By Heather Killen
A Rose by her roller derby name is probably called Thorny Chick.
The first thing they teach in roller derby school is how to fall. The next thing they teach you is that your name has to be special and uniquely yours, according to Lori Kinsman, aka Lori Kinsman.
“I don’t have a name yet, sometimes it takes awhile to pick one,” she says. “It has to be unique, no one else can have it.”
When she started with the Riptide Rollers, she was a wall hugger who had never been on roller skates. Now she admits she doesn’t like to take her skates off, she even goes home after practice and puts them back on.
The Riptide Rollers Association is an all-female flat track roller derby league that started in Kings County about a year ago to give women in the Annapolis Valley a chance to participate in the roller derby.
Growing in Popularity
While it’s been around for many years, roller derby has been growing in popularity since 2000. Two teams of five players roller-skate around a track in this contact sport on wheels.
The 60-minute bout is divided into two 30-minute series of two-minute jams. The faster skating jammers try to score points by passing members of the opposing team.
The blockers try to help their jammer get ahead while blocking the opposing team’s jammer.
There are 26 ladies in the Valley’s league, ranging in age between 24 and 56 and coming from Port Williams through Bear River. The Valley league offers both competitive and recreational level play.
Many of the members had never laced up roller skates before they joined the league, according to Knock-out Knight (aka Kim Knight). The league has attracted moms, a pharmacist, accountants, managers, hairstylists, and even a paramedic.
Each brings a different skill set to the team and everyone brings something special to the group, especially the paramedic.
“It’s like a Dove commercial,” she says. “Shape and size don’t matter. Everyone has a place on the team. Bigger, slower skaters can be blockers; smaller faster skaters can be jammers. Skill level doesn’t matter, there’s a place for everyone.”
To be eligible for competitive skirmishes, players will first need to pass a basic skill test and everyone is required to carry insurance. But no one is pushed to play rough and everyone is able to roll at her own chosen speed.
The game is good for building friendships and self esteem, according to Knight. And it’s a great way to get active and lose weight. Part of the sport’s appeal is the unladylike roughhousing and good-ole backslapping camaraderie that builds up between the players.
The more bruises a girl gets, the better the bragging rights according to Man Bait (aka Kate Sampson). The league even has a Facebook page devoted to showcasing the most spectacular bruises.
Special instruction is offered in the beginning to ensure that all ladies have mastered the fine art of falling well.
Knee and Elbow Pads
“You are going to fall, you may as well learn to do it well,” she said. “It doesn’t hurt as much as you think. You want to get good knee and elbow pads.”
The equipment is affordable, she added. Most of the gear can be bought secondhand, but even at full retail price it probably shouldn’t cost more than $300 to get in the game.
The group has been practicing at the Bridgetown arena, but is looking for a new spot to practice in its offseason from September through to March. Ideally the group needs a 100-by-60-foot open space with a smooth flat surface.
It can be wood, tile, or concrete and the league is willing to travel throughout the Valley to access the space. It’s also looking for new members, referees, and other volunteers. The league practices twice a week and travels to competitive bouts once a month.
For more information on the Riptide Rollers visit www.riptiderollers.ca