The Salina Sirens got together at The Blind Pig this past Saturday night for their End of Year Party.
And, while this season may not have been their most successful, you can’t tell that by looking at the team.
Posi, Sirens team captain, says that the record of each season is not what matters. What does matter is that each team member grows as a person and that they grow as a team.
Indeed, no matter who you ask, that seems to be the common theme.
Diamond, another team member, says that her favorite part of this is watching her friends grow and get better at what they love to do.
And, that is why each woman does this: because, they love it. They love being a part of something that is bigger than themselves.
Each woman has a life outside of roller derby. They are city planners, teachers, carpet layers, bank executives, office managers and medical executives.
Their coach, John Schreiber, is even a business owner.
In his five years of coaching the Salina Sirens, he has had one goal: to empower women to reach their goals. To do so, he focuses on team growth and inspiring each woman to grow.
While Coach Schreiber may see his team as a success, he and the Sirens can only hope that one day, the community will see them that way too.
Players who are part of the Salina Sirens are not all from Salina. Some come from as far away as Hays, Wichita, Junction City, and Abilene for something that they just can’t find in other teams. Support and a sense of worth.
No El Paso drives from Wichita just to be part of the Sirens.
Punch ‘er Down Brown played on a league in Japan.
Indeed, their players are from all over and every walk of life. So, when the Sirens wonder why their is no community support or encouragement, they are at a loss.
The War of Wheels is an annual tournament put on at the Tony’s Pizza Events Center, hosting area Roller Derby teams. In 2017, the event, which is held each August, brought in $36,000 to the community of Salina. This is according to a public report released by the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce on what dollar figure each event brings in through hotel stays, restaurant visits, etc…
And that is only one tournament.
The team was sponsered by a local radio station for a season with enough money given to the Salina Sirens to cover the expenses for the season. That meant the girls could focus on playing and not have to manage the business aspect. In return, it was their best season to date with a record of 10-2.
None of that has happened since.
Sponsorship now comes from area businesses to help the players pay for dues, uniforms, and traveling expenses incurred throughout the season. Each player spends their own time finding a business that will sponsor them.
These women take on multiple roles. Not only are they moms, wives, family members, and members of our community, but they are also business managers, travel planners, and salespeople for the sport that they love.
While Roller Derby is now the fastest growing sport in the world (the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame now has a section for Roller Derby, which includes the first inductee, Sweet Assassin, a member of Salina Sirens), this group of ladies wants their passion for what they love to be passed on in their own community.
That might become a reality by way of the Junior Roller Derby.
The Junior Team is currently taking players age 11-17.
Sonny is one of those players. She is 14 and has been skating for four years. Her favorite part of all this is being part of a family.
While the average length of play is three years (think of playing football, basketball, and wrestling all at once), the oldest player for the Salina Sirens is Sweet Assassin, who is 56. The youngest are in their 20’s. All different body types are also on the team and each has a specific purpose and special gift they bring to each game.
Even with sponsors, the support of each other and their family, the Salina Sirens know one thing is missing.
The support of their community. While venues out of town can easily pack over 3,000 people in to see a Roller Derby event, Salina can barely break 300.
The next event for Salina Sirens is a tournament in Pennsylvania. It is an All-Star type tournament and out of the 20 players chosen for this, six came from the Salina Sirens.
Boot Camp is after that, where hopeful players can come and see what this sport is truly about.
The first game will be held in March. You can find more information on it by visiting the Salina Sirens Facebook page, www.facebook.com/SalinaSirensRollerDerby.