Hants County’s roller derby club has made great strides since it was formed in 2017. And this year, they’ve already surpassed one of their main goals.
The Rebel Riot recorded not one but two wins on the weekend, something Kate Forsyth, one of the founding members of the Avon River Rollers club, is still buzzing about.
“We set goals for ourselves through the year and one of those goals was to win a bout because we didn’t last year. To nail that on our first go out, twice, was really exciting,” said Forsyth, who was one of the inside ring referees during the May 25 birthday bash.
The Rebel Riot took on Moncton’s Mad Hitters in the first match, winning 160-127. The bout was a back and forth affair until the dying minutes. Top jammer for the Riot was Badness (Wendy Jordan).
The next game saw the Rebel Riot take on Twisted Sisters from Prince Edward Island, winning 140-67. The top jammer for the Riot was Diva Slayer (Kim Sutherland).
The third bout saw the Mad Hitters defeat Twisted Sisters 141-100.
“We won them, and won them by a nice little margin each time. It really shows how much we’ve improved,” Forsyth said. “Both of these clubs are older than our club as well so they have more experienced skaters. We’re really proud of ourselves; we’re really happy that we’re moving forward and hitting the goals that we set for ourselves.”
Forsyth said they had 161 visitors stop by the event in Brooklyn.
“That’s amazing too because roller derby still doesn’t draw big crowds around here, especially in the more rural areas like ours.”
Hantsport resident Marji Lynn, who transforms into Tainted Shove when it’s derby time, has been a lifelong athlete. She joined the team the same year it formed and thoroughly enjoys not only the sport, but the camaraderie and sportsmanship.
“For me, it was love at first roll,” said Lynn, recalling the learn to skate intake day she participated in.
Now, Lynn is a key blocker on the team.
“I grew up playing every sport imaginable. My parents were, god love them, very dedicated to getting my brother and I to everything – from ringette in the wintertime to baseball and (at) summer camp where we tried everything,” she said.
“So for me, enjoying the contact sports like I did, with rugby and hockey, it just kind of spoke to me on another level.”
Lynn likens roller derby to being the offspring of rugby and hockey but said it’s unlike all other sports she’s played.
“Last year, when we were struggling and building and learning, we had these women coming all the way from Sydney because they love roller derby so much,” said Lynn.
“You don’t see that in hockey, you don’t see that in other sports, where people from other teams come and help you learn things so you can do better. It’s amazing the kind of community that derby has all within itself. And if people see it, they’re going to want to be a part of it – either being a spectator or being part of the show itself. It’s just fun,” she continued.
Winning matches at home and before a large audience was “crazy awesome” and Lynn said she’s looking forward to the club’s continued success. Lynn said the Riot are an inclusive team and offer a safe, welcoming space to all and hopes people will give it a try during the next learn to skate event.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re male, female, non-binary. We have all walks and talks on our team. Everyone is welcome and everyone feels good,” Lynn said.
The Rebel Riot are gearing up to host another roller derby contest in July.
The Dockyard Brawlers, a Halifax-based team, are scheduled to compete July 6 at the GFL Newport and District Arena. The Riot are also in talks to bring in another team to make it a triple header again.
“Roller derby is a really high action, full impact, contact sport with a great show. It’s a lot of fun to watch,” said Forsyth, noting there are family-friendly activities available during the event, including mini contests during intermission and facepainting.
“It’s a nice way to... spend the afternoon and watch some really good calibre sports take place,” said Forsyth.
Anyone interested in learning more about the club or finding out when learn to skate events are being planned can visit the team on Facebook or Instagram (@avonriverrollers) or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.