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Turlock roller derby team returns to action
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The SINtral Valley Roller Derby team has returned to competition at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds (CHRISTOPHER CORREA/The Journal).

SINtral Valley Roller Derby, and all-girls roller derby league, is back on track after the pandemic put most the team’s activities and events on pause. Turlock’s team is set to have their first game of the 2022 season on June 11 and have been practicing diligently every week at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds.

Coach Cetrina Rugado, better known as her derby name Boppin, explained how the past three years have impacted the sport.

“We used to have two teams, the Sinners and the Innocence, but this year we're just combining them into one team,” Rugado explained. “Over the three years, some girls retired, some girls have moved away and then a lot just weren't ready to come back until they felt like it was safe.”

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Cetrina "Boppin" Rugado coaches her squad for the upcoming season (CHRISTOPHER CORREA/The Journal).

Aside from the Sinners and the Innocence, they also have a junior team named the MoTown Misfits and a coed team called the Regulars. Together, there are nearly 40 women who are actively participating in roller derby. Rugado added that the teams will be looking to bring in new members throughout the year.

“We have recruiting coming up in a couple of weeks and we're hoping to really boost our junior team and get some fresh faces,” she said. “We have a recruitment night, which is an informational night where girls can come out. We answer all the questions about what dues are going to be, what kind of gear to buy, where to get that gear, what practice looks like.”

Rugado said that roller derby is a unique sport and is much more than just roller skating. It can be described as a mix between hockey, football and rugby.

“You have five people from each team on the track at a time,” she explained. “Two of them have stars on the side of their head and they are point scorers. These point scorers are called jammers, so their job is to get through the pack. Every time they go around the track and pass through the pack again they get a point. You’re trying to help your jammer crew and stop their jammer at the same time, and all within 30 feet 20 feet.”

Considering the proximity, Rugado makes it a point of emphasis to those interested in joining that it is a full-contact sport.

Rugado has been involved in roller derby for 16 years while SINtral Valley Roller Derby first began nearly six years ago in Modesto. Since then, Rugado is proud of how far the sport has come, even after the struggles caused by the pandemic.

“It's a cool community,” she said. “We hang out a lot and we're all great friends.”

Those interested in participating or watching SINtral Valley Roller Derby are encouraged to follow their Facebook page at @sintralvalleyderbygirls and Instagram account at @sintralvalleyderbygirls.