by Stephen Dafoe
Sturgeon County – An alternative to traditional sports is being offered in Sturgeon County arenas this spring and summer. The Sturgeon County Junior Roller Derby Association is open to girls between the ages of 7 and 17. The association is conducting practices two nights a week: Wednesday’s at the Morinville arena and Fridays at the arena in Bon Accord.
In addition to being an alternative to traditional sports offerings, the association sees roller derby as another positive outlet and activity for youth. “The basis of the program is empowering the young ladies,” said association president Terri-Ann Waschlik, adding her belief that involvement in sports reduces depression, increases self esteem, confidence, and acceptance of others. “Everyone is welcome to come and skate. It doesn’t matter your body size, shape or type, how many friends you have. You are welcome here.”
Like any sport, training and protection are part of the game. Skaters wear helmets and mouth guards as well as knee and shoulder pads, and the focus is on learning how not to get hurt. But while there is a small risk of injury, as there is in most sports activities, Waschlik said proper training is provided and there are strict rules and regulations, including at what age contact is permitted.
Coach Rachel Ochoa is one of the people who began working with junior roller derby girls Apr. 23. A lifelong athlete and hockey player, Ochoa said she is drawn to roller derby because of the inclusiveness of the sport. “We don’t really have tryouts. We go by skill level,” she explained, adding there are three levels in the association, three being the highest level and the one that involves contact. “Anybody that’s willing to skate and practice can play.”
Ochoa said coaching the various levels in the sport is a challenge, albeit a rewarding one. “What I find, especially with roller derby, is the willingness for everyone to kind of help each other,” she said. “It’s a group oriented atmosphere. We can’t play the sport individually. Right from the beginning everyone is holding on to one another helping each other, encouraging one another. That makes my job 100 per cent easier.”
One skater who enjoys the sport and the camaraderie it generates is Avery Scrimshaw. “It’s fun to do and also you get time to roller skate and learn,” Miss Scrimshaw said, adding she has gotten better at the sport through practice and with the help of her friends in the sport. “They’re all friendly and nice and help each other.”
The association currently has access to the arenas in Bon Accord and Morinville until the ice goes back in in mid-August, and is currently looking for a facility to use this fall. Roller derby will take place Wednesdays in Morinville from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and in Bon Accord at the same times on Friday. Cost is $50 per child for an annual insurance fee, plus a monthly fee of $60 per month for two practices per week or $30 per month for one practice per week.
Those interested in learning more about the Sturgeon County Junior Roller Derby Association can call 780-995-5389 or email Sturgeon.County.firstname.lastname@example.org. The association also has a Facebook page: Sturgeon County Junior Roller Derby Association.