Norfolk County’s roller derby league needs fresh meat.
Every Tuesday and Thursday for eight weeks, Norfolk County Roller Derby will host a learn-to-skate program for women 18 and older.
“Any time that any new skater would like to come and have some fun with us, they’re more than welcome to join,” said Angela Caswell, a veteran player who skates under the name Booty Vicious.
Wearing helmets, mouthguards, knee and elbow pads, along with their roller skates and signature fishnet stockings, the players careen around a closed course. Each team has a speedy player, called the jammer, who tries to score points by evading and passing opposing players, known as blockers.
But the beginner course, which started on Tuesday and continues this Thursday, costs $100 and covers the basics, including how to start and stop, how to achieve balance and stability on skates, and how to skate — and fall — safely.
The program will prepare skaters to join the roller derby team, but Caswell said it’s also meant for people who just want to skate for fun and exercise.
“And get to meet some people in a nice, friendly program,” she said.
No experience is needed and rookies can borrow gear while they get a feel for roller skating.
There is plenty of room for newcomers on Norfolk’s derby roster as numbers have “dwindled” due to players moving on during the pandemic, Caswell said.
“I just know that once people get their skates on, they’re going to feel that passion and just want to be in it,” she said.
Those unable to play but wanting to take part in the league can train to be referees and non-skating officials.
The team practices Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7 to 9 p.m. at the rec centre on the Simcoe fairgrounds and travels out of town for away games against other leagues.
The action can get intense but “we try not to take ourselves too seriously,” said Caswell, who learned to skate nine years ago with Hammer City Roller Derby in Hamilton.
“Derby is a competitive sport, but a lot of us are there to get out and do something for ourselves,” she said.
“The camaraderie is the very best thing.”
The Norfolk league is hosting a family skate on Sept. 23, where members of the public are invited to skate from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the rec centre. Admission and skate rental are $5 each.
J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator