Bailey Lowney shows a group of women an example of the kind of skates needed for roller derby during an informational meeting Friday, June 29, 2018 at Alice’s Champagne Palace in Homer, Alaska. Lowney, a former derby player, and several other local women are working to form Homer’s first roller derby team. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

Bailey Lowney shows a group of women an example of the kind of skates needed for roller derby during an informational meeting Friday, June 29, 2018 at Alice’s Champagne Palace in Homer, Alaska. Lowney, a former derby player, and several other local women are working to form Homer’s first roller derby team. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

Roller derby comes to Homer

If women in Homer have been looking for a way to combine a love of comradery, female empowerment and smashing into stuff, they might just be in luck. A small group of local women is working to create Homer’s first roller derby team.

Roller derby is a contact sport in which two teams of five people skate around a track, earning points by helping one member of their team lap members of the opposing team. At the same time, the players work to hinder the progress of the other team’s “jammer,” the player tasked with doing the lapping.

The sport has been a safe haven for women of all different backgrounds, and began to gain popularity as a contact sport starting in the 1930s. Alaska boasts 13 roller derby teams of its own, according to the Rollergirls Alaska website. A Homer league would mark the second team to be formed on the Kenai Peninsula.

Bailey Lowney, former director of the South Peninsula Athletic and Recreation Center, played on a derby team in the Lower 48 a number of years ago. She’s out of practice, she said, but she’s been wanting to get a team going in Homer for quite a while.

“It’s all about empowering women,” Lowney said. “Just getting out there and kicking ass, you know? It builds community, comradery, and it’s also a way to give back to this amazing community we have as well.”

SPARC opened up three hours on Tuesdays nights for roller derby practice over a month ago, and through that opportunity Lowney connected with a small group of other women with derby experience or a wish to learn.

They held an informational meeting last Friday at Alice’s Champagne Palace, where about 20 women showed up to express their interest in forming an official team.

“Forming this derby league, it’s more than just showing up and skating,” she said. “It’s going to be creating a nonprofit organization, it’s going to be creating a board within that, and fundraising, scheduling bouts, scheduling things within the community. There’s a lot involved.”

Aside from being a contact, high-action sport, roller derby in a lot of places is something organized by women, for women. Players come up with their own pseudonyms, or “derby names,” which often involve a play on words with nods to punk, violent or sexual aesthetics. Lowney’s was Baybomber when she played in Arizona.

“You wait until you start to skate and you get to know your derby ego,” said Rebecca Bartee, a former member of Juneau’s roller derby team and part of the group that wants to get a team going. ” … You can be somebody who is maybe very quiet in your personal life and you get on the track, and all bets are off. And, you know, some people know their name right to begin with.”

Some teams also encourage the use of creative dress in addition to the team uniforms — it’s not uncommon to see a bout (or match) in which skaters are draped in fishnet stockings, dark eye makeup and striking red lipstick.

The next steps are to form an official 501c3 nonprofit for the team to operate under, Lowney said. She also encouraged all the women at the meeting to attend Tuesday night skate practice at SPARC. Those interested can show up with inline skates if they have them, and transition to the skates needed for roller derby, called “quads,” when they feel ready.

After the skaters have advanced past the basics, Lowney said they can start practicing the actual moves and skills required of the game.

Lowney said she’s been in contact with the Far North Derby team in Kenai, who have agreed to come down to put on a practice bout so Homer players can see what it’s all about. There is also talk of following that up with a clinic put on by Far North Derby, Lowney said.

Roller derby skating is from 6 to 9 p.m. every Tuesday at SPARC. Since plans for a Homer team are in such early stages, there’s no official team name or website yet. Lowney said she plans to have a Facebook page up in the future. Those interested can also visit the AK Roller Derby Facebook page for information on the sport statewide.

Reach Megan Pacer at mpacer@homernews.com.

More in Sports

Homer’s Bergen Knutson (left) and Toby Nevak (right) try to fend off Dimond’s Kaden Daniels during a Friday, Feb. 14, 2020 game at the 2020 ASAA First National Cup Division I Hockey State Championship at the Curtis D. Menard Memorial Sports Center in Wasilla, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
Middle, high school sports resume

Middle and high school sport programs started back up this week as… Continue reading

Fletcher runs through the snow on Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021, on Diamond Ridge near Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Out of the Office: How all the dogs in my life have kept me sane and happy

I have written before about the virtues of big, rowdy dogs in… Continue reading

Photo by Matt Bowser/USFWS 
Biological intern Annaleese Rasanen surveys severely burned alpine shrub tundra within the Swan Lake Fire burn July 27, 2020.
Refuge Notebook: A refuge manager’s perspective on 2020

A friend and colleague recently sent me a list of “things to… Continue reading

Defending champion Joar Lefseth Ulsom runs his team down Fourth Ave during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Saturday, March 2, 2019 in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/Michael Dinneen)
Start location changed for scaled-back Iditarod

ANCHORAGE (AP) — Officials with the scaled-back Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race… Continue reading

Kenai River Brown Bears forward Max Helgeson chases the puck along the boards against the Fairbanks Ice Dogs on Friday, Nov. 22, 2019, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Brown Bears lose in return to ice

The Kenai River Brown Bears returned to action Saturday for the first… Continue reading

My makeshift Christmas tree only had a few ornaments this year, but brought a lot of joy. (Photo by Kat Sorensen)
Tangled Up in Blue: Happy Holidays

I just wrapped up celebrating Christmas 2020, a holiday marked by familial… Continue reading

The author looks across Eklutna Lake on Monday, Dec. 28, 2020 near Eagle River, Alaska. (Photo by Tim Rockey)
Out of the Office: Good riddance

When I first saw my turn in the rotating schedule for writing… Continue reading

From left to right, Reid Rauch, Ellis Lorentz, Sawyer Johnson, Wylder Johnson, Selma Johnson, Renn Lorentz and Che Lorentz celebrate at the Ski Your Age event held Dec. 26, 2020 at the Lookout Mountain Trails near Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Lila Johnson)
Young, old turn out for Ski Your Age

Each year, a number of outdoor enthusiasts take to the snow to… Continue reading

Bottenintnin Lake, seen on Nov. 24, 2020 near Sterling, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Out of the Office: More questions than answers

The only place life makes sense anymore is the outdoors. How do… Continue reading

Most Read