El Paso roller derby teams strives to empower women, develop self-image

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Hugo Brito

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Alonso Moreno, Contributor

Helmets with decals, colorful clothing and hard-earned bruises are the fashion that adorn the El Paso Roller Derby girls every match.

Composed of two teams—the Derby Bliss Brigade and the TexPistols—the El Paso roller derby has been around since 2010 and are members of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, which is the international governing body of women’s flat track roller derby.

Often considered as an edgier or flashy sport, roller derby is commonly associated with revealing uniforms and unconventional fashion designed to attract attention to serve as an accompaniment to the physical play.

“In all honesty, I don’t know much about the roller derby girls, or the sport. I know that it’s a physical sport and it’s somewhere along the line of the extreme sports category, but other than that I am aware that sometimes they dress a little provocative or sexy,” said Paola Guadiana, senior linguistics major.

Guadiana also said that for her, a lot of her knowledge came from the movie “Whip It,” a film that deals with the roller derby scene. She said that often times we tend to focus on the extravagant because we find it more interesting.

“People think of fishnets and booty’s hanging out,” said Marlene Salcido, also known by her derby name McLov’n.

Salcido said the notion comes mostly from other teams and leagues that sport such fashion, but that most professional leagues and players carry themselves in a different manner.

“In our league and the girls we play against, we see a lot of crazy stuff, but mostly we try to keep it athletic and professional,” Salcido said. “However, everyone spikes it up with their own hint of crazy.”

As far as the TexPistols, their uniforms consist of a color scheme of black tops and bottoms with hints of yellow for details and their own personalized helmets.

The crazy comes from things such as makeup, socks or accessories. In the case of Salcido, she describes her face paint on match day as her war face, which consists of black stripes running down the side of her face, reminiscent of war camouflage.

“The games are athletic, but practices are fun because sometimes we do different things such as black and yellow night or similar,” said Claudia Martinez, known in the derby world as Busta Rydes.

There are also those who let their derby names and personalities dictate their style and flare in the skating ring.

“I myself don’t go too far with the fashion, but I think the most important part is your personality, and everybody dresses according to it or to live up to their name,” said Amanda Webb, whose derby name Gingersassin is inspired by her red hair.

Although professionalism comes first, there are instances when the opportunity arises for the derby girls to be more extravagant or dress up in certain attire for themes.

“When we have mesh-ups, which are just fun games on which we bring girls from Juarez, Las Cruces and other areas, we choose a theme to dress up,” Salcido said.

Themes such as vampires and werewolves and tutus, have been instances when the girls have been more in accordance with the edgy look from other leagues, but they still make sure that despite the theme, a positive image for the girls remains.

As their mission statement states, the El Paso Roller Derby strives to provide women with an environment to enhance personal growth, a positive self-image, development through the sport and the empowerment of women.

“Derby is an outlet for many of the girls, as we all come from different walks of life. There are military spouses, nurses, teachers, single mothers and all kinds of women,” Salcido said. “In a way, it all brings us together. This is our home, our family, and it helps us be better.”

Alonso Moren may be reached at [email protected]