Interview

Nerd to Release First Work of Fiction; Launch Dates Set for Toronto, Tri-City

The Nerd takes a moment for some shameless self promotion of book launches set for April 16 in Toronto and April 17 in Waterloo.

Writing as D.D. Miller, the Nerd's first book of fiction will be released in April. Roller Derby figures prominently in the title story.

Writing as D.D. Miller, the Nerd’s first book of fiction will be launched on April 16 in Toronto and the next night in Waterloo. Those old blue roller skates on the cover play a significant role in the book.

As some of you may have known, the Derby Nerd doesn’t just write about roller derby; I also write fiction as D.D. Miller.

Next week, my first work of fiction, a short story collection called David Foster Wallace Ruined My Suicide and Other Stories, will be published by Wolsak & Wynn (through its new Buckrider Books imprint).

This book has been a long time coming and features a wide variety of stories all dealing in some way with the vagaries of life in the early 21st century. Of course, roller derby played a part in the writing of the book—as it does in most aspects of my life—but it has a particularly large role in the title story.

The title story is about a character who has a brief, but to him intense, relationship with a significantly younger girl with whom he has remained obsessed, to the point where he’s found a lookalike online cam girl replacement for her. The second obsession that he has is with replacing a David Foster Wallace book that he’d lent to her and never gotten back. Eventually, he discovers that she has become a roller girl and goes to see her play:

“The Toronto Roller Derby League played its games north of the city in the Hangar in Downsview Park. It was a massive space, with huge windows that spread the late-evening summer sunshine across the hard concrete floor and the round track in the middle. Metal bleachers lined the track and they were full of a strange mix of people: punks and jocks and grandmothers and children, hipsters, nerds, a whole posse of women on a stagette. Loud rock and roll blared from speakers sprinkled among the bleachers, and a mohawked man in a slim suit and skinny tie prowled the zone between the track and the seats, stepping over and around the people who sat on the floor lining the track. He yelled into the mic, his face beet red and eyes gleaming: I could barely make out what he said. The louder he got, the louder the crowd got.”

**You can listen to me read from this particular section of the book at the 14:25 mark of this interview I did recently on CIUT’s (89.5) Howl radio show.**

The Toronto launch is set for April 16 at the Gladstone.

The Toronto launch is set for April 16 at the Gladstone.

For those derby people “in the know” there are a lot of “insider” references specifically for you in this story but there is also some “literary license” taken (for example, in this story, ToRD was playing in the Hangar in 2008—they didn’t actually move there until 2009).

While I will be making appearances across the country throughout the summer and fall (stay tuned!), there are a few specific launch dates set for Toronto and Tri-City (Waterloo specifically).

First up, for those in the GTA, I’ll be launching at the Gladstone Hotel on Wednesday, April 16, 2014, with doors opening at 7:00 PM. This is NOT going to be your typical stuffy literary affair: we’re hoping it will turn into a raucous celebratory party! For more information, check here.

The very next night, I’ll be in Waterloo at Words Worth Books. This will be a (slightly) quieter event, but refreshments will be served!. Check here for further details.

In both cases, I’d love to see roller derby take over these events! You guys have actually read more of my writing than anyone else (for which I am perpetually and eternally grateful), and would love to see some of you there! Thanks! And once again, apologies for the shameless self-promotion!

**For a further preview of the book, read this interview I did about writing and roller derby with Open Book Toronto.

**Also, for those in Toronto who can’t make the launch, I’ll also be reading on April 23rd at the Press Club as part of the Pivot Reading Series.

lanch date ain Waterloo set for apirl 17

The book will launch at Words Worth Books in Waterloo on April 17th.

 

 

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Canadian Power Rankings Preview

Captain Lou El Bammo, Dick Pounder, Dr. Jenny Fever, and the Derby Nerd return for another season of ranking the country’s top teams.

Montreal started at the top of the rankings and has never slipped (seen here in a 2013 game against Windy City). (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Montreal started at the top of the rankings and has never slipped (seen here in a 2013 game against Windy City). (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Last year, The Power Rankings crew was born out of a desire to provide subjective comparative analysis (based on objective observations, of course) of the top roller derby teams in Canada. So a quartet of derby nerds came together to hash out how the process would work, and what those rankings would look like. We’re back once again in 2014.

2014 was a fascinating year in roller derby in general and Canadian roller derby in particular. At the top, three Canadian teams qualified for WFTDA’s Division 1 playoffs and another made massive waves in the D-2 tournament. But what is most impressive for Canadian roller derby is the build up of the competitive base. All across the country, new teams are rising. Last year Calgary and Alliston, Ontario’s, Misfit Militia shot up the rankings, while old powers like Hammer City returned to competitive derby, all of this was played out in the Power Rankings. The goal of this exercise is not to replace the statistical ranking system, but to act as a parallel discussion of the excellent work done by Rollergirl.ca (in partnership with Flat Track Stats). But one of the advantages we have, is that we aren’t tied to statistics and we can take into account things like injury, personnel moves, home-track advantage, etc.

“The Power Rankings are great at highlighting the failings of the statistical model that Flat Track Stats and Rollergirl.ca use to create their list,” agrees Captain Lou El Bammo, one of the founders of the Power Rankings.  “That model employs data from years gone by which allows for large fluctuations because it does not take into account current information that we use to make our decisions. The Power Rankings brings the human factor back into the process and I think we’ve shown, through 2013, that we can adapt more quickly than the other system can.”

Another founder, Dick Pounder, echoes that sentiment. “The rankings have the potential to create good debate outside of the statistical ranking system…and I think if we can get more people into the sports-mentality of looking at everything we look at, the discussion around the power rankings will become more interesting.”

Currently third in the rankings, read the recap of Terminal City's 2103 Playoff game against New Hampshire by Danger (ismymiddlename) on Derby News Network. (Featuring photography by Tom Klubens)

Currently third in the rankings, read the recap of Terminal City’s 2013 Playoff game against New Hampshire by Danger (ismymiddlename) on Derby News Network. (Featuring photography by Tom Klubens)

One of the stories last year, and in Canadian derby since 2008, was Montreal’s reign at the top of the rankings. However, for the first time in years, both Terminal City and Toronto made up ground against the Skids. “We may see a battle among these three all year,” says Dick. “I think it’s only a matter of time before someone knocks Montreal from its perch in Canadian Derby,” says Dick.

Captain Lou is even more definitive in his predictions, “I expect to see the Skids slide in 2014, and we could see Toronto beating them once, if not twice, this year. My prediction is Toronto and possibly Terminal City finishing ahead of Montreal in the WFTDA standings by the time playoffs come around. We have seen the end of Canadian roller derby domination by Montreal.” Lou cites the losses of Bone Machine and Iron Wench as massive blows to the team. And although Terminal City also lost Beretta Lynch and Toronto Bambi, in both cases there are skaters ready to take over those roles, more so than in Montreal, where Wench had become such a key to the offense. Dr. Jenny Fever likes Terminal City’s chances as well, “What can I say but Terminal City AllStars? I know the training and passion that is driving them this year. Making it to the WFTDA Divisionals in Richmond, VA, last year was so inspiring, and I know that the All Stars want to hit the playoffs again, and win!”

There is consensus right now that the team to watch in Canadian flat track roller derby this year is Calgary. The CRDA All Stars have already made a big splash, wiping the track with their competition at the recent Wild West Showdown, destroying Dockyard (406-59), Ark Valley (264-105), and Slaughterhouse (223-92), to get their first WFTDA season off to a 3-0 start. On top of some impressive roster additions last year, a few more transfers from Oil City, Red Deer and Hammer City have bolstered their roster.

The Kootenay Kannibelles are another team that has the Rankings Crew intrigued. “I am very excited about the Kannibelles this season,” says Dr. Jenny Fever. “Having Bobb (AKA Berretta Lynch) back, even as a coach, is really going to help them.” Dr. J also likes what’s going on with the Mainland Misfits Anarchy Angels, who have added built a coaching staff that includes three members of Canada’s national men’s team.

On the other side of things, after some pretty significant roster and coaching changes due, largely, to retirements, the rankings crew thinks that perennial contenders the Red Deer Belladonnas will slide this season as they begin a potential rebuild, although Dr. Jenny does hold out hope for a return to form in the midst of the excitement surrounding their WFTDA Apprenticeship.

Toronto's CN Power jumped up to 2nd in the Power Rankings to end 2013 (seen here in their season-opening win against Team Ontario). (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Toronto’s CN Power jumped up to 2nd in the Power Rankings to end 2013 (seen here in their season-opening win against Team Ontario). (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The story of 2014 though is clearly Canada’s continued infiltration of the WFTDA. Captain Lou points out that Canada now as 20 teams in the WFTDA (including 10 apprentice leagues). “I think we’ll continue to see those teams outperform the other leagues because of the level of competition available to them and the requirement to be more organized and focused that the WFTDA brings to a league,” he predicts. “I’m hoping we’ll see more leagues heading in that direction.”

Dick Pounder agrees, and likes that the WFTDA link is encouraging more east vs west competition. “We are seeing the start of east vs. west matchups this season and hopefully that will continue to happen more going forward. I am super excited about Maple Stir Up in Hammer City this year,” he says, referring to the all-Canadian WFTDA tournament scheduled for Hamilton this August (it will be the first all-Canadian WFTDA-sanctioned tournament after Quad City Chaos 2011 featured three full-member teams and on apprentice.)

“I’m also hoping that we’ll see more provincial All-Star teams form in 2014,” adds Captain Lou. “Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, New Brunswick have all made the leap. I’ve witnessed the benefits that this process can bring to skaters and I think other provinces will too. With any luck, this will lead to a Canada Cup for Roller Derby in 2015!”  Team Ontario and Toronto’s CN Power played an exhibition game last month, and it lived up to all the hype, showcasing a phenomenal level of talent. The knowledge and experience share gained from these kinds of partnerships is undeniable.

“I find the increasing level of competitive teams on the world stage very exciting,” says Fever, alluding to Canada’s prominent place on that stage.  “I love that we have the training, dedication and drive to boost the sport. On the other hand, my favorite derby games to announce are the smaller, home team games where the teams are made of women who want to have a great time and play derby. Those crowds are always my favorite. They might not know all the rules, but they are having a great time enjoying a sport that we are so passionate about.”

****The first Canadian Power Rankings of 2014 will be released on April 1. Check here to see the final Canadian Power Rankings of 2013.

SKATERS TO WATCH

Here are five skaters who you may not have seen a lot of, but who the rankings crew thinks could turn some heads in Canadian derby this season.

Kris Myass: Jammer (Calgary Roller Derby Association)

Easy Break Oven: Jammer, Blocker (Calgary Roller Derby Association)

Fraxxure: Blocker (Tri-City Roller Girls)

Meow Wallace: Blocker (Tri-City Roller Girls)

Rainbow Fight: Jammer, Blocker (Toronto Roller Derby)

With Men’s World Cup Set to Begin, Roller Derby Truly Goes Global

On March 14 and 4:30 AM EST, the first ever Men's Roller Derby World Cup will begin.

On March 14 and 4:30 AM EST, the first ever Men’s Roller Derby World Cup will begin.

In 2011, when Team Canada and Team France took to the track in Toronto to kick off group play at the inaugural Women’s Roller Derby World Cup, the sport of flat track roller derby was beginning its first tentative steps into global legitimacy. Three years later, on March 14, 2014, when England and Argentina take the track in Birmingham, England, as the first participants in the group stage of the first-ever Men’s World Cup, the sport will have truly become a global phenomenon.

Unlike the Women’s World Cup, there is heavy involvement in the Men’s tournament from the Men’s Roller Derby Association (MRDA), and the event will be played under the WFTDA/MRDA ruleset (the Women’s World Cup has recently announced that it too has decided to use this rule set—despite an initial decision not to), and Miss Trial, the MRDA’s head official, will head up the officials crew at the event.

There will be fifteen countries represented at the World Cup, and as with the women’s event, USA enters the tournament as the heavy favourites, but France, Finland and Canada are all expected to compete with a few other dark horses out there (including a virtually unknown Japanese Team).

Led by Head Coach Lime (who has coached, literally, from coast to coast in this country) and Jess Bandit (one of the coaches of the Mont Royals, and one of our country’s finest players with Team Canada and Montreal’s New Skids on the Block), the majority of Canada’s team features, not surprisingly, heavy representation from the more established men’s leagues in Vancouver, Red Deer, Montreal and Calgary (Glenmore), but Toronto Men’s Roller Derby will send two representatives to England in the form of skater Harrassin’ Ford and Assistant Coach BruiseBerry Pie (who will be joined by Calgary’s Demolition Herbie as Assistants).

Team Canada will take on Belgium, Japan and Scotland in the group stage.

Team Canada will take on Belgium, Japan and Scotland in the group stage.

Men’s derby has had a comparatively slow and slightly more fumbling ride to the limelight than the women’s version of the game, staggered by a mix of politics and the perception of the sport as exclusively a women’s game, but over the past two or so years in particular, the men’s game has taken off. The rise of the MRDA (and its direct ties to WFTDA) and the undeniable brilliance of teams like MRDA champs Your Mom’s Roller Derby have thrust the sport into the spotlight.

“Coming from someone who didn’t know there was a men’s roller derby community until I was involved in the women’s game for two years, something like this is huge,” says Ford, echoing the awkward pace of growth of the men’s game. Ford began his career as a ref and played his first co-ed game in summer 2011. At the time, he was light years away from being a national team member, but a phenomenal commitment to skating and to learning the game has aided and quickened his development. He was one of the first members of the Toronto Men’s Roller Derby (and its team, Toronto Outrage) and continues to ref on a regular basis.

Despite his depth of experience as a ref, Harrassin’ is still relatively new to the men’s game. “I’m very excited to be going over and being part of this team after being involved in this sport for such a short period of time,” he says. “It’s an honour for me even just to go over and watch.”

On the track, Harrassin’ points to some of Canada’s more experienced players as the ones to watch. One of the founding members of the team, Vancouver’s Noah Backtalk—who is also a respected coach and ref in the community—will be an on-track leader of the team along with Montreal’s El Tennant and Tank (not to mention The Rev, who, like Noah, is another one of our country’s first-ever players of the men’s game). Harrassin’ also points out that Red, who plays for Ottawa’s Slaughter Squad, is a jammer to watch. However, he notes that one of the stories of the whole tournament could be the father-son duo of Riceball and BrADASS, who play for the Glenmore Reservoir Dogs (Calgary).

Team Canada got together in Montreal this past weekend to make final preparations for the tournament. (Photo from Team Canada's Facebook page).

Team Canada got together in Montreal this past weekend to make final preparations for the tournament. (Photo from Team Canada’s Facebook page).

Canada opens the tournament against Belgium. They will be joined in their group by Japan and Scotland. All teams play a placement-style round robin(of 30 minute games) in the group stage to set the rankings for the knock-out portion of the tournament (similar to the 2011 Women’s World Cup). Canada is expected to do well in its pool, and if it manages to finish in the top two, will move on to take on either Wales or one of the heavily favoured Finnish or US Teams (“I think we can give them a good competitive game if nothing else,” Ford says of a potential matchup against the US). If they slip into the bottom of their pool, they’d face one of the bottom-ranked teams from the group featuring France, Ireland, Australia and Germany in the “Jug” (consolation) bracket.

Regardless of the outcome, much like the first-ever Women’s World Cup, this tournament is about much more than winning and losing. This is all about giving the men’s game a prominent showcase and growing the sport as a whole. “It’s great when a bunch of different countries can throw together teams that are this competitive,” says BruiseBerry Pie.  “It helps bring everyone up together.” Harrassin points out that “any and all exposure for the sport is good!”

Bruisey goes on to say that this will be especially important for the North American game, where the focus is primarily on MRDA club-level play. “In North American, we don’t really know how much is going on in Europe. They are so close together that they can get together and play each other all the time…the more people play each other the more parity we will have,” she points out, alluding to the potential strength of the European contingent.

From a tight-knit group of women in a roller rink in Austin, Texas, in April 2003, to the top fifteen countries in the men’s game in an arena Birmingham, England, in March 2014, the story of flat track roller derby has been one of steady, consistent growth. While the future is excitably unknowable, one thing is for certain: when the first ever Men’s Roller Derby World Cup comes to a close, it will conclude another incredibly important chapter in the development of this sport.

**See the full Canadian roster here at Canadian Derby Frontier. For the full listing of teams, click here. A full schedule can be downloaded here. The first game kicks off at 4:30 AM (EST). The whole tournament will be boutcast live.

ToRD’s 2014 Entry Draft Defined by Experience

ToRD BannerThere could be another massive shift in power in Toronto Roller Derby next season as defending champs, the Death Track Dolls, had the biggest night of the 2014 entry draft, pulling a league-high eight new skaters to its roster from another impressive draft pool made up of a mix of homegrown D-VAS, some very impressive transfers, and some who were a little bit of both.

It’s consistently becoming a bigger challenge to gain entry onto one of ToRD’s four houseleague teams as play in the league reaches new heights: the recent success of Toronto’s charter team CN Power in the WFTDA playoffs will only make this league a bigger destination than it already is. Along with at least a half dozen skaters who learned the sport in some of Toronto’s less competitive and low contact leagues such as the Rollergettes, Toronto Loco and the GTA Rollergirls, this draft features skaters from as far away as Halifax and Vancouver, but also a number from closer leagues as well, such as Royal City (Guelph) and DRRD (Durham Region Roller Derby).

So while there will be a lot of new faces in ToRD next season (21 new skaters were chosen in the draft), don’t expect the level of play to drop at all.

Chicks Ahoy! logo

Chicks Ahoy!

Hyena Koffinkat

Rebel Rock-It

Sneaky Dee

Wheels of Misfortune

Three-time ToRD champs, Chicks Ahoy! are in the midst of a fairly massive rebuild. There wasn’t a lot of off-season change, which will be good for continuity, and with one of their draft picks, they nabbed former Chick, Rebel Rock-It, who brings a ton of experience in her return to houseleague play. They also managed to grab highly touted prospect Sneaky Dee (a standout with the D-VAS this season and already one of the speediest skaters in the league), and Durham Region’s veteran skater Wheels of Misfortune. Finally, Hyena Koffinkat transfers to Toronto from Vancouver, where she just completed her rookie season and could be ready to jump right into the Chicks’ jammer rotation.

Gore-Gore Rollergirls logo

Gore-Gore Rollergirls

Francesca Fiure

Guardian Paingel

Lumberjack Flash

Machu Beatchu

Moose Knuckles

The Gore-Gore Rollergirls are the team that never seems to rebuild. Rumours of their imminent collapse in 2012 proved to be premature as they roared back to finish second in the regular season before falling to the Betties in the semifinals. With five spots open, the team has filled those spots with experience across the board. Francesca Fiure transfers from Royal City (she is also a coach with Toronto Men’s Roller Derby), while Machu Beatchu, one of Eastern Canada’s top players, moves in from Halifax, and finally, Guardian Paingel is one of two skaters to have transferred from Vancouver’s Terminal City Roller Girls. Lumberjack Flash is also a local transfer who spent nearly a full season with the D-VAS this year, proving to be a physcial jammer. And finally, homegrown skater and D-VAS vet Moose Knuckles will don the leopard print when she debuts in ToRD’s houseleague.

Smoke City Betties Logo

Smoke City Betties

Babushkill

Darth Kater

Honey Boom Boom

Jam’herhead Shark

Jenny Specter

Whackedher

After making their second ToRD final last season (and first since 2009), the Smoke City Betties look to build on an up-and-down season and create a little more consistency in 2013, and with the Dolls slipping in to a mini rebuild, this could be the season for the Betties to finally raise the Boot.

The Betties picked up two skaters who are coming off of mini-sabbaticals. Whackedher was a rising prospect on the D-VAS two years ago before taking some time to travel; she returned this season and had great success with the farm team. Similarly Darth Kater was one of Durham Region’s brightest stars before also taking some time to see the world in 2013; she returned just in time for last year’s Gibson’s Cup (DRRD houseleague championship) before transferring in the off season. Babushkill is another rising star who recently had to take some time off and returned stronger than ever, while Honey Boom Boom has been turning heads in Toronto for a few years now and was key on the D-VAS in 2013. Finally Jenny Specter earned her stripes in Toronto Loco before stepping it up another competitive level, and Jam’herhead Shark is a homegrown rookie.

death track dolls logo

The Death Track Dolls

Aston Martini

Bloc Québécois

Devochka

Free Range Clam

Hanibelle

Sleeper Hold

Stringer Belle

Wheatabitch

The Death Track Dolls suffered massive roster change in the off-season, including the retirement or sabbatical of some key veteran skaters and the promotion of three skaters to CN Power.  The strength of the draft is evident in the Dolls strong pick ups despite selecting last in each round. The skater who will undoubtedly have the biggest immediate impact is former Gore-Gore Rollergirl and CN Power skater Aston Martini, who returns after taking a season off (she is also a member of the 2014 Bay Street Bruisers as well). However, there is a lot of depth in this group as well. Devochka is coming off of a strong season in Durham Region where she was a key member of the Durham Devils travel team. Hanibelle and Free Range Clam have a lot of experience in Toronto derby as well. Finally, Sleeper Hold (from Toronto Loco) and D-VAS-developed Wheatabitch, and local transfer Stringer Belle round out the new Dolls’ lineup.

The Dolls also picked up an impressive internal transfer from the Gores, seven year vet Junkie Jenny, who will also continue play on the Bay Street Bruisers this season.

**Keep your eyes on Toronto Roller Derby.com for updates on what promises to be an incredible 2014 season in ToRD!

2013 WFTDA Playoff Preview: Can Con Edition!

The 2013 WFTDA Playoffs will feature five international teams, including three from Canada.

The 2013 WFTDA playoffs will feature five international teams, including three from Canada.

On September 24, 2010, in White Plains, New York, Montreal Roller Derby’s New Skids on the Block would make history, becoming the first non-American team to play in the WFTDA playoffs, setting off the international era of flat track roller derby. That year Montreal entered the Eastern Regionals ranked 6th, setting up an opening quarterfinal showdown against their long-time (but friendly) rivals, the Boston Massacre. The Skids would lose the game and finish 7th in the Regional tournament. The event, boutcast on Derby News Network and watched widely in Canada, inspired a growth of competitive derby in this country and abroad that continues to this day.

Four years later and Montreal has qualified for its fourth consecutive WFTDA playoff. But this year they are not alone, joined by Vancouver’s Terminal City All Stars and Toronto’s CN Power as Canadian representatives. And the influence of that game stretches even further beyond the borders of the great white north, with the Canuck contingent representing just the tip of the international iceberg. London Rollergirls London Brawling are back for their third stint in the playoffs, and this year sees Australia’s first team, Melbourne’s Victorian Roller Derby All Stars, joining the fray.

Fittingly, Montreal will lead the way this Big Five season, being the first Canadian team in action this coming weekend in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The new divisional system means that old regional rivalries have been thrown out the window, leaving teams squaring off based on a purely competitive basis. Montreal roared up the rankings in 2013 to end the regular season at a historic high 8th in the WFTDA, giving them a second seed in their divisional playoff. The favourable seeding allows them a bye straight into the quarterfinals, where they will await the winners of a Wasatch (Salt Lake City) vs. Grand Raggidy (Grand Rapids) qualifying round showdown (Friday, September 6 at 6:00 PM eastern).

2013 will be Montreal's fourth straight trip to the WFTDA playoffs.

2013 will be Montreal’s fourth straight trip to the WFTDA playoffs.

Montreal head coach Ewan Wotarmy was on that historic New Skids team. Since retired from on-track play, she has taken over coaching this season, a season that has seen Montreal reach new highs in terms of rankings. While the high seeding surpassed their goals, it wasn’t necessarily a surprise.

“We had set a very achievable goal of making 12th place earlier in the season,” Ewan explains, “but I had been giving the team point differential goals for our games based on us being an 8th place team.” As usual, the team came on strong early, kicking things off with impressive victories over Tri-City, Maine, Chicago Outfit, and Boston before a narrow loss to powerhouse Windy City.

The early-season form got Ewan thinking: “I had a feeling, based on some of those early games, that we could make second seed.” Following the rankings and keeping up on the new system became key in planning: “The new ranking system makes it a bit easier to understand where you stand in relation to other teams…Athletes are inherently goal driven – having a clear, specific goal (like getting 87% of the total points scored) rather than more vague goals (‘doing better than team X, who played this team in April’) is huge in helping the team focus.”

From the very beginning, Montreal has been known for its endurance and fitness, but this year, after three season of coming up just short in the playoffs, the team has taken things to a new level. “The team has been very focused this year, and working hard,” Ewan says. “They are fitter than ever and incredibly focused on making Championships.” On the track, she says that one of the biggest positive changes for the team has been with discipline and taking fewer penalties: “All of our players have really made strides in this area. Having more players on the track is a huge advantage for any team.”

For Terminal City and Toronto, the situation is much different. After a few years of steady, under-the-radar growth—including making big impressions in 2012— both Toronto and Terminal City put in late-season runs to just sneak into the Division 1 playoffs for the first time. Ranked 10th in each of their divisionals, the teams will have to play a qualifying round game to kick off the tournament. Terminal City opens against Tampa Roller Derby (Friday, September 13th at 12:00 PM eastern) while Toronto will open things up against Sacred City (Sacramento)  (Friday, September 27th, 10:00 PM pacific).

2013 TCRG All-Stars

This will be Terminal City’s debut in the WFTDA playoffs.

Despite the tough draw, each team was more than happy for the opportunity.

“We were ecstatic,” says Terminal City’s Coach Mack the Mouth of his team’s reaction to making the playoffs. “Everyone keeps a close eye on Derbytron, DNN, and Flat Track Stats to try to figure out where we are going to land (in WFTDA).  We were very confident that would make top 40, but actually seeing it was a whole other level of excitement.”

Vancouver’s top team kicked off 2013 with two ultra-tight games against Jet City (Everett Washington) (a one-point win) and Santa Cruz (a two-point loss) before reeling off three straight wins over Sac City, Treasure Valley and Silicon Valley. But Mack sees their progress this season as more than just a single-season story. “We had such a strong year last year, climbing the west rankings from 53rd to 12th,” he explains of their astonishing leap in 2012. “Our work habits, discipline and fitness commitments paid off, so it wasn’t difficult to cultivate that energy around the team for this year. We knew we could build off of that momentum and move to the next level.”

Toronto also had a strong start to the season, with one-sided wins against Killamazoo and Fort Wayne, before encouraging losses to high-ranked Naptown and Ohio. CN Power Co-Captain Dusty says the team was “elated” at the news of their spot in the playoffs. Bench Coach Reverend Ramirez says that the team simply “got things right” in 2013. “We said ‘let’s go for broke’ (this season) and play teams like Windy City and Naptown—all the high level teams we could.”

CN Power just slipped into their first Division 1 playoffs.

CN Power just slipped into their first Division 1 playoffs.

CN Power Bench Manager Sonic Doom points out that while learning from those tough experiences was important, the confidence gained was just as valuable: “What we needed to do was learn that we are capable of competing against those high level teams. While we still haven’t earned that major result, we’ve had moments where we’ve competed.” Specifically, he points to the second half of the game against Naptwon where the Indianapolis powerhouse only outscored Toronto by 12 points as a particular turning point.

None of the teams has really changed too much in terms of their training heading into the playoffs, as they all point out that it was increased training over the course of the year that allowed them to achieve their goals. Instead, each team has been refining their games and fitness levels.

“We are really drilling the areas that have been challenges for us this season,” Ewan says of Montreal’s practices. “All of the players are watching a lot of derby and visualizing their individual roll in our collective success this fall.”

Mack says that the focus of their practices has changed, “I do run more scrimmage/game type scenarios as opposed to drills. Creating as many game type situations has always been the direction I like to take.”

Similarly, Toronto’s amount and intensity of practices has been at an all-time high for all of 2013 so not much has changed in that regard. One major addition has been adding an off-skates practice at a gym where the players can focus on fitness as a team. But again, the management team cites the increased level of their opposition as the best preparation. “We took some lessons from the Skids, who got their asses kicked by a lot of high-level teams (early in their WFTDA careers),” says Ramirez: “You’re not going to go very far if you just keep beating low-level teams.”

Dusty adds that one of the most important changes for Toronto was trust. “I think this year the team has finally become a team who has learned to trust eachother, and trust our coaches and captains and the decisions we have to make for the team.”

Montreal cam up just short of Windy City in March, their first loss of the 2013. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Montreal cam up just short against Windy City in March, their first loss of the 2013 season. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Also, the teams are focusing inwards on sharpening their own games, without worrying too much about their opponents. “That being said, odds would be better for us if we were to play Grand Raggidy, given that they are currently lower ranked and have not played any top 25 teams this year,” Ewan says, pointing out that Wasatch has been playing tougher teams later in their schedule. “Either way, the Skids are going into the game with the intent of controlling it from the first jam until the last.”

“By chance, I got to watch Tampa play at ECDX versus Boston and Windy City, then again at Rollercon versus Sin City,” Mack says of Terminal City’s first round opponents. “They match up well with us; fit, smart, high track awareness team. We are excited to play them.”

CN Power has watched some video of Sacred City says Dusty and Ramirez. “They are a great defensive team,” Dusty points out. “They have big, but agile girls, which is a huge strength to have in derby. We have been working a lot on our offense for that game specifically.”

Just as Montreal’s appearance in the playoffs in 2010 had such a profound effect on the sport in this country, having three teams play in the Division 1 playoffs (not to mention Tri-City’s success in their D-2 tournament) will have an extraordinary impact as well; one that will be felt from coast to coast.

“It’s going to bring the national game to new levels,” says Ewan Wotarmy who also happens to be Team Canada’s head coach. “It’s great that the are teams in very different locations across the country, so the learning can easily be shared in scrimmage and in more formal bouts across Canada…As the sport continues to get more competitive, we will likely be better able to attract experienced athletes to the sport. Given the number of young Canadian women who, like myself, grew up on skates…we could have an international advantage in that, but we have to show these athletes that they have a competitive future in this sport.”

Terminal City went 2-1 at the 2013 Wild West Showdown in March. (Photo by Bob Ayers)

Terminal City went 2-1 at the 2013 Wild West Showdown in March. (Photo by Bob Ayers)

Mack the Mouth is also part of Team Canada’s coaching staff and also sees how this success could impact our national team directly: “It will make the Team Canada try-outs explode with skaters. It will help push more Canadian teams to apply for their WFTDA apprenticeship. And lets not forget Tri-City and Rideau Valley; I expect both of those teams to be pushing for Division 1 spots in 2014.”

Toronto’s Sonic Doom agrees that Canada’s impact on WFTDA is just beginning. “I expect the number of Canadian teams in the playoffs to triple next year,” he explains. While agreeing with Mack’s selections, he adds Hammer City to the list as a Division 2 team.

One of the biggest changes this season is that Canadian teams have somewhat lost that element of surprise. Montreal, in particular, is no longer seen as an underdog with many expecting them to advance to Championships this season. “I feel that we are still punching above our weight (literally and figuratively),” Ewan points out. “We certainly have an advantage going into the tournament, given that we are seeded second, but all the teams at these tournaments are really fantastic! This has been a year of many upsets in the WFTDA.” And they do have a tough bracket, joined by WFTDA stalwarts Denver and Rose City, but also Arch Rival, Ohio and their playoff rivals London.

Toronto narrowly lost to Ohio at the 2013 Quad City Chaos. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Toronto narrowly lost to Ohio at the 2013 Quad City Chaos. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Sonic Doom points out that while Toronto is new to the playoffs, they do have significant tournament experience, “We’re not unfamiliar with tournament play. We’ve done well at Brewhaha and ECDX and we host the Quad City Chaos every year (since 2010).”

What it all boils down to for these teams is hard work: It took hard work to get to this point and it’s going to take hard work to advance.

“We are seeing this as an opportunity, and opportunities don’t make themselves,” explains Ewan Wotarmy. “We have to rise to the occasion and shine that weekend. That’s not going to just happen on its own – but it will happen when we stay focused, play clean and work hard. I have faith in my team to do just that.”

Dusty is also brimming with an excited confidence at Toronto’s chances. “I know we just squeaked in there in the last quarter, and we all know we are coming in at the bottom, but we have something to prove, and we have nothing to lose, and those kinds of teams can be the most dangerous.”

*For a game-by-game preview, check out Derby News Network.

PLAYOFF PRIMER:

Montreal Roller Derby: New Skids on the BlockMontreal Roller Derby: The New Skids on the Block

Season Record: 10-4

WFTDA Ranking: 8th (2nd in their Divisional tournament)

First Game: VS. TBD (Wasatch or Grand Raggidy): Friday, September 6 at 6:00 PM eastern

Usual Suspects: Blockers: Jess Bandit, Smack Daddy, Bone Machine, Lil Mama. Jammers: Iron Wench, Georgia W. Tush.

Skaters to Watch: Blocker: Surgical Strike. Jammer: Greta Bobo

HELP THEM TRAVEL TO THE PLAYOFFS!

Terminal City All StarsTerminal City Roller Girls: Terminal City All Stars

Season Record: 5-4 (in WFTDA play, 8-4 overall)

WFTDA Ranking: 38th (10th in their Divisional)

First Game: VS. Tampa Roller Derby: Friday, September 13th at 12:00 PM eastern

Usual Suspects: Blockers: Kim Mackenzie (AKA: 8Mean Wheeler), Lisa Suggit (Rollergirl). Jammers: luludemon, Bobbi Barbarich (Beretta Lynch), Kim Janna.

Skaters to Watch: Blockers: Flow’erPlower, Scarlett Bloodbath, Jocelyn Ingram. Jammer: Evada Peron.

HELP THEM TRAVEL TO THE PLAYOFFS!

CN Power LogoToronto Roller Derby: CN Power

Season Record: 6-6 (in WFTDA play, 7-6 overall)

WFTDA Ranking: 39th (10th in their Divisional)

First Game: VS. Sacred City: Friday, September 27th, 10:00 AM pacific

Usual Suspects: Blockers: Nasher the Smasher, Dyna Hurtcha, Tara Part. Jammers: Dusty, Bambi.

Skaters to watch: Blockers: Bruiseberry Pie, Betty Bomber. Jammers: Kookie Doe, Bala Reina.

HELP THEM TRAVEL TO THE PLAYOFFS!

Off the Beaten Track: Pain Eyre

Talking Derby Cover (Black Moss Press)

“Roller derby is not a pretty sport.”

-from Talking Derby: Stories from a Life on Eight Wheels (Black Moss Press, 2013)

Since the rebirth of modern roller derby in 2003, the sport has been slowly jamming its way into mainstream culture, fighting a constant battle—it sometimes seems—against stigma and preconceptions, the most notable of which, is that roller derby is a staged, sexy throwback to the sports entertainment version that prevailed in the 70s and 80s.

Of course, those in the know are well aware that for every game-day polished, crisply uniformed skater who takes the track, hours of blood, sweat and tears have been shed to get there.

Pain Eyre helped found the Border City Brawlers in 2010. (Skater Photo)

Pain Eyre (AKA: Kate Hargreaves) helped found the Border City Brawlers in 2010. (Skater Photo)

In her book Talking Derby (Black Moss Press, spring 2013), Border City Brawler skater Pain Eyre (AKA: Kate Hargreaves) takes great pains to present flat track roller derby in all its smelly, oozing, gut-wrenching reality. Most importantly, in its raw, honest glimpse behind the scenes, Hargreaves presents roller derby as a highly competitive, deeply challenging sport. It’s an approach that created a book that has garnered attention within the roller derby community (Scald Eagle, Bonnie D. Stroir, Luludemon, and Greorgia W. Tush all contributed blurbs), but outside of that community as well, especially within the literary community of which Pain is a part.

While most books about roller derby have been in some way instructive or explanatory (even Talking Derby includes a glossary), Pain Eyre’s collection dives straight into the action, giving readers an honest, almost autobiographical portrayal of the sport and its competitors.

Urged on by an acquaintance—Ladytron—who had the idea of starting a roller derby league in Windsor, Ontario, Pain Eyre got swept up in the derby revolution in August 2010.  Hooligal, at the time a skater with the nearby Detroit Derby Girls but with roots in Hammer City, helped Pain and Ladytron and the other interested skaters in Windsor get things started, including providing important early coaching of the league. Aside from Hooligal (who now plays in Montreal), none of the skaters had derby backgrounds. Pain Eyre had virtually no skating experience.

“There was a bit of a learning curve,” she admits, noting that her last team sport experience had been soccer when she was 13-14 years old. “But it motivated me…it gives me motivation to exercise.” Like so many involved in this sport, Pain had little sporting background but was nonetheless overwhelmingly drawn to derby. By 2010, the sport was booming in Southern Ontario and Michigan State. Windsor, teetering on the border of both regions, was a prime location to start a roller derby league.

But it was also post-2009, after flat track roller derby’s Great Leap Forward, and roller derby was rapidly moving away from simply being a lifestyle sub-culture and into being a highly competitive sport.

Pain Eyre in action with the Border City Brawlers All Stars. (Photo by Robert Bornais)

Pain Eyre in action with the Border City Brawlers All Stars. (Photo by Robert Bornais)

“I’m lucky that I came into it at a time when the level of competition started rising rapidly, and I came into it knowing what it demanded,” she says of the atmosphere surrounding derby when she started. “Hooligal was a great coach right off of the bat, letting us know that if you weren’t willing to work, maybe it wasn’t the sport for you.”

With her background in the literary community, her base as a writer and her newly forming identity as a roller derby skater, it seemed inevitable that a book—or some form of literary endeavor—would accompany the transition.

At the same time that Pain Eyre discovered roller derby, Kate Hargreaves was just beginning her graduate degree at the University of Windsor. As part of her graduate assistantship, she was working for the literary journal, The Windsor Review, doing layout and design and other editorial duties. The managing editor of the journal, Marty Gervais, noticed that Kate was always coming in to the offices covered in bruises. Eventually curiosity got the better of him and he enquired about them. Intrigued by the sport, he encouraged Kate to start journaling about her experiences.

Those initial scribbles would form the basis of what would become Talking Derby.

The book is fascinating in its structure. As series of short stories (or more accurately “vignettes”) that traces the story of a skater through a series of practices, games and tryouts interwoven with intriguing pieces—sometimes just lists—that read like poetry (no surprise that in her writing life Kate is primarily a poet). While the book is seemingly episodic, there is a discernible arc, and with its focus on Pain herself, is almost autobiographical.

“I thought it would end up being a lot different from my poetry and it did end up becoming a lot different,” she says, admitting that there was no sense of what the final shape of the text would be going into it, and also that she’d never written short fiction. “It ended up coming out of those journals and being shaped through the writing and editing process into the form it took…I wanted it to function as a whole, but I also wanted it to be something that someone could pick up, open and read a few pages at a time.”

The opening story of the book begins in a practice space during a team scrimmage:

“Stale air weighs down the warehouse. 50 feet above our heads,

the grid of fans struggles to manufacture a breeze. A zebra skates

over the door, grabs the iron handle and lurches backward to roll

it open along metal tracks. The sun stretches his shadow across

the dusty concrete, toe stoppers to helmet, as he stands between

warehouse and daylight.”

Pain Eyre must juggle her life as a skater with her busy life in the literary community. (Photo by Jodi Green)

Pain Eyre must juggle her life as a skater with her busy life in the literary community. (Photo by Jodi Green)

It’s an opening that is pleasantly universal in its tone (for insiders anyway), but one that would seem a surreal entry point for an outsider. And during that scene, a few outsiders do stumble into the practice space and start taking pictures, asking, at one point, what it is they are watching. Right from its opening, the book rides that fine balance of speaking to insiders as well as outsiders.

Those early, personal, and visceral journalistic vignettes would shape not only the structure of the book, but the focus of it as well. “I wanted to give a five-senses experience about roller derby: what it feels like to get hit, what it smells like to walk into a dressing room….and talk about how derby impacts that sense. It’s so chaotic out there on the track; you’ve got hits and smells coming at you at the same time.”

The book is relentless in its physicality and despite the raw violence, almost sensuous in its description of the toll that the game can have on the body: bodily fluids spurt, bruises bloom. This is a celebration, sure, but also very much a reality check for those who question the voracity of the game.  “One of the things that I wanted to get across was the actual physical experience of the sport and how difficult it can be,” she admits. And it is something that is clear throughout:

“A split lip. A bloody nose. A goose egg. An elbow to the ear.

Marker smears under the chin. Numbers smudge from arms

to cheeks. I’ve been hit in the face more times than I can count

on my wheels. I’ve tracked bruises tie-dying knees, butt, arms,

legs, hips. Black and purple, fading yellow to green. Bruises I

don’t remember receiving. Bruises that pang every time that flesh

meets chair.”

“It’s one of my preoccupations,” she admits, about the fascination she has with the body and its functions. She has a second book coming out in the spring, a book of poetry tentatively called Leak that shares many of the preoccupations of this book. Pain Eyre does admit that roller derby gave this preoccupation a boost and even became an inspiration:  “There would be bruises turning up (in my poetry) and aches and pains and bloody noses…it gave me a lot of material for sure.”

Writing Talking Derby was somewhat of a throwback for Pain, who actually made a hard shift from prose (even journalistic prose) to poetry only when she began taking creative writing at university. “You can never predict I suppose, even as adamant as I was that poetry was stupid,” she says with a laugh. She explains that it was only after being exposed to a lot of the innovative writing going on in the University of Windsor writing department that she saw the potential for poetry: “I realized that it didn’t have to be what I thought poetry was, and (I discovered) that poetry can be expressive in a wide variety of ways.” She sites Canadian poet (and innovative prose writer) Jenny Sampirisi as an influence, but also Susan Holbrook and Nicole Markotic who also helped introduce her to key poets in her reading life.

Pain Eyre’s breaking through of those preconceived notions of what poetry was mirrors the experience that many outsiders have with roller derby: They come in assuming one thing, only to discover an unexpected depth.

“I wanted to reflect the real sporting nature of derby,” she explains in regards to what she hopes outsiders will take from the book. “People who don’t know about derby will immediately assume that it’s not a real sport or that there is no athletic value to it.” Dealing with these preconceptions is a clear presence in the book, laid bare in one of the more traditionally poetic segments of the text:

faq

So you play roller derby?

do you punch each other in the face?

or wrestle?

on the track?

in the mud?

in jello?

I hear you don’t wear pants

just cute little uniforms like lingerie football

is that true?

While the text does speak to outsiders, it is very much written from an insider’s point of view. Right from the very first Windsor-based book launch, Pain Eyre wasn’t sure how people were going to receive the book. But the reception has been positive and supportive, garnering a number of reviews and interviews, including on CBC radio. “When you get literary people who may not be derby people reading about it, that’s kind of neat,” she says of the positive reception she’s received from the literary community.

Pain Eyre skaters with both the All Stars and also the Hiram Stalkers, a house league team. (Photo by Robert Bornais)

Pain Eyre skaters with both the All Stars (seen here playing Sudbury’s Sister Slag) and the Hiram Stalkers, a house league team. (Photo by Robert Bornais)

As everyone in the derby community knows, managing a derby-life balance can be challenging. Through her first three years of skating, Pain Eyre has grappled with this head on: “It’s sometimes tough. You realize that you’ve had three nights of practice and a game and two days of cross training and there’s a board meeting on Thursday and people are asking you where you have been.”

She used to be involved in a poetry night called TOAST in Windsor, and it used to be on the same night as practice: “I’d have to run out of derby, put on my backpack and jump on my bike; bike to the venue and throw my gear under a table and then jump up on stage and read poetry,” she says of trying to do it all. She’s also knows the toll that being involved in two all-consuming past times can be. “It’s difficult for my friends who are not part of the roller derby community…and that’s something that has been difficult, but I try to balance it.”

She remains deeply embedded in both communities. She remains a key member of the Border City Brawlers where she is immersed in a serious, competitive league nearing completion of a WFTDA Apprenticeship (she plays on the travel team in addition to one of the house league teams), but she remains deeply involved in the literary community as well, both through her writing and through her job as Production and Marketing Assistant for Biblioasis, a literary publisher in Windsor. She has clear goals for both. She’s currently finishing up the manuscript that will become her second book (and first collection of poetry), but also helping Border City navigate its second competitive season.

She is optimistic about the future of the sport (“I’m a little bit terrified about the juniors coming up, to be honest,” she says half jokingly), but also about her league and its travel team, who despite being on a bit of a losing streak this season, is playing better competition and improving all the time.

The book, which kind of has two endings, ends with a note of similar optimism. The second last vignette, “Take a Knee” traces the final game of a season and ends with skaters pulling up the track:

“Skates and helmets off, hair lank and wet, we knee pad clatter

across the floor, scratching at tape and rope. Tug. Collecting stray

programs from empty stands. Black shirts and blue, ripping the

last scraps of derby off the floor.”

It’s a beautiful final image of the track, physical and tangible. But the book adds one more vignette, a description of two snapshots: one of Pain Eyre at her first practice—awkward and uninitiated—and then another from two years later:

“Bigger knee pads. Stronger helmets. Uniforms and strategies.

But we still fall hard.”

The books ends with that dose of thudding reality: “we still fall hard.” For a text that has been so focused on the physicality of derby—of the barely controlled chaos that pushes play and punishes the body—it seems a fitting conclusion.

**Talking Derby is available in bookstores or online. You can also engage with the book on Facebook or on Twitter.

**The Border City Brawlers All Stars take on the Hammer City Eh! Team in Hamilton on August 17th.

Introducing: The Canadian Power Ranking

On Monday, April 1st, the first ever truly national Canadian Power Ranking will be released on the Derby Nerd.

Captain Lou brings years of coaching and announcing to the Power Rankings.

Captain Lou brings years of coaching and announcing experience to the Power Rankings.

For the past two years, Rollergirl.ca, most recently in conjunction with flattrackstats.com, has been doing a fantastic job in providing a consistent numbers-based ranking system for Canadian teams, which has provided an excellent source of comparative information about the burgeoning Canadian roller derby community and has led to some great cross-country discussion. In much the same way that the Derby News Network’s Power Rankings complement flattrackstats.com, the Canadian Power Ranking will be working to complement this great endeavor by adding a slightly more subjective look at things—although through objective lenses, of course.

Power rankings simply add value to the comparative discussion of teams; unlike purely statistical ranking systems, power rankings are a human (some would say opinion)-based system able to take a much wider range of variables into play. Power rankings can account for circumstances beyond the control of numbers, like changes in rosters (through injury, transfer etc.) and winning streaks—things that stats-based systems need time to account for. The best, most reliable power rankings, therefore, require more than one brain to be truly representational.

So, the Nerd is not going about this alone: to ensure broad, regional, unbiased decision making, some of our country’s finest derby nerds will be working together equally on the power rankings.

Captain Lou El Bammo comes to the team armed with an overwhelming amount of knowledge gleaned from days as a coach and bench manager with the Tri-City Roller Girls, where he worked with house league team the Venus Fly Tramps and the WFTDA travel team, the Thunder. Currently he’s on the coaching staff of the Royal City Roller Girls’ travel team, the Brute-Leggers. Along with watching the game from that side of the bench, he’s also been active on the mic, acting as a play-by-play and colour commentator for Rogers TV, Canuck Derby TV, and WFTDA.TV.

Andi Struction brings both a skater and an announcer's perspective to the sport. (Photo by Stephen Giang for SeattleWeekly.com)

Andi Struction brings both a skater and an announcer’s perspective. (Photo by Stephen Giang for SeattleWeekly.com)

The Nerd and Capt. Lou will be joined by a few representatives from western Canada. Dick Pounder was recently appointed Head Announcer for the Roller Derby Association of Canada (RDAC) and has been announcing games in Alberta and for the emerging Calgary Roller Derby Association for years. On top of that, he’s been known to lace up the skates and get out there on the track as well (skating previously for the Glenmore Reservoir Dogs and currently with the Red Deer Dreadnauts), so knows the game from inside and out.

And finally, Vancouver’s Andi Struction also brings that inside/out perspective to the proceedings. A skater with Terminal City Roller Girls since 2006 and currently an assistant captain with the house league team, Faster Pussycats, Andi is also a noted commentator and announcer. A former co-host of the Derby Deeds podcast, she’s been honing her chops on the mic at such major events as the Big O, Flat Track Fever and the RDAC regionals over the past few years

Announcer Dick Pounder has also played the game so knows the game from the inside as well. (Photo by Steve Recsky)

Announcer Dick Pounder has also played the game, so knows the game from the inside as well. (Photo by Steve Recsky)

Captain Lou also sees the Canadian Power Rankings as being an important part of the Canadian roller derby discussion: “Canada is really big and teams are really far apart…which makes it harder for the math to be properly predictive. There just isn’t enough correlative games to make a truly accurate list (based purely on stats),” he says, discussing the importance of this endeavor, and “since we don’t have a proper cross-pollination of games, creating a Power Rankings crew filled with people who have a lot of derby knowledge and are able to sift through disparate datasets to filter out the best of the best is the optimal solution.”

Andi Struction thinks the timing is right and is excited about the future of the sport in this country. ” ‘Canadian’ roller derby didn’t really exist because the east and west teams didn’t really have a chance to play each other,” she said. Dick Pounder agrees that this will be a big year for Canadian derby: “The WFTDA factor should prove to be interesting in Canada this year.”

Andi is also optimistic about the top leagues joining the WFTDA, which would encourage more top-level play. “With Calgary and Kootenay joining the ranks (soon), the eastern teams could potentially do western Canadian tours and hit three WFTDA birds with one stone.”

As alluded to, the Power Rankings Team will be limited by some of the challenges of living in a massive country like Canada with very little cross-region play. Some things to keep in mind about the Canadian Power Rankings:

  • The rankings will be a consensus-based: much like the system used by the DNN (and consistent across many sports). All four voters will present their personal choices to each other and then engage in debate until a consensus is reached.
  • The rankings will be quarterly: at least to start. Due to the lack of inter-region play, allowing time for a wider number of games seems advantageous right now.
  • The rankings will only consider A-level travel teams. It’s just simpler that way, and as more and more Canadian leagues follow the WFTDA model, the opportunity for A-level interleague play has been increasing as well, and it is becoming much easier to speculate how these teams would fare against one another.

    The Derby Nerd rounds out the Power Rankings team. (Photo by Todd Burgess)

    The Derby Nerd rounds out the Power Rankings team. (Photo by Todd Burgess)

We’re only a few weeks away from the inaugural ranking on April 1st, but there is a lot going down in those few weeks that will affect that premier ranking: The RDAC Championship is this weekend in Edmonton featuring A-level travel teams from the West, Saskatchewan and the Maritimes, while ToRD’s fourth annual Quad City Chaos (March 23rd, 24th) will feature two of Canada’s top teams, ToRD’s CN Power and the Rideau Valley Vixens, facing off against top level WFTDA competition. Both tournaments will be boutcast on Canuck Derby TV.

It’s going to be an exciting year for Canadian roller derby, all involved in putting together this Canadian Power Ranking are proud to be bringing another angle to the exciting discussion that will take place. Captain Lou also hopes that these rankings will inspire more than just healthy debate: “I’m hoping that new leagues just starting out will be able to look at the Power Rankings list and use it as inspiration to keep going through the hard times (and) I really hope that a Canadian Roller Derby Power Rankings list will inspire more cross-Canada roller derby bouts, so that east will meet west more often than they have in the past.”

Check back in on April 1st for the first Canadian Power Ranking.