The Rocky View Roller Derby Association (RVRDA) is hosting try-it nights in Cochrane Jan. 24 and Airdrie Jan. 27 for local women interested in giving the sport a shot.
The events, which are open to women over the age of 18, will run from 7 to 9 p.m. at Frank Wills Hall in Cochrane and in Airdrie from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Kings Court Church. RVRDA member Sheena Galvin said the try-it nights will teach participants fundamental roller derby skills such as skating, stopping and falling properly.
“After running through those basic skills, we do a fun game of tag, and then we do a demonstration of derby to let everyone give it a try,” she said.
Roller derby is a contact sport played by two teams of five players, comprising four blockers and a jammer. The teams skate simultaneously around a track, while the jammers attempt to score points by lapping the opposing team’s blockers. The blockers, meanwhile, try to prevent the other team’s jammer from passing.
The try-it nights are free, and according to Galvin, participants are not required to provide their own equipment.
“Bring comfy clothes, a water bottle and a friend,” she said. “You don’t need to worry about gear, as we’ll set you up with all the gear you need.”
For those who enjoy the try-it night and want to join RVRDA afterwards, Galvin said, the next step is for athletes to take part in the “fresh meat” program – a three-month training program in which athletes will further their roller derby skills through weekly practice sessions.
At the end of the fresh meat program, according to Galvin, athletes advance into RVRDA’s “benchmarked” practices, where they’ll learn how to properly hit – and take a hit – as well as the logistics of a roller derby game.
“That’s why it’s important to go through the fresh meat program, so you’re safe on the track,” she said.
RVRDA was established in 2012 and currently boasts two teams (known in roller derby as leagues) – the Airdrie-based Rocky View Rollers, and the Indus-based East Side Wheelers.
Galvin said the goal is to establish a league in Cochrane, as well.
“We have yet to come up with a name, but we’re still in the building stages, which is why we’re hosting another try-it night,” she said.
The leagues each hold weekly practices year-round, according to Galvin, outside of August and December. She added the official roller derby season runs from April to July, when the leagues travel to other communities for competitive games and tournaments.
Though the association – which currently boasts 35 members – is based in Airdrie, Galvin said some players are from communities that are farther away, such as Carstairs and Banff.
“Our members are what keep us going – keep us rolling, if you will – and we’re all excited about the 2020 season,” she said.
Galvin added there are many reasons to take up roller derby.
“I like to say we’re a part of your extended family,” she said. “You meet a lot of people, especially when you start going to tournaments, games and invitational games, whether it’s in Edmonton, Medicine Hat or Lethbridge. It’s just a lot of fun and definitely a good workout.”
For more information on RVRDA or the try-it nights, visit rvrollerderby.com