Andrea McCovey has been a Tsunami Siren for three years and was one of the original members when the roller derby team formed in 2010.
Yet on Saturday, McCovey, known in the derby world as "Demo-Licious," laced up her skates for her first home bout ever - and took an elbow in the face.
"I feel like I did good minus the broken nose," she said, blood oozing out of her right nostril. "I heard a crunch and I thought that's what it was. But they said there would have been more blood if it was (broken)."
With her friends and family watching, McCovey said she felt nervous, almost as if she were still "fresh meat" (a term for rookies) trying to muscle her way through an opposing team for the first time ever. And she wasn't alone.
It was also veteran skater Skylar "Stormy Seize" Bieraugel's first home bout since the team formed. She, McCovey and five other skaters made their debut as the Tsunami Sirens took on the Jefferson State Maidens of Mayhem from Yreka.
The competition was fierce, with several Sirens winding up in the penalty box. At one point during the bout, only one Crescent City skater was left to keep the other side from scoring before enough teammates were free to help her.
"That's typical for new skaters," said the coach, Jack "Old Xchool" Gollaher. "We don't expect (veterans) to be in a lot of trouble."
But for all the penalties the Sirens received, they still won 262-129. They donated $1,000 of the proceeds from the bout to the Del Norte Youth Soccer Association.
Bieraugel said a broken ankle kept her off the roller derby track two years ago. She wasn't able to play a home bout last season because she was pregnant with her second child.
Now, with a 4-year-old and a 7-month-old, Bieraugel said it's a big deal for her to be playing at home.
"I'm back from maternity leave," she said, adding that the Sirens' coach allows skaters to play offense, as jammers, on a rotating basis. "We're JV out there. If we were the varsity squad (the opposing team) would probably have no points."
Even though they were sitting alongside a Crescent City roller rink, spectators Ken Van Buren and Dawn Jagt rooted for the Maidens of Mayhem - the team with fewer points.
"Push like you're giving birth!" Van Buren yelled as a Jefferson State jammer fought her way through a pack of Crescent City blockers.
Van Buren and Jagt had traveled from Oregon to cheer on the Portland men's roller derby team, the Bridgetown Menace, as they faced off against the Deep Valley Belligerents of Ukiah. The men's bout followed the women's.
"We eat, sleep and drink derby in Portland," said Van Buren, who goes by the moniker "Next of Ken" for the Portland Bone Daddies, another team up north. "We breathe derby in Portland."
Roller derby is a great outlet for small towns that have few resources, Van Buren said, adding that he attended a bout in Hermiston, Ore., population 16,939. He said he learned about derby in Portland at the Oaks Park roller rink.
"I was born into it," he said.
Jagt, who also plays and goes by the moniker "Dawn-a-dirty," said seeing the Rose City Rollers women's league at the Portland gay pride parade inspired her to start skating.
"I said, oh my god I have to do that.' And I did," she said, adding that she started a league in the neighboring town of Vancouver, Wash.
Shelly "Sister Rage" Gollaher said she laced her skates up about four months ago. She had just moved to Del Norte County from Colorado with her husband and three kids when the coach, her father-in-law, inspired her to join.
"This is where I've been since," she said. "I wanted to get out there and kick some butt. For my first bout I'd say I did pretty good."
Jen Hurley also made her debut alongside Shelly Gollaher. Known as "State Pen Jen" because of her job as a correctional officer, Hurley said she hadn't skated in 20 years before December.
Hurley added that Saturday was a first for her parents too.
"My mother said she seen it on TV and was assuming it was the '70s version and I think Dad said he'd never seen it before," Hurley said, referring to a time when roller derby was broadcast on television. "They loved it. It's the closest my dad's going to get to me playing football."
The Tsunami Sirens' next bout will be against the Red Bluff Derby Girls in Red Bluff on May 4. The Sirens' next home bout will be July 20, also against Red Bluff.
For more information, visit www.northcoastrollerderby.com .
Reach Jessica Cejnar at email@example.com .