You probably haven’t heard of Lindsey Seiler. She’s just your average State Farm insurance salesman. She puts her shiny red booty shorts on one leg at a time, just like the rest of us.
Alright, I guess she’s not quite average.
When she laces up her skates, buckles the chin strap of her navy blue helmet and ties her American flag bandana around her neck, Seiler morphs into her alter ego Lulu Lockjaw, captain of the Boardwalk Bombshells.
“I get really heated,” Seiler said, “I yell at the refs. I yell at the other team. I want to win.”
On Saturday night, thanks to Seiler’s effort, the Boardwalk Bombshells did just that.
Seiler, who plays jammer, weaved between much larger OC Roller Girl blockers, delivering her fair share of punishing blows and scoring a game high 42 points to lead the Bombshells past the Orange County Roller Girls 95-87.
But a roller derby event is about more than just the game. The entire spectacle is what draws many to the sport, and Seiler delivered in that area as well. Attracted to her toughness, ability to dodge blockers, and fiery attitude, the crowd exploded during jams in which Seiler would skate.
One fan brought a sign that blinked the word “Lulu” in red lights and on a few occasions, the entire auditorium chanted Seiler’s derby name in unison.
Tickets for Saturday’s bout, for which Santa Cruz Auditorium was transformed into Santa Cruz Derby Girls Stadium, sold out, and the Oct. 23 bout, the final of the season, has already sold out, as well. Roller derby is a hit in Santa Cruz, but the newcomer status of the sport allows for an intimacy unattainable at most major sporting events.
During the action, announcers gave out T-shirts and interviewed fans, and a DJ played music to set the festive mood. After the bout, fans went onto the floor to chat with the derby girls and get autographs, as announcer Timothy Jordan reminded fans, “Roller derby isn’t over until last call at the after party.”
In what other sport do fans and players drink together after the game? And how many times have you gone to a sporting event dressed like Spiderman?
Saturday’s theme was superheroes – each derby bout has a theme. Fans are encouraged to dress up, and at least half of the 1,000 or so in attendance did.
Auntie Choke, whose niece plays for the Harbor Hellcats, the second of Santa Cruz’s three derby teams, came dressed as Hit Girl, a character from the movie “Kick Ass.” It might seem strange to wear a purple wig, purple tights and black paint around the eyes while standing on the Santa Cruz Fire Department’s lawn, but Choke looked right at home among the hordes of superheroes lined up an hour and a half before the bout.
“It turns out that dressing up is optional for the audience, unless you are a derby aunt. Derby aunts are required,” Choke joked, adjusting her wig, which had shifted in her exhilaration. “So here I am!”
Choke was talking with Susan Nilsson, known as Dewey Decibel, of the Seabright Sirens, the newest Santa Cruz derby team, and her friend Brian Escobar.
Nilsson wore silver booty shorts and silver knee high boots, and Escobar dressed as Shipwreck, a character from G.I. Joe.
“Dressing up to come to the events makes you feel more a part of the team and shows that you’re an absolute fan,” Escobar said. “And it definitely motivates the actual derby chicks when they see that the entire crowd is as dressed up as they are.”
Escobar is new to the sport, but he has grown to love the game and the event as a whole, he said.
“I like to see a lot of girls with a lot of energy beat the crap out of each other,” Escobar said.
Curtis and Eddie Ruth Vance, an elderly couple from Watsonville, did not dress up, but they consider themselves avid derby fans. Saturday night was the couple’s fourth time watching the Bombshells, and the two have been to Santa Rosa to watch the Bay Bombers on numerous occasions.
Asked if she would have played roller derby if it were around when she was younger, Eddie Ruth thought a second, turned toward Curtis, and grinned. Her gray bob bounced as she nodded her head and chuckled.
“You betcha!” she said.