It’s hunting season for the West Kootenay Roller Derby league as they look to recruit new skaters, affectionately known as fresh meat, to their league for the 2015 season.
The 12-week training program starts with the first meet and greet on October 6 in Castlegar. It’s open to men and women 19 years and older and no experience is necessary as they teach new recruits how to roller skate from the ground up.
Cheyanna (“shyRAMasaurus Wrex”) Shypitka, sponsorship and fundraising director of West Kootenay Roller Derby said “Our goal is to reach more potential skaters, which strengthens our league so much more.”
Roller derby was first established in the region in 2009 but it’s popularity goes back to the 1930s.
Melissa Merritt, derby name “CC” is the league training director with two years of roller derby experience and a deep hockey background. She will lead the fresh meat weekly practice; new skaters will also practice with their future team so they can get to know the ropes. New recruits will learn how to skate, be rink ready, and how to manoeuvre and fall without injury.
It is a contact sport after all.
Nicole Courson, aka Courtney Shove said new skaters will also learn derby rules and how to play the sport. “ And to help them decide whether they want to be on a team or be a referee,” she said. “Until more men join, there is not enough for a co-ed league but men are encouraged to participate as a referee or as a coach. We’ll teach anyone who’s willing to learn how to skate.”
Merritt changed the training schedule as she thought it would be be beneficial for the newbies to practice once a week together rather than always being amongst seasoned skaters.
“It can be a bit intimidating otherwise,” said Courson.
Since the resurgence in 2010 that saw the league explode from two teams to four, each team expects see two to five new recruits.
With a minimum of 14 skaters per team plus referees and coaches, there are approximately 100 people in the WK league.
Courson had been interested in roller derby for years and when a team got started in Nelson, she jumped at the chance to join. She’s had an athletic background to start and found the sport to be a new challenge.
“There’s contact, competition, and a team- building, spirit,” she said. “I make all sorts of friends I wouldn’t know otherwise. It builds confidence by being involved in a non for profit group that is involved in the community and is a challenge sport.”
Where do all the creative tough girl names come from? Courson said, “It comes from original roller derby when there were banked tracks that the skaters went around with very little padding. They would be punching each other and throwing chairs at each other and they had these tough girl nick names.”
While the punches and chairs have been dropped from current roller derby, the tough girl nick names have held strong.
Kootenay Kannibelles is the league travel team for the West Kootenay. The four league teams are Valley Brutality (Salmo and Slocan Valley), Dam City Rollers (Castlegar), Killjoys (Nelson) and the Rossland Trail Roller Girls (Rossland/Trail).
“The game itself lends itself to a lot of excitement, “ said Courson. “There are lots of jumps and spins. It’s impressive to watch.”
This story will appear in the West Kootenay Advertiser.