There's nothing pretty about Pomp Adorable's style on a roller derby track.
But if knocking opposing skaters such as Thrasha Nova halfway to the other side of San Joaquín County with a hard and well-timed hip block helps teammates Marcella Mastícate and 2 Quik score points, Pomp Adorable is more than happy to do it. And after the crowd goes home and she takes off her skates, she's once again Brittany Herrera, a friendly stay-at-home mom from Stockton.
"It's as if Pomp is my alter ego, it's almost like you are a different person out there," Herrera said. "I'm known for big hits, so I went with a cutesy derby name to throw them off."
In the fast-paced, bruising world of women's roller derby, a player needs plenty of gumption and a good nickname. Pomp Adorable, Marcella Mastícate and teammates BeBe Brewski, Tess T. Rossa, Evil Angel and Milk of Amnesia have turned Port City into an undefeated, growing program that plans to expand to two teams to accommodate its 40 skaters.
Port City has a strong and loyal fan base, drawing a standing-room-only crowd of approximately 600 fans for their recent victory at the Stockton Indoor Sports Complex on North Ad Art Road. The rock music blares throughout the event and fans react to every point, hit and fall.
"Most times, if you try it once, you don't leave," 2 Quik, aka team president Lisa Anderson, said.
The Roller Girls aren't paid. Instead, they pay for their hobby with bruises and sometimes broken bones. But they share a passion for skating fast, and they enjoy the camaraderie.
"It's great exercise and an aggressive sport, and it's a great way to meet women your age," said 30-year-old Sarah 'Tess T. Rossa' Adkins of Stockton. "If you are out of school and don't go to bars, it's a great way to make friends. The number one thing I like about it is the people involved."
The Roller Girls often bring their children to practices and matches and take time off when necessary. Brenda 'Mean Mother Tucker' Ramsay recently had a child, but helps out as the marketing and media coordinator.
The win against the South Bay Derby MizFitz on July 14 was special because it was dedicated to Port City's 'Loco Lisa' Johnson, who passed away in July 2010 from a brain aneurysm. They replaced their green jerseys with pink ones, her favorite color.
"We love her and it was a fitting tribute," Anderson said.
The friendships go deeper than team colors. Although it was a rough match at times, the MizFitz and Roller Girls congratulated each other and visited after the game.
"We came here to play a game we all love and we're friends afterward, here and on Facebook," said Michelle 'Axe S. Denied' Bertolacci of the MizFitz. "We all go to the after party and talk smack about derby."
The Roller Girls were founded in 2006, and the club prides itself on being community oriented. Anderson, a Stockton resident, said some of the team's growth can be attributed to the 2009 roller derby film 'Whip It,' starring Drew Barrymore.
"I think it's growing partially because of the 'Whip It' movie, and partially because of word of mouth. Many people find it fun and it's very therapeutic," said Anderson, 42, who was a speed skater at one time and is one of the team's top jammers (scorers).
She points out that competitors don't need to know how to skate to join the team. The players will instruct newcomers. The team practices twice each week, and though a nickname isn't mandatory, almost every player adopts one.
The nicknames are unique to each player and are registered at a national website. And skaters have different reasons for choosing their nicknames. Kristie Ciccarelli of Modesto, a childhood friend Anderson's, picked the nickname Be Be Brewski because she loves beer. Marcella Mastícate, 27-year-old Marcella McCraw of Stockton, is an assistant manager for Starbucks.
"(Mastícate) means chew, and I chew 'em up," McCraw said. "I love the camaraderie, and I love to score points."
Teresa Hutchison, 28, a dental office manager from Lodi, recently joined the team and wanted a nickname that played off her profession. She settled on GingerFightis.
"I was looking at a couple of others which were taken, but I think this is a good one," Hutchison said. "I absolutely love this game. Once I tried it, I was completely hooked."
Hutchison played her first match in May and said she felt it for days later. Many of the Roller Girls have suffered serious injuries, the latest happening in the win against South Bay when Rachel 'Asian Assassin' Sotello broke her left ankle.
"It's tough and sometimes brutal, and it takes a real commitment," said 'Roadkill' Will McNeel, coach of Port City. "They are very dedicated to the sport."
Port City will begin playing doubleheaders with A and B squads at its home event on Sept. 8. New members are always welcome. All that is required is a sense of adventure, a pair of skates and a clever nickname.
"I think one of the main attractions is the fun we have together," Ciccarelli said. "It's a really great way to get your aggression out, that's for sure."