A group of roller derby queens is making a new home for themselves in downtown Santa Rosa, turning a former furniture store into a skating rink where they hope to host bruising bouts for up to 700 people.
For the past two weeks, members of the Wine Country HomeWreckers roller derby team have been ripping up rugs, hauling away debris and polishing floors — often while wearing their skates — as they transform the former Furniture 2000 store on Mendocino Avenue into an entirely new type of venue for the downtown.
"When we look at this space, it has endless possibilities," said Mari-Dantia Almeida, who skates under the name D. Enforcer.
Roller Derby Rink In Santa Rosa
After-school skating programs, roller derby bouts for up to 700 spectators, live music and a variety of other special events are envisioned for the 13,000-square-foot space, which Almeida and two other veteran skaters are investing in and plan to lease back to the league.
The HomeWreckers, the main team in the Sonoma County Roller Derby league founded in 2007, needed to find a new home after a faction loyal to the Cal Skate roller rink in Rohnert Park formed their own league, the Resurrection Roller Girls, and elbowed them out.
The rift occurred in February largely over differing views about how the league should be managed, including whether they should seek larger venues given that their bouts at Cal Skate were selling out.
The HomeWreckers wanted to grow, but Resurrection Roller Girls opted to stay put. The HomeWreckers are also pretty hard-core. The premier team in the Sonoma County Roller Derby league, the team is highly competitive and a member of the national Women's Flat Track Derby Association, the major leagues for the fast-growing sport.
Asked how the HomeWreckers differ from their sisters at Cal Skate, Erica Hart, a.k.a Honey D. Linkwent, pulled open her lower lip to reveal the letters SCRD tattooed on the inside.
"Dedication," she said.
Despite their differences, Hart said skaters in the two leagues remain close and supportive of one another.