One dedicated roller derby team is looking to make a name for themselves in the Coachella Valley — while helping those in need.
Pre-pandemic, the Coachella Valley Derby Girls would play games — called “bouts” in the roller derby world — nearly every weekend for months at a time. But during quarantine, the sport came to a solid standstill and the Derby Girls team was almost completely dissolved.
Now that the pandemic has subsided, these passionate athletes are just beginning to regroup as a team and face off against other roller derby groups in Southern California. Their most recent bout was against North County Derby Alliance, a team from Oceanside.
“Our inspiration comes from the desire to form a team that represents our home, the Coachella Valley,” said team member Victoria Villarreal, whose roller derby nickname is Westside Vikxen. “I enjoy being a part of this group because it allows women of various athletic backgrounds and strengths to work together in search of victory as a team.”
The Derby Girls meet every Monday and Wednesday, and sometimes on Saturdays, to practice. And in just a few short months, on April 15, the team will play their first home game in more than seven years; the last time the Derby Girls played at home was in March 2016 at the Empire Polo Club in Indio.
“Our hope is that one day we can find a permanent skating rink that we can call our own,” Villarreal said. “Because as of right now, we are subject to the mercy of venues that will allow us to practice and / or have a home bout.”
The team’s focus is also broader than just roller derby; the Derby Girls are involved in community outreach, specifically with children in need. The team gathers donations and assembles gift packs to give to underprivileged children and their families.
Now, the Derby Girls are looking to recruit more team members.
The team is actively recruiting and is also inviting those who might be interested in skating (or in filling a supporting role) to test their skills during an eight-week training camp that starts this weekend, Saturday, Jan. 7. You must be 18 to participate, and it helps to have basic skating skills.
The team’s ultimate goal? To one day form a junior league, and to register enough skaters — 15 people — to make a complete roster.
“Our organization is open to every person who wants to join our family,” Villarreal said “A prospective member simply has to have the will and desire to succeed.”