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The Garden Isle Renegade Rollerz are ready to rumble, but first it must sell donuts

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The Garden Isle Renegade Rollerz will travel to Hawai‘i Island later this month for the state’s first roller derby bout in three years. Photo Courtesy: Renegade Rollerz

The Garden Isle Renegade Rollerz are gearing up for the roller derby league’s first official bout in three years, but before the women bump and battle, they are going to sell fresh donuts — all across Kaua’i on Saturday.

The league needs to raise funds to cover travel expenses for the much anticipated season opener later this month against Big Island Roller Derby on Hawai’i Island.

“This is actually the first game happening in the entire state of Hawaiʻi since COVID, so we’re very excited to be a part of it,” Garden Isle co-captain Mele Khalsa said.

Khalsa has been a member of the Renegade Rollerz for 11 of the club’s 13-year existence. It currently includes about 25 women, ranging in age from 18 to their mid-50s.

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Many members, like Khalsa’s co-captain Katryna “Kat 5” Weir, are young mothers who gather to practice in Kapa‘a each Thursday and Sunday.

Weir is a self-described sports junkie who discovered roller derby in 2020, after taking up roller skating at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

  • A game of roller derby pits two teams of five (consisting of one point-scoring “jammer” and four “blockers”) against one another. Photo Courtesy: Renegade Rollerz
  • Renegade Rollerz co-captains Mele Khalsa and Katryna “Kat 5” Weir celebrate Halloween and their favorite sport in October. Photo Courtesy: Renegade Rollerz
  • The roller derby world loves nicknames, according to Katryna “Kat 5” Weir. Here, Loni “Goldie Knocks” Delaplane takes to the track. Photo Courtesy: Renegade Rollerz

The Hawai‘i Island matchup will be Weir’s first real “bout” (the term used for a game of roller derby). But she now has two years of practice in the contact sport, which sees each team’s “jammer” attempt to score by lapping the opposition’s four “blockers” on a circuit.

“That’s what I think the coolest part is: you’re a mom all day long, and it’s hard and stressful,” Weir said. “Then you gotta go and hit your friends.

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“It just feels so good. There’s so much going on at once when you go to practice. All your stresses just go away, because you can’t think about anything else when you’re playing.”

Roller derby is an ever-growing sport with more than 2,000 leagues worldwide, according to the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic website teamusa.org.

In addition to the Renegade Rollers and Big Island Roller Derby, extant leagues in Hawai‘i include Pacific Roller Derby in Honolulu, Paradise Roller Girls in Hilo and the Maui Roller Girls. Another league, O‘ahu’s Aloha City Rollers, became defunct in 2017 but maintains a website with training resources.

Khalsa believes the sport’s chief draw is the sense of community it fosters. Her own club’s membership goes beyond skaters to include non-skating officials, referees and others.

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“Roller derby is a group of very strong, passionate and empowered women, and we have a really great time together,” Khalsa said.

“We help lift each other up and be our strongest, best selves in a lot of ways … I love it.”

Saturday’s fundraiser will feature freshly-baked Krispy Kreme donuts flown directly from Maui. Twelve-count boxes will sell for $15 at Renegade Rollerz tents located near the NoKa Fair parking lot in Kapa‘a; the Roberts bus station in Hanama‘ulu; Sueoka Market in Koloa; and Hofgaard Park in Waimea.

The fundraiser will run from 8 to 11 a.m., or until supplies run out. Visit the Garden Isle Renegade Rollerz on Facebook for more information.

Scott Yunker
Scott Yunker is a freelance journalist living on Kauaʻi. His work for community newspapers has earned him awards and inclusion in the 2020 anthology "Corona City: Voices from an Epicenter."
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