Meet the Mission City Brawlin’ Betties

When Rachael Warrington told her parents in southwest England about her first foray into team sports, it took a moment to sink in. “My mum said it sounded fun that I’d be roller-skating,” she said. “I used to skate around our cul-de-sac at home. But my dad knew about roller derby. He said, ‘That’s a bit of a tough sport.’ My mum said, ‘Oh, dear, you’d better be safe.’”

Warrington, a postdoctoral researcher at UCSB’s Neuroscience Research Institute, joined the Mission City Brawlin’ Betties a year ago. “I went to recruitment night, and everybody seemed so enthusiastic, open, and friendly,” she said. “You start out as a Nugget [a developmental program], learn to be safe on your feet, how to stop, and other things before you do any contact.”

She took to the sport so well that, when the Betties stage their first home bout of the year Saturday, May 25, she will be in their starting lineup as a blocker.

One of the first requirements was that Warrington come up with a roller derby name, along the lines of Bettie teammates Semper Fatale, Bobbie Bash-eh, Cinco de Mayhem, Crissy Bang Bang, Leada Riot, and Lady Vulvamort.

She decided on something sweetly different: Jammie Dodger. “It’s a cookie in England,” she said. “There’s jam in it, and in roller derby, there’s a jammer and a jam. I introduced myself to the team with a packet of jammie dodgers.”

Photo: Paul WellmanMission City Brawlin’ Betties practice at Earl Warren Showgrounds

Jammie Dodger and other Betties blockers will be trying to fend off the jammer from the opposing Beach Cities Roller Derby team in the whirlwind of action that constitutes a jam during Saturday’s bout.

“The perception of roller derby is that they’re going to lay you out, they’re mean and aggressive, all that kind of thing,” Jammie Dodger said. “People are trying to gain position and points [by passing the blockers], but it’s done safely. You’re not allowed to hit or target your spine or anything above the neck. You’re not supposed to be flying through with your head. You can use your hips.”

Cinco de Mayhem (Andrea Alvarez), a third-year English student at UCSB, has been competing in roller derby since she was 13. “It’s empowering; it’s fun; it’s action-packed,” she said. She is a former cheerleader and would much rather keep people pumped up as a player. “It’s organized chaos. There’s always something going on, compared to sports like baseball, where there’s too much sitting around.” 

The Brawlin’ Betties were founded in 2009. They’ve had ups and downs over the years. “We’re growing this year,” said Semper Fatale (Christina Wilburn), a 10-year veteran. “It’s really nice to see.” She noted that Girls Inc., which will provide its gym for Saturday’s bout, has a fitting slogan: “Be strong, smart, and bold.” Roller derby newcomers have to learn “to be comfortable being uncomfortable,” Semper Fatale said. “You’re going to fall. Get used to it.”

“It’s awesome to have roller derby in Santa Barbara,” said Betties coach Lady Faga (York Shingle-Killebrew). “They’re a dedicated group of incredibly strong women keeping it alive.”

Saturday’s bout at Girls Inc. (4923 Hollister Ave.) will begin at 5 p.m. Doors open for presale attendees at 4 p.m. and for general admission at 4:30. For tickets and information, see brawlinbetties.com

Photo: Paul WellmanMission City Brawlin’ Betties practice at Earl Warren Showgrounds

DRAMA ON THE DIAMOND: Westmont College’s dream of reaching the NAIA World Series for the first time stayed alive when Travis Vander Molen’s home run in the ninth inning sent the last week’s winner-take-all game between the Warriors and top-seeded University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma (USAO) into extra innings. Alas, in the 12th inning, USAO — the home team although the game was played at Westmont — got a three-run walk-off homer to win, 7-4.

It was still a terrific year for Westmont, which won three do-or-die games to reach the final showdown. The Warriors went 37-16 with a lineup that featured seniors Luke Coffey and Bryce Morison[CQ], a pair of hometown players. They picked up another this week when Bishop Diego pitcher Gabe Arteaga, who compiled a 0.91 ERA, signed with Westmont. 

Meanwhile, UCSB’s Cole Mueller came through with a two-out, two-RBI single in the ninth inning to erase a 3-1 deficit at Hawai‘i, and the Gauchos went on to win in 11 innings. A loss would have dealt a blow to their hopes for a high seeding in the NCAA tournament. It may have been their most significant win, because it was just the kind of high-pressure game they will likely face in the postseason.

Hawai‘i’s fans turned out in droves at Les Murakami Stadium for the three-game series: a total attendance of 10,658, including 4,296 on Saturday night when the Gauchos blasted the Rainbows, 11-1. UCSB’s support at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium is sparse by comparison, topping out at 773 for a March 23 game against Missouri State. If there ever was a reason to get out to the ballpark, it’s this week when the Gauchos wrap up the regular season against Cal Poly.

Gaucho catcher Eric Yang has posted a team-leading batting average of .389 with an on-base percentage of .500. The junior is one of 14 national finalists for the Buster Posey Award that goes to the nation’s top collegiate backstop. 

LEAPIN’ ROYALS:  San Marcos high jumpers Jaydn Mata and Beau Allen are off to the CIF State Track & Field Championships after clearing 6′10″ and 6′8″, respectively, at the Southern Section Masters Meet. SBCC triple jumper Brian Nnoli, a former San Marcos athlete, finished third in the state community college championships by hitting 14.18 meters (46′6 ¼″) on his last attempt. Mata will be competing for the Vaqueros next year, while Allen is bound for Duke.

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