Roller derby fans can look forward to an afternoon of rough stuff as the Salt Spring Island Tempest junior roller derby team hosts two bouts at Gulf Islands Secondary School on Saturday, May 4.
The Tempest will play against Vancouver Junior Roller Derby in the first game of the evening. Their match will be followed up by the Brass Knuckle Derby Dames out of Cowichan Valley facing off against the Brick House Betties from Comox.
“It’s our first game of the season. We are going to be playing at home, which is awesome. We don’t get a lot of games here,” said Hannah Lawson, a.k.a. Lawless, one of the players on the Tempest. “It’s nice when we get to have home games because then everyone on the island can come and participate.”
Roller derby is a rough sport in which players skate around a track at high speed, trying to score points against a defending team. Points are scored when a jammer (a scoring player, identified by a star on their helmet) laps members of the opposing team. The defending team tries to block the jammer from getting past. Blockers on the scoring team can also use body contact and other tactics to make it easier for their jammer to score.
“It’s a very charismatic game. We have characters behind our names, there is a lot of makeup, a lot of outfits,” Lawson said. “The crowds are awesome. We have a very strict no swearing policy so the sportsmanship is also really good.”
Derby players get to make up their own character, complete with names, costumes and personalities. Some of the names on this year’s roster are Lawless, Blocking Beauty, Abi McStabby, Av-A-Sassin and Hello Hitty.
This year, the Tempest is bringing a group of experienced skaters to the game. Each player on the team has been skating for at least three years. Junior roller derby players are ranked into skill levels, beginning at level 0 with beginning skaters and going up to level 3. Skaters in level 3 are generally considered to have adult-level competency on their skates.
“We have level-2 and level-3 players. Vancouver has more level-1 and level-2 players. They do have a few level-3 players, but they have a lot of younger kids. We’ll be bringing our brutality down a bit for the game. It’s still really good practice for us to be playing with smaller, lower-level kids.”
The team is also looking for new players. Three of the Tempest’s skaters will be aging out of the league this year, and fresh faces are always welcome. Lawson explained that though the game looks rough and scary, safety measures are in place to reduce any chance of injury.
“For me personally, it’s a great outlet for stress or if I’m not having a good day. I also just love the feeling of being on skates. I feel like I’m flying whenever I’m skating,” she said. “The team’s energy is just like we’re a little family.”
For those interested in playing, the team’s Facebook page is a good way to get in contact with the coaches. The team practices on Monday and Tuesday nights from 4:45 to 6:15 at Fulford Hall.
Doors open at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Tickets are available in advance from Windsor Plywood, or at the door. Children under five get in free, and must be supervised and away from the track and crash zone at all times.