Roller derby special for RGV women

Anazette Cano, left, and Nina Kizzia, middle, take part in a jam during their roller derby practice at the Hot Skating Roller Rink on Tuesday night in Harlingen.

Anazette Cano struggled to find a place in the world when she began to transition from the Navy lifestyle back to being a full-time civilian.
That was until she found the sport of Roller Derby in 2011, which provided her with new friends and sense of purpose.
Putting on the skates and mingling with women from different backgrounds ranging from single parents to doctors, teachers and lawyers brought a sense of camaraderie and familiarity to the military veteran.
“When I got out of the military, I kind of lost where I belonged,” Cano said. “ When I joined derby, I found that again. When I was in the military, there were all sorts of different people from so many different states, backgrounds and situations. You had those people become your family and that’s what Roller Derby has become for me; these girls are like my family. They have become really important to me and we spend a lot of time together on and off the track.”
Cano, a Pharr resident, joined the Mactown Rebel Rollers in 2011 before a merger with the South Texas Rolleristas brought on the RGV Bandidas league, a non-profit roller derby organization based in Harlingen and McAllen, in 2015 where she still competes today under the derby name “Azzy.”
The derby veteran will gear up for the final bout of her eight-year career Saturday nightwhen the Bandidas face Round Rock’s Rockn’ City Roller Girls.
The bout is set for 6 p.m. at the Hot Skating Roller Rink in Harlingen and will be the final outing of the season for the Bandidas, who are hoping to get the word out about the sport to get numbers up and fans out when the league resumes play in the spring.
While the sport involves breaking through scuffles called ‘jams’ and skating by opposing blockers, there are a lot of women can take away from the sport other than the organized chaos.
Bandidas captain and McAllen resident, Crystal ‘PandaMonium Doll’ Hernandez, said her background has always been an athletic one and said derby can provide former athletes with an opportunity to not only continue competing but be unique and independent in the process.
“I’ve always loved sports and played many in life,” she said. “So, finding something unique and different was something that kept me. (The Bandidas) are a nonprofit organization, so we’re run by the skater, owned by the skater, so I really like that, Normally, people have coaches, principles and people they have to listen to. For us, we get to train ourselves, we get to make the rules and we get to have everything run by us and I believe that is super beautiful and powerful. It’s also really fun.”
For Edinburg’s Nina Kizzia, or ‘Ms. Damean-uh’ as she is known around the rink, derby has left a lasting impression on her, which is why she continues to be a part of the sport as a referee despite retiring after five years of competition for the Rebel Rollers and Bandidas.
Kizzia has roller-skated as long as she can remember, which is what initially drew her to the sport, but once she became entrenched in it, she realized she was a part of something empowering.
“It helped me apply skating as a part of a sport and it also helped me keep accountability and want to work out,” she said. “After a while, it became a sisterhood on top of all that, which was the cherry on top. It’s run by women, it’s a non-profit organization that gives back to the community, so it feels good to be a part of something very positive with s much women empowerment.”
Tickets for the bout are still available for Saturday’s bout by contacting any team member or by messaging the RGV Bandidas Facebook page. General admission tickets are $13 and trackside VIP tickets are $17. Kids tickets for ages 6-12 are available for $5 with children 5 and under entering for free.