Above: San Diego Derby United holds the grand opening for its new home in Encanto on Saturday. Facility has an outdoor banked and a flat track.
After two years of work, San Diego Derby United on Saturday holds the grand opening of its headquarters in Encanto.
Last December, when I visited the San Diego Derby United Headquarters, it was nothing more than a muddy field.
Today, there’s an outdoor banked rink and a flat track where Derby United can practice and hold roller derby bouts.
“It’s been a really long road to go from standing there looking at the layout and dirt to this all coming to fruition,” said Nili Goldfarb, general manager of Derby United. “This physical facility looks exactly like what we planned, but in 3D. But in real life, like here we are skating on it, enjoying it, bringing our whole community. And it feels really terrific.”
Goldfarb, better known by her derby name of Isabelle Ringer, said it’s been a long journey to create this home for her team but it’s also important to bring new people to the sport.
“We know that roller derby is a sport that a lot of people haven’t tried before and it requires a lot of specialty gear. And we don’t want the gear and the finances around my gear to be a barrier for people to play roller derby. So when you come here, you get a free trial for a couple of weeks and you also can use any of this gear here,” Goldfarb stated.
Kelly “Kelican Bae” Garner is the organization’s media and public relations manager. She makes sure Derby United gets noticed in the community.
“We have this beautiful mural on the other side of this locker right now that actually has our logo,” Garner said. “And people can see it from the 94 freeway. So we have numerous people that are like, ‘What’s what’s going on over there?’ And so many people just stop in or they’ll drive by and stop in to ask what’s going on over here? So we get to explain to them what we’re doing here and how our membership program works, and that we’ve got a banked track and flat track and that we also saw a need for being able to bring the public in. And so we wanted to be able to fulfill that need and open up an open skate night on the first Friday of every month starting in April. And we will have many pairs of roller skates available for rental and be able to bring the public in and have them be able to skate at our facility on our flat track and be able to enjoy skating in San Diego under the stars to some pretty loud music.”
This facility became a reality because of the passion and dedication of Goldfarb and Garner. They have been putting in long hours doing everything from getting permits to painting to landscaping.
“We brought our members in just in the last few weeks as we soft-opened the place and tried out everything to make sure it’s all right,” Goldfarb said. “And it’s been incredible. I mean, it feels like a home when our people are here and we’re playing roller derby here. It really feels special because of all of the extra touches that bring it up that much more, doing all of the plants and all of the paint and all of the time and everything we’ve put in it. When we walk around it, we can see it, because we did that. And it’s something that our membership is really proud of. I mean, I’m really proud of it.”
Goldfarb has been weeding outside the facility when members of the community pass by to ask her what’s going on and what Derby United is all about. And what it’s about is not just the community it creates within the organization but it’s also about tapping into the Encanto and neighboring communities to find businesses to help with everything from balloons to food and beverages.
“So reaching out to the local business district, working with food from here, the security from here, so keeping everything local and within the community so that it feels like a partnership with the neighborhood,” Garner explained.
Goldfarb is eager to bring the community in and wanted to point out, “Roller derby is not just for watching, it is also for playing. People come to a game and I think a lot of times they assume that the people they see already knew how to skate but they didn’t. Almost everyone who shows up here doesn’t know how to roller skate. We teach you how to skate. We teach you to stop, how to fall and what ends up happening is you come to some practices and you start kind of getting included in this community and it feels awesome. And you don’t want that feeling to stop. So people stay and they play a long time with us. Roller derby is just the vehicle to get that level of empowerment and inclusion.”
The grand opening is from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday at 6060 Federal Blvd., San Diego. Derby United Skaters will hold an exhibition bout to show who they are and what they do. There will also be food, drinks, face painting, low-rider cars on display and more. Tickets are available online as is information for the first adult new skater orientation.