ROLLER DERBY-VANGELISM: 'Tyger Bomb' Weber spreads the word
Roller derby is life.
Take it from Maureen "Tyger Bomb" Weber.
Weber, 47, of Scappoose, belongs to Portland's recreational Rose City Wreckers and Willamette Kidney Thieves roller derby teams, as well as the over-40 coed Geritol Mafia.
She also coaches the male Bridgetown Brawlers.
Weber is a senior labor relations analyst for the city of Portland, and her cubicle is full of roller derby mementos. In bureau meetings, co-workers say, "This is Maureen, she plays roller derby, so you better be nice."
Weber once almost introduced herself as her roller derby moniker, "Tyger Bomb" a spin on Tiger Balm in a meeting, and says "it's 50-50" by which name someone will address her.
She's usually in roller derby gear when she goes to Fred Meyer after bouts, and if someone gives an opening she'll give him or her a flyer or the date of the next bout.
Roller derby is a five-on-five sport in which jammers (the fastest skaters) try to pass the other team as many times for as many points as possible.
Weber spent years as a blocker in charge of stopping the other team's jammers while at the same time clearing lanes for her own jammers with one of the Rose City Rollers' league teams, Guns N Rollers.
Jammers try to pass as many times for as many points as possible. They can be knocked out of bounds by opponents and forced to re-enter in the back.
"The jammers can't get points without me there," Weber says.
The sport is always evolving with new strategies on flat-track concrete or tile, so you can build a wall or out-race.
Her husband, Andrew, saw an ad and urged Weber, who hadn't been on skates in 15 years, to get into roller derby in 2007.
She got into the Rollers' Fresh Meat training, which sends worthy skaters up to league teams, on her third tryout. Pierla "PerilLust" Bonilla showed Weber around.
Weber got a tiger tattoo when she made the cut.
Roller derby has a learning curve, but so does everything.
It costs around $200 for everything you need to get started, but the Portland league's Rent N' Roll helps young skaters try it out.
"Newer skaters say, 'I have no idea what's going on,' and when I congratulate them they have no idea what just happened," Weber says.
It used to be theatrical with scripted winners, but now it's serious. Portland's Wheels of Justice beat reigning champion Gotham Girls Roller Derby All Stars (New York) for the 2015 Women's Flat Track Derby Association championship, their first, in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Gotham leads with five WFTDA titles since the association's inception in 2004.
The Wall Street Journal reported that 1,250 amateur leagues exist worldwide, of which nearly half are outside of the United States.
Rose City Rollers is the world's largest league, and it's always recruiting.
Skaters competing at higher levels get away from tutus and fishnets and often skate under their real names, but Weber still texts her husband creative names she sees at tournaments.
In addition to Portland's league, Oregon also has the Lava City Roller Dolls (Bend), the Sick Town Derby Dames (Corvallis), the Emerald City Roller Girls (Eugene) and the Cherry City Derby Girls (Salem), among others.
There are junior teams, too. Portland's Rose Petals are ages 7-12, and the Rosebuds are 12-17.
Skaters even roll in their 70s.
"I could have done this in high school if it had been around," Weber says.
Weber started designing helmets "by accident" as she did so for Slim Sheety of the Break Neck Betties in 2009, and it became popular.
Custom Helmets by Tyger Bomb is her Facebook page, and she's shipped helmets to Germany, Ireland, South Korea and Australia.
Weber is on the Rose City Rollers board of directors and would like to be a jammer as she returns from knee surgery.
"Eight years in, with a new knee and a metal plate in my wrist," she says, "I can't see myself stopping."