As pandemic-related restrictions loosen, many people across Ontario and beyond are hoping they can lace up their roller skates and hit the roller derby track again. This series of articles will check in with teams as they prepare for some action in 2022. This time, sharing the progress of their league is Tri-city Roller Derby’s President Ivy Courtney, who some people in the derby community might know as Aggrosaurus.
If your roller derby league is on its way back to the track, please get in touch for an interview.
REGION OF WATERLOO – Aggrosaurus started playing roller derby about nine years ago when she worked in New Hamburg. Her boss’s daughter played for Tri-city.
“They found out I played rugby and hockey, and they said, ‘I’ve got the sport for you. It’s basically those two sports mashed together,’” she said. “It was a rough first year, but I learned a lot.”
She enjoyed the aggression.
“I’ve always enjoyed sports,” said Aggrosaurus. “Sports and I are best friends. I’ve played many sports over the years, and this one is great because you get a lot of friends, you get a lot of community, and at the end of the day, you can travel. You can do whatever you want with the sport, really, and I came back because it’s always been fun and exciting. I don’t know where it will go now, but I miss it and the friends I have made at it, so it’s important for me to keep going.”
At the beginning of 2020, Tri-City Roller Derby had a lot of plans in the works, especially the travel team.
It was a good season for tournaments, with one coming up in Ottawa and another in Madison, Wisconsin.
“We had started to do tournament prep,” said Aggrosaurus. “We had started to plan hotels and do our research.”
At first, the postponement due to COVID was only supposed to be a few weeks, so they expected to miss the tournament in Ottawa, but Madison would still be a go.
“People were buying airplane tickets and getting ready to go, and then, of course, that got cancelled too, and the league got put on hold,” she said.
The hardest part was trying to keep everything together for so long so. The league started to do online workouts and fun nights like musical bingo and art classes, but Aggrosaurus said everyone just wanted to get back to the track.
They practiced at the Kitchener Badminton Club, which unfortunately was sold during the pandemic.
“We lasted a pretty long time (online),” she said. “Originally, the workouts started as just the travel team, but we opened it up to the whole league just to keep people involved, and we lasted into the winter with workouts.”
At first, workouts were on Tuesdays and a fun night on Wednesday, but the fund nights tapered off after about two months.
“They would come back every once in a while,” said Aggrosaurus. “Someone would have a great idea to get people together, but in all honesty, it was usually the same ten people at a workout or one of the fun Zoom get-togethers.”
Tri-city is a commuter league.
“I think about six or eight of us drive from Hamilton to play for Tri-city,” she said. “We have a couple of people from Grey-Bruce, Toronto, and some from London, so it was tough even though things started to open back up. People were so far away it wasn’t like we could even get together and socially distance at a park. Our entire board except one person lives in Hamilton.”
Before the pandemic hit, there were around 50 active skaters.
“Our first practice back, we had 20,” said Aggrosaurus. “That’s pretty good. Not everyone will come back right at the start, and we’ll hopefully see more faces.”
She estimated that each practice gets an average of about 10 to 15 skaters now.
“That’s barely a team roster, but at the same time, it’s not always the same 10 to 15 people,” said Aggrosaurus. “It makes it challenging because we don’t know how many people are still active. We’ve scheduled an open scrimmage in August and a game for September, but we don’t know how many people we are going to have or what teams are going to look like, so it’s been challenging to figure out how we’re going to get back to playing derby.”
Starting in June, they will be moving back to full contact from light contact, which they started with to give people a few months to get back to skating.
“It almost feels like you talk to other leagues some days, and you are moving slowly, but you have to move at the pace the league dictates,” she said. “One of the biggest hits that we took when the pandemic hit us is losing our entire training committee. They retired or moved, so we have struggled to get trainers for the league.”
New trainers have started to commit to doing foundations, so new skaters should be able to start training soon.
“We don’t have any full plans,” said Aggrosaurus. “The plan is soon; we’ve had many people ask, but until we get training sorted out, there is not much we can do about it.”
At the open scrimmage planned for August, they will host an A, B and a C, D level bouts.
“Since it will be many people in our leagues and surrounding leagues first game back, you can play at a level you feel comfortable playing at,” she said. “Then, in September, we will have a full doubleheader, and that will be in New Hamburg.”
Aggrosaurus said they are lucky that space is still available in New Hamburg, but it has posed challenges because they are a commuter league.
“With the rising gas prices coming from Hamilton to New Hamburg is a bit of a trek,” she said.
People interested in playing, supporting, or finding out more about roller derby in the Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge area can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Someone will happily respond, and we’ll keep them up to date,” said Aggrosaurus.
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