BY ASHLEY THOMPSON
The Hants Journal
When Amanda ‘Demanda Beating' Brown reunites with her former teammates from the Halifax Roller Derby Association, elbows will fly, hips will check and pleasantries will not be exchanged.
But Brown's not scared - quite the opposite, actually. She can't wait to square off against her old derby squad with a crew of her own.
Brown is in the process of recruiting girls for an Annapolis Valley Derby League, soon to be dubbed the Valley Roller Derby Association.
"I'm totally on the tear. I'm getting this going," an energetic Brown promised.
"I think we'll have some pretty tough girls coming from the Valley."
She has a practice space booked at the Kentville Recreation Centre, a sponsorship agreement with Jason Mahar of Everlasting Ink, and some fresh meat.
"(Fresh meat) just means that you're absolutely fresh. Practices will be no contact. In the beginning it's to teach the girls balance, how to fall... how to stand and different stopping techniques," Brown said.
"We teach skaters in baby steps. We don't expect them to just jump in and start playing in game situations."
Brown says she'll accept any woman over the age of 19 who has a genuine desire to get out and derby.
"Come one, come all," she says.
"I can take people from the ground up."
With help from some friends from the Halifax Roller Derby Association, Brown hopes she will have a core travel team ready for the ring by spring.
"It's so good for your body and it builds camaraderie between women. It's a great place for women just to get together. I guess you could say it's like the misfit club for girls (who) don't really fit into any other sport category."
Sarah ‘Chaotica' Crozier, founder of the Halifax Roller Derby Association, says they'll welcome the competition - especially from a team based in the same province.
"It needs to happen," Crozier said.
"We definitely need two leagues in Nova Scotia. We need somebody to play."
So far, the Halifax Heartless have recorded one official game against Moncton's Muddy River Rollers in Dartmouth. Crozier says a sold-out crowd of more than 800 spectators showed up for the bout.
Crozier started recruiting in 2009 after moving to Halifax from Edmonton and deciding that the lack of a roller derby presence in Nova Scotia was something she had to remedy.
"It's a very fun sport," Crozier says.
"It empowers you, you challenge yourself. You push yourself to the limits and you find that you really can do amazing things and you really surprise yourself."
When it's time to derby, five skaters race around the track for each team. Four skaters are designated as blockers and one girl is marked as the jammer. A jammer tries to pass skaters on the opposing team to earn points, and blockers go out of their way to ensure that is no easy task.
It’s so good for your body and it builds camaraderie between women. It’s a great place for women just to get together. I guess you could say it’s like the misfit club for girls (who) don’t really fit into any other sport category - Amanda ‘Demanda Beating’ Brown
"It's like hockey. You hip check, you shoulder check, you block - you want to knock the girl out of the track so she gets a penalty," Crozier explained.
"If you get out of the track then you have to enter in behind everybody."
Crozier says roller disco fever has been ‘spreading like wildfire' throughout Canada since the movie Whip It, starring Ellen Page, was released in the fall of 2009.
"It just consumes you, and all you want to do is start skating and skate everywhere."
Crozier, 27, has lost 65 pounds, and zero teeth, since she started shoving her way around derby rings in 2006. She says it's a rough sport, but the support is there for anyone who wants to learn how to play.
"We've had some girls that have never skated a day in their life and they come out and we train them," she said.
Anyone interested in learning about the Valley Roller Derby Association before strapping on a pair of skates is encouraged to drop in during the first practice at the Kentville Recreation Centre, Sept. 21, at 8:30 p.m. For more information, visit the association's Facebook page or call Amanda Brown at 791-0730.