News: Bettie Brigade rolls into new season
Story by Staff Sgt. Antwaun Parrish
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – Skating on four wheels, jumping, spinning, aggressive defense, witty nicknames and unique uniforms are just portions of what makes a winning roller derby team.
Tech. Sgt. Rebecca Schmidt, who has been participating in roller derby for over a year, is looking forward to an undefeated season.
“We come to each practice motivated and ready to work, because we understand that all of the hard work will help us to avoid defeat this season,” said Schmidt.
The Joint Base Lewis-McChord roller derby team known as “Bettie Brigade” is made up of service members, spouses and Department of Defense civilians. They defeated the Tacoma Dockyard’s Femme Fiannas on Feb. 4 in their season opening match. Schmidt explained that it was a tough battle but they managed to pull together as a team to win.
Last season, the Bettie Brigade was split into two teams and those teams played against each other in every bout. But this season the field is open.
“I am excited about this season because our team will step outside of our comfort zone and play outside teams,” said Sarah Howard, founder of the Bettie Brigade.
Roller derby is a sport that has been ever evolving since the 1930’s and it’s originating in banked track roller skating marathons. The Bettie Brigade is an all female team. Points are scored once the team player labeled as a jammer, pushes through the pack of blockers and circles the track. It’s a high intensity contact sport and is full of action.
“If I had a stressful day before practice, once I get to the rink I’m able to release my built up aggression,” said Schmidt.
Aside from the intensity of roller derby, the team members have a unique way to show their personality. Each participant is either given or comes up with a witty nickname that’s either personal to them, or has some type of pun attached to it.
The team believes in upholding the team concept even out of the skating rink. They participate in numerous volunteer activities to show their support for the JBLM community and surrounding areas.
“I enjoy the fact that I can get out with my team and volunteer,” said Schmidt. “People always remember me being associated with the team which helps me network with people I may have never spoken with.”
Howard explained that being a part of the Bettie Brigade has made her happier and more confident as a spouse by giving her a better sense of community. Her husband is often deployed, so having her team around helps her get through the time when he’s gone.
“Staying active not only helps with physical wellness but mental wellness as well, said Howard.
The team is looking forward to its next bout on St. Patrick’s Day at JBLM’s AFC Arena.