Portland's Rose City Rollers focus on safety as program reopens
Their sport rewards speed and aggressiveness. But Portland's Rose City Rollers are taking a deliberate approach to restarting the popular roller derby program at The Hangar at Oaks Park.
Even though she projects Rose City Rollers will finish 2020 some $100,000 in the hole, the organization's executive director is taking a cautious approach to returning to skating as usual.
"I want Rose City Rollers to behave well. I want us to be good citizens, first," Kim Stegeman said.
With that in mind, the Rollers recently released a detailed, six-step return to skating plan. Stegeman noted that the timing for each step will depend upon COVID-19 trends and will only occur when county and state rules allow. In addition, the Women's Flat Track Roller Derby Association, the international governing body for the sport, has implemented strict guidelines its members must follow.
The first phase of the return-to-skating plan, which is still on hold, will allow individual skaters on the track for up to a half hour.
Stegeman noted that the organization chose protocols during this phase that are stricter than required, using protocols that fitness centers and gyms must follow to reopen. In addition to social distancing and face coverings, participants will be required to fill out a health questionnaire and have temperature checks before entering the building.
Skaters will enter the facility on the east side and exit through the west side. To improve ventilation, the large doors at each end of The Hangar will remain open during skating.
The second phase of the Rollers plan will allow groups of six to eight skaters on the track, but no contact. Stegeman emphasized that the timing of each phase depends upon factors outside of her control.
The other steps along the path to normal operations are: Small-group skating with contact followed by team practices, then scrimmage practice sessions and, finally, games.
Those games are likely to happen without fans, but be live-streamed to generate revenue.
Stegeman said about 60% of Rose City Rollers members have continued to pay their dues, helping the program stay afloat. And RCR has helped its members stay active through some online webinars and it is adjusting its skate rental program.
Starting in May, the "Rent-n-Roll" program was modified to the "Rent-n-Roll Outdoors" program. Members check out skates by appointment and keep them until this modified program is no longer needed. To make it happen, Rose City Rollers changed the wheels on its rental/loaner skates so they can be used outside.
In addition to the plans for reopening, Rose City Rollers has several fund-raising events planned, along with community involvement ideas.
A multi-day marathon skating fundraiser is in the works, tentatively scheduled for August 1, with a goal of having skaters on the track for 100 hours and — through pledges — raising $30,000 according to Stegeman. The event will include skaters of all levels, from youths to members of the Wheels of Justice world championship all-star team.
The Rollers also plan to launch a skatemobile, a truck stocked with skates, that can take roller skating parties to the community (while following guidelines on gathering sizes).
A complete rundown of the Rose City Rollers' return to skating plan can be found at rosecityrollers.com.
"A lot of fun things are afoot," Stegeman said.
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