Peterborough Area Roller Derby (PARD) has been accepted as a full member of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, meaning the team can now compete in WFTDA-sanctioned events and earn official ranking points.
It’s a new era for the team, and they kicked it off with a win. PARD’s first ever WFTDA-sanctioned bout was on June 16, where they scored points in the final seconds to beat Toronto Roller Derby by a score of 90 to 88. “It doesn’t get more exciting than that,” said the announcer as PARD skaters embraced in celebration.
PARD will try to make it two in a row this weekend with a bout against Guelph’s Royal City Roller Derby. That match is up first in a doubleheader at the Douro Community Centre. The second match of the doubleheader, against Kingston Roller Derby, will not be WFTDA-sanctioned. The doubleheader starts at 4:00 p.m.
Trent Radio’s Local Journalism Initiative reporter Eddy Sweeney attended a recent PARD practice to learn more about the team and why roller derby is about much more than sport — it’s also about building inclusive communities.
You can listen to Eddy’s story in the podcast player above or read through the transcript below.
Eddy Sweeney 0:02
The Peterborough Area Roller Derby team, or PARD, is getting their last few hours of practice in before an exciting doubleheader bout on Saturday, July 22. I got to attend some of their Tuesday night practice to meet the coaches, some of the team, and learn about this sport that was completely new to me. Since the rules and specifics of roller derby could be just as unfamiliar to you as they were and still are to me. Here’s one of the coaches giving a brief overview of derby.
Stephanie Lyons 0:31
Okay, so we play on a flat track, which means it is not a banked track, and we plan on arena surfaces. It is taped down on the floor, there is a rope on the outer parts of the floor. There are two teams, and there are blockers, which are four positions and the fifth is a jammer. The jammer is the person with the helmet cover with a star which is on their helmet. And that is the person that can score the points on the team. The blockers are trying to prevent the points from being scored. Each point is a person passed on the track and you have to pass, as the jammer, each blocker within the track limits. The rules go up from there that is basically what we need to do.
Eddy Sweeney 1:19
That was Stephanie Lyons who skates under the name Stevie Stitches, one of the coaches for part who also plays on the team. Stevie Stitches is one of the more experienced skaters with PARD, having skated for seven years, and is currently playing on Team Ontario. Stevie Stitches will be playing in the first of two games at the doubleheader, the sanctioned game against Royal City Roller Derby, a team from the Guelph area. The second game will be a regulation game against Kingston Roller Derby. And if you’re like me, you might be wondering what sanctioned and regulation games are. So I asked Stevie Stitches.
Stephanie Lyons 1:56
Yeah, so it’s just basically the level of competitiveness that we would be putting forward for a roster. And the sanctioned game would be going towards our flat track rankings, where the regulation is just for sport, where there won’t be any rankings.
Eddy Sweeney 2:14
PARD having a flat-track ranking is something new to the team, as they are now part of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association.
Stephanie Lyons 2:24
This year is our first year of being a charter with the team, which means that we now have a world ranking and a North American ranking. And July was our first month receiving a ranking as our June game was sanctioned.
Eddy Sweeney 2:41
The WFTDA is a nonprofit organization responsible for governing Women’s Flat Track roller derby internationally, and according to their website, they represent more than 400 member leagues on six continents. The latest WFTDA ranking placed the Peterborough Area Roller Derby team 23rd in North America, out of over 150 teams, said Coach Stevie Stitches. At their Tuesday night practice, one of the last chances to practice before the big games on the 22nd, I got the chance to speak to some of the players. One such player was Natalie Komel, who skates under the name Nat. Nat has skated and played derby for about four years, playing with multiple teams in the area and will be playing in the sanctioned game against Royal City Roller Derby. I asked what Nat’s favorite part about derby was.
Natalie Komel 3:33
There’s so many things, but the biggest one I always come back to is the community. The friends I’ve made the people I’ve met the opportunities that I’ve been provided for because of the communities here has been amazing. Like I’ve met people from all across the continent and the world just because of the community and the way everyone interacts. It’s a wonderful community, as I say. And we’re always looking for people to be involved and we want people to be involved. I know one of the big things that I want to help with the community grow is just get more women into sports. Women and girls stop sports at such a young age and I want that to grow and and foster.
Eddy Sweeney 4:05
I also got the chance to speak to a newer player, Lise Fines, who skates under Ramona the Pestilence. Ramona will be playing in the regulation game of the doubleheader and has only been skating for about a year. Ramona tells the story about how she got into derby.
Lise Fines 4:21
Well, Nancy Drew Blood who’s on our team, she, her husband knows my husband and my daughter had skates and we had skates. And my husband asked Nancy if she’d like to come and give us a lesson. And so Nancy showed up with Pip, and with Car On Fyre and Tiny Mayhem and I think Saul Good was there. There were about eight people from PARD who showed up to skate with us on our street. And it was a ton of fun and it was still great to learn some basic skills. And Nancy said, “Well, we’re doing Learn to Skate. Why don’t you come?” And so I joined Learn to Skate And then when that ended, I joined Derby 101. And when that ended, I just just kept coming because I was really enjoying myself.
Eddy Sweeney 5:08
Ramona, like Nat and Stevie Stitches, had so many wonderful things to say about the roller derby community, both here in Peterborough and abroad. Each person I spoke to loves derby because of its inclusivity and its acceptance of people of all skill levels, body types and ages as Ramona shared.
Lise Fines 5:25
I’m an older skater like I came into this quite relatively late in life. So I would say that one thing that people, and there are a lot of people like me who were starting derby in their 40s, and 50s. If you’re a healthy person and you want to play, there’s really nothing stopping you. Like you don’t, you know, there’s no age limit, necessarily. As long as you’re healthy and strong and can take a fall and take a hit, you know, you can join even if — you don’t have to be a 20-year-old to do this.
Eddy Sweeney 5:56
If you are interested in seeing PARD play and supporting the team, consider joining them for their doubleheader bout at the Douro Community Center on Saturday, July 22. The first game against Royal City Roller Derby begins at 4pm, followed by the second game against Kingston Roller Derby at 6:30pm. Tickets are available in advance or at the door and more information about PARD or the event can be found on their website at pard-rollerderby.com. This has been Eddy Sweeney, reporting for the Local Journalism Initiative and for CFFF FM 92.7, Trent Radio here in Peterborough-Nogojiwanong.