Roller derby rocks Springhill

Christopher Gooding
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SPRINGHILL – Blockers, jammers and pivots are passing the star, ending the jam and walling up at the Dr. Carson and Marion Murray Community Centre.

The sport of roller derby materialized in Cumberland County two months ago when one local enthusiast started encouraging her friends to come out and see first hand what it was all about.

“Shawna Tooke is really the god mother of derby here,” volunteer coach Dave Galloway said. “She had started in the sport in Moncton and brought it back.

With roots going back to the 1920s, roller derby developed in a contact sport and in the following decades took on the air of sports entertainment. Gone are the elbow strikes and body slams, Galloway says, but there’s a culture surrounding the female-dominated sport that’s entrapping for audiences and participants.

“The fans are just crazy,” Galloway said. “But the participants, some are nurses by day but once their on their skates they forget all that.”

Here in Springhill, the Richard Calder Arena has become ground zero for newcomers to the sport. Cumberland County Roller Derby has approximately 20 participants, with a dedicated core of a dozen, who cast off their inhibitions to master the art of balancing on roller skates, run drills and have fun.

“It sounds funny, when you skate in something like this, it’s a little bit of power for women,” Jessica Herrett said. “Some people are shy and quiet. When you come, that’s all gone.”

The opportunity to be involved in the sport is drawing women of all ages from all over Cumberland County, including the Citizen-Record’s columnist Crystal Melanson who travels from Parrsboro to train.

“It sounds funny, when you skate in something like this, it’s a little bit of power for women.” Jessica Herrett

“I started two months ago when it started up,” Melanson said. “I used to roller skate when I was a teenager and this was an opportunity to get out, be active and have fun.”

Right now, the Cumberland County Roller Derby participants are still in the learning phase, and encouraging each other along the way to what could be a league that would participate in derby events abroad. But there next challenge will be making sure they have the space to continue learning. The hockey season is approaching and with it the group will lose their venue.

The hunt is on for a new practice space and Galloway is hoping somewhere will be found soon.

“We have different wheels for different types of surfaces, so if anyone out there had a place but was concerned about their floors, they don’t have to worry,” Galloway said. “We have insurance, too.”

Any support for the sport, Galloway said, will go a long way towards securing Cumberland County’s place in what he thinks is going to be the next big thing. There are more than 1,250 amateur leagues worldwide and Cumberland County is working hard to keep their place on that list.

“The sport is going to blow up,” Galloway said. “Especially with women.”

Anyone who would like to contact Galloway about a rehearsal space or participating with the Cumberland County Roller Derby can reach him at (902) 694-6235. 



Twitter: ADNchris

Organizations: Cumberland County Roller Derby, Citizen-Record

Geographic location: Cumberland County, Springhill, Moncton Parrsboro

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