Now that the ice surface at the Don Stewart Recreation Centre has been removed for the season, a whole new set of skaters have strapped on their wheels for the summer.
“Roller derby is pretty great,” said Heather Tybring, de facto leader of Hay River’s contingent of derby girls.
“It’s a lot of fun, great exercise, and we always have a really good group.”
Tybring did say, however, that that team is always looking for new members, no matter what their skill or fitness level.
The team meets on Wednesday evenings at the recreation centre, and while the drop-in cost is $3, all the derby equipment rentals are free.
There are competitive leagues in the south, but Tybring said Hay River’s team isn’t yet at that level.
Roller derby is a popular sport in Canada – it has its own national league – in which two teams of five skaters travel the same direction around a flat track. One player on each team is designated as the jammer and they score points by lapping the other team. The other players attempt to hinder the opposing team’s jammer while helping their own. It is also a contact sport and can be pretty intense when playing at higher levels.
“A couple of us went down last year to watch a tournament in Edmonton. We got a really good idea of the sport,” said Tybring. “We’re not super competitive and we don’t kick the crap out of each other.”
For new team member Jaeda Larocque, roller derby was an opportunity to get out and have fun more than anything.
“Other than swimming, this is one of the only sports that I can do and not feel like I’m too big or out of shape,” she said.
Tybring agreed, adding that even if people can’t skate, the group is happy to teach them. Despite popular conceptions of the sport garnered from a few select Hollywood movies, she said the practice isn’t all that violent.
“There’s no such thing as too big or too small to be in roller derby,” said Tybring. “It’s for everyone and it’s that inclusiveness that makes it really fun.”
The ladies on the team, however, were quick to point out portrayals do get one thing right – the flashy outfits.
“I do it to wear the socks,” said Angeline Magitbay. “It’s the only sport where crazy getups like this are acceptable.”