LAS VEGAS — By now most people are probably aware that roller derby is making a big time comeback the world over.
It’s been around in some form or another since the 1930s, but the sport today is just 10 years old, continually evolving, and exploding in popularity. Today’s version still has quad roller skates, but it’s now on a flat track and the ’70s over-the-top, wrestling-style violence has been replaced with athletic, full-contact strategy to make for an exciting sport to both play and watch.
Squamish seems to attract the world’s best athletes in almost every discipline. After attending RollerCon 2012 (five-day convention in Las Vegas), a local group can honestly add roller derby to that impressive list of things in which Squamish kicks behind on the world stage.
The convention itself is expanding as fast as the sport, literally doubling in size every year. This year, three game tracks were constantly used from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. as well as classrooms, skate classes, and parties galore. People come from all over the world and this year an impressive 15 Squamoleans went to play, learn, and bring back some mad skills. There was not a single moment that was not completely amazing. Even the long lines were time well spent, with quality conversations happening on all sides.
It’s hard to believe just three years ago Shannon Handley and Megan Daly first rolled through downtown Squamish to see what kind of interest was out there. Fast forward to this year’s season opener that saw 850 seats filled by fans, with people turned away at the door.
To put it in perspective, Seattle (pop. 620,778) gets those kind of numbers on a good day. Squamish has 17,000 people and it’s only getting bigger. Every year, new leagues pop up and existing teams recruit so many people that they often create home and travel teams with freshies in training all year.
As for convention highlights: Stan “Stand Aside” Corfe (Sirens coach) received an MVP blocker award and played on the star-studded Team Atom, at the end of which Smarty Pants (infamous player and coach who has been around since the dawn of new derby in Texas) commented, “You are amazing. It was a pleasure skating with you."
Shannon “Mala Justed” Handley went toe-to-toe stop with the top members of Team Canada against Team Australia, and against living legend members of Team USA (Frida Beater, Demanda Riot and Death By Chocolate).
And last but not least, the big bruise award went to Squamish’s own Blair “Full of Hot Blair” Gregerson with not only the biggest bruise of the convention, but one that was widely acknowledged as the biggest bruise anyone had ever seen (he named it Pepe and had to declare it at customs).
The popularity of derby is on the rise, because it’s cheap to start, great exercise, and like most Squamish sports, the sense of community is fantastic. If you’re considering being part of Squamish roller derby, the group is recruiting volunteers, refs, players and practice space. Just drop a line to firstname.lastname@example.org and let the good times roll.