In 2008, a handful of tenacious skaters formed Pacific Roller Derby, Oahu’s first modern-day roller derby league. In the 1960s, roller derby bouts were a popular pastime on the banked track inside the now-demolished Honolulu Civic Auditorium on South King Street. But it was a different sport; the moves choreographed, the game staged. Pacific wanted to legitimize roller derby in the Islands as the sport was undergoing an evolution across the nation: leagues were skating on flat tracks, official game play was forming and skaters were being seen as athletes, not entertainers.
They taught themselves how to skate, learned the rules of the game and practiced on any available basketball court they could. In 2009, Pacific became Hawaii’s first member league of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, a nonprofit organization that fosters roller derby around the globe.
Today, the league has grown to more than 25 active skaters, not including its referees and non-skating officials, who are integral to running successful bouts. Its members are diverse, from teachers, writers, students, firefighters, nurses and active-duty military to mothers, caretakers and wives.
Since its establishment in 2008, every January the Oahu league holds SK808, featuring approximately 60 skaters of all skill levels in a round-robin style tournament comprising five teams. Women from around the state, the U.S. Mainland and Europe join in the competition each year. Pacific’s all-star travel team, the Hulagans have participated in WFTDA-ranked tournaments on across the state, on the U.S. Mainland and have hosted national and international teams.
While Pacific has grown since its inception, it remains rooted to the community, holding regular joint fundraising events. Skaters practice in diverse areas around Oahu, including a covered volleyball court in Native Hawaiian homestead land in Honolulu and an inline hockey rink on Oahu’s south side.
Not long after the league formed, the Pacific Roller Derby All Stars emerged, comprising not only the best skaters from Pacific Roller Derby, but also skaters from the outer islands. As the league grew, PRD was able to field a high level roster from within. Today, the league’s A-level, travel team is known as the Hulagans.
The Hulagans are Pacific Roller Derby’s ambassadors, with a more rigorous practice and bout schedule. The team has competed across the Islands, on the U.S. Mainland and in 2017, traveled to Okinawa, Japan for their first ever international tournament.