While it much of it may be underground, roller derby is a fast growing sport.
Not wanting to be left behind in this trend, Lacombe and area is participating in the phenomena with the Central Alberta Roller Derby Association, which has been operating for about four years.
CARDA is comprised of four house teams including Mia Dolls, Vexy Beasts, Rez City Rollers and Heartland Rollergirls. Elite players from these four teams are chosen to be part of CARDA’s travel team, called the Missfits of Mayhem, said Angela (DemEyez) Beishuizen, co-captain of the Missfits of Mayhem and who owns Mezmerize Derby Wear in Lacombe.
House teams also have some opportunity to play other teams from outside CARDA’s as well, added Michelle (Dee V Us) Johnson, another Missfit skater who also coaches CARDA’S junior program, the Missfit Toys.
“We play teams from all over Canada,” said Johnson. “It not just this area. We will play teams from Calgary as a house team and then the travel team will travel all over.”
Missfits of Mayhem had its beginnings in 2009. Back then, the club operated under a different name. Joanne (Chainsaw) Snellgrove, one of the club’s founding members, said that when the club first started, it was less about the sport and more about the show.
“When we first started, (we wore) fishnets and tutus,” said Snellgrove. “It wasn’t about the athletics, it was about the show.”
Snellgrove said the name and attitude of the club was changed to be more appropriate and welcoming to others and to skaters of all ages. Today, CARDA, the Missfits of Mayhem and roller derby provide an opportunity for Snellgrove to get out, have fun and meet new people as well as show off her ‘alter-ego’.
“Everybody has an alter ego, a bit of a demon inside them that wants to come out,” said Snellgrove. She added that in her day-to-day life she is a married mother of three who works as a professional in a bank. Derby allows her to let loose and have a little bit of fun every once in a while.
Beishuizen said that she came from a background in hockey and enjoys contact sports. Derby enabled her to continue being competitive and athletic in that area.
“Where else can a woman go out and bang some bodies?” said Beishuizen.
Johnson agreed and added that factors like age shouldn’t stop anyone from trying it, she said that the oldest of the club’s skaters is 50-years-old.
“Anyone can do this,” said Johnson. “And we welcome everyone.”
She added that no one should be intimidated by lack of skill or knowledge either because all of the skaters were novices at one point too.
“I couldn’t even stand up when I started,” said Johnson. “None of us could. I couldn’t even stand up and they taught me how to do it.”
While roller derby is predominantly a female sport, men’s roller derby (sometimes called ‘merby’, for men’s derby) is becoming more common. Beishuizen said that there are a few men who skate with CARDA and there are also a few co-ed teams, like the Missfit Toys, in existence.
Roller derby is played on a flat track. Two teams skate counter-clockwise around the track simultaneous while scoring points.
There are only two positions on a roller derby team. Jammers, who are marked by gold stars on their helmets, score points by lapping members of the other team. Blockers, as the name suggests, try to block the opposing jammer from scoring while aiding their own.
A roller derby team roster consists of 14 skaters, but only five skaters from each team are on the track at one time. Each team will consist of one jammer and four blockers.
Each game is broken down into 30-minute halves. In each half, players try to have as many ‘jams’ as possible. Jams are the periods of play in which points can be scored and can last up to two minutes. The length of a jam is controlled by the first jammer to make it through the pack, called the lead jammer, who can choose to run the jam for the full two minutes or end early to gain a tactical edge. In between jams, play stops and teams can change the skaters they have on the track.
Contact is allowed in derby, but hits must be clean.
Rules regarding contact are similar to those in hockey. Hits must be made with the shoulder and can only be to the front or side of an opponent. Penalties can be administered for unclean hits, as well as other fouls like cutting the track to gain a tactical advantage.
If anyone is interested in learning more about roller derby or the Missfits of Mayhem, they are welcome to watch the upcoming match on May 4 at 6 p.m. at the Blackfalds Arena.
For more information about CARDA visit www.missfitsofmayhem.com.