Brenda DeKoe and Erika Tremp couldn’t keep smiles off their faces after Niagara Roller Girls first-ever roller derby.
“That was awesome,” said DeKoe, a member of the Vineyard Vixens, as she headed to the locker room after her game.
DeKoe, known as Toxic Dessert on the rink, had rink rash on her arm and thigh after the Friends and Family Feud double-header derby, but was ready to go again.
“It was good … addictive,” she said of the experience.
Despite being all “sweaty and gross,” Tremp, known as Ani diStrangle, said she couldn’t wait for the next derby.
“This is probably the best time I’ve had in a really long time … the most fun,” the Vineyard Vixens member said.
The two Port Colborne women came to the sport after watching the movie Whip It, which came out in 2009. The movie is about an ex-beauty pageant contestant who joins a roller derby league. It was based on the novel Derby Girl, written by Shauna Cross, a former roller derby athlete.
“I saw the movie two years ago and was hooked. I said, ‘I’m going to try that’,” said DeKoe.
With no league in Niagara at the time, she looked to Hamilton.
“I bought all of the gear and started to practice,” said the 36-year-old, who works at Pinty’s
Asked why she wanted to join and play in a roller derby league, DeKoe didn’t really know why.
“I’m not a rough girl. It’s something completely different … it’s not hockey or soccer,” she said.
Tremp came about the sport the same way as DeKoe, through the movie Whip It.
“It was something different … it’s not a sport we have in Port Colborne,” she said.
The 28-year-old chef at Cherry Hill Club in Fort Erie knew she had to try the sport as well.
Luckily for both women, Niagara Roller Girls came along in January this year thanks to Jenn Lock and Carla Smith, who both played in a league in Hamilton. Besides Hamilton, there are leagues in London, Toronto and many across the border in the U.S.
In March of this year, the two started practicing with the other ladies in the four-team league. With practices two nights a week, all of the women in the league that had never been on roller skates before had to learn the moves and various skills needed for roller derby.
Roller derby is played on an oval track and is a fast-paced game. The game is made up of two 30-minute periods, with each period consisting of a series of jams. James last up to two minutes in length. At the start of the game, there is a pivot, three blockers and a jammer from each team. Pivots are the ones who set the pace for the game and lead it off. They are the last line of defence in a game and wear stripes on their helmets. Behind the pivots are the blockers who play both offensively and defensively. Their job is to help their own jammer through the pack, while preventing the opposing jammer from getting by. The jammers are the ones who score points by passing through the blockers while attempting to take the lead position. Jammers wear stars on their helmets.
The game starts when the pivots and blockers start to move. When the last blocker crosses the pivot line, which is set ahead of the blocker line on the track, a second whistle is blown and the jammers start to skate and fight their way through the pack. The lead jammer is declared when the legally (without penalties) make it through the pack. That jammer scores points for their team and can call off the jam at anytime or continue it for the full two minutes.
Tremp was a jammer during one of periods in her game against the Maids of the Fist, while DeKoe was named MVP during the 207-189 loss.
Both ladies said they were very nervous before taking to the track for the first time in the double-header, which also saw the Dalhousie Destroyers beat the Seaway Sirens 211-185.
But once on the track and into the game, those nerves seemed to quickly disappear as the game picked up pace. Both women had smiles on their faces as the game went along, as did almost every single competitor on the track. The crowd enthusiastically cheered on all the teams inside the hot Garden City Arena in St. Catharines.
While the two Port Colborne women were looking forward to their next game in July, they were also both looking forward to next season.
“I’ll definitely come back next year,” said Tremp. DeKoe also wants to come back and play.
The league will play all of the games in St. Catharines this year and both women said it’s looking for a permanent home.
“We need a home,” said Tremp.
“I’d like to see it in Port Colborne,” said DeKoe, who is hoping to hand out information on the league during Canal Days this year.
The league’s next games are all at Bill Burgoyne Arena, 129 Linwell Rd., St Catharines, and are July 14, July 28 and August 18. There’s also a fundraising event Monday, July 16 at Henry of Pelham, 1469 Pelham Rd., St. Catharimes. with the screening of the movie Derby Baby, beginning at 7 p.m.
For more information visit www.niagararollergirls.com or www.facebook.com/NiagaraRollerGirls.