Season kicks off for roller derby

There are many sports seasons that start in the summer — baseball, Canadian football, and roller derby. It’s roller derby season! A team that started four years ago in 2008 is flourishing. There are now four teams in the Red Deer Roller Derby Association and two of them are men’s teams.

Recently known as strictly a woman’s sport, men like Alan Rennie, known as ‘Buster Beaton’, are changing the landscape. Rennie decided to come to the world of derby after trying many other sports. “I’ve been doing volleyball and other sports for a long time and I was looking for something competitive, active, very physical and centered around a group.”

Rennie compares derby to his past. “I was in hockey when I was in grade school and I hadn’t had physical contact in a sport in a long time.”

The men’s division of roller derby in Red Deer hasn’t been around as long but when you consider how long roller derby has been around in our City, it’s actually pretty long. “Our team has actually been around for two years now. We’re one of four teams in Canada. The majority of times we play in Calgary.”

So what’s the difference between male and female roller derby? “Females have a tendency to show finesse and they are more calculated in their play. Men? They’re very aggressive. They don’t necessarily think slow down.”

As per Rennie’s description, if you want to see organized chaos, or if you want to be a part of it, then men’s roller derby is your thing.

Now don’t get to thinking women’s roller derby is soft. Carla Fedje, known as ‘Negative Nancy’, will probably tell you that finesse was the last thing that made her come out.

“I watched a game in Calgary last year and I was like wow, those chicks are tough.” It was there Fedje had an epiphany. “I was like, wow, I could be that tough. I want to try this it looks like super fun.”

There was one small obstacle in her way, her desire was there but as luck would have it, she sprained her ankle the next day. Six months later she sprained her ankle again. But in this sport, if you get knocked down you have to get back up again.

Her words of wisdom are, “Everybody sucks in the beginning but you’re going to get better, and you’re going to surprise yourself in how powerful and how skilled you can become in this sport.”

Something that Cassy Schepp, known as ‘Timber’ can definitely relate to. A long time hockey player Schepp said there’s nothing like the camaraderie she feels. “The people are amazing. Here you can be any size and they’re going to love you no matter what.”

And that love seems to transcend into who you are once you become a Belladonna. “You do carry yourself a different way, you become more dedicated, way more confident. You just feel like a better person,” said Schepp.

After watching the Belladonna’s practice, you can tell that they’ve put in hard work to once again have a successful season, which kicks off on April 7 at 6 p.m. at Westerner Park.