Pandemic has left local roller derby team without home and short on members

Hurricane Alley Roller Derby currently practices behind the Portland Community Center
Hurricane Alley Roller Derby.jpg
Posted at 4:44 PM, Jul 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-14 19:39:10-04

PORTLAND, Texas — The pandemic has created a few issues for the Hurricane Alley Roller Derby team. Like most everything else, HARD shut down in March of 2020, and so did their home facility.

The team started practicing early this year for the first time since the pandemic started. Fewer people have shown up since they’ve restarted, and they still don’t have a home facility.

“When COVID hit, we lost our practice facility, because they were a government facility,” said Holly “Hollypop” Hall, the director of bouts for the team. “Now that COVID is over, they’re renovating their facilities, so they’re out for about three years.”

Without a place to practice, the team resorted to finding as large an outdoor space as could hold them, and practiced in the parking lot at Water’s Edge Park.

“Somebody complained and we got kicked out by police,” Hall said.

Currently, the team holds practice under the pavilion behind the Portland Community Center.

“So far it’s been the only facility that we’ve been able to have steady practices at,” said Jordan “Lady D-vil” Linley.

There are just a few problems to their current arraignment.

“The challenge is the heat, of course,” Hall said.

Despite holding their practices early in the morning or late in the evening, the South Texas summer heat is no joke. On top of the heat, the pavilion houses a basketball court, and that provides two other challenges: a lack of space and competition for use.

HARD can’t reserve the space for their use, it is available on a first-come-first-serve use. Meaning, if someone is using the basketball courts, HARD has to either share the space, or wait until the people are finished. Also, the court is not nearly big enough to be used as a full-sized track, so they need to work on a smaller track, with fewer people on the track.

The women of HARD make it work with their current situation, but are actively looking for a new home.

“It’s just really hard to find indoor facilities that allow people to skate on, and a big enough space to actually skate on, because a lot places aren’t big enough,” said Marci “Lordt Have Marci” Martinez. “Or that’s not going to charge an arm and a leg, because we are a non-profit organization,” Linley added.

On top of issues with practice, a lack of a home facility has also prevented HARD from hosting home bouts, causing a further financial strain due to not having money coming from fans coming to watch.

“In a regular season, we’d have about seven home bouts,” Hall said, but no home bouts can be held until they find a place to call home.

On the topic of a shortage of members, HARD is accepting newcomers to the team. No prior roller derby experience is needed.

“You feel awesome,” Linley said. “You feel invincible and strong.”

The team practices on Mondays and Wednesdays from 7-9 p.m. behind the Portland Community Center, and ‘fresh meat’ practices are available to newbies on Sundays from 8-10 a.m., also at the Portland Community Center.

“People that you see roller skating, they’re moms, they’re people in professions,” Martinez said. “People are teachers and professors in universities play in our league. It’s really awesome to watch people that you know in different personas. It’s like the Clark Kent, you see a normal person, and then you see their roller derby.”

Anyone interested in joining the team, or with any information on a place available for rent can contact the team on its Facebook page.