By Lillian Wood
Chaffee County’s roller derby team, the Ark Valley High Rollers, first formed in January 2010. Since then, they’ve recruited many new players (playfully referred to as “fresh meat”), and are now 18 strong and ranked 188 out of 284 by the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA). When they became a sanctioned WFTDA team, one of the team’s jobs was to mentor new teams. Last fall, they were invited to visit their mentees, the Bogotá Bone Breakers in Bogotá, Colombia, to play a mock sanctioned bout, the last step in the Bogota team’s journey to becoming a sanctioned WFTDA team. For ten days in June, nine girls from the High Rollers travelled to Colombia to play the Bone Breakers. The South American team’s newfound status as a sanctioned team now allows them to play internationally and they are eligible for ranking by the WFTDA.
“Because there’s only one other sanctioned team in Colombia, it was hard for them to get enough people to play against, so we helped them out,” said Cari Beasley, also known as Queen LaBeat-cha, one of the skaters who travelled to Bogotá. “Now they can play internationally because other teams will want to play them for ranking. It’s gonna be fun to watch them go up in ranking. They’ll be really competitive because they’re so good.”
The girls didn’t have any major issues getting through customs, although their skate gear is heavy. “The airlines don’t let you travel with wrenches over six inches, so we did have to surrender a tool,” said Jessica Shook, whose skating moniker is Shook Me All Night.
While in Bogotá, the girls stayed at a hostel in the old part of the city at the base of the mountains. “It was chilly and we had incredible views of the city,” said Shook.
Beasley said the trip went above and beyond their expectations. “We didn’t know how great it would be until we got there. On our first night with the Bogotá girls, we played charades and it was funny, because we couldn’t tell if they were yelling the right answers because none of us spoke Spanish.”
“The craziest thing was meeting up with the other derby team and getting to talk to these girls who were just like us. It was really cool to connect with this other culture that’s doing the same thing we’re doing,” said Shook.
The girls were also surprised to realize the Bone Breakers were better than they expected. “They were an amazing team. They practice five days a week. They’re very well connected to the roller derby community,” said Shook. “The hardest part was probably the actual bout. We didn’t have our full squad; we had the nine who were able to go. We were a little short on the roster, so we all had to play extra hard. This was a really good team, too, so it was a challenge. But we really played together as a team, and we ended up doing pretty well. We didn’t score for the first 10 minutes, and I was worried that we weren’t gonna score at all, but defense really pulled it together and we ended up scoring 111 points.”
The end score of the bout was 111 to 271, and the High Rollers deemed the trip was a huge success. “(I loved) traveling with my teammates. We have such a fun group of women, being able to travel together was awesome,” said Shook. Welcome to the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, Bone Breakers!
Lillian Wood hails from Salida and spends her free time writing, because she doesn’t have to pay her own bills yet.