Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

The Ladies of NOtown: Rita Ville

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The ladies of NOtown Roller Derby are back in action Saturday night, hosting a bruising bash at the Fresno Fairgrounds vs. the OC Roller Girls.

It’s always fascinating to get to know the ladies off the track, so we’ve asked a few of the NOtown gals to slow their roll and answer some questions for The Beehive.

We’ll start our series with Rita Ville.

Keep an eye out for more Ladies of NOtown features this week, as well as a chance to win tickets to Saturday’s bout. You could buy them for $10 in advance at SBI Boardshop, Twee Boutique or online at Brown Paper Tickets. They’ll cost $12 at the door. A portion of the proceeds benefit Fresno Bully Rescue.

Real Name: Jeannie Rooney
Age: 27
From: Sanger
Number: #5 o’ Clock
Position: Blocker and Jammer

How did you get initially get involved in roller derby?
I’ve been a competitive skater for many years and I started discussing skating with a girl I had met. This girl, who I later found out was Suzy Sweetknuckles, began talking about roller derby, which was something I had never heard of. I thought it was interesting so I went to the first practice and I’ve been with NOtown ever since.

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What was about it about derby that drew you in?
Skating has been a part of my life for a very long time. I used to go to the sessions at Cal Skate all the time, so the skating aspect was a big selling point. I’m also very competitive. This is a game of strategy and learning how to work with your teammates. It is extremely fun and not as outrageous as people think when they first hear about it. I highly recommend it.

What’s been your proudest moment in a bout thus far?
I am always proud when I am able to skate with the group of women involved in this sport, in front of our amazing crowd. So many people come out to support us and truly love the game. It makes it even better when we can share a win with them.

What’s the scariest thing you’ve encountered while playing roller derby?
Seeing anyone get injured is very scary. Roller Derby is a very competitive game and very real, so when you see someone go down or get injured it’s very hard to see.

In retrospect, was there a moment earlier in your life where you showed derby tendencies?
Not that I can think of, just skating. I have always been more comfortable skating than being on my own feet. Knowing how to skate is crucial to playing at a higher level in this sport.

It’s always fun to learn about the secret lives of derby girls. What’s your life like away from derby?
My days are filled with working full time, going to the gym and making crafts. I like keeping my endurance up so I regularly go to Zumba or any classes that involve dancing and cardio (especially on days we don’t have practice). I love crafts and frequent Michael’s often. I enjoy making things for people and regular hobbies include scrapbooking and crocheting.

How do people react when you tell them you play roller derby?
I come across as very quiet and conservative so it’s a surprise to most people. Usually it’s the shocked, open-mouth look along with the comment “You play roller derby? And you hit other people?” It’s really funny to see people’s reactions.

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The best thing about being a NoTown derby girl is … being a part of such a great organization.
Other than derby, the sport you’re really good at it is … competitive roller skating.
What gets you pumped up before a bout is … listening to great music.
One thing people would be surprised to learn about you is … I ask a lot of questions and talk a lot.
The No. 1 reason someone should come to a NoTown bout is … to see some amazing talent.

Here’s everything you need to know about Saturday’s bout. (Sidenote: “Wheel Housewives” is a pretty rad name, OC, well played.)


[photos: David Costa Photography]

Responses to "The Ladies of NOtown: Rita Ville"

Feisty says:

Thank you Mike for once again showing interest in and excellent coverage of the lesser known but thoroughly enjoyable pastimes available here in Fresno. Your support of local athletes, musicians, artists, restaurants and the like is why I keep reading your column!