Santa Maria Sun / Athlete of the Week
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 25
She hits chicks and sometimes they hit her back, and it’s all good because in roller derby that’s the name of the game.
Jillian Voyles is a space systems operator at Vandenberg Air Force Base and in the summer of 2010 she became a derby girl. She skates under the name SRS BIZNIS and doesn’t plan to slow her roll anytime soon.
Voyles said there are junior, men’s, and women’s roller derby teams all over the country—anyone can get connected with other players through derbyroster.com.
Roller derby is a full-contact, competitive sport. Practices and games aren’t rehearsed, but rather involve training for skill and team unity. There are many rules for safety purposes; a referee upholds them during games or bouts.
In a derby game, two teams skate on an oval track. Two opposing jammers attempt to score a point by passing the pack of skaters. Booty blocks and shoulder and hip checks are mandatory for a team’s jammer to score a lap.
“I give people the benefit of the doubt when they give me an elbow. I figure they didn’t mean it; very rarely do I get mad. I get numbers [imprinted] on the side of my face a lot, but a lot of it could be my own issues, too,” Voyles said.
At the end of this year, Voyles and her husband of 10 years will be transferred to a base in Colorado.
“I went to Colorado when we were house hunting; I went to practice there and it put me in a better mood,” she said.
Voyles said her goal is to make it to the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) Division 1, which the move to Colorado will allow her to do.
“Moving to Colorado is a lot less scary now that I have 30 to 40 women [who] know me. And I’ve skated with them for a month, two weeks at a time, so they’re waiting for me,” she said. “I get messages every now and then: ‘When are you coming? We wanna skate with you!’”
Voyles said skating takes weight off of her shoulders.
“Everybody needs something, and for me it’s roller derby—roller derby and family. They kind of mesh together nowadays,” she said.
The derby girl and two fellow skate friends decided to form their own team in 2011 called The Rocketeer Rollers. The name was inspired by their Air Force careers. Voyles designed their website, rocketeerrollers.org.
She said the team helps the community thrive and its members have raised money and participated in Relay for Life and Santa Maria Valley Humane Society’s Stuff the Pet Pantry. They also volunteered at the Bull Canyon Run to raise money for the Special Olympics, and helped support a fundraising fashion show and raffle for Santa Maria High School, among other things.
“It makes life a little bit easier, I think. Even though I’m leaving a whole bunch here, I need to move on. Hopefully I’ve left a little something that lasts,” Voyles said.