The Austin Chronicle

Texies and the City

By Richard Whittaker, February 7, 2010, 1:03pm, The Score

Seems like Texas Rollergirl and Women's Flat Track Derby Association president Bloody Mary's wish that Austin would be really proud of this homegrown sport really got City Council's attention. First Mayor Lee Leffingwell declared Texas Rollergirls Day, now the city has entered into a new partnership for practice space with the local league.

On Feb. 4 Council Member Bill Spelman announced that several Parks and Recreation Department facilities, including Pan-American Recreation Center and Bartholomew Park, will be open to the league for practices. (At the same meeting, The Score discovered that Police Chief Art Acevedo, whose niece plays derby in New Jersey, will be blowing the first whistle at a Texas Rollergirls' home game this season. Mayor Leffingwell has already confirmed that he'll be there for the first bout of the year.)

The partnership announcement, made on the 24th annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day, is a significant step for the league, putting them out in the Austin community more than ever before. While they'll still be using their regular home at Playland Skate Center, this opens up more possibilities to expand both the Rec-N-Rollerderby adults league and the Austin Derby Brats junior league. There have also been discussions of public exhibition bouts in the future.

The city strikes many such deals, which Parks and Recreation Director Sara Hensley described as "the wave of the future." On the day of the announcement, council approved the Youth Sports Ordinance, which Hensley said allows the council to "work with little leagues across the city in using public ball fields and even some private ball fields that we're helping to support."

As Spelman pointed out, this is a good deal for the city. Not only is the skater-owned, skater-run league a perfect example of the Austin DIY ethos, he said, but "they also contribute to our economy, they're likely to grow in success in coming years. The values of Texas Rollergirls – health and fitness, women's empowerment, being good neighbors and contributing members of the community, a commitment to excellence, innovation and integrity, and improving the community through their support of worthy social causes – are also the values of the city of Austin."

The Texas Rollergirls' home season kicks off on Feb. 28, and there are now a very limited number of tickets available for the 2010 Governor's Cup on Feb. 20-21. The hometown Texecutioners will face the Dallas Derby Devils, Assassination City and Houston Roller Derby in the ultimate annual all-Texas bragging rights matchup.

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