Nora Mahan claimed she didn't know what to wear when she decided on a whim Tuesday to try out for Santa Rosa's fledgling roller derby league.

But clearly she did.

The 25-year-old New Orleans transplant cut a mean silhouette in a yellow head-to-toe body suit on the flat track court behind a wall of windows on Mendocino Avenue in downtown Santa Rosa.

So what if she hadn't touched a pair of roller skates in about 15 years?

"I figure it's personality that matters," Mahan said.

Eighteen brave souls laced up and spun around the track for more than two hours to prove they could maneuver the circular track on four wheels, all while jostling for position, yelling instructions to teammates and falling with grace.

Six of the candidates had tried roller derby before and 12 were totally new to the sport, said Roxanne Neditch, a.k.a. Roxy8arr, head coach and Sonoma County Roller Derby CEO.

Over the next week, league members will place the women on one of two teams, the Wine Country HomeWreckers or the North Bay Bruisers. People who need more practice will be placed on a training team.

"We're really excited to start working with these girls," Neditch said.

Many of the women had attended a roller derby boot camp in February and practiced at weekly Tuesday drop-in nights.

Holly Creel, 31, of Santa Rosa, said it was a guaranteed night to herself when her husband's in charge of their 2-year-old daughter.

Members of Sonoma County Roller Derby, a recent offshoot of the Rohnert Park-based Resurrection Roller Girls, have been transforming a 13,000-square-foot space vacated by the former Furniture 2000 store into a flat track course and event space.

Lacing up for tryouts in a back room filled with reclaimed lockers and vintage candy machines, Cloverdale bankruptcy attorney Lindsay Smith, 38, said it's a way to blow off steam after long hours at the firm.

"I'm tired of my kids having all the fun," Smith said.

The next tryout is tentatively planned for May.

The league holds drop-in nights every Tuesday from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Wrecking Yard on Mendocino Avenue. For information, visit

You can reach Staff Writer Julie Johnson at 521-5220 or