By day, Elaine Helm and Chris Cossu are your everyday Edmonds couple, commuting to white-collar jobs in public relations and advertising, taking their 7-year-old son to soccer practice, paying bills and keeping up their Edmonds Bowl home.
But watch out! By night, they morph into Deadline and Slick, top skaters for the all-star Bombers, part of Snohomish County’s rough and tumble Jet City Rollergirls’ league.
This weekend, the Bombers are traveling to Milwaukee to compete in the National Championships sponsored by the Womens’ Flat Track Derby Association. The competition will be stiff, but they hope to return to Edmonds carrying the Division II trophy.
“We have four teams in the Jet City league that skate against each other in regular bouts,” Helm explained. “The top skaters from each team come together as our all-star team, the Bombers, and compete against other teams outside our league and from all over the world.”
“The Jet City Rollergirls are a relatively new league,” said Helm, “but we’ve worked really hard to earn a place in the national championships. We’re lucky to have a great relationship with the Rat City Rollergirls, Seattle’s league, and we often practice and scrimmage with them. They’ve been around for a number of years, and have some top skaters. They really helped us develop our edge.”
Roller derby is growing, with vibrant teams and fans from around the globe including Canada, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The sport has caught the attention of the Olympic committee, and may soon be on its way to becoming an Olympic sport.
And now the Jet City Rollergirls are bringing roller derby into Edmonds’ own backyard. “We’ve been using Everett Community College as our main venue,” explained Helm, “but we’ve been looking for a new home to establish a real roller derby center.” This year, they found it in the old Sleep-Aire Mattress Company warehouse at 19022 Aurora Ave. N. in Shoreline.
“We’re developing it jointly with the Rat City league,” she said. “They’ll be using it mostly for practices, but it will be home base for us. And with the park-and-ride just across the street, access is easy for our fans. We’re hoping for a good showing from Edmonds.”
Contact sports are nothing new to Helm, who played rugby while studying journalism at Northwestern University. After moving to the Northwest, a coworker suggested that she might enjoy roller derby. “I made a 2010 New Year’s resolution to give it a try,” she said. “So I bought some skates and went to a practice. I loved it from the start.”
Cossu moved to the Northwest from the “other Washington” where she skated with the DC Rollergirls. Once here, she joined up with the Jet City league. She and Helm met on the track in 2011, and as they say, the rest is history.
The couple moved to their current home in Edmonds in 2012, and fell in love with the town. With the passage of Referendum 74 later that year, they became the first same-sex couple married at the Edmonds Courthouse with Edmonds Municipal Court Judge Douglas Fair performing the ceremony.
“Edmonds is very special to us,” Cossu said. “We love the people, the sense of community, the schools, and the quality of life for folks like us who appreciate the best things about living in the Northwest. We never get tired of driving down Main Street and seeing the mountains and the Sound. My favorite thing is to just go down to Brackett’s Landing and watch the ferries.”
Helm invites any fans who want to get an early start to come over to the new center in Shoreline this weekend. “Rat City is hosting a Milwaukee championships viewing party on Friday and Saturday. They’ll have big screens set up with a live feed, so come on down, get a taste of the action, and cheer on the Bombers, your hometown derby team.”
And be sure to mark your calendars; the Jet City Rollergirls hold their first bout in the new center on Dec. 7.
— Story by Larry Vogel