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posted by Moira Peters in on avr. 28, 2013 - View profile



Halifax roller derby teams to square off in season opener

- 9:00pm
Samedi Mai 4 2013

Venue: Shannon Park Arena
Cost: $10/12 adults, $5/6 kids
Accessibility: Yes

» More information

The ice is finally coming off the rinks around town, so strap on your helmets, lace up your skates and pop in your mouthguards: it's roller derby season!

The Halifax Roller Derby Association (HRDA) announced its season home opener today. On May 4, Halifax's two home teams, Las Bandidas Locas and the Dead Ringers, will square off for Skate Wars, a home turf battle at Shannon Park Arena in Dartmouth. Skate Wars will feature seasoned skaters who have been training throughout the winter in preparation for a season that will match them against the best teams from the Maritimes--and across Canada.

"Our skaters are faster, stronger and more skilled than we've ever seen them," says HRDA Board Secretary and acting coach Andrea Crowell. "This season we will be seeing much more competitive derby, both between the Halifax teams and also when we bout against the more established teams in the Maritimes."

The Halifax league boasts nearly 100 members, made up of seasoned skaters, new "fresh meat" skaters, referees, non-skating officials and volunteers. Players and volunteers coach each other and organize all fundraising, event organization and training. Players range widely in age, athletic experience and professional backgrounds.

"It's a lot of work," says Crowell, "But the satisfaction of watching a sport like roller derby, which is so different from any other sport because of the emphasis on women and community-building, is worth every minute that goes into it. Plus, there's no one I'd rather hang out with than my derby family," she adds.

Roller derby is the fastest growing sport in the world, and though the United States dominates the sport, its popularity is increasing in Canada and around the globe. Derby leagues skate and compete in all four Atlantic provinces; Nova Scotia alone is growing leagues in Cape Breton, New Glasgow, the Annapolis Valley and Halifax, though not all leagues compete. Derby is primarily a women's sport, and women's leagues welcome trans folks who identify as female. There are also a few men's leagues sprouting in Atlantic Canada.

Contemporary roller derby is a full contact sport; players take on alter-ego-style names; and uniforms can border on costumes. However, the sport is not exclusively theatrical, as was the case in the 1980s when the track was banked and players routinely fought during play. Rules today, which are set by the Women's Flat Track Derby Association, are strict, emphasizing safety and respect for fellow players, coaches and referees. But derby is not for the faint of heart.

"We play hard, we hit each other, we don’t hold back," says Christina Shaffer, a.k.a. Skatey and the Tramp of Las Bandidas Locas. "But we really, really love each other, and that's one of the best things about derby: it's so inclusive. We have skaters of all skill levels. Whether you are an awesome fundraiser or you are a graphic designer or you can skate really fast, as long as you love the sport, there is a spot for you in the league."

Halifax skaters currently practice in a community rec centre outside of the city. This is not ideal in terms of size, says Shaffer, and the league has been seeking a regular practice space in Halifax for over a year.

"It's tough, our season has to be opposite hockey season so we can use arenas when the ice is taken up," she says. "It would be really great--and demonstrate Halifax's dedication to women's sport--if we could find practice space within the city."

In the meantime, HRDA encourages everyone to support their local roller derby team, by attending Skate Wars next month. The game starts at 7pm, doors open at 6; arrive early to claim your track-side “suicide” seating. Advance tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for kids 5-12, available from Proskate, Plan B, The New Landing, Lake Loon and your local roller derby girl. Tickets at the door are $12 or $10 with a food bank donation, $6 for kids 5-12 or $5 with a food bank donation. Kids under five and wookies get in free.

For more information, check out halifaxrollerderby.ca, visit Halifax Roller Derby Association on Facebook, and follow the league on Twitter @YHZrollerderby.

Organizer:Christina Shaffer, hrda.mediateam@gmail.com

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Topics: GenderSports
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