Whether you have never roller skated in your life, or haven’t rolled since the days when skates were on metal chassis strapped to your sneakers (remember those?), this may be an opportunity for you.
The Squamish Roller Derby Association is offering sessions to teach anyone interested in the basics of skating on four wheels.
The sessions are Sunday nights from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Brennan Park Recreation Centre in the Stawamus Chief Activity Room.
These are fun sessions focusing on the fundamentals, says Shannon Handley (her derby name is “Mala Justed” ), who started the Sea to Sky Sirens derby team in the Sea to Sky back in about 2008.
The accomplished roller derby veteran stressed these are no-contact sessions. No one is going to be slamming into anyone else.
This isn’t about preparing for a derby bout, though ideally, there will eventually be enough skilled skaters to get back to team bouts.
Like most clubs that got shut down during the pandemic, the team is currently rebuilding.
So for now, it is just about having fun and learning the basics.
And even if a team gets going again, the organizers of the sessions are dedicated to keeping a non-contact skating program going. Eventually, they would also like to start a youth learn-to-skate program. The current sessions are for adults only.
“One of the things that we hope to bring through our programming is getting to learn... a new skill or a new sport in your adult life. It’s just very special. There’s something really, really exciting and empowering about that,” said Handley, who got into derby at 26.
She “retired” from it in 2018, but, like many, found herself reflecting during the isolation of the pandemic about what she really enjoyed about her pre-COVID life.
Turns out she wasn’t ready to hang up her skates.
“I missed the freedom to play a physical sport and be in a big group of people,” she said.
And after years of not doing as much in groups during COVID-19-restrictions, it is a chance to rebuild community,
We’re going to laugh, we’re going to goof around and just have that kind of community again,” said Handley. “And get out of our shells again.”
Fellow derby local, Lindsay Leathem (Rowdy Roddy Pippa), says that it is through skating and derby that she first made friends when she moved to Squamish in about 2013.
Those folks are her closest friends today, she said.
The women stress that wannabe skaters don’t have to make a big commitment.
Folks can just come and check it out. And even if attendees never plan to do derby, the sessions are great for anyone who is doing any kind of roller skating.
All genders are welcome.
“We want everybody to come,” Leathem said. “Anybody who wants to be on four wheels.”
Gear is available for newcomers, though they ask attendees to bring their own helmets.
If nothing else, it is great cardio, the pair said.
Registration for sessions is available on the District of Squamish Recreation & Culture