If you want to take your recreational enjoyment to the next level, consider joining up with the hot new sport in town – Roller Derby … fun, fitness, friendship and freedom of expression on wheels.
The PMRDL was formed almost 12 months ago. How did the idea form originally?
Late in 2011, a handful of girls and guys with an appreciation for roller skating got together with a wild idea of starting a roller derby league here in Port Macquarie. This was a dream conjured up by Lex Talionis (Alexia Giblin), after she moved to Port Macquarie from Darwin, where she had been training with the Darwin roller girls. In February 2012, we registered our incorporated organisation and became Port Macquarie Roller Derby League.
Who are the team that organises it, and what experience do they have in roller blading?
Firstly, we don’t roller blade – we roller skate. We use quad skates, as roller blades are not permitted in derby.
As we are a non profit sporting organisation, all our committee members and coaches volunteer their time and efforts. We have five committee members currently: two used to be speed skaters back in the ’80s, Mrs Brady Punch (President) and Psycho Bunnie (Secretary); one hadn’t skated for about 15 years, Karma Collider (Vice President); and the other two had never put on a pair of skates until they found us, Baroness Shred ‘Er (Treasurer) and Nicole Tyson (general committee member). Our Coach, Alby Mangled, only started to skate 12 months ago, after instantly falling for the sport when he watched a bout early last year.
You have grown to 60 members this year. What’s has made it so popular?
Roller derby is the fastest growing women’s sport in the world, and it has been no exception in Port Macquarie. It’s a place where women can come and be accepted for who they are, no matter their size, shape, colour or sexuality.
From a fitness perspective, it must be quite a workout?
One of the great things about roller derby is that it’s a full body workout that happens almost unnoticed while you’re having such a great time. Derby really strengthens your thighs and core and boosts overall muscle strength. Weight loss generally follows, but that isn’t the focus – for derby girls, we want to be strong and be able to give and take hits without falling over.
How do the meets operate? What happens?
At the moment, PMRDL are in training to begin competing this year. Until we start holding bouts, we have training sessions and a social skate each week. Fresh Meat skaters will learn how to skate if they don’t already know, how to fall, and some basic skating techniques such as knee slides, jumping, and weaving.
Most importantly, the focus in those first few weeks is on skating and falling safely. This is where a lot of the bonds are formed, and these friendships are so important. Our league has become quite close, and a lot of the girls are like family to each other – we support each other through everything.
Our next two levels, Red Star and Black Star, will be training together, and this is where the fun really begins. Contact, strategy and rules are the focus at this stage, and most of the girls leave training on a Sunday soaked in sweat but wearing a smile.
Do you hold comps as well?
Hopefully in the near future we will become part of a coalition of leagues who hold bouts amongst each other; this could include the Coffs Coast Derby Dolls, Newcastle Roller Derby League, Armidale Roller Derby League, and Tamworth Roller Derby League.
Until then, we will ideally have two teams within our league that will compete against each other.
You are about to have an intake of new members known as ‘Fresh Meat’. How do we sign up?
Fresh Meat is the name given to the brand new, fresh out of the shop girls who come along on a vague scent of something exciting! They may not have ever skated before, or it may have been 20 years since they last strapped on a pair of skates, but everybody has to start as a ‘Freshie’. We have two coaches, The Naylor and Refereaper (the latter of whom is a guy), and they absolutely love watching the girls progress from hesitant and holding on to the wall to confident skaters who can jump a 3″ piece of foam by the end of the course!
So far we have had over 50 people indicate interest this time around, so that’s incredibly exciting – to double our numbers again in one intake is amazing. We run Fresh Meat concurrently with the school terms. It’s not too late either: if you are interested in coming along and having a go, come to Wauchope indoor stadium on Cameron St at 6pm Tuesday 5 Feb. Go and see Skater Pitstop in Murray Street for all your gear and see what all the interest is about.
Is it just for ladies?
No, roller derby is a very fast paced game, and you need a lot of referees on the track during a bout, so we need guys to join and do the fresh meat course so they can learn to become refs and NSOs (non skating officials).
What is the best thing about roller derby?
There are so many aspects that make this sport great. The fitness, the friendships, and the opportunity to compete in a sport designed for women … most importantly, it’s a place where a woman doesn’t have to be somebody’s wife, somebody’s mother, somebody’s employee. It’s freedom of expression on wheels (with a fishnet or tattoo thrown in for good measure!).
What plans do you have for 2013?
2013 is going to be huge for PMRDL. We have just secured our major sponsor with Tacking Point Tavern, who have been just awesome. We will begin scrimmages between two teams in our league and progress to scrims and then bouts against other leagues – Coffs Coast Derby Dolls and Newcastle Roller Derby League have been very supportive of our growth, and we are looking forward to showing them what Port girls are made of!
Interview with Joanne Sampson (Psycho Bunnie) and thanks to Renee Ansley (Baroness Shred ‘Er).
This article can be found in issue 87 of Greater Port Macquarie Focus