The Brewcity Bruisers, Milwaukee’s female roller derby organization, will open their 10th season on Saturday, Jan. 16.
Saturday’s double header is the first event of the Brewcity Bruisers’ five-game season and a matchup between Milwaukee’s four home teams: Maiden Milwaukee vs. the Shevil Knevils and the Crazy 8’s vs. the Rushin’ Rollettes.
The bout begins at 7 p.m., with doors opening at 6 p.m. at The UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena, 400 W. Kilbourn Ave.
Adult tickets are $15 in advance and $18 at the door. Kids 12 and under are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. Children under 5 are free. Bring a non-perishable food item for the Hope House of Milwaukee and get $3 off. Tickets are available at the Panther Arena box office or here.
In honor of a decade of the Bruisers and the start of the new season, OnMilwaukee caught up with Nicole Armendariz – aka "VerucAssault" – and asked her a a few questions.
OnMilwaukee: What’s new or different this season?
Nicole Armendariz: We are extremely excited because this season marks our 10-year anniversary. It’s amazing to think that our league – which is 100 percent volunteer run – is still going strong after all these years.
Another thing we’re really excited about is that two of our newly rostered skaters graduated to the Brewcity Bruisers from our junior league. Both Amelia Terrorheart and Tinker Tantrum started with our Microbruisers program when it started in 2012. They graduated into our rec league and were drafted as full-fledged Brewcity Bruisers in October.
Also, we shot a music video with the Virginia-based punk band Broadside last month. Victory Records brought them up here before they started their current tour and did a film shoot with us at the Bruisery. We'll be showing the new music video during halftime on Saturday. The band will also be coming to Milwaukee this month, playing a show at the Rave on Jan. 23.
OnMilwaukee: How would you describe a bout for someone who's never seen one?
Nicole Armendariz: First of all I would tell that person they should come see a bout to fully get a sense of one – the rules of roller derby are simple and easy to understand. In short, roller derby is similar to a full-contact race, but time doesn't matter, lapping the opponent does. Teams have one offensive player and four defensive players. One point is given for each lapped opponent.
OnMilwaukee: How many bouts are there and when does the season run until?
Armendariz: We have five home season bouts per year – one a month January through May. After the home season wraps up in May, we hold a three day roller derby tournament every June at the UW Panther Arena called Brewhaha. Teams from across the country and, sometimes the world, travel to compete at Brewhaha every year.
In addition to our home season bouts, we have an A team, called the All Stars, and a B team, called the Battlestars, who travel the country playing roller derby for national rankings.
OnMilwaukee: If you had to describe female roller derby players in one word, what would it be?
OnMilwaukee: If the Bruisers made a music soundtrack, which bands would be on it?
Armendariz: Joan Jett, "Bad Reputation"; Queen, "Fat Bottomed Girls"; Heart, "Barracuda"; "Turn Down For What," Lil John; Peaches, "Boys Want to Be Her"; Bonnie Tyler, "Hero"; The Runaways, "Cherry Bomb"; Salt N Pepa, "Push It."
OnMilwaukee: How has roller derby changed since the 70s? Or hasn't it?
Aremndariz: Roller derby has changed from the '70s and even from the early 2000s. Early iterations of the sport relied on drama and gimmicks. The sport has always been real, but in order to play up the theatrical quality leagues would stage drama-filled fights, skaters would often wear fishnets and skirts, and practice was as much about going out for drinks afterward as it was about playing the game.
Today, skaters have taken the sport to new levels of athleticism. Skaters are as competitive as possible and want the sport they sweat and bleed for to be taken seriously. For that reason, uniforms are less revealing and more traditional. The production around the bouts is also much more like what you would see at other sporting events, although most of roller derby’s unique traditions still exist, like skater names.
In addition, most roller derby is played on a flat track, not the traditional banked track. Banked tracks require a lot of maintenance and are difficult to store. Once people realized you could play roller derby on any flat surface, the sport started spreading like wild fire. Roller derby is currently the fastest growing sport in the world, and most decent-sized cities have at least one team.
OnMilwaukee: What else?
Armendariz: Roller derby is the most amazing sport I’ve ever come across. Not only are the women involved amazing athletes, the sport fosters a sense of community and accomplishment among the skaters, our amazing referees, our beerleaders and all the others who help make our league work. If you’ve ever known anyone who gets involved in roller derby, chances are they get deeply involved and that’s because it’s such an amazing experience.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.