Osage’s own “Dame of Anarchy”

2013-03-12T11:30:00Z Osage’s own “Dame of Anarchy”by Jim Cross Press-News Reporter Mason City Globe Gazette
March 12, 2013 11:30 am  • 

How many of us would put "being a roller derby girl" on our bucket list of life?

In October 2012, Erin Myers, Osage, marked it off her list when she became a member of the River City Dames of Anarchy (DOA) of Mason City.

Myers said a friend of hers joined a roller derby team in Sioux City.

"As she talked about her team and how everything worked, I kept thinking to myself, 'I can do that,'” said Myers. "But at the time, I was juggling starting my family and career."

So, she moved the thought to her "bucket list of life" and continued building her family and career.

Then in September 2012, Myers said she realized that her children would be in sports and activities very soon.

"I decided if I didn't do it now, I never would," she said.

That Sunday, she went to a "Fresh Meat" practice, where she watched a group of ladies do drills to improve their skating.

"They were sweating, struggling, exhausted and laughing," said Myers. "They would get hit, hard, get back up and do it again.

"Even though they were being put through some very intensive physical tests, they were having the time of their lives. Laughing with, and at, each other."

She thought to herself, "Those are my kind of ladies."

Shortly after that, she bought her skates and became a Dame.

Being a member of a derby team requires a high-level of commitment.

Members are required to maintain a 60-percent attendance for practices and "while you're there, give 100-percent of everything you have," said Myers.

The team practices twice a week for two hours, at Roller City Skating Rink, and competes in 12 bouts in a season, six at home (North Iowa Fair All-Seasons Building) and six on the road that take them into Wisconsin and Illinois.

"Being on a roller derby team is a great blend of a very physical sport coupled with an amazing group of ladies," said Myers. "We are a family. We laugh. We agree to disagree, but in the end, we always have each other's back. On and off the track."

The Dames of Anarchy derby team is comprised of businesswomen, artists, counselors, factory workers, and stay-at-home moms from ages 18 to 45.

Myers clearly remembers her first time on the floor as a Dame.

"The crowd is intimidating your very first bout," she said. "I remember skating very slowly, thinking, ‘don't fall, Tuff, don't fall.’

"Then I remembered they came to see me play. They came to see me hit and be hit. To block hard, set screens and get my jammer through the pack. By halftime I had shaken my jitters."

Just like any sport, there is the danger of injuries.

Team members wear helmets, elbow, knee and wrist and mouth guards to prevent injuries.

"People think that Roller Derby is a bunch of women, skating around, hitting each other like WWE wrestlers," said Myers. "They remember Roller Derby from the 70’s and 80’s.

"You will see big hits and amazing skills on skates, but no a fist fight, well, probably not a fist fight."

Myers skates as "Audrey Tuffburn", a play on words from the great actress Audrey Hepburn.

"I always admired her sweet yet playful photos," said Myers. "People choose their derby name to get with a certain persona on the track.

"I wanted something classy but with a bit of an edge."

So, Audrey Tuffburn was born.

Other Dames include Grannie Hot Panties, Skilla Killa, Lady Venem, Bambi Basher and SplitHer-Woo.

Myers said her husband, Jerry, is and has been her biggest fan, supporting her 100 percent.

She also said although her sons, McCain, 7, and Truman, 4, don't like her being gone twice a week, they are very proud to wear their DOA shirts and tell people that their mom is Audrey Tuffburn.

"I will never forget the look on my boys' faces when the announcer said my name and I skated the floor," she said. "Their little faces lit up like it was Christmas.

"People were cheering and chanting for their mom - that's when I became a superhero to them."

She admitted the public has been a little split on how they react to her when she tells them she is a "derby girl".

"Half of them look at me like I have an alien on my head and the other half tell me how great it is, how they love the sport and would love to come watch."

However, her staff at the Mitchell County FSA office thought she had lost her mind when she told them she had joined a roller derby team.

"They imagined broken legs and broken teeth," she said. "After seeing some of my bruises, they asked me when I was going to quit.

"I just laughed. I have a feeling they are going to have to deal with a bruised boss for a while."

Myers said the team is always looking for new recruits or "fresh meat" as she once was called.

If someone shows any interest in joining, she offers to pick them up for practice.

"We are always looking for new members and non-skating members," said Myers. "We need lots of help at the bouts, and many of the jobs require sneakers instead of skates."

Ten percent of the ticket sales at the bouts go back to local non-profit organizations.

"We try hard to be active, positive members of our communities," said Myers. "We want to be strong role models for girls and women.

"We are an organization that encourages and builds up women to be everything they can be, on and off the track."

Each team member is responsible for purchasing their own gear and paying dues each month to rent space to skate.

Myers said, if a person doesn't know how to skate, or how the game is played. DOA will teach them everything.

"The only thing you need to be a Derby Girl is a dedication to the team and to do your best at all times," she said. "And for the men out there, we are always looking for refs. If you have a head for sports, we'll teach you to skate."

"I would say that being a part of roller derby team is like having a part time job, but more rewarding," said Myers.

Copyright 2015 Mason City Globe Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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