Bridget Kolakosky is a legislative aide to Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, and a member of the Sac City Rollers Derby Club.
Tell me about your day job.
I’m here five years. I handle his education and technology issues. He’s been a huge supporter of getting 21st century technology into our schools. He sits on Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife. I staff him on that committee. I do a lot with natural resources issues.
So let’s get into the part that people really want to read about – how did you get started doing roller derby?
I started doing roller derby February of 2010. I got into it because I used to be a distance runner. I was running down in the district, in North Hollywood, and I stepped on a pine cone. How many pine trees are in North Hollywood? But I found it and it twisted my ankle. I was unable to run for about nine months. It was really frustrating.
I was at Luna’s Café one night and a girl showed up wearing a Sac City Rollers sweatshirt. My husband knows that I love roller skating. I grew up roller skating in the San Fernando Valley in the ’80s. He said, “Bridget, you’ve got to go talk to this girl.” It turns out they had tryouts the next day. I went and I made the team.
Sac City Rollers has a mandatory bird class. It’s five months, beginning training. It teaches you about the safety and the skills needed for derby. That would be starting, stopping, falling, getting up quickly, agility. Once you get through the five-month program, you go through an assessment program where they see if you’re safe enough to skate with the veterans. Once they think you can handle it – skating in packs and fast lines without taking everyone out – you move up to practice with them.
Once they determine that they think you’re good enough to compete they put you on one of the travel teams. There are two travel teams. The A travel team are our best skaters, that’s the Capital Punishers, and our B travel team are the Folsom Prison Bruisers. It’s awesome, I’m on the Bruisers. We have two intra-league teams, they only compete against each other. That’s the Sweaty Betties, the team I’m on, and the Rude Girls. I made it into the veteran practice. I ended up severely reinjuring both ankles. I was out for four months, then I came back in October. In January I rostered for the Bruisers.
Near the end of the game I watched, your opponent, Deranged, went backwards through the pack.
One of the things Rocky Mountain is notorious for is their agility and their ability to stop on a dime. One of the hardest things about roller derby is figuring out where you need to be at the right time. What she’s able to do is come to a complete stop, go backwards, and put herself at the back of the pack and block the other team’s jammer. What was amazing about that move is she didn’t hit anybody, because if she had she would have been called out on a major [penalty].
By roller derby standards, you’re considered somewhat petite? In the movie “Whip It,” how realistic is it that someone as tiny as Ellen Page could play?
Our smaller skater is Mini Malice, I don’t think she’s five feet tall. Our skaters go up to six feet, pushing past 250 pounds. That’s the beauty of roller derby. You can be any body type and good. Ellen Page represents what a jammer can be. But a jammer doesn’t have to be petite and fast, she can be a power blocker too. It was pretty accurate. The only parts I would object to, there’s no fighting on the track, no punching or elbowing. You’d be ejected.
Puking happens on a regular basis in practice. The theory is you practice harder than you play.
Why roller skates and not roller blades?
We skate on quads, old-fashioned roller skates, because we’re not necessarily looking for the speed. We’re looking for the ability to do lateral moves, to jump, to land, and to stop quickly. The only way you have to brake in roller blades is the heel brake that most people take off anyway, or to turn around. There’s a lot more agility involved in the quads. We look down on roller blades. We refer to them as fruit loops. They’re not hard core.
There’s definitely a fashion component.
Roller derby is really attractive to a lot of types of women who have never played sports before. The outfits, the makeup, the punk rock attitude. Some skaters will paint on fake blood or stitches. We’ll put on the fishnets and end up with big, gaping holes and tattoos showing through. Hot pants are a favorite wardrobe component. Derby is going to a more professional image with uniforms, but we still keep the punk rock attitude.
We even adopt an alter ego. Every skater has a skate name. My name is Ronnie Jane Diva. My skate number is 5′ 4″. All of this is an homage to master metal front man Ronnie James Dio.
He died last year.
It was right around my birthday. I decided to adopt his identity. He was a big advocate of kids being safe and not doing drugs. He had a great message but was still hardcore.