz by practicing their skills. The music blasts and Endurance Coach LaTonya Calvin shouts directions. Between heats, Calvin offers one-on-one advice to skaters. Women of all ages and abilities can join in the fun. Calvin tells us she skated with an 85-year-old lady from Washington at Roller Con in Las Vegas in 2019, “She was still doing co-ed roller derby. And she was still hitting the boys and everything else.”

Bombshell Betties started as Ridgecrest Roller Derby and became Bombshell Betties about two years before COVID. The pandemic did to the group what it did to a lot of entities, basically ended it. A few weeks ago, Calvin decided she missed coaching and called Athena Mrozik and anointed her Assistant President, saying, “You voluntold me when you first came in, so now I’m voluntelling you.”

Calvin, whose Bombshell Betties name is Cpt. Slap-A-Hoe is officially the President, the Endurance Coach and the Bench Coach. The Bench Coach goes into action when skaters are in the rink, “I’m the one that’s going to be on the bench who’s telling you to get ready, who is going in and what position they are going into.” She tells them,  “It’s time to call it off. It’s time to keep going. That type of thing.”

As an Endurance Coach, she gets them in shape and puts the skaters through all kinds of drills. “We do Suicides, which a lot of people that do sports know Suicides. It is where you go forward. Then you go back, go a little more forward and you go back.  We do train drills, which basically means that you are running the drill, and everybody’s holding on to you, so you have to pull everybody. Then we also do drills where you have to push everybody. And then we do Seven on Seven drills, which means you do seven laps, and then you might do seven push-ups. Do another seven laps, seven sit-ups, another seven laps, then seven burpees.”

Calvin has been coaching for 20 to 25 years. “I’m a better coach than a player.” As a mom, she has coached football, basketball, cheerleading, volleyball, and Special Olympics.

Roller Derby was born during the desperation of the Depression on August 13, 1935, at the Chicago Coliseum. The promoters of walk-a-thons wanted something more exciting to draw the crowds. A few years later, they created the game to make it less repetitive. The New York Times described the game on July 26, 2019, “In each bout, as a roller derby match is called, ten skaters at a time take to the track. There are five players from each team: one jammer, whose job is to lap the other team and score points, and four blockers, who try to stop the other team’s jammer and clear a path for their own. At the start of each round, known as a jam, the two jammers race to get out of the pack first. Whoever prevails becomes the lead jammer. The jam then goes for two minutes, with teams earning a point every time their jammer laps a member of the opposing team. The lead jammer can also end a jam early by tapping her hands repeatedly on her hips.”

The Bombshell Betties are members of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association and abide by their guidelines. They are finalizing the paperwork on their non-profit status. You can find them at their Bingo fundraiser the day after Thanksgiving, Friday, November 24, starting at 4 pm at the Elks Lodge, 201 E Church Ave.