Former Terrace resident and member of the National Roller Derby team Brie “Bone Machine” Birdsell was back in town last week hosting a training camp for local roller derby team the Northcoast Nightmares.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, at the Hawkair hanger and Sportsplex arena, respectively, around 15 players rolled out to learn how to up their game from Birdsell, who has been playing for six years in Montreal.
“I went from not being able to stay up on my skates to playing for Team Canada in that time,” she said, noting she didn’t play while she lived in Terrace. She credits her experiences with her Montreal team the New Skids on the Block, ranked third in the Eastern Region, as well as the Montreal Roller Derby league’s athletic training regime with sharpening her skills.
Roller derby bouts see teams of five-on-five skate the oval track. Points are won by each team’s jammer, whose job is to break away from the group, making laps on the rest of the pack. The sport has seen a major surge over the past few years, attracting a large spectator following in part because of the players’ colourful personalities and hard-hitting match-ups.
The Nightmares were happy to have Birdsell here. “The boot camp itself was an amazing experience,” said Nightmares’ player Tanya “Lady IzaHella” Laton. “I don’t think we have ever pushed ourselves that hard before.”
“I know that everyone came out of it a stronger more confident player,” she said, noting that there were attendees from other teams, some as far away as Nova Scotia at the camp.
“The Terrace girls were great to train,” said Birdsell, noting they improved greatly over the two days, “They were quick learners, very open to feedback and hungry for more knowledge in their sport. I really enjoyed being able to share my knowledge with the derby players of my hometown.”
Terrace’s roller derby players are keen and ready to get game play happening in Terrace, but more infrastructure – refs, officials, coaches – is needed to make that happen.
“That’s the biggest challenge of bringing a new sport to a community,” she said. But, “with all of the hockey and community sports that are present in Terrace, once they have more of a structure in place, roller derby could really take off.”
Terrace’s derby team is on the hunt for volunteers and new recruits. They have 10 benchmarked players ready to roll and are working hard to increase that number.
“If anyone in town is interested in coaching a new sport, I would highly recommend working with the Northcoast Nightmares,” said Birdsell. “They are a team of dedicated women willing to train hard to be competitive in roller derby, and have fun doing it.”