If you know what jammers, pusher wheels or pivots are, the Yukon Roller Girls are looking for you. Actually, even if you haven’t a clue, they would still like to see you out at a practice.
Roller derby has seen a resurgence over the last decade with clubs as close as Edmonton, Vancouver, Anchorage and Fairbanks popping up. Though still in the initial stages of organization, Whitehorse may be one of the next locations to see the hard hitting, action packed competition that is roller derby.
“I keep saying it was one of those collective consciousness things; everyone was thinking about it, or were about to think about it,” said organizer Sarah Gallagher. “So myself and Jordi Mikeli-Jones – who owns Triple Js – and Aimee Ellis started to put some plans into effect. And then through the grapevine we realized some other people were thinking of starting one too. So we immediately organized a meeting with them because we realized we should pool our resources – there’s not going to be two leagues.”
The creation of a Whitehorse league took a major step towards becoming a reality last week when 48 women showed interest by attending a meeting at the public library. As necessary as skaters are to start a league, organizers are also requiring officials and coaches.
“This is an excellent time to get in on the ground level,” said Gallagher. “We don’t just need players. It’s intimidating to some people, I mean, it’s a high-speed contact sport – it’s aggressive. We really need people interested in reffing because one bout – which is what they call a game – can use four refs.”
For Judy Shannon, the possibility of league led to her putting on roller skates – not in-line skates – for the first time in 25 years.
“I was a roller derby fan for years when I was growing up, and I just thought, ‘What a cool thing to bring to Whitehorse,’” said Shannon, lacing up her skates for practice Tuesday. “I’m all about the contact sports, so it just seemed natural for me.”
To get the league in motion, organizers have been in contact with Edmonton’s E-Ville Roller Derby, the Terminal City Roller Girls out of Vancouver and leagues in Fairbanks, Anchorage and Juneau, to gain a better understanding of what’s required to make it an official league under the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association.
“Juneau is probably around where we are, if not a little behind in their organization,” said Gallagher. “So it’s neat to see the parallel actions.
“Now that we have a lot of interest our next step is to building committees – fundraising committee, administration committee, communication committee – making sure we’re following the league rules established by the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association.”
Although serious teams will have as many as 20 members, local teams could potentially consist of just a handful of skaters, needing only three blockers, a pivot and a jammer to compete. With insurance being a factor in any sports league, to coincide with regulations participants will be required to wear full protective gear.
“We have about 20 women with full gear to play roller derby,” said Gallagher. “Some of them have skated before and some of them haven’t. Some of them are athletic in other sports, some of them aren’t.
“We had 12 girls ready to practice last week. One of them had never skated before, so practice for her was getting her balance.”
To find out more go to Triples Js Music Cafe at 308 Eliot Street, your one-stop shop for roller derby inquiries, or look up the “Yukon Roller Girls” Facebook page.
“They can sign up there for whatever position they are interested in or if they just want to be on the mailing list,” said Gallagher.
Currently the emerging league is using drop-in rink time at the Canada Games Centre Tuesday and Thursday 6 to 8 p.m. for practice and those interested are encouraged to attend. “It’s really, really fun and I think we’re a really welcoming, inclusive group of women that are open to all abilities and fitness levels,” said Gallagher. “If you want to have a serious amount of fun, save up for some roller-skates.”
Roller-skates are not available in Whitehorse but can be ordered – along with other required equipment – at www.rollergirl.ca.
“I have a friend in Moncton who are starting a league and they get their equipment from there,” said Gallagher.
Contact Tom Patrick at