Tribute courtesy of Phil Berrier, Roller Derby Forum
Ann Calvello, born on August 1st, was and always will be the Queen of the Banked-Track. Ann began her career with the International Roller Speedway during their 1947-48 season before moving over to Derby the next season. We tend to think of Calvello as the ultimate villainess but she spent much of her early career skating for the home teams. Ann was an original member of the California Bombers in 1954 and stayed with that team until 1959.
It would be difficult to name a Derby team on which Calvello did not skate. Wherever she was needed, she went. And when she skated "red," everyone wanted Calvello. Joining the San Francisco Shamrocks in 1965 with other displaced Derby skaters, Ann brought her unique skating style to Roller Games impressing management and fans alike. The Roller Games bosses were so taken with her that they asked Calvello to lead their Australian Thunderbirds women the next season. Ann went even though it meant she was going to be a home team skater again. To a lot of skaters being on the home team was a plus. Ann saw things a little differently.
Returning to Roller Derby, Calvello naturally fell right back into place. And it was in those years when she and Joan Weston went toe-to-toe that we best remember her. Weston needed Calvello. Calvello needed Weston. Sure there was good competition for Weston in Derby but when Calvello was with Derby and she and Joan Weston skated against each other, they brought out the best in each other. The fans benefited the most from their rivalry and for many of us those battles between Ann and Joanie are some of our earliest and most lasting Roller Derby memories.
I first met Calvello in 1986 at a game in Buffalo, NY. I will never forget her thanking us for coming to the game --- not what I was expecting. "It's nice to be skating for people who appreciate what we are doing out there," she told us. We should have been thanking her but she had a way of surprising you.
We began talking by phone during a period when I was having some medical problems. She was always supportive and encouraging. A phone call never ended before she asked how my parents were. She knew my dogs' names and always asked about them. She loved animals.
We lost Ann last year and I miss her. There was no one else like her.
Bio Courtesy of Phil Berrier