“I know this is crazy, I never cry!” Shauna Gustuson says as she wipes the teary eyes hiding behind her sunglasses as she thinks of her late grandmother, Dottie, who passed away in 2002.
Dottie was Shauna’s supporter in any sport, no matter how ‘underdog’ or ‘slow’ she was, and, if she were still here, Gustuson says Dottie would be in the stands cheering her on as she does what she does best: roller skating.
Gustuson is a member of the Central Coast Roller Derby team (CCRD). In the world of derby, it is traditional for team members to have a ‘persona’ for the track. Like Doctor Jeckel and Mr. Hyde, Gustuston transforms into Dottie Mae Doomsday when she’s on the derby track.
Despite a derby persona being an exaggeration of one’s usual self, Gustuson carries her passion for skating, and a bit of Dottie Mae Doomsday, off the track as well.
“Roller skating itself is not just about roller skating. It does something to you; it opens you up and it frees you, and allows you to just smile and just be who you really are,” Gustuson said.
Gustuson, fellow members of the CCRD and other experienced skaters are currently instructing local residents on how to skate with RollerFun 101: an activity hosted and offered by SLO Parks and Rec. RollerFun 101 itself offers a number of classes with instructors with different areas of expertise – many influenced by derby.
SK8FIIT is an 18 year old and older class instructed by Moonshine on Saturdays from 11a.m. to one p.m.
“My goal with SK8FIIT was to bring the interval training that I used to use, when I coached both cross country and track and field, to the derby track and have skating infused with, my core and booty work I do on a daily basis” Moonshine said.
Ultimately, the CCRD’s mission is to allow everyone to participate in the joy of skating. Moonshine said that she “wanted to bring that joy to my community where anyone, male, femal, non-binary, could just come and be free to put on their unicorns and glitter and have a good time together!”
Rollerfun101 itself is built on the pillars of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), but there was a time when skating — derby specifically — was not as inviting of an activity. Traditionally the sport consisted of ‘white females of the punk influence,’ which made BIPOC and LGBTQ skaters feel uncomfortable, according to Gustuson.
The classes are not lacking in participants. One class had all of its 30 spots filled. Gustuson says that a big part of the success of RollerFun 101 and the revival of roller derby is due to everyone’s efforts in breaking down stereotypes and “old beliefs of who does what and what you look like when you do whatever it is you do.”
Information on RollerFun 101 classes can be found on the City of San Luis Obispo Parks and Recreation website.