Friday, March 16, 2012

Lute lets loose in Rollerderby

By Justin Buchanan, Sports Editor

Walking into the admissions office, many students may encounter sociology major senior Rayanne Streeter, who is generally sweet and quiet, a typical PLU student trying to earn money.

At night, though, Rayanne Streeter ditches the last four letters of her name and replaces them with WOWW, becoming RayWOWW, rollerderby skater for the Femme Fianna.

“I saw a movie and started Googling rollerderby,” Streeter said. “When I went to the first bout it was amazing, seeing these really strong women be aggressive. It’s just something I admired.”

After that bout in 2010, Streeter joined a derby boot camp where skaters are taught the basics of derby.

“It’s exhilarating, it’s tiring, but it’s probably the most fun I’ve ever had and it’s the most freeing experience, I think,” RayWOWW said. “To be able to hit people with your body is kind of a weird surreal experience.”

RayWOWW was recruited by the Femme Fianna in October and has been skating ever since.

“When I’m not on my skates I feel weird,” RayWOWW said. “Skating has become my version of walking.”

Streeter said she still feels as though shr belongs within the Femme Fianna despite the team’s rebellious outward appearance.

“These are the nicest people you ever met,” RayWOWW said. “No joke. When you think of roller derby girls you think of tattoos and just like bad-a---s and they’re mean – some of them have the mean exterior, but some of them are just like fluffy kittens.”

RayWOWW admitted that rollerderby has a punk-rock and alcohol-drinking aura around it.

“We’re athletes, so we’ll never be drunk or drinking when we have to bout or skating,” RayWOWW said. “We do know how to party hard, but we know how to skate hard and play hard and that’s what we want our focus to be on.”

RayWOWW said she does not drink.

“I have made a choice not to drink and they [her teammates] aren’t judgmental or force me to drink,” RayWOWW said. “I don’t ever feel pressured or anything and I’m really fun sober.”

RayWOWW has also developed a strong bond with all of her teammates.

“You will never be closer to anyone than your teammates,” RayWOWW said.

Because of Derby, RayWOWW faces a busy schedule balancing her academics, capstone, relationship, work and her derby schedule.

In order to help RayWOWW keep her life on track, she, like the rest of the team, has a derby wife.

“It’s like your wife, it’s your person who will hold your hair back when you throw up or call your partner or boyfriend or whatever if you get injured, RayWOWW said. “They will tell you when you suck and they will tell you when your doing great.”

RayWOWW’s derby wife is MADori DeVour, whose real name is Alicia Ramirez, a 24-year-old nursing assistant.

MADori DeVour was attracted to the Derby scene similarly to RayWOWW.

“Ray is amazing, I kid you not,” MADori DeVour said. “She’s one of those people who keeps getting better every time she skates.”

Femme Fianna practice three days a week.  Two of those days, Femme Fianna practices exercise together to build up their endurance and leg muscles for bouts.

“It’s a physically demanding sport, it takes lots thigh strength,” RayWOWW said. “My thighs are hard as rocks, I had to go up in a pant size.”

At least one day a week, the Femme Fianna practices with other teams from the Dockyard Derby Dames or other leagues in scrimmages.

During the scrimmages, skaters get the opportunity to practice against other teams and develop skills in bout like situations.  Because of the friendships the skaters develop with each other, there are some mixed feelings when getting taken down by an opposing player.

“It’s this half feeling of ‘that was such a good hit, good for them,’ cause you’re friends with all of these people, and then you’re also embarrassed cause your ego is bruised,” RayWOWW said.

Because of her practice schedule, RayWOWW has been able to improve dramatically and become a key skater on Femme Fianna.

“I think she’s a very strong individual, she’s able to play not only blocker but jammer as well, and that is the most prized player any derby team can have,” coach of the Femme Fianna Michael Swiehart a.k.a. Barry Manitoe, said.