For roller derby enthusiasts, the sport isn’t just a way to get some exercise; it is a way of life. Recently, Mixed Massacre II rolled into the Encana Events Centre, exhibiting the awesome energy of this exhilarating sport to fans.
Four teams were present, formed with players from all over the north, as far away as Red Deer to the east and William’s Lake to the west.
Carol Sapergia, aka “Ginja Fightus” says the sport really promotes a sense of community, “It’s so neat because it’s so cooperative and encouraging, everyone is so supportive. In between different leagues it’s astounding how much people support and love each other. It’s not like any other sport I’ve ever played.”
Ginja is a member of a team based out of Dawson Creek called the Mile Zero Mercy Rollergirls and was a previous member for the Rated PG Rollergirls out of Prince George three years ago. She says, “We started the league one year ago after the City of Dawson Creek ran it’s first ‘dry land’ roller derby camp. I coached the camp and the ladies took on the sport with vigor!” She continues, “My advice would be to come and check it out, whether you are interested in being a player, ref, volunteer or even a fan, it is a really neat community that roller derby just builds around itself and it just increases the sense of community in a town or city. I would say just give it a shot, it’s a new sport and sometimes it’s hard for people to add a new sport into their agenda, people are busy, and learning a new sport can be challenging, but it is so worth it, this sport especially.”
Though the camaraderie between team members is very evident in the positive feedback they give each other, roller derby has a reputation for being a bit of a rough sport, a reputation Ginja thinks is unfounded. She says, “As far as physical injury goes, we do wear gear, which accounts for a lot of the safety compared to a lot of other sports. For example I flew through the air a few times and landed on my kneepads, but because I have really good gear, it didn’t hurt at all. If I hadn’t been wearing those kneepads I would have really hurt myself. You can imagine if you jump into the air in soccer or volleyball and land on your knee, you’re not going to have as much padding, or none. I think it’s quite level, but it gets a reputation for it because you are actually physically running into each other on purpose, you are blocking each other and you are not wearing as much gear as you would in say hockey.”
Ginja also explains derby isn’t a sport you can just step into, it takes some off the track training to stay fit to play. “We are on skates that are roughly two pounds each (depending on the type of skates you have), which means if your joints are not capable of carrying or manoeuvring the weight when you’re off balance, it can be easy to hurt yourself. We do say to players, if you are interested in playing, that is awesome, we want you out here, but we have to be safe about it. If you are only practicing with us once a week and you do not do any other exercising, you are not going to be safe out there. You have to be, your quads, hamstrings and knees have to be able to support your ankles or you will get hurt. This can’t be the only time you exercise. The programs in PG, they practice two or three times a week. The girls are running their own workouts as well—running groups or spin classes in order to stay in good enough shape to stay safe.”
She explains her worst injury happened because she was being silly. “I’ve strained my knee playing volleyball. I broke a bone in my hand playing volleyball, yet the one time I was being silly at roller derby practice, just standing too straight, wasn’t even playing in a game and I fell and broke my ankle.”
So are you up for the challenge?
If so, Ginja explains, “Just for comfort sake, if you are going to meet a bunch of new people it could be a little intimidating. I would say bring a friend, carpool, get a group of people, but come and check it out on Wednesday nights in Dawson Creek. It’s a very welcoming group. You can try out some skates someone has, most people will let you use their gear to try it out. We have rental skates that we borrow from the Prince George roller dome, so we can lend those out while they are there.”