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Photograph by Jenn Ireland
Down and Derby: Santa Cruz's own roller derby queens pack the house with every bout.

Off the Gridiron

Athletic endeavors beyond the ball and pigskin

By Jessica Lussenhop

AS FAR as sports go, Santa Cruz students are probably better known for packing bowls rather than winning them. But they might be up for something a little more organized than joining the hack or sprinting to class. Therefore, we offer this guide to the finest and funkiest in local alternative sports leagues.

Santa Cruz Bike Polo In this burgeoning sports pastime, players trade fillies for fixies and build their own mallets out of old ski poles. On Sundays the players meet up at Mike Fox Hockey Rink (225 San Lorenzo Blvd., Santa Cruz) and play all afternoon and into the night. Some ride fixed gears while others prefer freewheeled mountain bikes as their fair steeds, and games are played three-on-three. The name of the game is balance and ballsiness. Get in on the ground floor of the action as the team looks to expand their ranks. More information and sign-up at

Santa Cruz Derby Girls The hard-fighting ladies of the SCDG have more than survived two seasons, achieving an impressive record, sold-out crowds and minor local celebrity. But they've definitely earned their stripes--they play flat-track rules and you can't just look cute in fishnets. At tryouts, wannabes are expected to be able to run laps, do squats, skate backward and glide on one foot, among other things. But they say once you join the derby herd, you're hooked for life. Newbies may end up on the Fresh Meat squad in the hopes of one day playing varsity with the Boardwalk Bombshells at the Santa Cruz Civic Center downtown. For more information go to

Adult Kickball This sport is catching on like bearded hipster wildfire all over the nation, and a Santa Cruz team is currently in its nascent stage thanks to Santa Cruz Sportz, a website that helps connect local sports enthusiasts.The games are currently a casual, monthly game of pickup at a local park, but with the World Adult Kickball Association blowing up all over the country, it won't be surprising to see a league forming sometime soon, especially since it seems to function secondarily as a dating service. Find out where the next game is at

Disc Golf Believae it or not, Santa Cruz is home to one of the finest disc golf courses in the world, DeLaveaga Disc Golf Course (850 N. Branciforte Dr., Santa Cruz) on the north side of town. The objective, of course, is to toss a Frisbee into a metal chain basket, and from that simple premise has arisen a whole wacky world of sports--discs of different weights and sizes and masterfully designed courses. The 27-hole DeLaveaga hosts the 2009 Faultline Classic tournament from Oct. 31 to

Nov. 1 and is consistently crowded. The same designer gave us the nigh-empty Pinto Lake Championship Disc Golf Course in Watsonville. There's also the 18-hole at Aptos High School (100 Mariner Way, Aptos), Black Mouse Disc Golf Course (in the woods west of San Lorenzo Valley Middle School, 7179 Hacienda Way, Felton) and in UCSC's own backyard nine-hole (1156 High St., Santa Cruz).

Bocce ball Bocce ball, the old Italian classic, is free every night on the well-groomed basement courts at Bocci's Cellar (140 Encinal St., Santa Cruz; 831.427.1795), which used to store wine. Today, the music is live (and features a monthly ukulele night) and the beer is cheap. Tournies come around every so often, to crown a champion in this ultimate lazy man's sport.

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