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Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Look! Out on the rink! It’s a bird. It’s a plane! It’s Ivana Hercha!
Ok that may be a bit of a stretch, but “Ivana Hercha” is actually Julie Lagace—by day a mild mannered middle school art teacher that lives with her husband in Duvall and in her 40’s is in the best shape of her life. She credits that to her alter ego, Ivana Hercha, and to her involvement in the world of roller derby.
Ivana Hercha (aka Julie Lagace) in action (Photo by Joe Mac)Lagace is honored to be one of the original Jet City Roller Derby girls and is the only one that has participated in every bout since its inception 12 years ago.
In her early 30’s, Lagace followed her husband Erik’s lead and started playing ice hockey for fun. Like most people, she occasionally skated (roller and ice) at a school outing or a birthday party but wouldn’t have been considered a particularly accomplished skater. She loved it however and looked at it as a way to get and stay in shape. Eventually, Erik saw a Craiglist ad for a new roller derby league in Everett inviting people to a recruiting skate and passed it along to Julie. She had two hours to prepare but was compelled to check it out. After watching for a bit she said to herself, “Oh I’m doing this!”
She was working on her Masters degree at the time and used joining the league (knowing it would be a time commitment) as the incentive she needed to wrap that up and get on to something fun. After 12 years, she is still having fun! “It makes me feel alive,” Lagace added.
Being a Jet City Roller Derby girl takes a big commitment of time, energy, and even finances because everyone that is involved is a volunteer. Lagace said, “We even pay dues.” The dues along with ticket sale proceeds help pay for rink time and other hard expenses but doesn’t cover them all.
Furthermore, the organization is dedicated to giving back. This seemed to be the component Lagace was most proud of. At their bouts, they partner with other nonprofit organizations that benefit women, children, and animal welfare.
She noted that it isn’t just her league either…roller derby is built on this principle, and it’s traditionally important to give back to the community.
Jet City Roller Derby currently has two league teams and their Bomber travel team that competes on a regional, national and even international level. In this region alone, there are teams in Seattle, Tacoma, Bellingham, Olympia, South Seattle, Centralia, Palouse, and Spokane.
The Bombers have a March trip planned to Tucson, Ariz. where they will be competing against teams from Utah, Phoenix, Ariz. and Edmonton, Alberta. They will also head to Eugene, Ore. in May to play teams from Tucson, Ariz., Calgary, Alberta and even Berlin. There are nearly 2000 roller derby teams spread across 53 countries, and over 100,000 women play the sport regularly, as do many men, and juniors, too.
Jet City Team Shot (Photo by Anthony Floyd)Where did the derby name “Ivana Hercha” come from? She explained that you have to go to six official practices before you can even claim a name. For six months, she struggled to find the right name so she was known as “Julie No Name” on the rink. She scoured the database (roller derby used to track every roller derby girl name and at that time). There were many Ivanas already… “Ivana Rock,” “Ivanna Destroya,” “Ivana Bruiseya,” etc. and she finally settled on what she felt fit her persona “Ivana Hercha.”
If roller derby sounds like something you’d enjoy as a roller skater, official, or a coach, check out the Jet City Roller Derby website for more information. They are always recruiting! Lagace wrapped up what roller derby means to her “I love the way it has changed my life….it has been transformative in the best ways I never expected.”
If you’d rather watch the action up close and personal, Jet City Roller Derby is finishing up Season 11 with the following home bouts:
March 31–Fundraiser Bout–Star Wars vs Star Trek
This will include a junior bout as well.
April 14– Bomber squad vs a team from Vancouver, B.C.
Plus league teams Sky Raiders vs Aviators.
Location: Seaview Gym at Edmonds Community College (20000 68th Ave W., Lynnwood)
Visit www.jetcityrollerderby.com for more information.