Local roller derby women return from World Cup

“It was quite the experience for sure,” recalls Amy ‘Gunpowder Gertie’ Thompson. She just returned from the first ever Roller Derby World Cup. Thompson was one of two Red Deer Belladonna’s representatives, who were a part of team Canada.

The opening night’s ceremonies started with a nice twist. “We actually did an Olympic-style walk in, where each team came in and sang their national anthem, as a team, and then lined up with their flags.”

Being this was the first ever time holding this tournament. It was also the first time Team Canada, obviously represented by the entire country, was able to officially meet.

“Some of the girls play on the same team, but for the most part we all didn’t know each other, so we all had to get to know each other really quickly in our first practice.”

The team must have been picked very well because they were like sisters-in-arms according to Gunpowder Gertie. “We all bonded. We all worked well together. And from there we just really, really kicked butt in the tournament.”

Team Canada had no idea what to expect from their opponents. “We were unsure about how all the teams were going to be because of the simple fact that they are worldwide. Finland, Sweden, Australia — we didn’t know what to expect from them, simply for the fact that they’re overseas.”

But that didn’t make a difference. “We went out there and we just played our game and it ended up working to our advantage.”

Did it ever. Canada outscored Team France 244-17, Team Brazil 408-17, Team Finland 499 – 31, and Team England 161-90 in the semi-final.

And they probably would have went into the finals against the U.S. with more confidence, except the Americans had a grand total of 17 points scored against them to that point of the World Cup, and they had rattled off a mere 1,814 points. Kind of the team to beat.

At the half, the two teams were tied, but that’s as close as they’d be. The final score was 336 to 33 for the U.S.

Thompson did not expect Team Canada to upset the mighty U.S. team.

She says the Canadian strategy was not to win, but to gain knowledge. “We went in with the thought of learning. We’re going to give them a hard time. Our plan was to go in with small goals and our first goal was to collectively score against them what everybody in this tournament scored.”

After they did this, the Canadians went after their other goal which was to double that score. They came one point shy.

So what did they learn?

“How athletic those girls are — every single one of them was very athletic.” But that’s not all. Thompson says she’s gained strategy.

“You can say that you think you know how to play the game, but you play against a level like that and it’s unreal.”

And she’s not keeping that information for herself.

“I think that everybody will take a tidbit back from the tournament and take it back to their own respective teams.” And Gunpowder Gertie is confident this experience will give the Red Deer Belladonnas a big advantage this year. “I expect the Belladonnas to really kick butt this year.

“We want to show the fans the next level of derby.”

Thompson just experienced it, as part of the silver medal team at the first ever World Cup of Derby.