As the Yukon Roller Girls roller derby crew heads into their second year, they are already planning on making the most of the change in seasons.
Soon to be back outdoors at the broomball rink in Takhini, the Roller Girls will be busy next month as they host their first camp and public scrimmage, proceeded by their second fundraising event to help carry the cost.
“Camps are all over the place now; they seem to be popping up everywhere,” said Jennifer Duncombe, aka Lady Cuntessa, a Roller Girl coach. “Anchorage had their first camp this year and I figured it would be a good idea to start off with this camp, which is essentially like a boot camp.”
The camp, a three-day affair from May 13 to 15, will be a lot more than simply a multi-day practice. For the event the Yukon Roller Girls are bringing up three experienced derbyists from BC, including one from the Terminal City Roller Girls out of Vancouver, another from the Eves of Destruction in Victoria, as well as a Terminal City referee who founded Team Canada’s Men’s Roller Derby in 2008.
“We will have lots of sessions on refereeing and on off-skate participation and bout production,” said Duncombe.
“If people are interested, it would be great to have them out this next month to see what the camp is all about, get signed up, get on some skates,” she added. “It’s a great opportunity for the Roller Girls to learn and develop as a league.”
In conjunction with the camp, the Roller Girls will be holding a public scrimmage on the Saturday night (before a party). Though not an actual bout, the scrimmage, which will be open to the public at the Takhini broomball rink, will expose the public to the sport and will help with training referees.
“It will be a chance to watch the sport and get an idea of how we do it,” said Duncombe. “Basically, we’re going to put on a mock bout.”
In the long term, the Roller Girls want to develop a local league and establish a representative team to compete Outside and take on visiting teams in Whitehorse. But in the short-term, they need to recruit more skaters. To help with this, the organization recently dedicated one of their three weekly practices to welcoming newcomers and training beginners. “Fresh Meat,” as it’s called, takes place Thursday nights, 7 to 9 p.m. at Ecole Emilie Tremblay.
“Anyone can drop in at any practice and check it out,” said Duncombe. “On Thursdays there’s gear for women to try on – there’s three sets of gear. You can come in, sign a waiver, and try on the skates, see what you think and check it out.”
Duncombe, who is fairly new to the Yukon, started skating with the Eves of Destruction out of Victoria in 2008, and has competed with the team in LA, Las Vegas, Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver. She has also coached teams in Regina and Saskatoon.
“(The Yukon Roller Girls) have been developing their skills over the last year and a new coach and myself came up about three months ago,” said Duncombe. “So we kind of pushed them to the next level, sort of directed them where to go in starting a non-profit society and how to start engaging with other leagues to start a season, and get their confidence up to the level where they are ready to bout teams from other places.”
To help with the costs of the camp the Roller Girls have applied for a government grant, but will also hold a fundraiser at a local bar the previous weekend. (Details of the fundraiser have yet to be released.)
“I think that the girls are excellent athletes,” said Duncombe. “They have the mental side of things already. They have been really positive and have gotten a lot of support from partners and the community to get the league rolling.
“A lot of people are excited that there’s a contact sport for the girls to get into.”
The Yukon Roller Girls is a non-profit organization that focuses on inclusion and has approximately 35 active members.
For more information, check out the Yukon Roller Girls’ Facebook page or visit their website at yukonrollergirls.ca, or contact executives at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I love roller derby. It’s been the biggest blessing in my life over the last four years,” said Duncombe. “It’s given me the opportunity to travel – there’s the camaraderie – and it has given me the chance, in my adult years, to play a full-on contact sport, which I never anticipated.”
Contact Tom Patrick at