Hope Arena will be rocking next Saturday when the Chilliwack VooDoo Derby Dollz bring their sport to town for their “Rollin’ for the Cause” event.
The group hopes to raise awareness of their quickly-growing sport, while raising funds for a worthy cause. Admission is $12 for ages 13 and up, with $2 from every ticket going to breast cancer research.
Club member Denise Bonson — also known as “Queen of Denial” – and her partner Ferd “EyeOn Maiden” Alcos got involved in roller derby last September and are now full-fledged skaters.
“I passed my skills and written test last Wednesday,” said Bonson, manager of the Blue Moose coffee house.
“You’re not allowed to scrimmage or bout until you’ve passed. I pushed myself so I could take part in the Hope bout.”
Bonson said she heard about roller derby a few years ago from a woman who was doing it in Abbotsford.
“My boys play hockey, Ferd plays hockey, and I needed something to do. So I researched a bit and found out there was a team and they were looking for new recruits.”
“I went along, thinking I could be the team photographer,” said Alcos, “then I heard that they needed refs.”
Seven months later, Alcos is wearing the stripes and Bonson has graduated from “fresh meat” to veteran.
Meanwhile, former Hope resident Erica Stoney is still making her rounds as an FM trainee. She graduated from Hope Secondary in 2007 and is living in Chilliwack, where she works as a hair dresser.
Stoney, whose derby name is “Sailor Doom,” started in February and was introduced to the sport by a coworker “Chucker Mouth” who skates with the VooDoo Dollz.
“I’ve got a few more tests to pass before I can skate in the competitions. We’ve got to prove that we’re safe skaters, that we can take a hit and give a hit — and be able to skate 25 laps in five minutes,” she said. “We’ve got to know how to fall too. You’re supposed to ‘fall small’ and bring your hands and legs in. If you don’t, and you cause others to trip, you can get a one minute penalty.”
That’s where Alcos and his band of officials come in.
With two teams of four blocking skaters wheeling around the course, trying to get the best positioning so their ‘jammers’ can get ahead, there’s way too much happening for even two refs to watch.
So, they have three or four refs on the outside and three or four on the inside of the flat track. Also inside the oval are non-skating officials, keeping track of penalties, elapsed time and scores. All told, the officials outnumber the skaters — but they’re necessary to keep the game safe and fair.
Everyone has to wear safety gear, though the refs can skip the mouth guards so they can make their calls, said Alcos, a painter at Hope Auto Body.
Other required gear is a helmet, elbow and knee pads, wrist guards and the retro-style four-wheeled roller skates. Alcos figured the whole kit for a beginner would cost from $300 to $400.
Outlandish outfits are par for the course as well.
“Tattoos and ripped fishnet stockings (for the women)… anything funky,” said Alcos. “They’ve got pretty colourful names too.”
Among Bonson’s and Alcos’ faves are “Hurt She Kisses,” “Banger and Smash,” “Chantelly Laces,” and the Olsen sisters “Scary Sk8 and Smashley.”
Then there’s newcomer Arnold McEwen, who’s in training as an official. He retired to Hope last July after 40 years of working at a large cemetery in Vancouver. His derby name: “Hu Man D.K.”
Bonson said she was looking for a name with historic significance.
“I was thinking Cleopatra… and Ferd said she was known as ‘Queen of the Nile.’”
That led to Bonson’s “Queen of Denial” handle, which Alcos admitted was the title of a country song from the 1990s.
“There’s a database across the world of roller derby names and your name has to be unique,” said Alcos. “It’s quite the culture. Very girly — but fun. And there’s a real family feel to it.”
Despite the “look” of it, the game is controlled in its level of roughness. Bonson said there’s no elbowing, grabbing or tripping allowed. Players are only allowed to hit someone with their shoulder, hip or leg, down to mid-thigh.
And no hard feelings, once the bout is over.
“Both teams will get together for a beer after,” said Bonson.