Yukon Roller Girls coach Jennifer (Lady Cuntessa) Duncombe is so proud of her team’s performance over the weekend, she gets a little choked up talking about it.
“It was super fun to see the girls come out and have their introductions for the first time, hear their names announced over the loudspeaker for the first time, get to do their first victory lap – all these firsts we’ve been building up to,” said Duncombe. “They got to be derby rock stars for the first time and it was so cool.”
In what was both their first Outside bout and first club sanction bout, the Yukon Roller Girls defeated the Oil City Derby Girls’ rookie team 187-127 in Edmonton on Saturday. Eighteen Yukon Roller Girls made the trip, including two coaches, two referees and 14 skaters.
“We’re a close team, an emotional team, and there were some tears at the beginning because it takes so much effort and dedication and planning to get to this point,” said Duncombe. “In such a short time we’ve come so far and I’m just so proud of all the girls.
“It was so awesome to represent and come back home to the Yukon with the first win.”
While there’s plenty of room separating the final scores, the Yukon girls came out of the first half with just a small lead of a little over a dozen points. But things began to click in the second half.
“In the first half there were definitely some first-game jitters,” said Yukon captain Katherine (Wilder Than Her) Stewart. “We probably found ourselves in the penalty box a little more than we are used to. But after we found our legs in that first half, we were able to pull together as a team and worked well as a cohesive unit.
“We did a lot of the little things right, which is hard to do in your first game. So I think our players can be really proud of how they performed.”
“Our athleticism came through in the second half. We had amazing stamina with our jammers, they were able to keep skating through,” said Duncombe. “We had such a deep bench, when our primary jammers were tired, our secondary jammers stepped up and performed really well. So we had some really high-scoring jams.”
A number of factors helped land the Yukon squad in the winners’ circle. Aside from athleticism, training and learning the game at camps (14 Yukon skaters attended one in Anchorage in June) gave the team an edge in Edmonton.
“I think that’s really helped our league,” said Stewart. “We’ve had a number of our skaters go to boot camps and training camps over the past few months, both the Rookie Revolution in Vancouver, we had our own boot camp, Malice Borealis, here, and we had the Anchorage trip.
“Getting that experience and some Outside training has helped put our league further ahead of some other rookie leagues.”
Of course, strong leadership from captain Stewart also helped the Yukon crew to victory, said Duncombe.
“She is our captain and the most experienced girl on the bench,” she said. “She stood out as someone who brought positivity to the beginning, making sure all the girls are interwoven and function as a team, as a cohesive, supportive unit.
“Her contribution to how the team functions, as well as her amazing athleticism, dedication and ability to skate all night, is a huge asset to the team.”
The Yukon Roller Girls will be attempting to make in two-in-a-row next month when they host the Fairbanks Rollergirls on September 10 at the Takhini Broomball Arena. However, unlike in Edmonton, it won’t be a rookie team – meaning skaters with fewer than five bouts – taking on the Yukon crew.
“It’ll be a tougher challenge,” said Duncombe.
The Klondike Klash, as it is called, will feature food venders, Yukon Roller Girl merchandise for sale and a beer garden.
It will also provide one of the public’s first looks at the Yukon Junior Roller Derby team, which will put on a demonstration before the 7 p.m. bout and a scrimmage during half time. It will be a chance for the juniors to showcase the skills they pick up at their junior boot camp on August 26 to 28, which is open to girls ages 12-18, with no experience required. Equipment will be provided to newcomers.
However, the Yukon Roller Girls are still looking for adults too.
“We are still actively recruiting skaters and we still welcome new skaters to come to (“Fresh Meat”) Tuesday nights,” said Stewart of the adult league. “There’s equipment for people to borrow for their first time.
“We have a Fresh Meat coach too; we’re not just throwing people into a pack right off the get-go.”
More information can be found at yukonrollergirls.ca or in their Facebook page.
“I think the big thing is our team has been working really hard, not only improving our fitness and skating ability, but our league has shown a real commitment to learning the game,” said Stewart. “So I felt when we went out on the track, even in the beginning, we had a presence.
“We showed up to win, and we definitely did that. And every single player on our roster contributed to that win.”
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