Roller derby is getting quite popular in Central Alberta and has a lot to offer players of any age.
It develops skills like teamwork, body and mind coordination, endurance and strength. It’s also a very relaxed, friendly atmosphere that Bentley resident Elizabeth ‘Mexi-Krash’ Bolanos said is very welcoming.
“I think the first thing I fell in love with was the welcoming. They are very welcoming, even if you don’t have the skills for the first few classes. You need time, like anything. The welcoming was big,” Bolanos said.
“I also love the adrenaline and challenging myself. You have to challenge your brain because there is a lot of strategy. Sometimes people just think, ‘Oh all they do is hit’ but it’s not true, there’s a lot of thinking involved. Sometimes, you have to tell your brain to turn around on one foot and go backwards, but your brain says, ‘No – I can’t do that’ so you have to push yourself to try. There is a challenge for your brain and your body and getting them connected. I love that.”
Bolanos skates with the Nuclear Free Roller Derby team, which is a part of the Central Alberta Roller Derby Association (CARDA). She has been participating for a year and a half and said she thoroughly enjoys the sport.
Roller derby is a high-impact sport that is played with five members of a team on the track at each time, roller skating in the same direction and using strategies to help the designated scorer (jammer) complete laps around the other team for points.
Many people think roller derby is only for females, but there are male teams as well. CARDA has clubs for youth, men and women to play on.
“I’m not that young anymore, so to find a sport that has a team, is competitive, and has a lot of contact – it’s hard to find that. I tried roller derby once, and just fell in love so I keep doing it.”
Bolanos said prior to any real matches or scrimmages, it takes a lot of practice and time to get comfortable. She said safety is the number one concern of the club and they will not let players participate in matches until they are fully comfortable and feel safe.
“Most injuries happen because your muscles aren’t strong enough or because people aren’t really thinking about what they’re doing. But, if you play it safe and know when to stop, you should be fine. Accidents do happen, and sometimes you jut get crushed. But you’re the one running your adrenaline, so you have to be smart,” she said.
Bolanos said the camaraderie and teamwork of the Nuclear Free Roller Derby team is extremely important. She said the team supports each other through good times and bad, and that often, even opponents are friends after the match. She said teamwork is crucial and roller derby is not a selfish sport.
“There is a lot of teamwork. We are a team in the good times and in the bad times. When we win, that’s awesome, and when we lose we suck it up and do our best next time. If someone has a problem, we are there. I think it’s cool that you come here and you’re not a nurse, or a teacher – you’re a player as part of a team. Everyone is there for you, and you are there for your team,” she said.
“There are also no hard feelings in roller derby. Your teammate might kick you or knock you out of bounds, but five minutes later you’re hugging. Sometimes when we’re playing against other teams, it’s really competitive but you go to the after party and everyone is friends.”
For those who want to try their skills at roller derby, CARDA welcomes new members and recruits constantly. People are able to try two free classes and CARDA will provide all necessary equipment for the trial period.
CARDA holds scrimmages in Red Deer, Springbrook, Wetaskawin and Stettler. On May 24th, a scrimmage will be held at the Collicutt Centre that is open to be viewed by the public.