They have the gear, the numbers, now they need somewhere to skate.
The newly formed Yukon Roller Girls roller derby troupe is in search of a location to practise for the winter or, better yet, permanently.
“We need something by the fall or else we’re dead in the water,” said Roller Girls spokesperson Shannon Pearson. “We’re not picky; we’ll take anything, as long as we can skate on it and it’s level.
“We need something where we can have a taped track outlined on the floor we can practise on and something that allows us to slide when we hit the ground. Concrete is not always the softest, but it works well.
“We’ve got such enthusiasm and so many keen people that it would be a real shame to lose that.”
The troupe was formed in the spring and the roughly 40 active members of the Roller Girls began by practising on a rink at the Canada Games Centre after the ice was taken out and for the last couple months have been practising two to three times a week at the Takhini Broomball Rink. However, when winter approaches and ice is reinstalled, the derbyists will be without a practice spot.
“As soon as the ice is on, we’re out,” said Pearson. “Nobody wants us on our wood floors – not because of the wheels and the rubber – because there are rivets on our knee and elbow pads that do scrape. So we wouldn’t want to use the soft flooring.”
To combat the scraping of softwood floors, the Roller Girls could buy portable Masonite panels to cover the floor, but being still new, the organization is looking at that option as a longtime goal. (Masonite is a man-made material made from wood chips compressed together and conjoined with steam. It is commonly used in the construction of skateboard ramps.)
Currently Roller Girls organizers are approaching warehouse owners with space to spare, hoping to find a location large enough to accommodate a roughly 20- by 30-metre oval with a four-metre wide track.
“An ice rink size is ideal but we’re not picky right now, if we could get 100 by 100 square feet of space, we could make do with it,” said Pearson. “But we sometimes have 30 girls coming out and that’s a lot of skaters.
“We’re talking to people who have empty warehouses or portions of warehouses that we could work in. We’re not in a position, being so new, to put out a lot financially, but we have a lot of people – a great volunteer base – that are willing to do maintenance or do work projects in lieu of money.”
Roller derby has seen a resurgence over the last decade with clubs popping up as close as Edmonton, Vancouver, Anchorage and Fairbanks. Still a fledgling organization with no official competitions under its belt, the Roller Girls organization is working towards meeting the requirements to join a parent organization such as the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association or Derbygirls Canada.
“Until we are a registered league, we can’t join these federations,” said Pearson. “In order to register our league and our team, we need X-many girls to attain and pass certain skill levels. So that’s what the big push has been in the last couple of months, to bring up a number of our intermediate skaters to the point that they can pass an assessment and a requirement for basic skills.”
Although she admits it is an “entertainment sport,” Pearson stresses the Roller Girls bear no resemblance to the professional wrestling-style roller derby seen on television in the 1970s and 80s with bellicose personalities and vicious hits. In fact, she wants to make clear women from all walks of life are strapping on rollerskates.
“It’s not a bunch of pierced and tattooed booze hounds, that’s for sure,” said Pearson. “The public perception is really important to the group. We have lawyers and nurses and teachers and professionals in this.
“It’s important for the public to know we’re made up from a bunch of smart educated women. So we’re trying to push that and not have the public look at us like the 1970s derby groups – we’re not a bunch of clowns on skates.”
To learn more about the Roller Girls or to discuss an available space suitable for practice, you can reach Shannon Pearson at 633-2372 or email@example.com.
There is also information available at the Yukon Roller Girls Fan Page on Facebook.
Contact Tom Patrick at