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Tough chicks: Avon River Rollers looking to muscle into roller derby scene

The Rebel Belles, of the newly formed Avon River Rollers, is comprised of, from left, back row: Wendy Jordan (Ellershouse), Jeannie Myles (Falmouth), Tara Dorman (Hantsport), Kate Forsyth (Avondale), Becky Corkum (Bishopville Road), and Nicole Pettipas (Windsor); front row: coach Lorie Faulkner (St. Croix), Gaynor Ferguson (Windsor), and Trina Cook Crowell (Brooklyn). Missing from the photo is co-coach Judy van Bommel. The team is still recruiting, as they can have up to 14 members.
The Rebel Belles, of the newly formed Avon River Rollers, is comprised of, from left, back row: Wendy Jordan (Ellershouse), Jeannie Myles (Falmouth), Tara Dorman (Hantsport), Kate Forsyth (Avondale), Becky Corkum (Bishopville Road), and Nicole Pettipas (Windsor); front row: coach Lorie Faulkner (St. Croix), Gaynor Ferguson (Windsor), and Trina Cook Crowell (Brooklyn). Missing from the photo is co-coach Judy van Bommel. The team is still recruiting, as they can have up to 14 members.

WINDSOR, N.S. — There's a new sports league in town and they're on the look-out for fresh meat.

Lorie Faulkner, president of the Avon River Rollers, had been travelling to the Valley to participate in roller derby for about four years. When enough interest was shown locally, she took it as a sign and formed a Windsor-based flat track roller derby league. It officially started earlier this year.

“It's a sport for people who have never been involved in sports and for those who have been involved in sport all their lives. There's something for everyone in derby,” said Faulkner, who goes by the track name Slamming Ma'am.

“It appeals to women of all walks of life.”

Newbies like Kate Forsyth, Jeannie Myles and Tara Dorman are what's known as 'fresh meat' in the roller derby world.

For Myles, January marked the first time she strapped on roller skates. She said it's “empowering” to go from falling down constantly in the first week to being steady on skates in just a few weeks.

“They had me hitting last week,” said Myles, who goes by the track name Malice in Wonderland.

“To get from there to there, you can see the progress. It feels really good.”

Jeannie Myles and Kate Forsyth only took up roller skating earlier this year. The pair have come a long way and are excited to be part of the Rebel Belles.

Forsyth, who serves as the local league's secretary, signed up with Dorman, her sister-in-law.

“You have people like me, who work in an office, to nurses, homemakers – everything. It's really an interesting cross-section,” said Forsyth, who at 48, has just taken up the sport.

When asked why she enjoys it, Forsyth was quick to say, with a laugh, “It's fierce, feminine and a little bit bad ass.”

She said the sport has evolved since the 70s when roller derby icons like Skinny Minnie Miller were racing around the track, and getting in fist fights.

“I have yet to get into a fist fight,” she said.

Wendy Jordan and Gaynor Ferguson warm up on the roller derby track during practice in Windsor.

Derby is a contact sport. It involves two teams, comprised of up to 14 players, taking turns sending five members out to compete in two-minute jams. Each team has a scoring player, known as a jammer, and four blockers, whose aim is to prevent the opposing team from scoring as they skate around the track. The jammer is responsible for trying to break through the blockers and scores each time she passes a member of the opposing team.

The women's team within the Avon River Rollers is called the Rebel Belles. If interest is there, the league could start up a junior team and a co-ed team. Refereeing positions are also available, and are ideal for those who don't want bruises.

Faulkner said they will welcome anyone who might want to try out roller derby – even if they have no experience.

“We will get them geared up and on skates the same night they come,” said Faulkner.

The local women plan to spend this year practicing before entering into contests. Faulkner said by next summer, they will be competing against roller derby clubs throughout the Maritimes, including Nova Scotia-based teams from Halifax, New Glasgow, Middleton, and Cape Breton.

For more information on the Avon River Rollers, visit their Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/avonriverrollers/) or email avonriverrollers@gmail.com.

Windsor's Nicole Pettipas is getting the hang of roller derby. She's a member of the Rebel Belles.

 

Want to try out?

Practices are held weekly at the Hants County War Memorial Community Centre in Windsor at 6:30 p.m.

The following are the upcoming practice dates for the Avon River Rollers.

  • Thursday, April 20
  • Friday, April 28
  • Thursday, May 4
  • Thursday, May 11
  • Friday, May 19
  • Friday, May 26

 

Ellershouse resident Wendy Jordan practices skating backwards during roller derby warm ups in Windsor.

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