Roller derby action will return to Whitehorse next week.
The Yukon Roller Girls will host the Sea to Sky Sirens from Squamish, B.C. in a bout titled Smackdown in Derby Town on Sept. 10.
It will be the Yukon Roller Girls’ first at-home bout in three years.
“The team has been rebuilding quite a bit recently. Back in June we played a bout in Sitka and that started the league on the road towards bouting more frequently again,” said YRG’s Diana Dryburgh, who uses the derby nickname Jessica Stabbit. “We reached out and Squamish was willing to come up here an play us. It’s our first hometown game in three years, so that’s pretty exciting.”
“I think we’re just mainly excited to be able to showcase roller derby back in the community, to show we’re still alive and we’re still kicking” said YRG captain Lindsay “Bonanza Babe” Agar.
“We’re a team known for our friendliness and for being outgoing, so we’re just excited to host a team from B.C. We’re excited to share our Yukon spirit with them.”
The YRG club was founded in 2010 and over the next three years hosted numerous bouts in Whitehorse. After a successful 2013 season that saw the YRG win Alaska’s state championship, numbers began to drop as players moved out of the territory or left because of injury and pregnancy.
One player to move away was star jammer Amil “The Fighting Mongoose” Dupuis-Rossi, who now plays for the Squamish team.
She also skates for the Anarchy Angels, a Women’s Flat Track Derby Association-sanctioned team in Surrey.
Dupuis-Rossi will be returning to Whitehorse with the Sirens but will once again don an YRG jersey to shore up the numbers.
“The Yukon is still working on building up their team and are playing with a short bench,” said Dupuis-Rossi. “It would be amazing to come and play with my new team instead of against them, but for me this bout is more about camaraderie and giving the fans a good show. I am really glad that I can lend my skill to the Yukon team. I have learned a lot down here playing for the Sirens and for the Angels.”
The YRG currently have a little over 20 members, which is more than enough to field a full team. But many on the team are in the “fresh meat” program for rookies and aren’t quite ready to hit the track in an official bout.
“We have a fair amount of fresh meat that have yet to pass their minimum skills, so they won’t be playing in this bout. They’ll be supporting the bout in various roles, either as a non-skating official or helping run the event,” said Agar.
The YRG played their first official bout in two years this past June in Alaska, losing 211-129 to Sitka’s Shee Devils.
The Sea to Sky Sirens have seen a lot more action recently. Next Saturday’s bout, which will be the first encounter between the two teams, will be the Sirens’ ninth of the season. They have a 6-2 record following a 175-99 win over Sunshine Coast Roller Girls last Saturday.
Founded in 2008, the Sea to Sky Sirens were voted Squamish’s Best Female Sports Team in 2014 and 2015. However, they too have had troubles lately.
“This season, the Sirens found themselves without a home arena to play in as the only one in town was being re-surfaced. For the 2016 season, the Sirens had to turn themselves into a travel team and take on those who were willing to play them,” said Sirens captain Lindsay “Rowdy Roddy Pippa” Leathem.
“As with any small-town team, players come and go quite a bit. This year the Sirens lost six vets due to retirement, maternity, or moving away. We were lucky to have a strong group of rookies to keep our numbers up. They have had to endure a steep learning curve in their first year of play, but have done so well and have become great players. Putting ourselves out there and playing teams that were stronger than us, taught us a lot about how we play and helped us improve as a team this season.”
Next week’s bout will take place at the Mount McIntyre Recreation Centre. Tickets cost $20 and are available at Molotov and Bricks Tattoo and Well Read Books in Whitehorse. Kids 10 and under get in free with a food bank donation.
Doors open at 6 p.m. and the whistle blows at 7 p.m.
“Lots of girls are coming out and staying on and it’s really exciting to see this movement take off again because it was such a big part of the sports community up here,” said Dryburgh. “We love roller derby and we want Whitehorse to love roller derby again.”
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org