KINGSTON - Looking to take the edge off?
The Riptide Rollers can help with that.
“You don’t feel stressed when you’re done here,” says Riptide Rollers head coach Kim Thomas-Knight, taking five from running a practice at the Credit Union Centre arena in Kingston April 25.
The Annapolis Valley-based derby team is hosting an open house for all skill levels at the arena at 6:30 p.m. May 14. They’re looking to add more rookies, lovingly termed “fresh meat” in the derby circuit, to the mix. Starting May 28 at 6:30 p.m., the team’s 12-week Learn to Skate program will begin.
“I used to be very reserved, in my own shell, didn’t talk much,” said Apryll Blank, a jammer who goes by the name of Demon Child on the track.
“Getting out here has helped me open up.”
The Rollers practice twice a week and compete in recreational bouts in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. They welcome all skill levels, and can take on new players as young as 16 with a parent or guardian’s consent.
“We can take somebody who has never been on skates and turn them into a star player. It’s just a matter of time, training and practice,” said Thomas-Knight, a blocker dubbed Knockout.
“It does take quite a bit of work, and it is a contact sport, so be prepared to be put through the paces.”
The Riptide Rollers have had members from ages 16 to 58 since the team’s inception in 2011. The name of the game is to help the team’s jammer score points while, at the same time, preventing the opposing team’s jammer from doing the same.
“The goal is for the jammer to go through the pack. When the jammer’s hips pass the hips of another player, the blocker and the jammer, she scores a point for each pair of hips she passes.” explains Thomas-Knight.
“It’s a ton of fun to try and break your way through,” Blank adds.
The sport rewards agility, strength, speed, endurance and teamwork, offering a guaranteed adrenaline rush every single bout.
Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it, says Knockout.
“We never push anybody past what they’re comfortable with,” she said, adding that there are some roles for members who want to skate but aren’t comfortable with making contact on the track.
Denise Josey, AKA Aunt Acid, would have never dreamed she’d be rounding the roller derby oval one day before she signed on a couple years ago.
“I was 42 when I started and I swore I couldn’t do this,” she said, adding that the team’s coaches helped her find her place in the sport she quickly grew to love.
Derby is about confidence, persona, competition, laughter and, most of all, camaraderie.
“It’s a family you get to choose and there’s just lots of love to go around,” said Blank.
“Everybody is so supportive and encouraging. It’s what welcomes you back and makes you want to keep coming back.”
Learn more at the Riptide Rollers Facebook Page.