coronavirus pandemic

‘Rolling' Outside During the Pandemic

Local Roller Derby business opens rinks for children's classes

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“What can we do to get folks outside, active, and roller skating?”

It was a simple question in Nili “Isabelle Ringer” Goldfarb’s mind.

“I kind of have a funny name,” she admitted. “Everyone calls me ‘Ringer.’”

Ringer is the owner of San Diego Derby United, located right next to State Route 94 in Encanto. Derby United consists of an outdoor flat rink and a banked track. For the past month, she’s been hosting roller skating classes for adults and children.

“I just wanted to be able to provide a place that was positive for people to be and to feel great about what they’re doing that day,” said Ringer, who is also a professional roller derby skater.

For many of the kids in the classes, this is the first time they’ve strapped eight wheels to their feet. In fact, Ringer said a lot of adults have shown up to classes with impulsive purchases they made since the pandemic began.

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“They started buying roller skates like people haven’t in decades,” she laughed. “But they don’t know how to skate.”

Derby United has been a safe place to learn. Ringer keeps the classes small so that participants can stay socially distant.

“My daughter really thrives in knowing that she has somewhere to participate,” said Samantha Quintero, who brought her 6-year-old daughter Emma to skate.

“When people have a safe way to be around other humans and other peers, it’s good not only for their physical health, but their emotional and mental health,” explained Ringer.

The classes have served as Derby United’s second grand opening. Ringer originally opened the facility along Federal Boulevard in March.

“But a week later the pandemic started. We had to close up shop,” she sighed. ”It was really tough on us.”

Ringer got some assistance from the City of San Diego’s Small Business Relief Fund that helped her keep rolling until she could reopen.

She’s now making up for lost time by giving children and adults a much-needed place to get outside.

“People need a chance to feel good and when they come here, at least for that hour-and-a-half, they feel great.”

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