When both the Alaska Aces and the Great Alaskan Shootout came to an unceremonious end in 2017, it seemed as though there was nowhere else for sports fans to turn. Sure, there are still high school sports and if you’re in the know then you’ve probably gone to a rugby game or two at the Alaska Mountain Rugby Grounds, but Alaska lost the chance to rally around hometown heroes. Who would have thought that Alaska’s new shining sports stars would be a group of women on eight wheels—many of whom were just taking up athletics for the first time?
“I played sports growing up but a lot of us didn’t—we just sort of fell into roller derby and found out we loved it,” said Rage City Rollergirl Supernova.
“Oh yeah, you can always tell who the former athletes are. They tend to get super competitive,” added teammate Franny Panties with a laugh.
Formed in 2007, the Rage City Rollergirls have grown to encompass three squads: Fresh Meat, B Squad and All*Stars. As the name implies, the Fresh Meat squad are un-rostered beginners who are participating in a minimum skills requirement course. The B Squad, newly named the Sockeye Sallys, participate in weekly inner-squad scrimmages in pursuit of being called up to the big leagues—the All*Star squad that competes in ranked WFTDA gameplay. Rage City also features a juniors group for interested skaters aged 7-17.
“Derby isn’t as much about winning. I mean we want to win but the camaraderie is also a big part of it. Franny actually just got back from RollerCon which I guess is a thing now,” chuckled Supernova.
But don’t let the sisterhood vibe fool you. The Rage City Rollergirls play in a full-contact league and broken fingers, teeth and ribs are an occasional part of the game. Modern incarnations of roller derby may not be the spectacle depicted in the movie “Whip It” but over the years it has become an athletic show of strength and agility akin to hockey.
“I think it's important for people to realize that there is a sport that's female driven—that is aggressive and dynamic, and it exists here locally! Of course, there's women's basketball and some various other sports but derby is sort of unique in that it's a woman dominated sport but it's the same caliber of game-play that you're going to get watching men's hockey or men's rugby. It’s a full contact sport,” explained Franny Panties emphatically.
If hard-hitting action on four wheels isn’t enough to prove that Rage City is one of the best sports teams in Anchorage, then maybe the game atmosphere is. The women host their home bouts at the AT&T Pavilion in front of several hundred dedicated fans—the first of which is October 20 at 6pm. The bout is guaranteed to be the best $15 you’ll spend on sporting entertainment this year.