All laced up with nowhere to go
By Blair Tellers
|A South County Derby Girls team photo.|
"We don't want to hold practice in San Jose, but right now, we're considering going outside of Gilroy," says team spokeswoman Cristina Tuckness, aka "Bullet."
If the one-year-old team can't find a new home, she said, "we're probably going to have to go to San Jose."
Right now, these saucy skaters practice in a vacant warehouse at 8425 Monterey Road. The spot belongs to Jim Currier, owner of a local company called Flowstar, Inc. that creates modular cleanrooms. He allows the derby girls to practice in the 15,000-square-feet of superfluous space inside the 42,500-square-foot building.
The ladies' rough-and-tumble days inside the industrial 1930s edifice, however, are coming to a slow skid.
Several months ago, Currier offered his building rent-free for five years to the burgeoning Gilroy Compassion Center: A hoped-for, year-round homeless shelter that is a grassroots vision advocates are working to solidify.
Ironically, a new refuge for the homeless means the derby girls are, well, homeless - or soon to be, if they can't lock down a new headquarters.
Currier hasn't charged the derby girls rent, but is happy to give his "awesome" tenants a stand-up reference.
"They're very respectful, very considerate young women," he said. "They're very civic-minded. They're nice, and neat and clean. They obey all the rules, have good insurance and cause no trouble at all. I would recommend them to anyone who has a facility that's more suited to their needs."
Currier pointed out the flat practice track inside his Monterey warehouse is too short, leaving little room for spectators and "bouts," or, official games.
"We were so happy to have it," said Tuckness, of their temporary digs. "But we knew we weren't going to have it forever."
Optimally, the fish-netted femme fatales will scout a building with a flat surface and roof, she said. Desired elbow room would be around 5,000-square-feet.
But as winter approaches and the Compassion Center collects momentum, the clock is ticking. The ladies aren't picky, Tuckness said. They're willing to roll with the punches and work with what becomes available.
She reiterated, "there are ideal situations, but because we're having such a hard time, we'll consider any flat surface, inside or outside."
The team is preemptively fattening its piggy bank, holding fundraisers like their recent "Bruiser Bash" at the 9 Lives Night Club in downtown Gilroy. Ongoing shindigs coupled with member dues will go toward rent, uniforms and hosting a bout by the end of the year.
With a squadron of 30 women - give or take - the derby girls are a hyper-local manifestation of a national resurgence spanning Florida to Alaska, Illinois to Texas. There's no reason Gilroy should be left out, Tuckness said.
Considering their organization a representation of the city, she emphasized the goal of purchasing professional uniforms.
"We want the community to be proud of us. We don't want to look trashy," she said.
As Currier mentioned earlier, the team is serious about philanthropy and volunteering. They've showed up at local outreach gatherings such as Project Homeless Connect, Adopt-a-Spot and the Extreme Youth Event. Future commitments have them scheduled to host a bake sale during a fundraiser Aug. 14 for the for the victims of a July 19 car crash, in addition to volunteering August 26 at the Bow Wow Luau at the Gilroy Golf Course.
"We're trying to get our foot in the door with anything and everything Gilroy," says Tuckness. "Everybody on our team is so ready to make a positive difference in the community. We want to promote Gilroy, and be proud of our space."
Tuckness said they've brought their case to city officials several times over the last four months, but requests to rent a city-owned facility have been denied.
"They have turned us down every time," she said. "They don't feel that the skates would be ideal on their flooring."
She argued the team will diligently ensure floors are cleaned and returned to their original appearance.
"That's part of a lease," she said. "When you leave a place, you make sure you leave it in as good of a condition as when you rented it."
Having unsuccessfully tried their luck with the city, the skaters are scouting for a private property owner. They're ready to sweeten the deal by splitting ticket profits from bouts 50/50 with their landlord.
Despite good references, a focus on giving back to the community and responsible prerequisites - all players are required to fill out paperwork, be insured and don the appropriate safety gear - the hunt has come to a standstill.
"We are all about Gilroy and South County," said Tuckness. "We want to support businesses where we live. We are a big part of the community. We want to find a home in Gilroy. We're not picky. We will work with anybody."
Scrimmages and volunteer appearances
- The South County Derby Girls cater to participants from Gilroy, Morgan Hill, Hollister and surrounding areas
- Exhibition scrimmage: 11:30 a.m., Aug. 20 during the Summer Fest Car and Motorcycle Show at Gilroy High School at 750 W. 10th Street. Cost is $5.
- Practices are open to all skill levels. Temporary Derby headquarters are located at 8425 Monterey Rd.
- For additional details on the events listed above, or to contact one of the derby girls, visit their website www.southcountyderbygirls.org. The group also responds quickly to posts on their Facebook page.
Blair Tellers is a staff writer for the Gilroy Dispatch. Reach her at
firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 847-7158.