By Lisa Morgan –

“Sit on her!” “Leave your panties!”  I dropped my pencil, perplexed, unsure of what I’d gotten myself into.  I had done my research before coming here to do this article, but I didn’t remember this part in the movie “Whip It.”  These 17 ladies, members of Coachella Valley’s own Derby Girls, all on eight wheels, uniquely clad and armored with helmets, elbow and knee pads, had been hard at practice hours before I showed up in my platforms with my camera and notebook.  I thought it best to sit, watch and learn.

As I studied, I learned that the one girl on the opposing team nobody likes is the “jammer.”  She scores points every time she passes her opponents.  She wears the “pantie” with the star on her helmet (a helmet cover that is not actually underwear ~ that’s a different sport entirely). The skater wearing the stripes on her helmet is the “pivot.”  The big thing is to “pack it up” or travel in a pack so that the pesky “jammer” girl can’t outmaneuver you and pass you.  You “sit on her” or stay right in front of her so she can’t pick up speed.  It’s tough work skating in a tight pack of eight!  That’s 64 wheels all threatening to lock up on each other.  And here’s the other thing:  There’s obviously no crying in roller derby.  Team mates cheer when there’s a “good” fall.  If someone screws up and takes a dive, the ladies are instructed to point at, yell and identify the “weak link.”  It all seemed so brutal, un-lady like and rough… IT WAS AWESOME!

Coachella Valley Derby Girls is the dream child of founder and head coach Jessica Jefferies.  But don’t call her Jessica unless you want to get knocked down.  Call her Jessi James.  She’s not a small girl.  She’s tough, intense and definitely knows what she’s doing.  Her partner in crime is Smiley Coyote (aka Caitlin Hogan).  Together along with coaches Ron Sharp and John Rod, they have managed to recruit over 20 women.  They practice every Saturday at Freedom Park in Palm Desert and are still actively recruiting in hopes of scheduling their first scrimmage in January against Yucca Valley’s Mohave Rattle Skaters.


Coachella Valley Derby Girls recently recruited The Mix 100.5’s Valerie Kattz, now known as Valerie “Kattz Scratch Your Eyes Out.”  Perhaps it was her fellow radio hosts who recruited her by laughing at the idea and basically telling her she couldn’t or wouldn’t do it.  “Maybe they have a position like a kicker in football,” someone told Kattz.  “You know, where you only have to go in for one or two plays in the game.”   That was enough to get Valerie…I mean, Kattz Scratch on her own set of 8 wheels.  She’s a tiny little thing, but all heart and determination.  According to Jessi James, her size and speed will be a great asset to the team.

I still have a lot to learn about this fascinating sport; things like how to “rope the goat” and what they mean exactly by “eat the baby.”  I do know one thing.  The upcoming fundraiser these ladies are planning is going to be raw fun and deserving of plenty of media attention.  The fundraiser will be held at Desert Hot Springs’ Playoffs Sports bar.  The Derby Girls will be serving up drinks, beer pong and kisses, all part of raising money to help buy equipment and pay for expenses.  There will be a $5 donation at the door and raffle prizes including gift certificates from Adornment Tattoo Shop, a 1 hour massage from Derby Girl and licensed massage therapist “Madam Fury,” dinner for two at Las Palmas Restaurant and much more.  These ladies are also looking for venues and sponsors and I think they’re going to be an excellent investment.

For more information on participating or supporting the Derby Girls contact Jessi James at or call her at (760) 550-3566.

Comments are closed.