Mr. President, meet Amanda Jamitinya: Roller derby champs want White House welcome
Seven of Colorado's most colorful sports personalities could be headed for the White House if representatives of Team USA Roller Derby -- the 2011 Roller Derby World Cup champions -- get their way. Over the weekend Team USA issued a call to action asking President Obama to honor the team's achievement on the world stage in December at the inaugural World Cup in Toronto, where Team USA positively trounced the rest of the competition with the help of Rocky Mountain Rollergirls skaters Amanda Jamitinya, DeRanged, Psycho Babble, Urrk'n Jerk'n, and Frida Beater, and Denver Roller Dolls skaters Heather Juska and Tracy "Disco" Akers.
"Who wouldn't want to go to the White House and be recognized and meet the president?" asks Akers, who doubles as co-captain of the Denver Roller Dolls's Mile High Club all-star team when she's not out battling the rest of the world with Team USA. "It's all been pretty surreal. In the beginning, when I first found out I was on the team, I almost passed out: It was all just so unbelievable. I was waiting for that shock to set in and for reality to happen, and it hasn't completely happened yet! Something like the World Cup was a pipe dream when I first started playing roller derby, much less being on the team and being a big part of winning it, but it happened and it's still happening. So... the White House? Why not? Now we know anything is possible."
If you'd like to see the look on the president's face as he's introduced to a room full of women going by names like Amanda Jamitinya, Team USA is asking roller derby fans to join them in their letter-writing campaign by submitting the request via the contact form at WhiteHouse.gov, and has provided the following as a sample letter:
Dear Mr. President;
In the long history of Presidents honoring our nation's sports champions, I would like to take a moment to ask you to consider honoring our nation's newest sports heroines, the Blood & Thunder Roller Derby World Cup Champions, Team USA. This group of fearless women took to the roller derby flat track and scored a total of 2,110 points in their games to their competitors' 59 total points. The competition came from across the globe including England, Germany, Brazil and Australia just to name a few.
The women on Team USA come from across the United States. These women are the best that modern roller derby has to offer and exemplify what the sport of roller derby is doing for America. Women reinvented a forgotten sport, made it legitimate and now it is the fastest growing sport in the world.
Modern roller derby is composed of a whole generation of women running businesses, finding the joy of physical fitness and nutrition, it is creating a new community and giving back where they live. It's not just women; there are men's leagues and junior leagues that are doing the same. Currently, there are 214 leagues associated with the Women's Flat Track Derby Association; this movement is a powerful positive change in this country. The roller derby community is teaching their children through example that women are beautiful when they are strong, that making healthy choices are the right choices, that they should be engaged in our world.
Each league is a business run by the skaters for the skaters. Through running their own business young women are learning career skills. They work together to analyze finances, run human relations departments, train, and run events. Safety is taken seriously and each league enlists the help of local trainers and health care professional to help keep everyone safe.
I humbly ask that you recognize what this movement is doing for this country by honoring their finest skaters. Thank you for your time.
And while the absolute ass-whipping Team USA administered at the World Cup may not strike Mr. Obama as the most diplomatic of missions, Akers says she's confident it was good for the sport and says she and each of her teammates are personally invested in helping promote both international collaboration and competition in the interest of seeing their sport flourish around the world.
"Regardless of the uneven scores at the World Cup, the girls in the other countries have talent -- they skate hard, they hit hard, and they know the game -- and I don't think it will take the other countries very long to get up to speed and make it a closer tournament," Akers says. "I think the competition will get better and better every year, and this year we are planning on hosting boot camps around the world and really reaching out to other countries. We're planning a European tour this summer, and then next year we're hoping to go to South America to do boot camps in Argentina and Brazil."
White House welcome or no, Akers says Team USA will also be back in action this summer skating in a Stars vs. Stripes scrimmage at the ECDX East Coast Derby Extravaganza in Pennsylvania, June 22-24, and is looking forward to another World Cup tournament.
In the meantime, you can catch the local Team USA heroes closer to home: The Rocky Mountain Rollergirls launched their 2012 season last week and the next bout, on April 7 at the Fillmore Auditorium, will pit the RMRG Red Ridin' Hoods against the Denver Roller Dolls' Shotgun Betties. The Denver Roller Dolls kicked off their 2012 season on Saturday and their next home bout is a double-header on April 21 at the 1st Bank Center featuring the Mile High Club (DRD's traveling A squad) vs. the Bay Area Derby Girls' All-Stars, and Bruising Altitude (DRD's traveling B squad) vs. the Philly Rollergirls' Independence Dolls.