Derby team ready to roll … almost

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They are all mums and come from a variety of professions.
There are teachers, a midwife, a Department of Conservation worker and a youth group leader.
And they all have one thing in common – they are members of the Waismack Roller Derby team, North Canterbury’s first and finest derby team.
And despite derby’s rough reputation the girls love the sport and have bucket loads of fun.
What’s more the team is rearing to go after spending four months training in Christchurch with the Otautahi Roller Derby league to get officially qualified to be able to play against other teams.
But their hardwork is in danger of turning to nought if they can’t find a wooden floor to play on and more players to make training and playing fun and sustainable in the long term.
Nicola ‘‘Nature Grrrl’’ Toki, who lives in Waipara says the team is ‘‘really committed’’ to creating and maintaining a roller derby team for the North Canterbury Community.
But a suitable wooden floor is ‘‘really crucial’’ to the roller derby team as they provide the best surface for skating.
To date the Waismack skaters have been training at the Woodend Community Centre which has been great for learning.
They are now on the lookout for a full basketball court sized, wooden floor to hone their skills.
But their task is being made difficult as they are finding that occasionally sports centre or hall managers have misconceptions about what the rubber quad skates might do to a floor.
‘‘The Christchurch teams play on floors at Pioneer, Mairehau High School and Cowles Stadium,’’ says Nicola.
‘‘We have references from some of these managers for anyone concerned about skates and the possible impact on sports surfaces,’’ she says.”
The team is in talks with the Hurunui District Council about the possibility of skating at the Tin Shed and is hopeful of a positive result.
Aside from a wooden floor, what the team is really excited about is providing a new sport to North Canterbury women and it wants more women to join in, have fun and keep fit, although there is a serious, fiercely competitive side to the sport.
‘‘What we need now is a strong core of keen women who are interested in learning to play roller derby so that we can train together and play with other leagues,’’ she says.
Although roller derby is a contact sport, learning is on a step-by-step basis, and the first thing that skaters are taught is to fall and stop safely.
All skaters must wear correct safety gear including helmet, kneepads, elbow pads and wrist guards.
Nicola says skating experience is not necessary as the training takes people through all aspects of balance, falling and other relevant skills necessary to play roller derby.
Roller Derby is thought to be the world’s fastest growing sport, with over 350 leagues worldwide and almost thirty teams in New Zealand alone. It originated in the United States in the 1930s and has seen a global resurgence in the past 15 years. Roller Derby is a fun and inclusive culture that is great for fitness and strength.
The Waismack Roller Derby team began in 2014 at the Woodend Community Centre, when Rachel ‘‘Storm Rider’’ Hales, an ex New Plymouth and Otautahi League player wanted to create a team closer to home.
The word for skaters went out, and over the past eighteen months around 30 women have given it a go.
‘‘It’s a fantastic work-out, very social and a great way to blow of steam at the end of the week,’’ says Toki.
Anyone interested in playing roller derby in the Hurunui/Waimakariri districts, can contact waismackrollerderby@gmail.com or visit www.facebook.com/waimakrollergirls/.