Right now, there is a Woman You Should Know illuminating the city of Anchorage, Alaska and her name is Patricia “Pat Riot” Bergeron. At age 50, she is one of the oldest All-Star Players in the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, the international governing body for the sport of women’s flat track roller derby. Having survived domestic abuse as a young mother at age 15, and struggling to make ends meet for years, Pat understands firsthand how basic kindness can save a life.
This simple, yet profound, philosophy is what moved her to do something impactful after the sudden death of a close family friend left a 7 year old girl named Katelyn without a mother. Katelyn and Pat’s granddaughter loved watching her derby bouts, so she was determined to find a way to keep the little girl flourishing, especially at such a difficult time.
Being part of an international sport that is dominated by all-female amateur teams, in addition to a growing number of junior roller derby teams, Pat started to consider the possibilities of what roller derby could do for young girls in need from her area, like Katelyn, if they were given the opportunity to participate rather than simply spectate. With that… her big idea was born.
In January 2012, Pat founded Anchorage Junior Roller Derby (AJRD) for girls ages 7+, the first league of its kind in Alaska’s most populous city. Under her leadership, the not-for-profit organization aims to provide a fun-filled and supportive environment for young girls. It focuses on developing their athletic abilities, building their self-confidence, leadership and teamwork skills, treasuring their individuality within a culture of integration, as well as improving their overall fitness, all while teaching them the sport of roller derby (modified for children and adolescents, of course).
Pat’s league is an official member of The Junior Roller Derby Association (JDRA), which was formally established in October 2009 as a public non-profit educational and amateur sports organization dedicated to advancing the growth of junior roller derby through the standardization of rules and goals for existing and new leagues. Today, there are over 50 junior roller derby programs across four countries at various stages in development.
In the last year, Pat has brought hope, happiness and inspiration to dozens of underprivileged young girls through the AJRD. Still wanting to do more, her dream is to someday develop a training facility for the league in Anchorage. But right now, she is hard at work raising funds for new skates and equipment for her girls; small items that will have a profound effect on their lives.
It’s interesting to mention that roller derby is a sport currently under consideration for the 2020 Olympics. As Pat continues to expand her vision, cultivate her league and nurture the girls she coaches and mentors, maybe we might just see one of her girls skating for Team U.S.A. someday.
To learn more about Anchorage Junior Roller Derby, visit their Facebook page.
Note: Lead image shows Pat with her granddaughter. Photo Credit: David Bedard
Pat’s story was submitted to WYSK via the Who Should We Know? section of our site along with this note:
“I am living proof of Patricia’s inspiration. She is my stepmother. For 29 years she has encouraged me to follow my heart to dance. Because of her belief in me throughout my childhood, I am now living my dream of dancing on Broadway.” – Nova Bergeron