Local junior roller team says sport isn’t as violent as Hollywood portrays
The sound is remarkably similar to a summer thundershower as the four girls of the Youthanizers zoom past on their skates. The vibrant colours of their striped socks blur together as they lap the track during warm-up on a cold Wednesday night in February.
Chinook City Roller Derby’s youngest team consists of “four very talented girls,” explains head coach Leon Bellavance, who goes by the derby name Flustercluck.
“The nice thing about roller derby is there isn’t any perfect person for it,” Flustercluck says. “It doesn’t matter what you look like or what background you come from — you can end up being good at this.”
The rules of the game, as expressed on the Chinook City Roller Derby website, explicitly state that players cannot make illegal contact with opponents. This includes: “elbows, use of forearms/hands, low blocking, back blocking, blocking with head or contact over the shoulders.”
Cookies n’ Scream, Molly Hatchet, Grace Slick and Courtney Shove range between the ages of 14 and 17. The youngest is 14-year-old Slick, who joined in October 2013 and has already caught up with the rest of the girls.
Produced by Caitlin Clow and Victoria Pizarro
The Youthanizers, Calgary’s only junior roller derby team, accepts kids from 7 to 17, although recently the team has divided into smaller age groups to allow for more hands-on training.
“Three-sixty!” Coach Quiet Riot yells, and the girls simultaneously jump in a circle while moving at a quick pace. They resume skating as if their feet have never left the wooden gymnasium floor. It’s a fast-paced sport, but Coach Flusterclucks points out that there’s no violence like what’s portrayed in Hollywood flicks about roller derby.
Derby moms Pam Bailey and Laura Berg-Cody, said that daughters, Molly Hatchet and Courtney Shove, had both seen the 2009 derby hit movie Whip It starring Ellen Page. But unlike the violence and the injuries seen in the flick, these moms say they’ve never worried about their girls’ safety thanks to diligent training.
“Defensive blocking is just a part of roller derby. Fights don’t break out on the rink, ” Bailey explains.
Coach Flustercluck adds that violence in roller derby is a misconception.
“Most people haven’t ever seen a roller derby game, let alone one with violence in it.”