Author Archive: PVRD

Pioneer Valley Roller Derby Founders Retire

Photo of Bazooka JoeAfter 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.

Photo of Pink PanzerWhen 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.

Statement on Sexual Violence in Roller Derby

Pioneer Valley Roller Derby has been carefully following the recent developments in the ongoing discussion regarding sexual assault and sexual violence in roller derby. Many of our members have been personally vocal about their experiences and the need for systemic changes in our community; we support our survivors speaking their truths and encourage everyone to read the stories collected at It Happens In Derby. We have also determined that it’s time for our organization, as a whole, to share our stance and the steps we have put into place over the past few years to further our mission to be an inclusive community that does not tolerate sexual violence.

PVRD is committed to fostering, in our league and in derby, an active consent culture. We believe in supporting survivors; we believe in comprehensive and pro-active policies around violence, sexual violence, and misuse of authority; we believe in making space for speaking up, not silencing; we believe in the multiplicity of survivor experiences and the complexity of trauma, and reject the “good victim” catch-22 and any invalidation of survivor narratives based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or ability; we believe in due process according to the best practices of trauma-informed policy; we reject the narrative that because we play a physical and contact sport, this entitles fellows players, coaches, officials, or other community members to access to anyone’s body outside of the strict confines of that sport. We believe that roller derby’s culture of empowerment, queerness, and quirkiness, can—and MUST—also be a culture of care and justice.

If you are a guest of PVRD, or a member of our community, please be aware that we have implemented an internal grievances policy. If you are concerned about your safety in PVRD spaces, or if you have an experience with a member of the PVRD community that you believe needs to be addressed, please contact info@pioneervalleyrollerderby.com. Your story is important to us and we will do our utmost to engage with you openly and respectfully.

Our Board of Directors will also be reviewing our knowledge and capacities as an organization, with an eye towards engaging outside expertise to improve our ability to be proactive and informed regarding issues of sexual violence. Pioneer Valley Roller Derby is committed to being a community that is free from violence in all of its forms, and supporting the larger roller derby community in eradicating sexual violence from the sport.