After twelve years of immense and heartfelt dedication to the growth of our sport, Pioneer Valley Roller Derby founders Bazooka Joe (Jake) and Pink Panzer (Sarah) are retiring from skating. They were co-chairs and co-owners of the league from 2006 through 2014, and when the league transitioned from an LLC to a non-profit business structure, Jake continued his service to PVRD for another two years as the league’s treasurer. Jake was also the architect behind the Pioneer Valley Roller Derby, Western Mass Destruction, and Dirty Dozen logos, as well as the designer for countless bout posters, promotional materials, and event programs over the years. Sarah has coached and led PVRD’s Juniors program since 2013, and captained both Western Mass Destruction and the Quabbin Missile Crisis for several seasons during her tenure.
Jake was famous for his fancy footwork, killer offense, and no-nonsense efficiency in both practice and league operations. Knowing Jake was playing offense was every new jammer’s greatest comfort in scrimmages. His player number, 49, was even immortalized in LEGO minifigure form as a thank-you and homage to his contributions to roller derby. Sarah’s blocking was legendary, but what was even more remarkable was her steady presence on the track, through which she helped her teammates be strategic and effective. As a mentor to nearly everyone in the league, she noticed the little ways in which people could improve their skills, and expressed that insight thoughtfully.
When Jake and Sarah introduced the sport to the Pioneer Valley, their mission was to create a community space that welcomed all prospective skaters, even though the modern roller derby revival until that point was women-only. In adhering to that mission, they ensured that PVRD continually pushed the boundaries of what the sport could look like, and laid the groundwork for the creation of the first all- and no- gender team, PVRD’s United Front.
Jake and Sarah will be sorely missed on the track. Their vision is what brought our league into existence, and their commitment and athleticism are what helped shape our league into what it is today. To honor their legacy, we will be retiring their player numbers, 49 and 88, from PVRD. We thank them both for everything they’ve done to make the Pioneer Valley an amazing place to play derby; it means the world to us.