The West Kootenay Kannibelles roller derby team finished fourth in the first ever Canadian National Tournament in Edmonton earlier this month.
The Belles brought 17 girls to the tournament, and over half of them were rookies who had never played in a national event.
Veteran jammer Jenna Goodwin (a.k.a. TeAmo) explained that the team needed a lot of new recruits because many of the girls from last season were Selkirk students who have since moved out of the community. This year’s team has been practising together since January.
“For many of the girls, it was an introduction to the type of high pressure, big bouts we’ll see throughout our season,” Goodwin said. “It was a good experience, and there was lot of really amazing blocking and jamming throughout the weekend.”
The Belles opening game was against Saskatoon, the team that would go on to take Gold in the tournament. The Belles lost that bout 289-199.
Next the Belles took on a team from Saint John, New Brunswick. The Kootenay team dominated this match, finishing ahead 300-99.
The final game for the Belles was a nail biter against the home team from Edmonton. The lead changed several times, with Edmonton pulling ahead with a slight advantage in the final minutes to end the game ahead 164-158.
“If we would have had one more jam we could have pulled our lead back,” Goodwin said. “The score was shifting jam to jam. It was intense.”
Still, she’s proud of her team for finishing fourth out of six teams in the tournament.
“We’re going to be a force to be reckoned with as the season continues and we get more practise in,” she said.
The Kannibelles is a travelling team made up of the best players from the house teams in the West Kootenay Roller Derby league. They meet twice a week, rotating practises between a gym in Salmo and the former Extra Foods building in Nelson, which the league converted into a derby track earlier this year.
Goodwin said having the Extra Foods building as a permanent practice space will be huge for team development.
“It allows us to have a weekly scrimmage, which we just couldn’t do before,” she said.
The Belles’ next tournament will be in Spokane in April. They’ll also host a home bout June 1 and will be heading to regionals in Fernie in July.
Many of the Kannibelles also play on house teams, which begin their season April 13 in Rossland. For game schedules see kootenayrollerderby.com.