I Get Knocked Down, But These Women Get Up Again and Fight for a Cause

The North County Derby Alliance Isn’t Your Average Roller Derby Team

Written By: Jessica Young
Photographed By: Damien Noble Andrews

Shark Bait. Sassy Lassie. Jane Deere. What sounds like the line up for a morning of Saturday cartoons is actually only a small portion of the roster of the North County Derby Alliance—a roller derby club based out of Oceanside. The organization has made it their mission to have a positive impact on their community while rolling through their season and picking up wins. The ladies, who range in age from early 20s to over 50, work together to promote several charitable organizations, both locally and nationally.

Primarily, the team works with the Women’s Resource Center in Oceanside. Whenever the facility hosts events, the players volunteer in a variety of capacities. They have done things like provided childcare, ran and monitored activities and interacted with guests. June’s bout (game) included a canned food drive for the center.

“Last year, [the resource center] did a Christmas event for the women and children at the facility. They had the team provide entertainment for the children while the parents were able to go out and shop for the kids. That was just one of the things we did there,”  Marcella Maynard, head of Promotions, Sponsorship and Public Relations for NCDA said. “They are in a facility where they are trying to escape violence, so they have a really hard time trusting anyone with their kids. We come in so that they have someone they know and trust.”

Also known as “Shark Bait,” Maynard has been involved with the team since its inception in 2015. She’s participated in many of the charitable projects the women have worked on and helped support a number of different causes.

“We have always looked for charities that are out there to help children. We’ve done things like the Undie Run, where we were one of the highest contributors for the event. We also help out our derby sisters and brothers in the community,” Maynard said.

A former player faced a daunting breast cancer diagnosis and the team rallied around her. Even though she no longer skated with the women, her derby family adopted her cause and began putting on events like car washes and bake sales to raise money.

“It’s a big ol’ family to us… it’s not just derby. A few years ago, there was an accident where a plane crashed into a vehicle on I-15. Our coach was in the car, several players were in the car. One of our players passed away and others suffered serious injuries. We did some big fundraisers to help them and their families out,” Maynard said.

In addition to supporting worthy causes, the ladies also want to provide strong, positive role models for younger children in the community. They want to be seen as strong, confident athletes and women—not just sexy girls on roller skates.

Despite gaining momentum and popularity over the last decade, roller derby is surrounded by misconceptions. The common belief is that the women are violent, scantily clad and looking for a fight. Many people are unaware of the athletic ability, coordination and endurance it takes to be a successful derby player.

“Roller derby is perceived as a rough, mean sport. Our goal is to put it out there that we are athletes. It’s not always a fight, or bootie shorts, or anything like that. Our league has established that we are classy. We want to be perceived as strong, female athletes. You’re not just there to body slam someone. It’s a real sport—we run on our skates, we move in every direction. We can stop at the drop of a hat. It’s similar to soccer or football—we just don’t have a ball. We’re not just rolling around in circles,” Maynard said.

Derby also creates a community for the women. By joining the team, they instantly become part of a family. The team started as a collection of women who had a vision—to have a non profit league that would help them empower women and recognize female athletes. Their first meetings, in 2015, helped them build a board of directors, and from there, they started skating. They practiced at skate parks, got their name out there and eventually found a home base at the Army Navy Academy in Carlsbad.

“Once we had that ‘home’, we started getting booked for games and scrimmages. We technically didn’t have a full bout roster until the 2016 season. We played with South Coast Roller Derby and Winetown Rollers, just to get our name out there. We’ve been blooming. People contact us wanting to play us,” Maynard said.

From a handful of women, lead by founders Meg G’ Byte and Shay Z, the team has filled out their roster, boasting 24 players. They have also started building their junior team, which is for co-ed skaters, aged five to 17.  Maynard said that interested players can simply show up to their practices or reach out to the organization through facebook.

What’s in a Name? Roller Derby players typically choose names that are reflective of their personalities or that tell a quirky story. For example, Sweet Cyanide is sweet…but deadly.

Get in Derby Shape: In order to keep up their fitness for their games, the ladies do a variety of different workouts. Some enjoy running or cycling, others do CrossFit, but all the women focus on healthy eating and staying active.

Next Bout: October’s match up will be against the Dirty City Roller Rats. Doors open at 4:30 p.m. and the bout starts at 5 p.m.

North County Derby Alliance
4225 Oceanside Blvd, Ste H198
Oceanside, CA 92056

Photoshoot Location:
Army Navy Academy
2605 Carlsbad Blvd
Carlsbad, CA 92008

The North County Derby Alliance is a Group of Strong Women Fighting for What’s Right

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