PERSPECTIVE: Let’s Put St. Louis on a Roll!

By on July 27, 2018


by Tom Finan, Executive Director, Construction Forum STL

She is a five foot six and two fifteen
A bleached-blonde mama with a streak of mean
She knew how to knuckle
And she knew how to scuffle and fight
And the roller derby program said
That she were built like a ‘fridgerator with a head
The fans called her “Tuffy”
But all her buddies called her “Spike”
The night (you know) that I fell in love with a Roller Derby Queen
(Round ‘n’ round, oh round ‘n’ round)
The meanest hunk o’ woman
That anybody ever seen
Down in the arena.
—  from “Roller Derby Queen,” by Jim Croce
My longest-standing friend Jerry has a wonderfully twisted sense of humor. His Christmas presents to me are things of legend. There’s the statue of me as a superhero that sits on my desk, the pair of wind-up, rubber-band-driven “racing grannies” with walkers, the tee-shirt that reads, “Jaeatyet?”.
About nine years ago another buddy and I drove up to Kalamazoo for the annual Doo Dah Parade. In addition to that collective exercise in gentle insanity we visited shrines like Bell’s brewery.  Jerry told us he had something special planned to round out our visit. It was indeed. He took us to a Kalamazoo Derby Darlins flat track women’s roller derby match. Like Jim Croce, I was hooked. The combination of athleticism, strategy and smarts was quite impressive. Afterwards I had the guys snap my pic with “Terror Hawk,” of the Darlins, who had been the top scorer that night.

I got a gal in Kalamazoo
Don’t want to boast but I know she’s the toast of Kalamazoo
(Zoo, zoo, zoo, zoo, zoo)
— The Glen Miller Orchestra

So when my friend Vin Ko, senior program manager at the St. Louis Mosaic project reached out and told me that his friend Sarah Arnosky, aka “Bricktator”, of the St. Louis Arch Rival All Stars were raising money to go to Corona Spain, I was down with it. The Arch Rivals are the top seed in the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association international playoffs in Coruna Spain Aug. 31 – Sept. 2.

The deal is, as Vin explained in a fundraising letter, that it’s expensive for the team to go to Spain to represent and many of the members, all of whom have day jobs, need help to get to Spain. Sarah Arnosky, who as it happens was a standout soccer player at Kalamazoo college before taking up roller derby while in San Francisco, has a connection to our industry.The ezine BeLight  from Kalamazoo College did a good job explaining roller derby and its attraction for Arnosky and her teammates.

Sarah is a jammer for ARRG with the moniker “Bricktator.” She loves the sport for its physicality and footwork and for the fact that it favors so many different types of athlete body–short, tall, wide and thin. The sport has surged during the past 15 years with hundreds of women’s leagues around the world.

“Bricktator” Arnosky and “Vicious van Gogo” Clark when they appeared on KWMU.

Arnosky and her Arch Rivals co-captain Brooke “Vicious van GoGo” Clark have been making the rounds to try and raise the $50,000 it will take to put 20 skaters on the track in Spain. They recently appeared on KWMU’s St. Louis on the Air, where they said they are about half way to the goal.

If you’d like to help keep them on track to represent St. Louis go to the Arch Rivals Website or email Vin Ko at the World Trade Center.


About Tom Finan