I said whip it, whip it good
Roller derby hits Regina: Fishnets, short shorts, and nicknames required
It may be the only sport where wearing fishnets and miniskirts is not only allowed, it’s encouraged.
Roller derby has skyrocketed in popularity in the past few years – and, thanks to the help of movies like Whip It, in visibility as well – but Jodi Holliday, president of Queen City Roller Sports and organizer of Regina’s Rockin’ Roller Derby, discovered the sport through her husband.
“My husband got me interested in roller derby after he had gone down to Austin, TX, and watched it live,” Holliday, who plays under the moniker D. Ablo, said. “Once I found out that there was a league in town, he bought me my gear. I went to my first practice and knew that I had found something amazing.”
In the four years since that first practice, Holliday’s curiousity about the sport has become a passion for it. When she’s not playing roller derby, she’s deeply involved in its organization in Regina.
“It helps that my husband is also involved,” she said. “Otherwise we would never see each other.”
In many ways Holliday can be credited with bringing the roller derby craze to Regina, but it hasn’t come without a few setbacks along the way.
“Starting this new league presented some new challenges, but we’re happy to say that we are growing by leaps and bounds,” Holliday said. “We should have at least two league teams this year and will continue to expand as the interest in our league and roller derby in general keeps growing.”
With plenty of room to grow in the province, Holliday believes that the sport is just starting to gather momentum.
“I see roller derby as having a huge growth potential in Regina, as well as throughout Saskatchewan and beyond,” said Holliday. “Leagues are popping up everywhere; we just heard that Humboldt is starting [its] own league. I also think that having the junior league will have an even bigger impact on the growth of roller derby.”
So far, Holliday admits finding people who are interested in roller derby isn’t the problem, it’s finding proper facilities.
“The major downfall for almost any derby league is finding adequate and safe practice space,” Holliday explained. “In the new year, we will be juggling our schedule between three different spaces, none of which are an ideal size. This is especially problematic for us, as our season runs from September to June. There are numerous practice spaces available in the summer, when no one is curling or playing hockey, but the real struggle is during the winter. We are hoping to find a wealthy benefactor who will build us a rollerdome.”
In order to get more people involved with roller derby, Holliday and her team have started a junior league, where kids as young as 10 can compete. While in theory the league will make the kids better competitors in the future, the idea of starting 10 year olds in roller derby has had mixed reviews.
“The response to our junior league has been overwhelming, the girls love it,” Holliday said. “Some of the parents are a little hesitant at first, but soon realize the potential that it has for their daughters’ growth, both physically and emotionally. With an emphasis on empowerment and individuality, this is a sport that many of us senior players wish we would have found at that age.
“Parents are usually concerned about their child getting hurt. What some don’t realize is that it is no more dangerous than hockey, football, or rugby. We place a huge emphasis on safety and rules and teach the girls how to skate and the skills needed to play roller derby.
“We have a full team of girls and are looking to recruit more. We would love to have enough girls so that they could play against each other and really get some ’bouting experience.”
For those that are interested in roller derby, or for those who would like to take in the action first hand, Regina’s Rockin Roller Derby has an upcoming event that is sure to be entertaining for everyone in attendance. On Feb. 4, the Queen City Massacre is to be held at the Agribition Building, Evraz Place.
“It will be an all-day affair with two junior scrimmages in the afternoon and two senior scrimmages in the evening,” Holliday said. “The Massacre is an invitational scrimmage with people from leagues in Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, and Saskatchewan, so far. We are also hoping to hear from some of our American neighbours to the south. We are hoping to host over 140 skaters, 50 refs, and officials and countless volunteers and spectators.”
Holliday encourages anyone and everyone to attend the event and see firsthand what roller derby is all about. For those interested in participating in roller derby, even if you are skeptical, there are other ways to get a taste of the action. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
“You don’t need to have any experience; we will teach you the basics of skating and the game of roller derby, but you will need to purchase gear,” Holliday said. “There is a heavy emphasis on safety and rules, as this is a fast-paced game that requires the players to know how the game works, as with any sport.
“If you are a little hesitant about playing, you can always come and check out a practice. Roller derby isn’t for everyone, but you will know soon enough if it is a sport for you. We are also always looking for skating referees as well as non-skating officials. We also welcome anyone who wants to help out as a volunteer, sponsor, or in any other capacity.”