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With public events very slow to restart during the pandmic, here's what's new with roller derby at Oaks Park

DAVID F. ASHTON - In an unpublished BEE photo taken last August inside The Hanger at Oaks Amusement Park, members of the Rose City Rollers were busy warming up.Their sport offers rewards for speed and aggressiveness. But Sellwood's Rolse City Rollers are taking a deliberate approach to restarting their popular roller derby program at "The Hanger" at Oaks Amusement Park.

Even though she projects that the Rose City Rollers will finish 2020 with a loss of some $100,000, 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 observed 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 that 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 remarked that the organization chose protocols during this phase that are stricter than required, using guidelines 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 at Oaks Park. Skaters will enter the facility on the east side, and exit through the west side of the structure. To improve ventilation, the large doors at each end of The Hanger will remain open when skating is in progress. 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 roller derby operations are: Small-group skating with contact, following by team practices; then scrimmage practice sessions – and finally, games. Those games are likely to happen without fans present, but be live-streamed on the Internet to generate revenue. Stegeman said that about 80% 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 back 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 fundraising 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 are also launching a Skatemobile – a truck, stocked with skates – that can bring 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 online – www.rosecityrollers.com "A lot of fun things are afoot," grinned Stegeman.


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