The parking lot at Save On Foods Memorial Centre is hardly the venue that comes to mind when thinking about a practice space for a full-contact sport. But that’s just where Victoria’s flat track roller derby team got its start in 2006. They would eventually form the first female flat track roller derby team in B.C.
The Eves of Destruction, known as the Dead City Rollergirls in those days, kept rocking and rolling for a permanent home — the Archie Browning Sports Centre in Esquimalt — where they host up to six home bouts each season, attracting more than 1,000 adoring fans of all ages.
They’ll also be hosting some of the best skaters, coaches, referees and non-skating officials from North America for three days of drills, spills, thrills and chills at the Canadian Women’s Flat Track Roller Derby Association Bootcamp, May 20-22. It is the first time the national event has ever been held in Victoria, and the Eves are hoping it leaves a lasting impression.
“I’m really excited to scrimmage with girls I’ve never played with before,” says Nadia Comin’ Atcha (Trish Maxwell) of the Eves. “We’re going to be skating alongside some of the best talent in North America.”
After several hours of bootcamp style training on Friday and Saturday, the doors will open to the public to catch some scrimmage action. Teams from all over B.C., Alberta, Ontario and Nova Scotia will be battling for derby supremacy.
“Roller Derby is a family event,” says Felix the Brat (Becky Campbell). “There’s not going to be anything too crazy out there. It’s controlled by referees, so you’re not going to see anyone punching someone in the face — that’s completely against the rules and you’d be a total douche bag if you did that.”
Roller derby doesn’t have a sparkling reputation. Derby girls are often seen as crass, tough, nasty and unruly, but that’s not necessarily the case. “We have one girl on the team who says ‘sorry’ every time she delivers a hit,” Brat says with a giggle. “She’s just a really sweet girl.”
Brat made her derby debut this year alongside 50 other first-timers, at the “fresh meat” intake in September. About 20 of those ladies are still part of the league.
“When I first went in for trials, I was nervous and I could barely stand on my skates,” Brat says. The group of newbies and transfers were of all backgrounds and skill levels who were there to duke it out for a spot on the Eves’ “Sirens” rookie team.
“They teach you everything,” says Emily Scarr (Leah Pearse). “I had never played any sports at all before. I didn’t realize how hard it would be.”
Almost 75 women between the ages of 19 and 45 come together three times each week to practice, scrimmage and bout it out on the Eves’ three house teams.
“It’s a really great workout,” Scarr says. “And it’s a great challenge both mentally and physically.”
Scarr, who works as an archivist and librarian by day, is in her second season and plays with the Margarita Villains team.
“I went to a library convention in Montreal and went to see a bout with some friends. I thought it was awesome. When I got home, I looked them up and found out they were doing their first major intake. It was perfect timing,” Scarr says.
The hard-hitting sport sees two teams of five skating on a flat oval shaped track in a no holds-barred battle. Each team’s “jammer” (denoted by a star on the helmet) attempts to navigate between the “blockers” in the eight-person pack. The first jammer through the pack that passes the opposing team’s “pivot” (the pace setter denoted by a stripe on the helmet) is the “lead jammer.” For each player on the opposing team the “lead jammer” passes, they earn one point. The “lead jammer” has up to two minutes to score points before the next jam begins.
Penalties — both minor and major — are awarded for indiscretions including tripping, elbowing, back blocking and passing out of bounds. If one player gets four minor penalties, they get a major penalty and a one minute trip to the penalty box — leaving the other team with a one-woman advantage. Any contact to the head — whether intentional or not — gets a major penalty. Fighting would net a game misconduct. If one player gets seven trips to the penalty box, they foul out of the game.
“It’s a strategic game, so anyone out there who likes to watch hockey, soccer, lacrosse or football — they’ll probably love roller derby, too.” Brat says. “I do it for exercise for sure, and also friendship. I met one of my best friends, Buff Naked, through derby. I love being part of something that’s bigger than myself and knowing that what we’re doing is exciting. I go to school and I work, so this is a really nice release.”
Brat is a psychology major at UVic and works part-time at the Garden of Eden adult boutique.
“I’m a financial planner and a mom,” says Comin’Atcha. “My son was three and a half when I started. He’s grown up with roller derby.”
The Eves even have a team babysitter. “We couldn’t do it without her,” Comin’Atcha says. “A lot of girls were way more interested in coming out when they found out we had available child care.”
And they have a maternity leave policy. “We’ve had three babies born . . . we encourage the girls to come back in any capacity after they’ve given birth.”
Now the Eves are starting a youth team. Girls ages 13-18 are invited to an information session at the Archie Browning Arena, Thursday, May 19 from 5 to 6 p.m. M
Tickets for Friday and Saturday’s bouts are online at evesofdestruction.com or at Hive Hair Salon (714 Cormorant), Logan’s Pub (1821 Cook), and Archie Browning Sports Centre (1151 Esquimalt). Tickets are $10 each night or $15 for both. Doors are at 6 p.m. www.cwrda.ca
Canadian Women’s Roller Derby Bootcamp
Friday or Saturday, $15 for both
Doors at 6 p.m