New Brunswick

Atlantic roller derby championship rolls into Saint John

The first Atlantic Canada Roller Derby Championship will be held in Saint John later this month.

First for Atlantic Canada

Roller derby is a full contact sport. (Courtesy of the Fog City Rollers)

The first Atlantic Canada Roller Derby Championship will be held in Saint John later this month.

The local Fog City Rollers league and the Roller Derby Association of Canada are co-hosting the Slay of Fundy on Sept. 21-23 at the Lord Beaverbrook Rink.

The top two teams at the event will then move on to represent the region at a national tournament, said Sheri Currie, who plays for the Razor Girls, one of four teams in the league.

"For us in the area, it’s a big deal because we haven’t had anything like it yet," said Currie, who is also known by her derby name, Auburn Rubber.

"So this is our chance to get our level of play up and show the rest of the country that Atlantic Canada is coming up in the world of roller derby."

The full contact sport on roller skates has been "growing exponentially," with more than 1,200 leagues now around the world, up from about 100 leagues in 2005, said Currie.

The first world cup of roller derby was held in Toronto last December, with 13 countries represented.

And now, roller derby is even being considered for the Olympics in 2020, Currie said.

Legitimate sport

Sheri Currie, also known as Auburn Rubber, says the league is always looking for volunteers. (Fog City Rollers)

"People are trying to bring the legitimacy of the sport to the forefront so that people realize this is a real sport and it involves a lot of strength and strategy and competitiveness."

Although roller derby was a staged sports entertainment in the 1970s, modern derby is "all real," said Currie.

The 2009 movie Whip It helped secure its surge in popularity as a legitimate sport, she said.

"So it’s been growing like crazy and here in Atlantic Canada, all the leagues have been trying to catch up with the rest of the country I guess because we’ve all been at it for about two years."

There are currently leagues in six cities of the four provinces, said Currie.

The object of the game is to score the most points.

The game is played in two halves of up to 30 minutes each, and within those halves are two-minute jams.

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.

Every game requires seven referees and at least 13 non-skating officials to take care of scoring, penalties and other duties, so the Fog City Rollers are always looking for volunteers, said Currie.

"We’ll teach you everything you need to know."