Don’t mess with Miss Manning

English+teacher+Devan+Manning%2C+right%2C+participates+in+a+practice+for+her+roller+derby+team%2C+the+Oakland+Outlaws.
Back to Article
Back to Article

Don’t mess with Miss Manning

English teacher Devan Manning, right, participates in a practice for her roller derby team, the Oakland Outlaws.

English teacher Devan Manning, right, participates in a practice for her roller derby team, the Oakland Outlaws.

Photo courtesy of Devan Manning

English teacher Devan Manning, right, participates in a practice for her roller derby team, the Oakland Outlaws.

Photo courtesy of Devan Manning

Photo courtesy of Devan Manning

English teacher Devan Manning, right, participates in a practice for her roller derby team, the Oakland Outlaws.

Kimberlee Saxer, Staff Writer

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Devan Manning spends most of her day teaching English to freshmen and seniors.

But after school, she laces up a pair of skates, pulls on a helmet and mixes it up on a roller derby track.

At the same time she was getting her masters degree, Manning decided it was time to strap on the skates and start playing roller derby. Almost three years later, she was drafted into a league.

Manning was drafted on Feb. 23 by the Oakland Outlaws in the Bay Area Derby league.

As a high school student in Arizona, Manning discovered a roller derby league, but was unable to join due to her age.

“[They] didn’t accept people younger than 18, so I had to wait,” Manning said. “But after college, I finally decided to sign up and bought myself a pair of skates.”

Roller derby was revived in 2001 and has swept across the nation, with almost 400 leagues.

According to Bay Area Derby’s website, “The roller derby revolution has far exceeded anyone’s expectations and has been called ‘the fastest growing sport for women.’”

A bout of derby consists of two teams of five players. 

“There are four blockers, who are defense and offense at the same time,” said Manning. “And there is one jammer, who is the point scorer slash football.”

To score points, the jammer must skate around the track, and pass the opposing team blockers. For every blocker that they pass, a point is scored for their team.

“I do both blocking and jamming,” Manning said. “On my current team, they want me to jam, which is terrifying. We’ll see how that goes.”

Manning has taken the time to teach her students about the game of roller derby, so they are able to share in her derby journey now she’s been drafted.

“I thought it was very interesting to learn about roller derby in class.” senior Alex Castillo said.

When Manning told her English classes about being drafted, students were excited for her and wanted to take a field trip to watch her play.

“I think it’s really cool that Ms. Manning does roller derby,” senior Mary Swisher said. “I would totally go watch because I’ve never seen it before.”

Manning typically attends three or four practices a week after school.

“On Tuesdays, we do skills and endurance,” said Manning. “On Thursdays, we do game play and scrimmages.”

From laps and skating drills, to hitting drills and skill work, practices can last from an hour and a half to two hours long. 

“I did not expect her to be a roller derby person,” said senior Lauren Flom. “She’s so nice and bubbly, so finding out she’s in an aggressive sport is cool.”

Bay Area Derby, also known as B.A.D., was established in 2004 and consists of four teams: Oakland Outlaws, Richmond Wrecking Belles, Berkley Resistance, and San Francisco Shevil Dead.

The drafting process starts with a probationary period, where potential players show up for three weekly practices.

“During this season’s first drafting session, the coaches gave us a number,” Manning said.

Similar to a football draft, the four teams pick draftees until everyone in the pool is drafted onto a team. 

With the new draftees, each team has about 15 players. Manning said this is a good number of players because there are now three packs of people that can switch out to maintain a fresh roster.

Though she likes to keep her roller derby name private, Manning did share how the names and numbers in derby are chosen.

“Sometimes you come up with your roller derby name, sometimes you are named and you don’t have much of a choice,” Manning said. “I did pick mine, so I got a choice in that. It took me about six months to pick it, though.”

Every derby player has a unique name. Most of the time, it’s a pop culture reference or a pun. A person’s derby name tends to stick with them for her entire life.

“You can try and change it, but usually the people in your league will resist it,” Manning said. “It’s really hard.”

Though the funny and unique names make roller derby what it is, there is a big push to have higher level teams use their last names for a sense of legitimacy. Manning doesn’t know how to feel about this because she really likes the fun names that players come up with.

With most sports sticking to a two number system, roller derby is different. Similar to the names, as long as the number isn’t the same as another teammate, it doesn’t matter the number.

“My number is 85,” Manning said. “I picked it because I’m video game themed, and so that’s the year the NES came out.”

Despite being on the 2017 roster, Manning is unsure exactly when her skates will hit the flat track. But when that day comes, she’ll be representing the Oakland Outlaws in red and black derby attire.