The Curry Coastal Pilot

The Tsunami Sirens are starting to prepare for the team's third full season in the North Coast Roller Derby.

The Sirens return a strong core group of players who already have two or three season under their belt. This season will be a little bit different, however, as the Sirens are looking to ramp up their level of competition.

"We are looking at some tough bouts," said president of the North Coast Roller Derby, Liz "TecHer Some Respect" Calleja. "We have stepped up to some more challenging bouts because a lot of our players are now going on their third-plus year skating and we are ready for more."

Although the Sirens have a strong core of experienced players, about half of the team is still in the learning stages of development.

"For those of us that have been around a while, it is not a big deal," said Tsunami Sirens captain Danielle "Ragin' Reg" Arispe. "But for the newer skaters, they are going to see a little bit different caliber of teams this year."

Although many of the newer skaters will be challenged more this season, the Sirens believe they are ready for the jump.

"We were just at that juncture," Arispe said. "We blew away most of the teams we played in front of our home crowd. Sure, everybody likes to see us win, but I think people would rather see a good game. We are just at the point that we need to push ourselves."

A full Roller Derby roster consists of 14 skaters. The Tsunami Sirens have 14 or 15 skaters in the program currently, but only half of them have ever skated in a bout before.

With only five skaters on the track at any given time, the Sirens are confident they will have enough skaters to challenge teams.

"I would say our strength is probably our hustle," Calleja said. "We have a pretty good core group of people that is pretty committed to practicing and attending all of our meetings. We went to our last bout with 10 skaters and the other team had 14 and we won. Our skaters are used to skating all the time with no breaks."

One potential problem for the Sirens early in the season is that most of the returning skaters prefer to be blockers. The team is hoping to find some more jammers.

"We have a lot of new jammers," Arispe said. "Developing them is going to be a big deal when we go against these higher caliber teams. I might have to don the star a little bit more this season. That is generally not my favorite position."

The jammers are the skaters who score points for the team. While they may get most of the glory, they are also generally the victim of the biggest hits.

"Jamming takes a lot more energy," Arispe explained. "You are the cross between the quarterback and the running back. You are the one scoring all the points and everybody wants to cream you."

While developing new jammers may take some time, the Sirens are just looking to work on team chemistry throughout preseason practices.

"We really want to build on our teamwork," Arispe said. "We want to solidify our teamwork and our strategy."

Once the season begins, however, the Sirens have some lofty goals.

"We want to pull off some big upsets," Arispe said. "We want to go to a place like San Jose, where they don't even know where the heck Crescent City is, and we want to come home with a win.

"We are going to kind of try to put ourselves on the map this year. A lot of people don't know us beyond way-Northern California, and Southern Oregon."

The Tsunami Sirens are also making some changes to how it makes its charitable contributions. The Sirens donate a portion of the money earned at home bouts to a community organization. This year they are looking for more community involvment in chosing the recipient.

"We just got non-profit status," Calleja said. "We are going to be working on a charitable donations guideline so that anybody in the community can apply for donations from our bouts.

The Tsunami Sirens kick off their season Jan. 25 with a trip to Eureka to take on the Hubmoldt Roller Derby. They will have their first home bout of the season Feb. 22 against the SINtral Valley Derby Girls team, The Sinners.