Triple threat: Regina triplets heading to Junior Roller Derby World Cup

Three Regina sisters will be a triple threat at the upcoming Junior Roller Derby World Cup in Pennsylvania. The 16-year-old triplets will be representing Canada on the national junior team at the competition on July 23.

12 of 23 players on Team Canada from Saskatchewan

The Sopczak triplets from left to right: Kailyn, Mackenna and Taisha.

Three Regina sisters will be a triple threat at the upcoming Junior Roller Derby World Cup in Pennsylvania.

The 16-year-old triplets will be representing Canada on the national junior team at the competition on July 23.

Mackenna, Taisha and Kailyn Sopczak started playing roller derby when they were 10 years old.

They told the Morning Edition being triplets gives them an advantage because it gives them someone to play with all the time.

"We talk strategy on the car rides to practice," Mackenna said.

Twelve of the 24 players on the national team heading to the Junior Roller Derby World Cup are from Saskatchewan. (Team Canada Junior Roller Derby/Facebook)

Roller derby is picking up speed as a sport in Saskatchewan. There are 13 leagues in the province -- eight junior teams and 30 senior teams.

Twelve of the 24 players on the junior national team are from Saskatchewan.

The full-contact sport is most popular with girls and women, though depending on the league, boys and men are allowed to play (there is one boy on the junior national team).

Players wear roller skates and race around a flat oval track. There is one jammer and four blockers on each team and a point is scored whenever the jammer passes a blocker on the opposing team.

Full contact sport

The game takes speed and endurance, and the triplets have been training hard since they learned last fall that they'd be going to the World Cup.

The sport has a reputation for being brutal and the girls admit people do get hurt sometimes. Kailyn is currently recovering from a wrist injury.

"It is a full contact sport, so you can get hurt from other people falling you or you falling on them," Taisha said. "But we learn how to fall safely and how to play our safest game."

Players must wear knee pads, wrist guards, elbow pads, a helmet and a mouth guard.

Hockey connections

Sarah Labadie from Regina is one of the Sopczaks' teammates. She's been playing roller derby since she was 11 years old.

She thinks Saskatchewan is so well represented nationally is because a lot of the players and coaches have hockey and ice skating backgrounds, which translates well to roller derby.

Her favourite part of the sport, though, is the people.

"I really love the people. People in roller derby are very accepting and not very jugemental. It's a very welcoming environment."

In roller derby, players choose "derby names." Sarah Labadie's derby name is "Sarah-Cidal." (Team Canada Junior Roller Derby/Facebook)

While the sport is becoming more popular, she said there are some misconceptions. For one, it's not as violent as some movies make it out to be.

"I've never, ever played anybody that was on purpose trying to hurt someone. That's not the point of the sport."

She also said some people still say roller derby isn't a "real" sport but she wants that to change.

"It's as much as a sport as football or hockey is. They're both full contact sports, just different set of rules and then you're on roller skates instead of cleats or hockey skates."

About the Author

Ashleigh Mattern

Ashleigh Mattern is a web writer and reporter with CBC Saskatoon. Email: ashleigh.mattern@cbc.ca

With files from The Morning Edition