What image projects behind your eyelids when you hear the words “roller derby”? Is it a highlight reel of the film ‘Whip It’, with waifish women on skates, theatricality performing with sharply thrown elbows and banter? If so, Angel City Derby wants to alter your perspective. Not only is the league not a bombastic ballet of violence (it’s like any other sport, played professionally with some bumps and bruises), it’s one of the most inclusive, featuring skaters from all walks of life.

Angel City, a Culver City-based Women’s Flat Track Roller Derby League, is an all-hands on deck, grassroots non-profit that’s run, owned, and operated by local skaters. The league has recently taken to celebrating its players’ diversity, highlighting their identities via social media campaigns and community events.

The league currently has identities ranging from non-binary, transgender, queer, straight and many more in its ranks.

Santa Monica resident Lisa Kapasi joined the league after moving from Sacramento, seeking a new life near the beach. Kapasi was also looking for a new league to play in, having participated in leagues in Sacramento and Salem, Oregon.

What she found was a championship-caliber league that carries many accolades as well as people from different walks of life compared to previous cities she played in.

“It’s an incredibly diverse league,” Kapasi said. “Coming from Sacramento — which is only slightly diverse — I’ve learned about nuances to people and issues I hadn’t understood. I feel lucky to be a part of that.”

Carmen Boatwright, a skater that also does marketing for the league, says Angel City is a “true microcosm of the world,” allowing all sizes and identities to freely express themselves in a sport that’s all about doing the same.

An African American woman who identifies as queer, Boatwright said the league empowered her to feel more comfortable in her body. When Boatwright first came to Angel City, she said she was unsure what her body could handle.

“I thought, I’ve always been able to skate, but there’s no way I could ever do this, especially at this level,” Boatwright said.

After gaining experience and eventually a leadership role in Angel City, Boatwright says she shed her insecurities, training her body to help her be more effective on the track.

“I’m 200 pounds, but I know I’m more athletic and can outlift most people I know. This place gave me body positivity.”

Boatwright says she speaks for the entire league when she says she’s thankful for the community the league has given her and others.

“We’re made up of misfits and nerds, DnD players and Ren Faire people. People that don’t have a place, people who never thought they could be athletic, people who feel on the fringe. Angel City can be empowering. Painting a broad stroke, we want everyone. LA is a melting pot of every ethnicity and group, and so are we.”

 For more information, including upcoming games, visit angelcityderby.com.

angel@smdp.com