Roller derby puts on a show at Kaweah Kerfuffle

Players for Pikes Peak Roller Derby and the Bakersfield Diamond Divas battle at the Kaweah Kerfuffle at the International Agri-Center in late March.(Kason Clark)

V Town Roller Derby hosts its first ever tournament in Tulare County; teams from Visalia, Bakersfield, Colorado Springs and Salem compete at the International Agri-Center over the weekend

TULARE – Competitive roller derby has finally made its debut in Tulare County. This past weekend at the International Agri-Center, V Town Roller Derby hosted a tournament where they competed against some of the best teams in their region. With this being their first time hosting a tournament, V Town put on a good show.

“The tournament was extremely successful. We were able to accomplish what we set out to do: bring a competitive roller derby tournament to Tulare County and raise local awareness about not just our team, but also the sport of flat track roller derby,” V Town player Laura ‘ActiFist’ Anderson said.

She continued, “This was our first time organizing multiple teams at this level of game play and it turned out better than we expected. We had a crew of top notch head officials that ensured the tournament ran as cleanly and smoothly as possible. We could not have asked for a better two days full of roller derby.”

“It was really great,” V Town team president Michelle ‘Knuck-em-up’ Goans said. “We had some really great officials helping us out and some great people volunteering their time that we definitely couldn’t have done without.”

In the tournament, V Town competed against other teams such as the Bakersfield Diamond Divas, Cherry City Roller Derby and Pikes Peak Roller Derby. Pikes Peak came from Colorado Springs and Cherry City  came all the way from Salem. As she and her team have hosted several tournaments before, Cherry City team president Stephanie ‘Titan Young’ Kruse believes V Town did a good job with their tournament.

“The hosts have been fantastic,” Kruse said. “It was very well organized. They gave us all the information we needed ahead of time. They did a great job running the tournament.”

Over the course of Friday and Saturday, the four teams competed in a round-robin tournament. The tournament started on Friday night with Bakersfield defeating Cherry City, 235-89. Friday night then wrapped up with Cherry City beating V Town, 224-92.

The tournament continued with four more bouts on Saturday. Bakersfield continued its strong start to the tournament with a 128-118 win over Cherry City. V Town rebounded with a 168-121 victory against Pikes Peak.

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Players for the Bakersfield Diamond Divas and Pikes Peak Roller Derby collide at the Kaweah Kerfuffle at the International Agri-Center in late March. (Kason Clark)

In the seeding game later on Saturday, Bakersfield finished the tournament with a 406-38 win over V Town Roller Derby ‘B’ team. The tournament then ended with Cherry City defeating Pikes Peak, 210-76. As they played over the weekend, Kruse believes all the competition will help teams improve as they go forward.

“There was really intense gameplay for everyone so I think we’re all going to get a lot of growth out of it,” Kruse said. “We’re all resorting ourselves after derby took a break during the COVID pandemic, so everyone’s getting their first real sanctioned games in now and reshuffling in the rankings and seeing where everybody fits. So this was a really good opportunity for us to raise our ranking and get a good gauge for where we want to go next year.”

This roller derby tournament was sanctioned by the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association. Heading into the tournament, Cherry City was ranked no. 16 in the WFTDA and Bakersfield was no. 25. The V Town ‘A’ team was ranked no. 29 and Pike Peak had a no. 38 ranking heading into the tournament. The V Town ‘B’ team was unranked in the tournament.

While the V Town ‘A’ team went 1-1 in the tournament, Anderson believes they will move up in the rankings and grow as a team based on their performance.

“We are very proud of the work  we put in to get where we are,” Anderson said. “You learn more from your losses than your wins and we are always looking for ways to better our gameplay. Given the outcomes of the games we played, our ‘A’ team should move slightly in rankings.”

With this being their first time hosting a tournament, V Town hopes they have raised awareness of roller derby in Tulare County. V Town is hoping to get more interest in the sport in order to recruit players, officials or even just fans.

They also hope to raise more money in order to keep their operations going and pay off their travel expenses. The Kaweah Kerfuffle was sponsored by Visalia Grocery Outlet, Tulare Panera, Visalia Starbucks, Arts Visalia and Visalia Family Practice, but V Town is looking for more sponsors for the future. As they move ahead, V Town hopes the Kaweah Kerfuffle will serve as the springboard for more support for the sport in the area.

“This tournament is extremely important for the future of roller derby in the Central Valley. Without local support, our team would cease to exist. Besides member dues from our skaters, we rely on donations and fundraising to keep the team going,” Anderson said. “When folks have a chance to see roller derby live and in person they get excited about being involved. We were very happy with having the International Agri-Center in Tulare to host the tournament at.”

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