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Roller Derby makes supergirls of Tucson women

Julie Vance, who goes by the name Penny Tencherry skates with Tucson Roller Derby

Julie Vance, who goes by the name Penny Tencherry skates with Tucson Roller Derby

Penny Tencherry, aka Julie Vance, Tucson Roller Derby player

Julie Vance, 33, is education coordinator at the Arizona Theatre Co. Her superhero alter ego is Penny Tencherry, the primary jammer (person who scores the points by lapping the other team) and co-captain for the VICE Squad, one of three teams in the Tucson Roller Derby League, which has about 35 competitors and draws 700 to 800 people to each match. The flat track league has one match a month until September. This weekend, Penny Tencherry leads the VICE Squad against the Furious Truckstop Waitresses. Tucson Citizen reporter Teya Vitu sat down to discuss the nuances of roller derby with Julie Vance/Penny Tencherry:

Hey, what’s this I hear about women’s roller derby making a comeback?

Vance: Tucson Roller Derby was created in December 2003. I joined the following year in July. It was the vision of Kim Sin (captain of the Furious Truckstop Waitresses). It is real roller derby. It’s not the roller derby of the past, where they set up stunts and fights. The roller derby of today is really a sport.

Tucson Roller Derby really is the girl next door, isn’t it?

Vance: Yes, it is. There are girls from all walks of life. The girls really feel it’s a sport for all girls. There’s a hair stylist. We have me working in the arts. We have a bartender. Doris Badenov (Sue Knittel) is an engineer. We have college girls. One of our girls is getting a Ph.D. in math.

What makes a 21st-century woman want to engage in roller derby?

Vance: It goes back to, it’s something you can be accepted in. I’m closer to these girls than people I’ve known for 10 years or more. I was looking for a sport to stay in shape. Roller derby gave me that and so much more.

How do you women dream up these names like Penny Tencherry, Mandi Festo and Knuckle Sandovitch?

Vance: I think it’s the entertainment and imagination. We are all strong women and have strong personalities with imagination. It does have an entertainment value. The names are a big part of that. It’s kind of fun to have a secret identity. You feel like a supergirl.

What did the Dust Devil National Flat Track Derby Tournament in February achieve? (The national tourney brought 260 skaters from 20 leagues from across the country to Tucson for three days of matches, which drew more than 1,000 people each day. Tucson finished second behind the Texas Rollergirls from Austin – the team that relaunched roller derby in 2001).

Vance: It really let leagues from all over the country know how strong a league Tucson is. We let them know how far you can take this sport. It showed people it really, truly is a sport. The camaraderie between girls is incredible. The tournament did show that not only do we have a strong structure as far as organization but we have strong skating skills. To place second to the Texas Rollergirls is incredible. We are very proud.

You have a match coming up Saturday. What can we look forward to?

Vance: It’s going to be incredible. We’re going up against the Furious Truckstop Waitresses, who we stole the championship from last year. I’m sure those ladies will want to prove themselves as girls who beat the champions. We’re ready for them and to defend our title.

You gals don’t just jam on the track. You do everything to put on a match, don’t you?

Vance: Our league is very organized. We have a lot of committees that have different duties. We have a communications committee, a finance committee, a production committee, an art committee, a sponsorship committee and some others. We get (to Bladeworld on match nights) at 5 o’clock and set up the track and make sure everything is ready for the skaters. There are so many aspects we do. We do this in addition to our jobs. It takes a lot of time and attention.



What: Tucson Roller Derby

When: The league next takes to the track at 7 p.m. Saturday

Where: Bladeworld, 1065 W. Grant Road

Price: Tickets are $10 at the door and also available in advance at Bladeworld; The Surly Wench Pub, 424 N. Fourth Ave.; and from all rollergirls.

Details: 390-1454, www.tucsonrollerderby.com

Citizen Online Archive, 2006-2009

This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009.

In 2010, a power surge fried a server that contained all of videos linked to dozens of stories in this archive. Also, a server that contained all of the databases for dozens of stories was accidentally erased, so all of those links are broken as well. However, all of the text and photos that accompanied some stories have been preserved.

For all of the stories that were archived by the Tucson Citizen newspaper's library in a digital archive between 1993 and 2009, go to Morgue Part 2

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