The 2019 season of lady’s roller derby kicked off to an exciting start in early June. The two opposing teams from 709 Roller Derby, The Vixens and The Neversweets, went head to head for the first time this year and the energy was palpable.
‘Go G.I. Jodie!’
For those that haven’t seen roller derby before, the object of the game is passing. Not passing like in hockey, but like cars on a race track. Each “jam” or round is made up of five players from each team, with one being the “jammer.” The jammer gets one point for every person on the opposite team she passes, while they try to block her any way they can.
Passionate derby fans gathered in the stands and on the floor of the Jack Byrne Arena to scream the names of their favourite players.
Hearing things like “Go G.I. Jodie!”, “Go Bruteus Maximus!” and “C’mon Steph-A-Knee Breaker!” weren’t at all uncommon. The derby girls often use these monikers, as well as extravagant make up to put on as much of a show as they can for their dedicated audience.
Roller Derby, however, isn’t as much about the show as it is about self-acceptance and making friends. If you ask Betty Trooper, Roller Derby is great for building confidence and finding empowerment.
“It’s been incredibly confidence building and inspiring,” said Betty Trooper. “I came from a non sporting background up to this point. This is the first time I’ve ever had the chance to be on a team and be in a group of people united for a common goal, and it’s been a transforming experience.”
Sock Ness Monster
Julia Wheeler (aka Sock Ness Monster) commented on how roller derby is a great source of camaraderie.
“To me, personally, roller derby is a chance to get out and participate in a sport with a lot of really cool women, female identifying and non binary skaters. It’s just a really great opportunity to form a community.”
The game itself was full of energy. As the ladies raced around the track of Jack Byrne Arena, they all but tackled one another for a good position on the track while trying to stop the point-scoring jammer. Whoever may think that roller derby is a “girls sport” where things don’t get too heated, they’d be very wrong. People were falling left and right, most of them from being checked off balance by an opposing team mate. One girl even had to be taken away by paramedics, but she was okay.
Throughout the first half of the game, The Neversweets dominated the field. After the first half-hour of the game, they were beating The Vixens 100-68.
Post half-time, however, The Vixens kicked things up a notch. There was a definite energy to the second half of the game – the hits were more vicious, the skating was faster, and the points were racking up on both sides. By the time it was all said and done, The Neversweets still came out on top, but just barely. The score was 166-164.
If anyone is interested in getting involved in 709 Roller Derby, they are always looking for new participants.
Recruitment events are held several times a year. Training programs are available for people to learn the ropes of the game, or even to learn how to skate, so no prior experience is needed. The league can be found on Facebook at “709 Roller Derby” or at 709rollerderby.com.