|(Photo provided by Beach Cities Roller Derby, Credit: Jay Mungia)|
Soccer, baseball and even racket ball are all familiar sports commonly played in Wilmington, but roller derby?
Shayna Meikle, coach and founder of Beach Cities Roller Derby, is on a mission to change that by introducing the unconventional sport to inner cities. Originally from Harbor City and alumni of Narbonne High School 27-year-old Meikle discovered roller derby during her college years at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC), but she never imagined it would become her full-time gig.
After receiving her bachelors from UCSC in 2010 she returned to Los Angeles where she taught 7th grade science, but on the side continued her derby hobby. Practice really did lead to perfection for Meikle, who goes by the derby nickname “Pigeon.” After mastering the sport in a blink of an eye she was traveling the world to compete against the best derby athletes.
The sport is no longer her hobby it is her life, last year launching her own league, Beach Cities Roller Derby, which has four teams and about 100 skaters.
Now she’s hoping to introduce and recruit derby athletes from Wilmington.
1. When did you get your first pair of roller skates?
My first pair of roller skates was just after I tried out for the Santa Cruz Roller Derby team in October 2007. I had used rental skates for the tryouts and fell in love instantly so I bought myself $300 skates as an early Christmas present…and 6 years later those top of the line skates are still working great!
2. Is roller derby your full-time job?
I was a 7th grade Science teacher in South East LA. I do not teach anymore. I would still be teaching if my side gig (roller derby) didn’t have so many great opportunities for me and for my community. I loved my students and 11-14 year olds are fun and interesting, but I saw that my influence can be much greater than the four walls of the classroom. I saw that through roller derby I can influence the lives of so many adults as well as kids (we have a junior derby program as well). It seems that influencing adults is something that drives me, partly because I am an adult myself, but also because there are very little opportunities for adults to be inspired, be active, have fun, compared to our younger counterparts.
3. What made you decide to take this new adventure of roller derby?
I don’t really feel like it was a decision, I feel like it was just the natural path for me. I knew that if anyone could run an effective, sustainable and influential league it was me.
4. Roller derby seems pretty aggressive, can you talk about the technicalities of the sport for people who don’t know what roller derby is?
Roller derby has two types of players, Blockers and Jammers. One Jammer on the track for each team and she is the only skater for her team who can score points. There are 4 blockers on the track who are trying to stop the other teams Jammer because every time Jammer passes a player from the opposing team she scores one point. Blockers can attempt to deter or stop the Jammers by using legal blocks. Legal blocks consist of booty bumps, hip checks and multiple player wall formations. There is no grabbing, hitting, pushing, it’s all with the booty!
There are two minute rounds called jams where each jam has a different line up from each team. After two 30 minute halves the team with the highest points wins!
|(Photo provided by Beach Cities Roller Derby)|
5. What makes roller derby so unique than other sport?
Well first, it is the only female dominated sport in the world. Yay!
You also play on roller skates and have skate names. Roller derby is a very mental game and strategies are a big thing, but the cool thing about roller derby is that it’s in the only sport in the world where you can play offense and defense at the same time.
6. Where did the nickname “Pigeon” come from?
I chose Pigeon for a few reasons. It’s a cute word (cute is more my style) and also Pigeons are very intelligent and underestimated. They used to be one of the main sources of communication before modern technology (Carrier Pigeons). Also Pigeons are actually Doves (Rock Doves to be precise) which means so much in itself. Pigeons are special and beautiful but people think they are nasty because they live in cities. People think pigeons live in cities because they are scavengers like rats and raccoons, but the honest truth is that pigeons are in cities because the houses and buildings humans erect mimic their natural habitat, almost perfectly.
On top of all that, you see pigeons all the time. It might be one of the few things that you see every single day of your life. I think that is pretty cool.
7. This is definitely not a sport seen in inner cities like Wilmington, why do you want to recruit from the Harbor Area?
The Harbor Area is my home. I was raised in Harbor City, what more can I say!?
Like I mentioned earlier, roller derby influences the lives of adults. It brings the community together and forms another community all in its own. One of my main goals here with Beach Cities Roller Derby is to bring the South Bay together as a whole community rather than a large area with small communities scattered about that don’t really interact with each other. The Harbor City/Wilmington/Carson area are largely underrepresented in our league as of now (besides myself and our Carson native skater, SweetPea Felony) so I decided to branch out first by finding a location in the area to hold one of our practices and then by reaching out to the community itself to get more Harbor Area folks involved. I am lucky to be living with two Wilmington natives to make this task much more accessible and hopefully successful.
8. What’s you’re ultimate goal in the roller derby world?
You will hear often that “roller derby saved my life” or “I don’t know what dark place I would be in if I hadn’t found roller derby,” and to be honest it is quite true. Not of me but many people have a huge need for something in their lives, to fill in the void or to give them something that is just for them.
A place where they can be creative, where they can push themselves to be better, mentally and physically, and where they can have fun. Roller Derby does just that. We have a large community of all types of people, all ages, all genders, all ethnicity, and all economic backgrounds. It is very unique and I can’t help but want to share it with all of the South Bay and make it one big bad ass group of folks who continue to positively influence each others life for the better.
If you’re interested in learning more about Beach Cities Roller Derby and possibly join their league contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org
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