The Yukon is home to many hidden gems. If you know where to look you can usually find what you are looking for. That includes a high-paced women’s contact sport on wheels: women’s roller derby. Whitehorse is home to the rowdy Yukon Roller Girls.
The uninitiated may think roller derby is just a light hearted sport where women skate around on a rink. No, no- there is so much more. In fact, this sport has quite the assertive nature. The main objective is to surpass your opposing team on the rink using serious strategy skills.
Then there are the nicknames. This is one of the defining components of roller derby. Nicknames give character and attitude to each player. Typically, these aliases will reflect the persona of the player.
Since 2010 the Yukon Roller Girls have been engaging in jams – which are the two minute intervals of the game – and bouts – which are the two 30-minute periods of the game.
When the Yukon Roller Girls first started there were more than 80 members. However, as time passed, the ladies got married, had babies, went through career changes, etc. Now, the Yukon Roller Girls is a solid team of 20, but they are looking to change that.
On June 20, there will be a “fresh meat” event hosted for all the newbies who want to give roller derby a try. Even if being on skates is not your thing, you can still participate on the technical side by keeping track of stats.
If rollerskates are your thing, but you would prefer a bit less action, the roller derby is can always use referees.
This year proves to be extra exciting for the team. In June they will be heading to Sitka, Alaska to compete. Then towards the end of the summer there will be a semi local match up, with a team from Squamish, BC. This game will be played in Whitehorse and will be the first competitive game played in three years, because they have not had enough players to field a full team.
“You need 14 players in your roster to play – a bare minimum of 10 but 14 is best,” explains Yukon Roller Girls President Lindsay Agar a.k.a. Bonanza Babe. “We are in that age bracket where women tend to get injured or pregnant – and you obviously can’t play roller derby when you are pregnant – and so we lost team members to those things, injuries and babies. But now we are on the upswing again.”
For the past three years, the roller derby has been playing practice matches, which are held at the Whitehorse Curling Club or the Canada Games Centre.
Andrea Badger (a.k.a. Honey Badger), head coach for the Yukon Roller Girls, says her main goal in gearing up for the matches is to help the women get mentally and physically prepared.
“One of my main objectives is to make sure the team has fun, but also remains focussed,” she says.
Badger is originally from Edmonton, where she first fell in love with roller derby. Her sister came to visit with her roller derby team mates and that’s when Badger knew this was a sport for her.
“I saw all these awesome, loud, athletic women and I fell in love with watching them play,” she says.
When Badger landed herself in the Yukon she jumped at the opportunity to be part of the Yukon Roller Girls. She has been coaching the team for two years and is always looking for creative ways to make improvements. While she maintains upbeat and fun demeanor, she is strict when it comes to the team’s fitness. Once a week she instructs her team in an off-skates workout, which tackles the key muscle groups used during a bout.
Agar enjoys the physicality of the sport.
“It’s really great that women can play in a sport that is competitive, but strategic, and assertive – not aggressive, but assertive,” Agar says.
If you are over the age of 19 and want to meet new people and learn a new sport or partcipate in the “fresh meat” event check out the Yukon Roller Girls on Facebook or their website www.YukonRollerGirls.ca or email [email protected].