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Every year, the member-run Santa Cruz Derby Girls organization votes in a slate of leaders from a ballot that reads like a roster of superheroes, super villains and just plain silliness.
The business of running the nonprofit organization of dues-paying volunteers and competitive athletes, however, is serious and this year’s executive director Shamrock N. Roller, a.k.a. Regan Eymann, is pushing her all-star travel team, the Boardwalk Bombshells, toward the championship. The team won first place in its division last year, losing the championship by a single point.
“It wasn’t perfect, but it was amazing,” Eymann, 35, says. Eymann has been with the roller derby organization since 2007, when its predecessor, Santa Cruz Rollergirls, was founded. As one of the early roller derby visionaries, Eymann is one of the skaters who acts as the group’s historian and a cheerleader for athleticism.
“We’re still celebrating what’s fun about roller derby, but we’re real athletes,” she says, noting the sport’s “struggle to stay with its roots of being quirky and different and punk rock and edgy, but at the same time push the boundaries of the sport” competitively.
“There’s still a large part of the community that doesn’t believe what we’re doing is real. They think it’s all planned out in advance and it’s not. Some of best athletes in the world are playing roller derby.”
In her day job, Eymann is a multimedia producer at Tam Communications and head of development at TuffCubby Entertainment, a company founded by her parents in 1979. In addition to a host of corporate clients, Tam Communications owns the only on-line video network dedicated to the U.S. Coast Guard. Eymann started work there as a teenager. She is also married with two young children.
“My parents have always been an example of hard work,” she says.
A childhood competitive quad roller skater with the Scotts Valley Artistic Skating Club, Eymann once competed in the regional junior Olympics. These days, she practices three times a week for the Derby Girls and revels in the job of team pivot, the player who dons a striped helmet and plans game strategy, much like a football quarterback.
She describes the sport as the perfect combination of the aggressiveness of water polo and the athleticism of competitive skating. On the flat track, she often skates backwards to keep an eye on other skaters and, she admits, to provide a little face-to-face intimidation as well.
“I’m very intense,” she says. “I would say I’m a leader on the track. Very aggressive.”
As executive director, Eymann works closely with the board of directors as they oversee the organization’s five home teams as well as the Santa Cruz Derby Groms for youth, one of the country’s first youth derby teams. Women of all skill levels and men are invited to participate in the organization, which has coaches and referees among its host of members.
The mission, however, is bigger than that. They are building a community that gives its proceeds to other local nonprofit organizations.
“I really did find myself in roller derby,” Eymann says. “I found a person I truly love.”
This article appeared in the Santa Cruz Sentinel Special Section Santa Cruz Woman Spring, 2016.