OKC roller derby squads merge, strengthen local scene 

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Flat track roller derby has a small but passionate fan base in Oklahoma City. With three squads in the metro, sometimes the local scene can get stretched thin. Bouts are sometimes scheduled for the same night, and fans have to choose which team to go see. The few roller derby referees in town have to call one bout over another.

That’s why the merger between Oklahoma Victory Dolls (OKVD) and OKC Outlaws is a big deal. The move, announced July 7, is expected to consolidate resources to build the sport locally.

“We’re all working toward the same goal, which is playing the best roller derby we can, so it didn’t make sense to go against our friends any longer,” said Katy Lundburg, the Outlaws’ training committee head who skates under the nickname Emma C. Hammer. “When we pooled together, it was just better for everybody.”

The merger allows skaters of different abilities to compete at different levels, said Melissa Heying, the OKVD athletic committee head who skates under the nickname Menace.

Six months in the making, the deal proved serendipitous because the Victory Dolls’ leadership was searching for ways to grow their league when skaters from the Outlaws approached them to discuss a merger, said Candace Timmons, who skates for the Victory Dolls under the nickname InstaSLAM.

Skaters from both leagues worked out the details, from combining coaching staffs and practice schedules to sorting out duplicate jersey numbers, Timmons said. Both teams host bouts in the Centennial Building at Oklahoma State Fairgrounds, 3001 General Pershing Blvd., so choosing a home venue will be easy.

“They all worked closely to make sure that both leagues would benefit from this,” Timmons said.

In the world of roller derby, she said, it’s more common for teams to fracture than to come together for a common cause.

“When you get these large groups of women, sometimes you have disagreements,” she said. “This is such a big deal because you don’t see mergers a whole lot. We’re just really excited about the potential this brings to the state of Oklahoma.”

OKVD is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that does charity work in Oklahoma City, including visiting places like The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital in Bethany and doing skating clinics at area schools. The Outlaws have also donated proceeds from home bouts to local organizations, and Lundburg said having nonprofit status under the Victory Dolls would make giving easier.

The leagues have already combined on the rink. Lundburg is the first Outlaws member to make the Victory Dolls All Star Squad and will join the team when they travel to Cleveland Aug. 21-23 to compete in the International 2015 WFTDA Division 2 Playoffs. She is a jammer, the skater who wears a star on her helmet and scores points by passing opposing skaters on the track.

In the physical, full-contact sport of roller derby, success comes only through hard work and determination, said Heying.

“We’re not just out there skating around,” Heying said. “We are athletes, and we want to be seen how athletes are.”

Print headline: Victory lap, Local organizations have completed a rare merger, strengthening the city’s roller derby scene.

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