Sports & Lifestyle

Winnipeg rolls with it

Roller Derby all about empowering women of all shapes and sizes

Photo: Eden Ramsay

Women looking to strap on some skates and get out some aggression have found their calling. And no, we’re not talking about hockey.

Roller derby is a contact sport with two teams of five members. The players roller skate in the same direction around the track. A designated player, known as the “jammer”, scores points by passing opposition players on the track. Other teammates, known as “blockers”, aim to assist their jammer, while making it more difficult for the opposing team’s jammer.

This action can be seen live at the Winnipeg Roller Derby League. There are three adult teams in the league : Valkyries’ Wrath, The Corporation and BackSeat Betties.

The 2012 Rivals Rematch Roller Derby Championship game was held on Oct. 13 at the Winnipeg Convention Centre.

In the Rivals Rematch game, Valkyries’ Wrath faced off against The Corporation.

The game drew a lively crowd who cheered as the teams battled it out on the track. The game ended with wild applause as the final score was 152 for Valkyries’ Wrath and 109 for The Corporation.

Jennifer Karton, a member of BackSeat Betties, often helps organize derby events. With the derby name, Sluggernaut, she believes the core of the sport is about women empowerment.

“It is a sport that anyone of any shape and size can be a participant in. You don’t have to be the fastest. You don’t have to be the thinnest. You don’t have to be the biggest. You just have to be willing to skate and have fun,” she said.

Karton said that roller derby can be more than just a sport – it can also be an addiction.

“I think once you are in the sport, it is really hard to leave. Once you are in, it’s kind of like a drug. It’s a lifestyle for some I think.”

Jamie Hill is a member of the Valyries’ Wrath. She goes by the derby name Sinfully Sweet and admits the sport can have a relaxing effect.

“It’s just super fun and the girls are awesome. I think its funny; a lot of people tell me I’m a super mellow person. When I think about it, it’s because my hobby entails hitting people. How can you not be a mellow person? It keeps me super balanced.”

Hill discovered roller derby at the beginning of 2009, a year after the league was founded in 2008. She was instantly hooked.

“I used to roller skate all the time when I was little and it just seemed way too cool not to try it. I thought it was just a hobby, but it’s actually your whole life. It totally drew me in from the second I saw the skates.”