Since the inception of the North Coast Roller Derby, Tsunami Sirens head coach Jack “Coach Old Xchool” Gollaher has been the patriarch of NCRD’s most visible roller derby family.
Coach Old Xchool’s daughter Danielle “Ragin’ Reg” Arispe is a founding member and former captain of the Sirens, and her husband Joe “Sloppy Joe” Arispe began helping to coach and eventually practice with the Sirens while skating with a men’s team in Ukiah.
Skating with family is an everyday occurrence for them.
“It isn’t any different than life has always been,” Ragin’ Reg said.
Ragin’ Reg first got into skating when she was about 6 years old along with her brother Joe “Smokin’ Joe” Gollaher, who is becoming a referee for the NCRD, on a speed skating team that Coach Old Xchool helped coach.
Over 30 years later, all three are heavily involved in the roller derby, as is Smokin’ Joe’s wife Shelly
Practicing for six hours a week and going on road trips with so many family members can get tense at times.
“For a lot of these other girls it is their getaway from their family and their home life, and it is not for me,” Ragin’ Reg said.
Although skating with family can test her patience, it has also given Ragin’ Reg a unique relationship with her father.
“What other 40-year-old women get to spend this much time with their dad? I don’t know anybody that gets to do what I get to do with my father,” Ragin’ Reg said. “That is probably the coolest part — that and now watching my nephew. He is the best skater out there. He just makes me beam.”
With the arrival of the junior derby this year, even more local families have begun diving into the sport together. Many of the Sirens have children who are now skating for the junior team.
Ana “Autopsy’ana” Jaime has been skating with the Sirens for several years now. While her sons Izzy “Izz Man” Soria and Ceasar “Twista” Soria have gone to bouts with faces painted to cheer on their mother, this is the first time they have all been involved in the sport.
“It just makes it that much more exciting to have the whole family involved in the sport instead of mom just having her thing and exiling herself from all the other family functions,” Autopsy’ana said. “I picked up this sport that has consumed me. But now the kids are involved and we can all grow together into it. That’s what makes it fun.”
The three watch roller derby together nearly every morning as Autopsy’ana explains the finer points of the game and situations to her sons.
“If you watch more derby, your kids will pick it up fast,” Autopsy’ana said. “They are little sponges, and they are ready to learn anything.”
Autopsy’ana helps coach at some of the juniors’ practices, and her sons sometimes can be seen running the penalty box sometimes at Sirens scrimmages.
“It is something that we can do together,” Autopsy’ana said. “There are other sports that families can play together, like basketball, but there really isn’t another sport that a mom can do with her sons.”
While some of the new junior derby families have their mom’s skating experience to lean on, several other juniors that are new to the sport are learning about roller derby right along with their parents.
Dan Moore, Brandon Martin and Chris Butz have all joined their children at roller derby practice as assistant coaches.
For Butz, it all started when his daughter Collette got a pair of skates for Christmas.
“She was just skating around in the house, pretty much just down the halls and through the kitchen,” Butz said.
So a couple weeks after the junior derby kicked off, Butz signed up Collette and her older sister Sequoia. Butz, who said he didn’t know much about roller derby prior to this year, wasn’t planning to coach at first.
“I just wanted to be here to support my children, especially since they are just starting,” Butz said. “I came to practice with them and helped them out and encouraged them. Coach Old Xchool saw that in me, Brandon and Dan, and he signed us up. We were pretty much told that we were assistant coaches.”
Since then, Butz has been studying up.
“It has been really interesting,” he said. “I actually learned more at the last Sirens bout than I had been able to learn on my own. There are books and books of rules and regulations, but going to the Sirens bout really taught me the fundamentals and the basic do’s and don’t’s of the sport itself. There is still a lot that I don’t know though.”
Butz will continue to learn the nuances of roller derby right along with his daughters. While the North Coast Roller Derby has always strived to provide family-friendly entertainment, its is now also a family-friendly activity.