A passing glance at a poster inside her place of employment has led Christy “Raven Chaos” Keyland into the wonderful world of roller derby.
And she’s not looking back.
Keyland saw the Sirens recruitment “fresh meat” advertisement while dealing with meat of a different kind at her job at the Naked Lunch and she told The Chief her experience with the team has been a blast.
“I saw the poster around the beginning of September and derby was something I always wanted to do,” she said. “I went to the first fresh meat night in September and ever since then I’ve been practicing and playing.”
Keyland admitted learning the game and developing her skills was a challenge, but she said she’s gradually becoming more and more comfortable in her role.
“I never thought I’d be walking in the supermarket wearing booty shorts and tights,” she said, laughing. “But I’m still learning the game. In the beginning it was more just learning the basics and then when we started getting into the practices, we started learning the strategy. It’s not a really simple game but every time you go out there, you learn something new.”
She said that learning from the veterans on the Sirens has been a huge help and the team atmosphere brings out the best in everyone.
“This is a really solid, supportive, awesome group of women,” she said, noting that her goal is to become a solid all-around player. “The vets from last year are all unreal and their leadership and skill on the track is great.”
Keyland stepped up and nominated herself for captain of the team and she eventually was given the task.
“I enjoy being a part of the team so much so I thought, ‘Why not?’” she said. “It’s worked out for me and it’s a real honour to be the captain. Being captain has also given me a chance to jumpstart my learning of the game and involvement of the team.”
One thing she’s become aware of is just how much Squamish liked roller derby.
“I’ve only been in Squamish for a year and a half and never saw their games,” she said. “But since I’ve been going around with posters and talking to people at work, it’s obvious that they love it. This town has really embraced the sport.”
Perhaps the most important part in any roller derby player’s career is choosing a name and a look. Keyland is instantly recognizable because of her raven-like face paint.
“I’m a fan of the bird and I like the double entendre of the name,” she said. “People seem to react to the face paint and I think it looks awesome. This is a serious sport but it lets you get a little crazy. It also gives you a real boost of confidence. If you’re a little self-conscious it can get you out of your shell and it’s a great workout.”
Keyland and the Sirens had their first bout of the season against Cloverdale on April 28 and despite the loss, she said it was a memorable experience.
“I was really nervous going into it but once you get on the floor it just fades away,” she said. “Especially after your first hit. When you get slammed to the ground, you just think ‘Here we go,’ and everything fades away.”
The Sirens are set to make their home debut this season against the Black Diamond Betties from Whistler on Saturday (June 2). Keyland said the team is pumped to hit the floor at Brennan Park.
“This bout is going to be awesome,” she said. “We’ve upped the capacity for this year and if you thought it was loud last year, it’s going to be even louder this year.”
Keyland resisted the urge to badmouth the visiting Betties in advance of the bout but said it should be a competitive match.
“They’re a brand new team this year, just like the Sirens were last year,” she said. “We helped them out a lot and shared practice space with them. It’s a great group of girls and it’s good for us to have more teams around. There’s no bad blood between us but it won’t be like Kumbaya out there. We definitely want to kick some ass.”
The Sirens take on the Betties on Saturday (June 2) at Brennan Park Arena. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., with the bout starting at 7:30 p.m. For more information on the Sirens, visit www.squamishrollerderby.ca.