No Holds Barred
by Peter Soscia
Renegade Rollergirls bring smashmouth style to Skateland
Buffalo gained its second roller derby league late last year with the formation of the Nickel City Renegade Rollergirls. While the Queen City Roller Girls are not going anywhere the Renegade Rollergirls hope to bring a new vicious and violent style for the city’s roller derby fans. “Renegade is roller derby for girls who have trouble following the rules,” said Manager/Coach Ammie “Psyko Kupkake” Yavno. Renegade is more than just the club name but the style of play that makes the game different from the more common Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) style. “In renegade we have rules, but we don’t have penalties. Instead of the there being a whistle and girls getting thrown in the penalty box, wondering what they did wrong and arguing with the refs, we police our own teams,” said Yavno. “So if we have a girl that’s playing particularly dirty or out of control, the coaches talk to her and put her back in the next period. And everyone really does play within the rules because they don’t want get benched, it’s really embarrassing for that to happen.” With no penalties it’s not uncommon for scuffles to break out in the middle of the track. The renegade teams replace referees with “brawl busters,” tasked with keeping the fight to minimum. Other than the officiating, renegade is the same as WFTDA roller derby. There are five-girls from each team on the track at one time, one jammer and four blockers, with the points being scored when a jammer laps the opponent’s blockers.
Yavno a six-year veteran of roller derby has played in several different league and styles through out her time. “I started playing WFTDA Derby and other in flat track league, then I played banked track from a little while before I started playing renegade,” said Yavno. “Renegade was everything that was lacking in the other leagues. There were just to many rules and a lot politics.” The team’s other coaches Crystal “Kriptin-Fight” Rzeszut and Amanda “Sew Tiny” Nitsche had the same reaction when they first laid eyes on a renegade bout. “I saw roller derby for the first time and I fell in love with it. Roller derby was on my bucket list, and I definitely crossed that off,” Rzeszut. “I saw my first game, it was renegade style and I thought it was so awesome that I joined the next week. It’s a family, it’s so much fun coaching with these ladies,” said Nitsche.
With the coaches in place the team started recruiting in late Summer, but finding girls to commit to the team was no easy task. “We started recruiting in August  and the first month was awful. We had flyers out and all the time we would get girls who would call and say they’re going to come, but then no one would show up,” said Yavno. “One day I was out without flyers and I met a handful of girls and I just asked them if they wanted to play. The next week they showed up the at the rink and it snowballed from there, every week we’re getting a couple more girls in.” Currently there are 28 girls on the roster and the team is always looking for more skaters. “It was really nice to bring renegade to Buffalo and to watch this group grow. You look these girls and the friendships that are starting, most of their paths wouldn’t have crossed otherwise and that’s really cool,” Yavno.
The Nickel City Renegade Rollergirls practice and play home bouts at Skateland on East Ferry Street in Buffalo. “We wanted someplace with history, and a place that we can settle into and call home. Skateland has been a fixture in the buffalo roller skating scene for decades. The Skateland family has really welcomed us and we couldn’t be happier practicing and playing here,” said Yavno. The team will have its first league match at Skateland against San Diego on Saturday, April 18. The Renegade Rollergirls league was established in 2004. With nine other teams located in Arizona, California and Oregon, Nickel City is the first east-coast team of its kind, which makes schedule league games a challenge. “We fundraise and put the money raised from ticket sales towards travel and the players pay the difference. San Diego has been fundraising for the last two months to raise enough money to bring their girls here, and we’re doing to same thing to go out there this Fall,” said Yavno. Besides the home league bouts against San Diego on the eighteenth and Bend, Oregon on October 10, the team has several inter-squad match-ups scheduled through out the rest of the year. Though all league matches will be played at Skateland, a renegade motto is “Any surface, any time.” Through out the Summer the team will play “pop-up” bouts outdoors. “There’s a couple places in the suburbs that I want us to go chalk out tracks in the parking lot and play when events are going on, we’ll play anywhere we don’t care,” said Yavno. “It’s so much fun to play like that, because you start playing and people are like ‘hey what’s going on?’ and you get a big crowd going, and when you’re done playing you pack up and it was like you’re never there.”
Presale tickets for Saturday’s Nickel City Renegade Rollergirls inaugural bout can be purchased for $10 at The Paradigm Tattoo on Delaware Avenue, Mermaid & Weasel on Main Street, and Allentown Music on Elmwood Avenue, with $12-tickets available at the event. Doors will open at 9:30 p.m. with the game starting at 10 p.m. Skateland is located at 33 E. Ferry St. Buffalo.
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