by Stephen Dafoe
by Stephen Dafoe
A 15-year-old Alcomdale girl is on her way to a national roller derby competition this summer. Abigail LeMay, who skates with the Sturgeon County Junior Roller Derby Association (SCJRDA) as Sniper Girl, will represent Canada’s Junior Roller Derby team in Seattle this July during the Roller Derby World Cup.
The Sturgeon County teen has come a long way since giving the sport a try at the age of 11. Hooked from the first time she saw adults play, LeMay played for a number of roller derby leagues over the past six years before the family moved to Alcomdale and LeMay joined the SCJRDA.
Team Canada tryouts were held last fall across the country, events that drew more than 160 hopefuls. LeMay missed a National Team tryout in Edmonton and wound up doing her tryout in Manitoba. She learned she was one of 30 to make the team last November and has been training hard since in preparation for the past couple months.
“I was really excited,” LeMay said, recalling the feeling she had when she learned she made Team Canada. “I had a year pause in [roller] derby. I was like ‘I’m not going to make it,’ but I did, so I was like ‘Yes.’ I got really excited.”
On the road to the national competition, the Sturgeon County athlete is working on her agility and building up her leg muscles to skate faster.
“The girls in the United States are power skaters,” LeMay said. “I need to be able to have my leg strength, my core strength, and some upper-body strength.” That process will involve training and practice on and off roller skates. “In my free time I’ll go to the gym with my coach and work with her to make sure I’m ready for this.”
LeMay’s Coach Sharyl Rains, who skates under the name B’Elanna Torrid, is confident LeMay will succeed at the national level. Rains said the young roller derby skater is a goal-oriented player who acts as a mentor to the younger players.
“She sets a high standard for the rest of the girls, and she really motivates the rest of them to improve themselves into getting into higher levels,” Rains said. “She helps out quite often by coming up with ideas for drills that we can do. She’s a mentor to a lot of younger skaters.”
Coach Rains is not the only one proud and confident of the 15-year-old skater’s progress. Abigail’s mom, Dawn LeMay, is pleased to see her daughter continuing to see success in the sport.
The upcoming national competition is not LeMay’s first trip to Seattle; she took part in the Wild West Showdown in 2012 and helped her team finish 25th out of 53 teams.
But involvement in the sport has not only transformed the teen as an athlete; it has transformed her as a young adult. “When she was younger she didn’t fit in anywhere. She didn’t belong anywhere. She was an outcast,” Dawn LeMay said. “She tried soccer and other sports but they didn’t appeal to her. As soon as we got her into derby I noticed a big change. Her socializing skills came out. She got to be herself. She got to dress the way she wanted to dress. There was no judgment, and she came out of her shell.”
Abigail’s mother said the personal transformation and her daughter’s love for the game show when she skates. “The energy that flows off of her when she’s in a game – you can see it,” she said. “You can see the happiness. It’s like a switch.”