Atlantic roller derby championship draws good crowd
Roller derby players are hoping the first Atlantic Canada Roller Derby Championship, held in Saint John over the weekend, will help raise the profile of the sport.
The local Fog City Rollers league and the Roller Derby Association of Canada co-hosted the Slay of Fundy event at the Lord Beaverbrook Rink.
More than 200 people attended the tournament, which featured six teams from the Atlantic provinces, said Sheri Currie, the marketing director for the Fog City Rollers and captain of the Saint John Shipyard Sirens team.
"We’re pretty happy," Currie strained to say, having lost her voice playing pivot for the Shipyard Sirens and yelling out plays to her teammates during the tournament.
"The crowds were there and very supportive," said Currie, who is also known by her derby name, Auburn Rubber.
Volunteers also travelled from far distances to help, including the head referee, who was from Toronto, she added.
The Muddy River Rollers’ Moncton Lumbersmacks took first place, defeating the Fog City Rollers’ Saint John Shipyard Sirens 227 to 174.
Both teams will now advance to represent the region at the national championships sometime next year, said Currie.
Roller derby, a full contact sport on roller skates, is steadily growing in popularity, with more than 1,200 leagues around the world, up from about 100 leagues in 2005.
It was about time all of the teams in Atlantic Canada got together for a tournament, Currie said.
"The roller derby community is so great and supportive we're always encouraging one another, so it's great to all descend on Saint John on the same weekend and be able to play."
Currie is also hoping the championship helped gain some more fans and prospective players.
Carole Maillet, of the Moncton Lumbersmacks, insists most skaters aren't in it just to be aggressive.
"We're becoming these tough women and this reputation that we're getting — we're not used to be called ‘tough,’" she said.
"It's kind of like flattering in a sense to be like, ‘I can be tough, yeah.’"
Each team has five players out on the flat, oval track — three blockers, a pivot and the jammer.
The jammer, who has a star on her helmet, is the fastest player. She must get past the opposing blockers and the pivot at the front of the pack to score points.
The 2009 movie Whip It helped secure roller derby’s surge in popularity as a legitimate sport.