Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 9
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

On a Roll: Roller Slay Club Reclaims the Skate Park

If you drive by Fort Walla Walla on a Friday evening, you’re likely to hear the sound of roller skates and skateboards whizzing through the skate park, accompanied by the musical talents of Grimes, Lana Del Rey and Charli XCX blasted through a speaker. Thanks to the efforts of the Roller Slay club, the park transforms into a gathering place that fosters community and growth in a lively atmosphere. 

Founded last spring by junior Amelia Leach and sophomore Delilah Hartwell, Roller Slay began as a gathering between friends hoping to take their roller skates out for a spin. After skating together, Hartwell and Leach realized that with growth, the friendship and joy their small meetup fostered could expand to other skaters on campus. 

The club started out strong with around 10 people attending the first meeting. Now, the club has around 20 active members. The club’s beginner friendly atmosphere combined with its female identifying and non-binary member base makes gatherings a safe space for all experience levels. 

For sophomore Johanna Duncan, this welcoming environment is part of what makes Roller Slay membership special. 

“It’s just fun to play loud music at the skatepark, be with friends and also take over a space that’s usually super male-dominated. It feels empowering to do that and it is a space without judgment … that is really nice,” Duncan said. 

Skating has been a part of junior Eva Palmer-Wells’s life since she was 8 years old, and both casual skating and roller derby have helped them hone their skills. For Palmer-Wells, Roller Slay presents an opportunity to support and teach newer skaters. 

“A lot of people who are in Roller Slay have just started skating recently so it’s fun to teach people some things,” Palmer-Wells said. “That’s the difference [from roller derby]: here I’m put more into a position where I get to teach people.” 

Co-President Delilah Hartwell emphasized the importance of the club’s laid-back vibe, explaining that all experience levels, skills and types of wheels are welcome. 

“Everyone who joins is really nice, and it’s a super cool community,” Hartwell said. “We wheel around, we stop and chat, we skate around some more, sometimes people will bring their dinner and hang around even if they’re not gonna skate.” 

Duncan agreed, centering the sense of community amongst members as crucial to creating a safe skating environment. 

“It’s a really supportive environment and I feel like people can come and they don’t have to feel pressure to be good at skating, they can just hang out or talk to people and it’s really cool,” Duncan said. 

On skate breaks, members stop to enjoy dinner, take photos and catch up with other members. When reflecting on her time in the club, Hartwell reminisced on a particularly special evening. 

“One of our first couple meetings we stopped skating to take a break and went on top of this hill to watch a sunset together, which was super fun,” Hartwell said. 

Hartwell encouraged any interested students to keep up with the club via their Instagram @rollerslay.whitman so that they can dive right into any upcoming Friday meetups.

Although the club’s current membership growth has been steady, Palmer-Wells explained that she hoped she could see the club continue to gain new members during her time at Whitman. 

“One of the biggest things I’ve noticed is that people don’t want to join because they don’t know how to skate or don’t want to roller skate … [but] people skateboard, people have brought bikes before and people skate,” Palmer-Wells said. “Don’t be afraid if you don’t know how to do those things, a lot of people are just starting themselves so it’s a great place to learn how to do that in a no-judgment environment.” 

Roller Slay is taking advantage of the sunny autumn Walla Walla evenings ahead, with each meeting transforming the skate park into a hub of community and power.

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