Bay Street Bruisers

A Look Back at 10 Seasons of ToRD

ToRD 2016 Season Opener Banner

In real time it’s been a decade. In derby time, it’s been forever. On May 29th, 2007, over a year after two distinct groups began to meet and plan on how to play the sport, Toronto Roller Derby made its debut. The two teams who took to the track that night represented both arms of the founding teams of ToRD: the Smoke City Betties—one of only two Canadian flat track teams formed in 2006 still operating—squared off against the Bay Street Bruisers at George Bell Arena. The Bruisers themselves had formed after Toronto’s other original team, the Terrors, had divided into four separate teams.

Bruisers Betties 2007 Angela Hayes

The Smoke City Betties and the Bay Street Bruisers squared off in the first game in ToRD history in May 2007. (Photo by Angela Hayes)

The game played that night would now be nearly unrecognizable to the fans who will line the track at the Bunker on Saturday night to kick off ToRD’s 10th season. For one, the game was played in three twenty minute periods, but on the track the teams were still trying to figure out what flat track roller derby was all about. At that point in the sport’s development, the game looked closer to its banked-track antecedent than to what flat track derby would eventually become: there was a lot of skating and chasing and little of the aggressive grinding contact seen in the game now. That opening match in ToRD’s history would see the Betties outlast the Bruisers 83-81. It would be as close as the Bruisers would ever come to a victory in ToRD.

On Saturday, Chicks Ahoy! will take on the Death Track Dolls while the Gore-Gore Roller Girls will challenge those Betties in fitting historical games to kick off this historical season. These are long rivalries in the sport, as long as any in the Canadian game. Like the Bruisers, the Dolls and Chicks both sprung forth from the Terrors in the summer of 2006 and first squared off in ToRD regular season play in August 2007 with the Chicks taking a narrow victory 138-123. The Gores sprung directly from the Betties in the fall of 2006 when that team’s numbers become too large. The two would not meet in ToRD’s first season, but would face each other for the first time early in the 2008 season with the Gores trouncing the Betties 120-47.

Much has changed in the interim, most notably, two of ToRD’s original six house league teams survived only the first two seasons in that form. The D-VAS, after going 2-6 over that span and not making the playoffs, would fold. Following in their footsteps would be the Bruisers, who had never managed to pick up a win in eight attempts. The D-VAS, of course, would be resurrected as the league’s farm team in 2010, while the Bruisers would also return, serving as ToRD’s B-travel team from 2012-2015.

To prepare for this historic season, let’s take a further look into Toronto Roller Derby’s rich history.

Gore-Gore Rollergirls logo

Gore-Gore Rollergirls

Total Regular Season Record: 24-5

Battle for the Boot Appearances: 8 (2007-’12, ’14-’15)

Battle for the Boot Championships: 3 (2007, ’09, ’10)

Despite not winning The Boot since 2010, the Gores remain the most successful team in ToRD history. With a dominant record in regular season play (83% winning percentage) and eight appearances in the championship game, add to that a victory (2014) in two finals appearances (2011, ’14) in the venerable Beast of the East tournament, and the Gores have never had a down year in their existence.

The Gores’ early seasons were defined by a killer offence led by ToRD’s two all-time leading scorers Bambi and Dust Bunny (the only jammers in ToRD’s history to score over 800 career points). This offensive trend has continued allowing them to place six skaters in ToRD’s Top 10 career scoring list. One of those skaters, Lexi Con, remains with the team in 2016 and will anchor a jammer rotation that also potentially features Beaver Mansbridge, Murdercat! and Betties’ transfer Wackedher. But this team is also known for its standout blockers, including two of the greats of all time Brim Stone and Foxy Sinatra. The 2016 Gores are led by two long-serving veterans, Santa Muerte and Jill Em All and are bolstered by a core of experienced players (Chronic, Gamma Rei) and emerging on and off-track leaders (Moose Knuckles, Viktory Lapp, Full Deck and Stabby Road). A capable contingent of rookies and transfers (including Murdermom! who completes a rare mother-daughter duo) ensures that this should be another successful season for “The Dynasty.”

Chicks Ahoy! logo

Chicks Ahoy!

Total Regular Season Record: 16-13

Battle for the Boot Appearances: 5 (2007-’08, ‘10-’12)

Battle for the Boot Championships: 3 (2008, ’11, ’12)

ToRD’s second great team (though their regular season record is not much different from the Dolls’), the Chicks made five appearances in ToRD’s first six championship games, facing off against the Gores every single time and winning three Boots. Although featuring offensive superstars like Candy Crossbones (ToRD’s third all-time leading scorer) and Bala Reina (who had one of the most dominant seasons ever in 2012, becoming the only jammer to lead the league in every offensive category in a single season), the Chicks have actually been more known for their pack work, and their long line of dominant blockers and pivots speaks to that: Mach Wheels, Nasher the Smasher, Tara Part, Rebel Rock-It and Mega Bouche are just some of the historically great blockers who have taken the track for the Chicks.

Although success has been hard to come by for the Chicks since 2012, they may have built themselves back into contention. Led in the pack by veterans Biggley Smallz, Robber Blind, Rosemary’s Rabies, and off-season transfer Boxcar, the Chicks also feature the emerging leadership of Joss Wheelin’, Vag Lightning; however, the Chicks now have a potentially explosive offense as well. Anchored by Monster Muffin (who had a breakout year last year scoring 131 points), R2 Smack U and Wheels of Misfortune, the jammer rotation has been bolstered by the arrival of transfers Pink Slamminade and last year’s league leading scorer (with a record-tying 228 points) Sleeper Hold, who comes over from the Dolls. All indications point to a bounce back year for the Chicks.

Death Track Dolls Logo

Death Track Dolls

Total Regular Season Record: 15-14

Battle for the Boot Appearances: 2 (2013, ’14)

Battle for the Boot Championships: 2 (2013, ’14)

Although the Death Track Dolls have historically had success outside of ToRD (along with the Gores, they are the only ToRD team to record two podium finishes at the Beast of the East, for example), it wasn’t until 2013 that the Dolls were able to break through the stranglehold that the Gores and Chicks had held on the league (and this after missing the playoffs in 2012). That 2013 Dolls team was, arguably, the most dominant team in league history, setting a record for points per game (237, counting their record-setting Battle for the Boot score) and was the first team since the Gores in 2008 (who played two more games) to register two skaters with over 200 points in scoring for the season: Santilly In Yo Face and Rainbow Fight—whose records for points per jam (8) and lead percentage (88%) may never be touched. Despite big roster losses after that season, the Dolls continued to roll through ToRD in 2014 winning their second straight Boot in similarly dominant fashion, including setting a single season point differential record in the process (+468), a record that the Gores had held since 2008. While the Dolls managed one more solid regular season in 2015, retirements and roster shuffles finally caught up to the team, and they were defeated in the semi-finals.

The Dolls come back in 2016 as a team rebuilt, and it looks strong in the pack. While the team is being led by a core of next-generation Dolls, including co-captains Hannibelle and Robotomy, Getcha Kicks, and Block Québécois, the longest-serving Doll, Dawson (who begins her 8th season) has been rejoined by her long-time teammate Betty Bomber, who returns after a few years spent focusing on travel-team play followed by a brief retirement last year. Recent transfer Commander Will Wrecker bolsters the pack. While the pack depth has been rebuilt, the jammer rotation may still be a work in progress. Third-year Doll Devochka will lead a new offensive contingent this season that could include Bat Ma’am, Holly Rocket and Ellen Rage (with support from double threat Getcha Kicks).

Smoke City Betties Logo

Smoke City Betties

Total Regular Season Record: 9-20

Battle for the Boot Appearances: 3 (2009, ’13, ’15)

Battle for the Boot Championships: 1 (2015)

Last year, the oldest team in Canadian roller derby finally had its breakthrough. Although their three trips to the Battle for the Boot trails only the Gores and the Chicks in terms of appearances, the Betties won their first Boot last season, fittingly, against the Gores. Historically, it doesn’t get much deeper than the Betties in Canadian flat track. From 2006-2009 the first generation of flat track stars tore up the track, and jammer Jewel Kicker remains in ToRD’s Top 10 career scoring, one of only ten skaters in league history to record over 300 career points. She was part of the 2009 Betties team that became the first team other than the Gores or Chicks to Battle for the Boot (a team loaded with talent including Dyna Hurtcha, Memphis Kitty, Slaughter Lauder, Pretty Peeved and Demolition Dawn).

Last year’s season was one for the ages when after finishing third in the regular season, the Betties peaked at the right time romping through three rounds of playoffs to win the Boot (the first team to win three playoff games on route to the Boot). However, this year’s iteration of the team looks much different after considerable retirements and transfers following the championship win; interestingly though, the roster is bolstered by experienced transfers both from outside of the league (Booty Quake, Caume A Kazi) and within (Emmy Klimster, Extermiknitter) and the return of Mia Culprit to house league play. That being said, a strong core from last year’s champs does remain. Co-captains Lowblow Palooza and Anne Bulance, hard-hitting Brickhouse Bardot, triple-threat Honey Boom Boom , Jammer’head Shark, Fight of the Conchords, and long-serving Genuine Risk all return in the pack. One big loss is the jammer Smoka Cola (whose 183 points last season was the tenth highest total in league history), so while the rotation continues to be led by titmouse (the Betties’ all-time leading scorer) and could be bolstered by the return of Kil’Her At Large after a one-season absence, the team will need to develop its offense from within.

 Nerd Glasses


Gores Betties 09 Kevin

ToRD’s all-time leading scorer, Bambi, sneaks through on the inside as Gores’ pivot Brim Stone lines up Betties’ jammer Jewel Kicker in a 2009 regular season showdown. (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

In honour of ToRD’s 10 season, take a look back at some of the league scoring records. One interesting thing to watch this season is ToRD’s career scoring numbers as three skaters in the Top 10 are still active. The Gores’ Lexi Con is set to become just the fourth skater in history to record 500 career points, while the Betties’ titmouse and Chicks’ Sleeper Hold should both advance up the Top 10 (and either could, with a strong season, join Lexi in the 500-point club).

ToRD Team Records

Points Per Game/Season: Dolls 237 (2013)

Highest Score/Game: Gores 323 vs. Chicks (2013)

Highest Score/Combined: 398 (Dolls 245 vs. Chicks 148 [2015])

Lowest Score/Game: Betties 22 vs. Chicks (2011)

Lowest Score/Combined: 129 (Betties 68 vs. Chicks 61 [2009])

Winning Streak (playoffs included): 12 Games (Gores 2009-2011)

Losing Streak (playoffs included): 10 games (Betties 2009-2012)

Individual Scoring Records

Career Points

Skater (Team) Career Points Years Played
*Bambi (GGR)

*Dust Bunny (GGR)

*Candy Crossbones (CA!)

Lexi Con (GGR)

Taranosaurus Rex (GGR)

*Lunchbox (GGR)

*Land Shark (DTD)

titmouse (SCB)

*Jewel Kicker (SCB)

Sleeper Hold (DTD)

*Desmond Deck (GGR)























Lead Percentage (Season)

Skater (Team) Lead % Year
Rainbow Fight (DDT)

Mach Wheels (CA!)

Bellefast (DTD)

Lunchbox (GGR)

Lexi Con (GGR)

Mach Wheels (CA!)

Dyna Hurtcha (CA!)

Dust Bunny (GGR)

Dust Bunny (GGR)

Candy Crossbones (CA!)





















 Points Per Jam (Season)

Skater (Team) Points Per Jam Year
Rainbow Fight (DTD)

Sneaky Dee (CA!)

Candy Crossbones (CA!)

Lexi Con (GGR)

Sleeper Hold(DTD)

Santilly In Yo Face (DTD)

Bellefast (DTD)

Ice Pick (D-VAS)

Desmond Deck Her (GGR)

Bambi (GGR)

Bala Reina (CA!)























Highest Points in a Single Season

Skater (Team) Total Points Year
*Bambi (GGR)

Lexi Con (GGR)

Sleeper Hold (DTD)

*Dust Bunny (GGR)

*Sista Fista (DTD)

Bala Reina (CA!)

Santilly In Yo Face (DTD)

Rainbow Fight (DTD)

Bambi (GGR)

Smoka Cola (SCB)





















*The 2008 season consisted of five games per team. Every other season, three.


Weekend Recap: Terminal Ends Montreal’s streak; Betties advance in ToRD; Hammer City wins second in a row

A busy weekend in Canadian derby at all levels, from WFTDA sanctioned competition to B-team play to house league playoffs.

The final score also showing the 14-7 score of the frantic final jam (from the All Stars Facebook page; photo by Bob Ayers)

The final score also showing the 14-7 score of the frantic final jam (from the All Stars Facebook page; photo by Bob Ayers)

Terminal City All Stars 182 vs. Montreal’s New Skids on the Block 177

It’s been a long time coming. Forever, actually. At least in derby time.

On Saturday, May 2, 2015, Montreal Roller Derby’s New Skids on the Block lost a full-length WFTDA sanctioned game to a Canadian team for the first time in history when Vancouver’s Terminal City All Stars defeated them on a frantic last jam, 182-177, at The Big O in Eugene, Oregon.

It put an end to a streak of national dominance that I doubt we will ever see again. Although Terminal had defeated Montreal once before in a short, non-regulation game, beginning in July 2008, The Skids have been on a nearly eight-year, seventeen-game winning streak against the top teams that this country has to offer. During that time, they defeated Hammer City, Toronto, Rideau Valley, Tri-City, Oil City, Calgary and Terminal City; essentially, the cream of the crop of Canadian flat track.

Teams have been breathing down Montreal’s neck for two years now, most notably Toronto (who have 13- and 9-point losses to the Skids in that stretch) and Terminal City (who lost to them by 22 last year), and the Canadian Power Rankings crew had already shifted Terminal ahead of Montreal to kick off 2015’s rankings. But it’s one thing to do it on paper, and another to do it on the track.

Just last week in Montreal, Toronto had the Skids on the ropes for much of their game, including holding an 86-64 lead at halftime, but couldn’t hold off Montreal in the end. Similarly, Terminal City actually looked as if they were going to run away with it in the early going, amassing a lead that stretched to as much as 50 points before Montreal made it close at half, down 88-79.

A back-and-forth second half saw no team with a clear advantage and Montreal taking a two point lead into the final minute and jam. A Mel E Juana lead seemed to wrap things up, but with a scrappy Evada Peron on the track and time remaining, Mel was forced to engage and picked up a forearm penalty that allowed Terminal City to lock down the jam and outscore Montreal 14-7 for the 5-point win.

After opening the season with a 215-185 win over Helsinki, 18th ranked Terminal City ran the table this weekend, slightly upsetting Montreal, while also knocking off Nashville (182-122) and Boston (in another tight one, 177-173) to improve to 4-0 on the season. Meanwhile, after opening the season with four straight wins, the loss to Vancouver drops the 17th ranked Montreal to 4-1 on the season.

Nerd Glasses

ToRD House League Quarterfinals: Chicks Ahoy! 129 – Smoke City Betties 218

Monster Muffin battles through a Betties wall of Zomboney, pivot Honey Boom Boom, and Brickhouse Bardot. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Monster Muffin battles through a Betties wall of Zomboney, pivot Honey Boom Boom, and Brickhouse Bardot. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

A closing 26-10 jam for Chicks Ahoy’s! Monster Muffin (aided by some monstrous pack work from the excellent line of Morton, Biggley Smallz, Rosemary’s Rabies, and Furious Georgia) concluded a strong end to what had threatened to be a slaughter in the early going.

Toronto Roller Derby’s ninth house league playoffs got underway this past weekend with three-time Battle for the Boot champs Chicks Ahoy! falling to two-time finalists the Smoke City Betties in a quarter final showdown at Ted Reeve Arena in Toronto’s east end. The Betties advance to play the defending champion Death Track Dolls in the semi final on May 23rd.

The Betties were missing key pieces this weekend—most notably in the jammer rotation—but it didn’t phase them as they continued the dominance they’d shown in the regular season meeting between these two teams. Veteran titmouse returned to the rotation on Saturday, a position she’d seemingly transitioned out of, and tore up the track for the Betties, with whom she’s skated for six seasons now, joining Smoka Cola and WhackedHer as a trio for which the Chicks had no answers (not to mention some late-gaming jamming from another long-time Betties blocker Genuine Risk). However, the difference was more in the depth of the pack, one led by another six-year vet Tushy Galore and emerging leader SewWhat?, but increasingly dependent upon the offense of LowBlowPalooza and the considerable depth bulking up the rest of the bench.

Despite the fourth straight ToRD loss of the season, strong performances across the bench indicate this team is on the right track. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Despite the fourth straight ToRD loss of the season, strong performances across the bench indicate this Chick’s team is on the right track. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The Betties got off to a thoroughly dominant start, and were in complete control at half, up 161-41.

The second half was a different story, however, a combination of the Betties taking their foot of the gas and the Chicks refusing to end their season without a fight. Led by retiring nine-year skater Furious Georgia (who was eventually named the team’s blocking MVP) and her aforementioned linemates, and a jamming rotation built around an increasingly confident trio of Monster Muffin, R2-Smack-U, and Wheels of Misfortune, the Chicks actually outscored the Betties in the second half 108-58.

The Betties vs. Dolls semi final will be back at The Bunker on May 23rd.

Nerd Glasses 

Bay Street Bruisers Upend Plan B / Hammer City Crushes Striking Vikings

A number of Bruisers  excelled despite playing back-to-back games (including Morton, Joss Wheelin and Tushy Galore) seen here blocking SlaughterHouse Streeter. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

A number of Bruisers excelled despite playing back-to-back games (including Morton, Joss Wheelin and Tushy Galore) seen here blocking SlaughterHouse Streeter. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The Hammer City Eh! Team picked up its second straight win overall, but first sanctioned win, in 2015 with a thoroughly dominant 477-51 victory over their WFTDA D3 counterparts the Striking Vikings of Alliston’s Renegade Derby Dames. It was the second straight sanctioned loss to begin the season for the Vikings after a 219-104 loss to Windsor’s Border City Brawlers.

Hammer City has had an up-and-down few seasons to say the least. After challenging for a D2 playoff spot in 2013, Hammer City has been on a rough tumble since, beginning this season in 109th, outside of D2 altogether; it was a run that included nine-straight losses. But after defeating Ohio’s Gang Green 140-148 last week, the Eh! Team seems to have some swagger back: the 477 points is the most ever scored by the team in a regulation or sanctioned game.

Finally, back in Toronto, two of Canada’s top team’s B-teams faced off when the Bay Street Bruisers hosted Tri-City’s Plan B. It was the first meeting between the two and was reminiscent of some of the old Thunder-CN Power struggles.

The Bruisers got off to a hot start, but couldn’t stay much more than a step or two ahead of Plan B, leading 25-15 ten minutes into what ended up being a fast, hard-hitting and relatively low-scoring game.

Missing a few jammers allowed Murdercat! to have her busiest game with the Bruisers, teaming up with Lexi Con, Monster Muffin and titmouse (the last two doubling up after the Betties/Chicks game earlier in the evening). It was strong, full-team effort that allowed the Bruisers to control much of the play in the first half on the way to a narrow 69-65 lead.

Picking up where they left off in the first, Plan-B came out hard in the second half, led by a 19-0 jam for the jukey Crazy Squirrel who seems to have found a home in Tri-City. She was part of a diverse jammer rotation along with Aggrosaurus, Kristy Skelton and SlaughterHouse Streeter, a combination that forced constant defensive adjustments from the Bruisers. Tri City took the lead 6 minutes in and managed to hold it for nearly 15 minutes before the Bruisers retook it and held on to the end for the 166-144 lead in a thrilling first match up between these two quality B-teams.

Toronto Teams Go 6-0 at a Thrilling 2015 Quad City Chaos

Toronto proved to be ungracious hosts on the track, sweeping both the A and B-team portions of an extraordinarily exciting tournament.

The 2015 QCC featured incredibly close action, with an average differential of 36 points in the six D1 games.

The 2015 QCC featured incredibly close action, with an average differential of 36 points in the six D1 games. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Early on in Toronto Roller Derby’s 6th annual Quad City Chaos, the dominant narrative looked as if it would the upsets, but as they games progressed that story was tweaked and what emerged was a tournament dominated by parity, at least on the A-team level, with the average point-differential over the six-game round robin tournament being a measly 36 points, with most (if not all) of the games looking like they could have gone either way. The widest gap of the weekend was a 55-point Toronto win over Boston that was actually much closer than even the score would indicate, evidenced by the seven lead changes that occurred in the game (although they all did occur in the opening half). It was an extraordinary bit of scheduling for the organizers from Toronto Roller Derby, so much so that all of the teams can leave feeling pretty happy about their results.


An expected CN Power rebuild looks more like a rebirth after a 3-0 weekend. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

An expected CN Power rebuild looks more like a rebirth after a 3-0 weekend. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

One of the questions coming into the game was how a rebuilding Toronto roster would perform against three WFTDA D1 teams whose rosters remained relatively intact from the 2014 season; by the end of the weekend, it was clear that this CN Power team is going through a rebirth more than a rebuild: with a new jammer rotation and a completely new bench staff, Toronto actually looked reenergized and refocused after a somewhat bland 2014 season in which the team appeared to have plateaued. Bolstered by some experienced transfers and a core of internally developed skaters who represent the first wave of graduates of the B-team program, Toronto seems ready for a competitive push up the D1 rankings this season. It was the first time since 2012 (and only the second time ever) that 28th ranked Toronto has gone 3-0 at their own tournament, holding their rankings against the Rideau Valley Vixens (39th) and (29th) Steel City, while upsetting 25th ranked Boston.

Rideau Valley (1-2 on the weekend) also has to be incredibly happy with the results. With the same roster that brought them all the way to the WFTDA D2 championship last year, the Vixens continue to defy expectations and climb the ladder with a team whose core has been together for years now. The Ottawa-based team played above their rankings on the weekend, looking every-bit the equal to all of their opponents. Kicking off the tournament with a significant upset over Steel City, the Vixens gave Toronto all the hosts could handle on Saturday night in a game that featured an incredible eleven lead changes (including nine in the opening half), but as they did all weekend, Toronto seemed to get stronger deep into games and Rideau couldn’t replicate the upset they managed the last time the teams squared off at QCC 2013. The Vixens had a remarkably similar result against Boston, a game in which they could not maintain their intensity through to the end, but looked strong throughout.

Boston jammer Maya Mangleyou duels with Toronto's Renny Rumble while Lil Paine looks on. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Boston jammer Maya Mangleyou duels with Toronto’s Renny Rumble while Lil Paine looks on. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Boston (2-1) had an up and down weekend. Although they went nose-to-nose with Toronto for the first half of their Saturday showdown, the hosts pulled ahead early in the second, and Boston simply could not catch them. But the loss seemed to charge the team up, and after a shaky start against Steel City, managed to pull ahead of Pittsburgh at the midway point of the first half and held off their opponents through to the end; it was a similar performance against Rideau Valley on Sunday.

Steel City (0-3) went winless on the weekend, although they certainly didn’t seem like a team defeated and led for portions of all of their games; the difference early on in the 2015 season seemed to be consistency and focus for this Steel Hurtin’ team that had a hard time maintaining momentum. In particular, Pittsburgh led for much of the second half against Toronto, but could not put the team away, and CN Power patiently held on, eventually blowing by Steel Hurtin’ over a dominant final five minutes.

Despite the results, all four teams leave the 2015 Quad City Chaos having certainly improved their position in the WFTDA’s ranking system, showing that despite some criticism to the contrary, all things being equal, the ranking system rewards close, evenly matched games.


Rideau Valley's Sirens and Toronto's Bay Street Bruisers faced off for the first time ever. (Photo by Joe Mac)

Rideau Valley’s Sirens and Toronto’s Bay Street Bruisers faced off for the first time ever. (Photo by Joe Mac)

We didn’t see quite the parity in the B-team portion of the tournament, as the Bay Street Bruisers continued a three-year unbeaten streak (7-0) at the event with an at times dominant run through the competition (including a 250-point rout of the Steel Beamers). However, the hosts were certainly challenged against the B-Party, with Boston leading for the vast majority of the game, and virtually the whole second half. But they could not put the hosts away, with the Bruisers managing to stay within 20 for most of the game. And then in the final moments, they surged past their Boston counterparts for the most thrilling, not to mention closest, result of the weekend: a 4-point win that highlighted the perseverance of Toronto’s B-team.


Steel City's Nick Rollfiliac (seen here staying a step ahead of Boston's Ginger Kid) was named blocker MVP. (Photo by Joe Mac)

Steel City’s Nick Rollfiliac (seen here staying a step ahead of Boston’s Ginger Kid) was named blocker MVP. (Photo by Joe Mac)

On a weekend where there was barely anything separating the competition on the track, choosing MVPs was a challenging feat that lead to some interesting (but certainly always deserving) choices. Both Toronto and Boston’s packs were dominant at times, and pulling one out of the cohesive units was impossible, so it was Steel City’s relentless Nick Rollfiliac who took the honours as A-team blocker MVP. Most of the jammers also had a hard time maintaining consistency over the course of the weekend, but in the end it was Soul Rekker’s tireless play over all three games that led to her selection of MVP. Boston B-Party blocker MC SlamHer took home MVP for the regulation portion along side Bruisers’ jammer Devochka who had three strong, clean and consistent games for the hosts.


Early on in the tournament, during the first B-team game, there were over 100 penalties called, filling the board and leading to large stretches of chaos on the track. It became, momentarily, a thrilling anomaly, with pictures of the white board snapped and buzz spreading from the venue and onto social media; but then, it quickly became clear that this was actually going to be close to a norm for the weekend, and the giddy buzz dissipated. Not only that, there were murmurs on social media indicating that early in 2015 this is a trend certainly not limited to the Quad City Chaos.

I write this not as a criticism of the officiating (the ref crew was staffed with some of the finest, highest certified refs in the region), but just to point out the apparent disconnect between the way the game is being officiated right now and the way it is being played on the track; it was, for some, as fascinating as it was frustrating, but it is clear that something’s got to give. It is reminiscent of the way things were leading up to the elimination of minors.

In sports, the roles of the officials are generally to ensure safety and fairness; in roller derby there is also a third, punitive arm to officiating; however, we’ve started to move away from this (with the slight relaxing of inadvertent cutting penalties, for example), but there still seems to be genuine confusion at times on behalf of the skaters on impact assessment but also on failure to return/reform penalties that were often called in rapid-fire succession against multiple players simultaneously, making it challenging (and confusing) for skaters to quickly and clearly reform (for example, there were twenty two out of play penalties called in the Toronto vs. Steel City game (and 116 penalties in total), leading to multiple instances of only four, three, or even just two blockers on the track). Historically, the WFTDA has shown the willingness and ability to cautiously evolve over time, and certainly these issues will be resolved. But in a time when the new norm seems to be 80, 90, and even 100 penalties in a game, there is a conversation that needs to happen, and it should be a constructive one, because I think everyone (officials and skaters alike) would agree that the current norm is not sustainable.

Nonetheless, the consistency with which calls were made across teams and games did mean that the parity between the clubs still won out in the end, providing the spectators with thrilling games and narrow results despite of the steady stream of skaters to the penalty box.

Quad City Chaos 2015 Banner


Steel City Roller Derby (Steel Hurtin’) (29th) 142 vs. Rideau Valley Roller Girls (Vixens) (39th) 165 (watch)

Boston Derby Dames (Boston Massacre) (25th) 174 vs. Toronto Roller Derby (CN Power) (28th) 229 (watch)

Boston 169 vs. Steel City 127 (watch)

Toronto 186 vs. Rideau Valley 154 (watch)

Boston 182 vs. Rideau Valley 159 (watch)

Toronto 235 vs. Steel City 191 (watch)


Bay Street Bruisers 253 vs. Rideau Valley Sirens 144 (watch)

Bay Street Bruisers 184 vs. Boston B-Party 180 (watch)

Bay Street Bruisers 319 vs. Steel Beamers 69 (watch)

Nerd Glasses


**The games were streamed live by, with Saturday night’s games and the final game on Sunday simulcast on WFTDA.TV. Watch the archives here.

**Toronto Roller Derby skater Pr’Editor provided game-by-game recaps for Derby Central all weekend. You can read her work here.

Quad City Chaos 2015 Preview

This marks the sixth edition of the two-day round robin tournament featuring four WFTDA Division 1 teams and three B-team games.

Quad_City_Chaos_2015Since 2010, Toronto Roller Derby’s Quad City Chaos has been a launching point for the Canadian travel-team season, and while last year’s technically featured four WFTDA D1 teams for the first time (Bleeding Heartland had slipped out of the Top 40 just weeks before the tournament began), this year it is official: this will be a complete WFTDA D1 tournament. And it features four teams with a lot to prove.

Hosts Toronto, looking to get off the plateau they’ve found themselves on for the past year, welcome Rideau Valley back to the QCC for the fourth time and first since 2013, while the historic Boston Derby Dames and Pittsburgh’s Steel City Roller Derby make their QCC debuts, both having begun to develop histories with the tournament’s host. The 2014 QCC was arguably the most thrilling on record, but given the quality and the relatively close rankings of the combatants, this year’s could top even that.


Toronto Roller Derby: CN Power (28th)

The hosts have not always fared well at QCC, and after going 3-0 in 2012, have managed only a 2-4 record at the event since then. Last year, they played in two of the most thrilling games in the tournament’s history, a 17-point loss to Montreal (which remains the closest a Canadian team has come to defeating the Skids in regulation/sanctioned play), followed by a 14-point defeat at the hands of Ohio. Overall, Toronto has a QCC record of 9-6.

Toronto also has some form of a relationship with all three combatants. Although they sport a 4-1 record against the Rideau Valley Vixens, their last meeting at QCC 2013 (and the only sanctioned bout between the two) ended with a 13-point Vixens’ upset. Last year, they squared off against Steel City twice, both outstanding games, with Steel Hurtin’ taking the regular season showdown by 20 before falling in the consolation round of the playoffs to Toronto by 14. Boston and Toronto have only faced each other once, in the 2013 playoffs, with Toronto scoring a miniscule 6-point win.

Toronto has had little action so far this season, with only a closed, unsanctioned win over Queen City under its belt. And it is a slightly rebuilt roster from the one that went 8-12 last season, most notably in the jammer rotation (and of the four QCC teams, it is certainly the roster with the most changes). Last year’s core playoff rotation will not be on the bench at QCC, whether due to unavailability (Kookie Doe) or retirement (Dusty, Motorhead Molly). But bolstered by some very experienced transfers and a returning blocking core, Toronto may be able to weather this rebuild.

Boston 2015

Boston Derby Dames: Boston Massacre (25th)

One of flat track’s most venerable teams, Boston returns this season with its 2014 playoff lineup virtually in tact (one noticeable absence is playoff track-time leader Vixen Ta Hitcha). Although first time QCCers, Boston has a long history in Canada, largely as long-time frenemies of Montreal, but they do potentially enter the tournament with revenge on their minds, having last met Toronto in the 2013 playoffs, losing a heartbreaker by only 6 points.

Boston had a tough 2014, going 2-7 in sanctioned play (4-7 overall), and a 2-2 playoff record saw them finish 7th in their Division. They have never faced off against Rideau Valley and haven’t seen Steel City on the track since 2011, but with a roster full of holdovers led by veterans Maya Mangleyou (no stranger to Canadian fans as a key piece of Team Canada 2014), Shark Week, Ginger Kid and Lil’ Pain, Boston may be the team to watch at this year’s Quad City Chaos.

This weekend will mark the first action of the year for Boston.


Steel City Roller Derby: Steel Hurtin’ (29th)

As with Boston, Steel City makes its Quad City Chaos debut with its 2014 roster largely unchanged (also like Boston, there is one noticeable absence, with playoff track-time leader Athena gone from Steel Hurtin’s lineup). Pittsburgh managed a decent 2014 going 7-7 on the season, which forced it into a tough Division Play-in game against Arizona that it lost narrowly. Its tight games against Toronto last season make that match-up intriguing, and with a consistent roster, they could have an edge.

Steel City kicked off its 2015 season with a 215-154 victory over 73rd ranked Charlottesville Derby Dames, and as with Boston is led into battle by a very experienced core led by Team USA skater Snot Rocket Science, but also long-time double threat Hurricane Heather, jammer Leannibal Lector, and blockers Stark Raven and Ally McKill.


Rideau Valley Roller Girls: Vixens (39th)

Last year’s darlings of Division 2, RVRG’s 2014 success means the road will be that much more challenging in 2015, but also has the potential to be considerably more rewarding. The Vixens tore up their Division 2 playoff tournament last season, crushing the competition in the early rounds before holding off Bear City in the final, in one of the more thrilling games of the season. They fell to Detroit in the D2 final, but the appearance at Champs was enough to vault them into Division 1 for the first time.

In 2015, the Vixens are looking to build off of their most successful season to date, one in which they compiled a 9-2 sanctioned record (10-2 overall) with losses only to Calgary (by 28 points) and Detroit in the D2 final. Similar to Steel City and Boston, The Vixens return with virtually the same lineup this season. And the question remains not how good the likes of Soul Rekker, Shania Pain (jammers), Murphy, Reyes, Brennan, Bottema, Sister Disaster and Rudolph will be, but how much the supporting cast rises up around them. This team’s been riding a short bench for a few years now, and will need to start building depth looking forward, so against the level of competition at QCC, the key could be in skaters like Melanie Austin, Lackey and Restless Rose.

This is the fourth QCC for the Vixens, and the first since 2013. They’ve compiled a career record of 3-6 at the tournament


B-Team Showdown

Since 2013, the Bay Street Bruisers have hosted B-team games along side their big sisters, and this season, that portion of the tournament has expanded to three games, showcasing the B-squads of each A-team participant. The Bruisers have yet to be defeated at the QCC, compiling a 4-0 record. However, this year’s competition could be the fiercest yet. While they have never faced Rideau Valley’s Sirens or the Boston B Party, they did managed a one-sided 288-97 victory over the Steel Beamers in Pittsburgh last season. But in B-team age, a year can be an eternity.

Neither the Beamers nor the B Party have seen competition yet this season, while the Bruisers are coming off of a tough 170-155 win over Royal City (Guelph’s WFTDA team), and the Sirens tasted defeat against Montreal’s Sexpos. While that initial track time may give the Canadian teams a slight edge, it probably won’t be enough to intimidate their American opponents.

Nerd Glasses

**Action begins at 10:00 AM sharp on Saturday, March 21. Day and weekend passes are available; separate tickets for Saturday night’s double header are also available.

**Every moment of QCC 2015 will be boutcast live by, with Saturday night’s double header and Sunday’s final game simulcast on WFTDA.TV. Full viewing schedule is available here.

**Check out this QCC 2015 trailer (produced by Tiffany Beaudin):


Catch Up on the Past QCCs!


2011 Quad City Chaos Poster.

2011 Quad City Chaos Poster.

Quad City Chaos 2014

Quad City Chaos 2013

Quad City Chaos 2012

Quad City Chaos 2011

Quad City Chaos 2010

Bruisers Hold Off Brute-Leggers in a Another Nail Biter at the Bunker; D-VAS Debut with tough loss to Orangeville.

Bruisers pivot Monster Muffin works with Lucid Lou to contain Mangles the Clown. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Bruisers’ pivot Monster Muffin works with Lucid Lou to contain Annie Time. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

There is less than two minutes on the clock. It has been a ferocious bout, featuring six lead changes in total and no single leads greater than 21 points throughout. Two teams, virtually evenly matched have performed wonderfully: smart, tenacious, powerful and fast, they have provided the crowd with everything that a roller derby fan could want. And now it is coming down to one final jam.

The home team Bay Street Bruisers have managed to carve out a slight 157-150 lead over the visitors, the Brute-Leggers from Guelph’s Royal City Roller Girls. They’ve put Wolverina on the line; she’s been a steady and agile presence all game and is actually in the midst of a great season for her home team, the Smoke City Betties as well. A ToRD veteran (who began her career in New Zealand before transferring to Toronto in 2010), this is her first season on a travel team roster. Next to her on the jam line is Annie Time, a strong physical jammer who’s been powering her way through Bruisers’ walls all night.

Bruisers' jammer Wolverina is involved in a pile up with the Brute-Leggers' pack. (Photo by Joe Mac)

Bruisers’ jammer Wolverina is involved in a pile up with the Brute-Leggers’ pack. (Photo by Joe Mac)

The whistle blows and the jammers are off. Annie Time tries to take the inside on the Bruisers, but the line of Hannibelle, SewWhat?, Lucid Lou and Honey Boom Boom works her out of bounds and in the confusion off the start, draws a cut. Wolverina bursts through to pick up lead and begins to carve up the pack on the power jam, extending the lead to 20 points, the largest for the Bruisers all game, and the home team seems to have the game in hand. But the Brute-Leggers kick into frantic mode and both teams start to accumulate penalties at an alarming rate; it works and ‘Rina is eventually drawn into a penalty as the game clock expires and with time winding down, the visitors have one last desperate chance to get back into it. Rushing out of the box, Annie Time picks up 5, and a flurry of penalty calls leaves only Lucid Lou on the track for the Bruisers. She turns to square herself to the advancing ‘Leggers’ jammer and gets plowed over, falling awkwardly. She stays down and the referees whistle the jam dead. There is 35 seconds left on the jam clock, but the game is over. An anti-climactic finish to a thrilling game.

It was an important first game of the seasons for both teams who will have very different paths this year. Royal City is the most recent Canadian league to get elevated to full WFTDA status and next month the Brute-Leggers begin their WFTDA odyssey with their first sanctioned games (against Hellions of Troy and Albany) on their way to their initial ranking, and, hopefully, a quick run up the standings into Division 2 play. And they seem to have the team to do it. An experienced bench (Professor Wrex and veteran announcer Captain Lou El Bammo) leads a solidly built roster, anchored by an excellent jammer rotation of Mangles the Clown, Stefi Spitfire and Annie Time (a revelation in this game, who just began skating in 2013), along with Tri-City transfer Praying Man Tease, who was phenomenal with both the star and the stripe in the bout, and seems to be the key to this team’s success in 2015. But they also have a smart pack, led by the intelligent offensive play of Olivia Nuke ‘Em Bomb, and the hard-hitting Built Ford Rough, but filled out by Rugburn (who has made a fantastic transition into the pack) and Tragic Pyro-ny as well.

Brute-Leggers' pivot Built Ford Rough works with Olivia Nuke'em Bomb to contain Devochka. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Brute-Leggers’ pivot Built Ford Rough works with Olivia Nuke’em Bomb to contain Devochka. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

This game proved a good start for the Brute-Leggers who managed to work out some kinks over the course of the game, and improved as time wore on. Right out of the gates, they seemed to be a step or two behind their Toronto counterparts who were also debuting a new, largely rebuilt roster of their own, that did feature some Bay Street stalwarts such as Tushy Galore and Robber Blind, but also a new generation of on-track leaders, as well as a new bench coach in former D-VAS bench boss Toque ‘n’ Ale. Lucid Lou made a successful return to ToRD on Saturday (she seemed ok after the game and was walking on her own), while Hannibelle and SewWhat? were keys in the pack and having experienced jammers Lexi Con and Monster Muffin donning the stripes is a massive advantage for the team who ran their offense through the aforementioned Wolverina, Devochka, the wily Beaver Mansbridge and co-captain Sleeper Hold, who was a clutch performer all night and finished the game with 54 points on a 75% lead percentage (Wolverina was second in scoring with 47 points, while Beaver notched a 58% lead percentage; and after a rough first half, Devochka came through after the break with 19 points in the second).

The Bruisers, playing some great lock-down defense, managed leads of 34-25 at the ten-minute mark and 39-33 at the midway point of the first half before the Brute-Leggers managed to tie it up with seven minutes to go and eventually Annie Time blew open the game with a 19-point jam to close out the first period and give the ‘Leggers the 82-61 halftime lead.

Royal City managed to hold onto the lead until the midway point of the second (up 120-118) before the teams began to trade lead off almost by the minute, setting up that thrilling final jam.

D-VAS' FirecrackHer goes in for the hit on Orangeville's Betty Bad Touch. (Photo by Joe Mac)

D-VAS’ FirecrackHer goes in for the hit on Orangeville’s Betty Bad Touch. (Photo by Joe Mac)

It was the third week in a row that Toronto Roller Derby has delivered, featuring games with point differentials of 5, 7, and now 15 points, fans have been treated to some fine roller derby and some thrilling games to kick off the 2015 season.

And speaking of kicking off the 2015 season, this year’s D-VAS, Toronto Roller Derby’s farm team, also took to the track for the first time in 2015 on Saturday night with the freshest roster the team has seen in years. With a limited number of transfers, this year’s team will undoubtedly suffer a lot of growing pains, but they’ve got a long way to go before next fall’s entry draft and ample time to fine-tune.

On Saturday, they began the season with a tough loss to a vastly more experienced Orangeville Roller Girls Fox Force Five team featuring members of its WFTDA-apprentice-level travel team. Anchored by a trio of veterans including blockers Francesca Fiure and Gigawatts and jammer Battering Ma’am, they had no answer for the likes of Orangeville jammers K-Smax, Pink Slamminade, Lil-Maehem and Betty Bad Touch, and were dominated in the pack by Boot E, Mercy D. Nide, Eleanor Rigamortis and Goodbye Kitty among others.

Diebrarian, Leggs Benedict (pivot) and Francesca Fiure work to contain Lil-Maehem. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Diebrarian, Leggs Benedict (pivot) and Francesca Fiure work to contain Lil-Maehem. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

But the future looks bright for the D-VAS who got some impressive performances from Wreck’n’ RollHer and Diebrarian in the pack and Ellen Rage and Noodle Kaboodle on the jam line. Losses seem to sting less for the D-VAS whose chief goal is to learn and develop as skaters, and there was much to be learned in the 411-87 loss. They’ll get a chance to put this new-found knowledge to the test in two weeks time when they host Woodstock on the 21st.

***Next up for Toronto Roller Derby is a double header on February 21st featuring the D-VAS hosting Woodstock Roller Derby, and a ToRD house league regular season matchup featuring the first-place Gore-Gore Rollergirls (2-0) and the last place Chicks Ahoy! (0-2). Tickets are on sale now.

Team Canada Outpaces a Scrappy Team Ontario While Misfits Hold Off Bruisers

Alliston, Ontario, was the site of a fantastic night of women’s flat track roller derby where Team Canada continued to tune up as the World Cup nears, the host Misfit Militia picked up a big win, and some of Eastern Canada’s best junior skaters took to the track for an all-star exhibition scrimmage.

Members of Team Ontario and Team Canada celebrate after their game. (Photography by Joe Mac)

Members of Team Ontario and Team Canada celebrate after their game. (Photography by Joe Mac)

It’s going to be a bittersweet 2014 Blood & Thunder Roller Derby World Cup for fans of Canadian roller derby. The team looks strong in the lead up to what will be the largest global roller derby event in the history of the sport (in any of its various incarnations), and it shoulders expectations to repeat as silver medalists. Yet at the same time, it will represent the final skate for many of our nation’s early stars of the sport, some of whom were featured front and centre on Saturday night at the Alliston Memorial Arena. 2011 World Cup MVP Smack Daddy, her Montreal counterparts Georgia W. Tush and Lil’ Mama, along with Toronto’s (Dusty) Watson, all have announced their intentions to retire after the 2014 season and were key pieces on Saturday as Canada held off Team Ontario 195-99 in a thrilling game of roller derby.

Although Team Ontario regulars Watson and Dyna Hurtcha were maple-leaf clad on Saturday, it was still arguably the best Team Ontario roster we have seen take the track yet, and one that included Team Canada members Murphy, USS DentHerPrize (of the Detroit Derby Girls), and Soul Rekker. This stacked provincial roster caught Canada off guard, overwhelming the national team at the opening whistle with Tri-City’s Ova’Kill taking the first lead of the game behind the support of a terrifying Ontario power line of Murphy, Sofanda Beatin, Margaret Choke and Wylde Leigh Coyote. The opening five minutes were actually dead even with the teams trading power jams and Canada just able to slip ahead 14-10. However, over the next 10 minutes the national team woke up and went on a dominant 10-minute run, outscoring Ontario 56-6 to take a 70-16 lead midway through the opening half.

Kim Jana finds an open outside lane for Team Canada. She was part of a deep Canadian rotation. (Photo by Joe Mac)

Kim Jana finds an open outside lane for Team Canada. She was part of a deep Canadian rotation. (Photo by Joe Mac)

Ova’Kill was joined on the jam line by Rideau Valley’s Soul Rekker and Toronto’s Motorhead Molly, with Rideau’s Austintatious getting in on the action as well. They faced off against a fearsome Team Canada rotation of Mel-e-Juana (Montreal), Kim Janna (Terminal City—she looked impressive coming back from a serious leg break), Watson (Toronto), and Calgary’s 2014 breakout star Kris Myass, who was virtually unstoppable in carving up the track for Team Canada and seems to be the anchor of the offense as we lead up to the World Cup.

After the flurry by Canada midway through the half, Ontario tightened things up once again. There were some incredible stand-outs in the Ontario pack led by Murphy (who formed great packs with RVRG teammates Bottema and Margaret Choke and Tri-City’s Wylde Leigh Coyote), but also featuring strong performances from across the board, including Sofanda Beatin, hometown skater Renny Rumble, and pivot Sister Disaster.

Stats were tight in the first half with the teams virtually even in leads and power jams (although Canada was much more successful in this regard and also more proficient on the power kill), and the final fifteen minutes of the half were a virtual stalemate with Canada barely outscoring Ontario 31-30 over that span to hold a 111-46 lead at half.

Canada pivot Demanda Lashing tries to open a lane between Murphy and USS DentHerPrize. (Photo by Joe Mac)

Canada pivot Demanda Lashing tries to open a lane between Murphy and USS DentHerPrize. (Photo by Joe Mac)

Following the World Cup rules that allow for substitutions from beyond the fourteen on the bench, Team Canada sat veterans Smack Daddy, Tush and Watson for the second half to bring in luludemon and the dynamic triple threat Dyna Hurtcha, who tore up the track at every role in the second half. While former Team Canada stars like Mackenzie, Jess Paternostro and Lil’ Mama remain key pieces, it feels as if there is a passing of the torch going on with Team Canada right now, and the new generation of skaters are stepping up to lead the way. Montreal’s Demanda Lashing and Hughes (Surgical Strike) along with Windy City’s KonichiWow, Terminal City’s Karlene Harvey (Buffy Sainte Fury), and Toronto’s Dyna Hurtcha were the dominant forces in this game and helped to maintain Canada’s lead, 145-61, at the midway point of the second.

Canada had a far greater lead jammer percentage in the second half (about 80% to 20% after being close to even in the first) allowing them to hold back an inspired Team Ontario and record the 195-99 win.

Nerd Glasses

This was the third meeting between the Bruisers and the Misfit Militia in the last three years; they'd split the first two games. (Photo by Joe Mac)

This was the third meeting between the Bruisers and the Misfit Militia in the last three years; they’d split the first two games. (Photo by Joe Mac)

The opening game of the double header featured the hometown Misfit Militia squaring off against their Toronto rivals, the Bay Street Bruisers (ToRD’s B-Travel Team). This was a rubber match of sorts as the teams split two decisions over two years leading up to this meeting. Things started tight with both teams trading early power jams and the Militia pulling ahead 10-9; the Bruisers would roar right back to take an 18-14 lead before the Militia stole the lead back 27-18, all before the 10-minute mark of the first period.

The turning point of the first half occurred near the 20-minute mark when Misfit Militia locked down the defense and jammer Smoka Cola managed four natural grand slams in a 23-point jam that gave the Militia the biggest lead of the game, 59-28, which they would maintain at half, leading 93-40 at that point (Smoka Cola had a remarkable 62 points at the break, while the Bruisers scoring was evenly spread out over its four jammers).

The home team went on an 18-6 run to start the second before the Bruisers began a sustained pushback, but the Toronto team was never quite able to overcome the gap. Remarkably, lead jammer status was nearly even throughout (with the Militia holding only a slight 20-19 advantage) as were power jams, but the stunning defense and stifling penalty kill of the Misfit Militia stole the show and kept the Bruisers at bay. In the end, Smoka Cola recorded a game high 87 points while Bellefast (skating for Toronto in her hometown) led the way for the visitors with 44 points (Sleeper Hold, who had a rough first half, bounced back big time in the second and ended up with 28 points). Although the Bruisers, who finish the season 7-5, slightly improved upon last year’s 90-point loss, with the 174-104 win, the Misfit Militia (7-1) proved once again that they are one of the (if not the) nation’s top non-WFTDA affiliated leagues.

Nerd Glasses

Despite rumblings to the contrary on social media and in roller derby forums, the sport of roller derby has never ever been as healthy as it is today (not even close): more people are playing it in more countries than ever, and more people are watching it and exposed to it than ever before. I was never more aware of this than on Saturday while sitting at an old-school wooden-bleacher iceless hockey arena in a rural Ontario town that itself has two distinct roller derby leagues, where our national team was facing off against one of its provincial counterparts, all under the awe-filled gaze of a group of junior-aged players who were in town to try out for their own national team.

Just fourteen years ago—less than two decades!!—not only would no one have believed this possible, no one would have even thought to consider it.

Next stop on the road may be Nashville for the WFTDA Championship, but just over the horizon, Dallas looms.

*** Check out for trackside video coverage, and local viewers check local listings for Rogers TV rebroadcasts of the game.

Skull on Fire: Coping with Multiple Concussions in Roller Derby (Guest Post)

Guest blogger and retired skater Speedin’ Hawking discusses her history of concussions and provides resources on diagnoses, rehabilitation, and how to ease yourself back into play.

“When you feel like this looks”

“When you feel like this looks”

My 5-year derby-versary was approaching in only a few months. I was extremely excited to re-join our B travel team after a spot opened up, and brought that enthusiasm to my first practice back that night. Towards the end of practice we scrimmaged our A-team, as we often would. At one point when I was blocking, I got caught in a pick and took a clean hit in the chest. It caught me off guard and took me off my feet. My head flung backwards, and as I was falling, I am told that the back of my head made contact with another skater in motion who was behind me, thrusting it forward. My immediate reaction was a panic attack. I started hyperventilating and crying and was ultimately confused and really distraught. I quietly moved off the track to gain control of what I thought was just a weird emotional outburst, withdrew myself from the group and hid behind a pillar so as not to bring attention to my embarrassing reaction. I sat out for the few remaining minutes of the practice while our first responders and my loving derby wife checked me out and tried to put me at ease.

Speedin' Hawking pivots for the Bay Street Bruisers in a game against Royal City in October 2012. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

The author, Speedin’ Hawking, pivots for the Bay Street Bruisers in a game against Royal City in October 2012. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

I didn’t lose consciousness or forget my name, but I didn’t know exactly what had happened or how. I was really confused, and that is unusual for me as a fairly aware skater. I felt like I got my bell rung and immediately felt ‘out of it’. I drove myself home alone, which was a challenge in itself, as the road looked like that  drunk driving commercial from the 80s. Bad idea.

If this was a concussion, it would have been my fourth in a year and a half. Given that I am a shorter skater at 5’2″, it’s not a surprise that half of these were due to being hit in the chin or jaw and made worse with the whiplash that came with it. The other half are because I am a bit of a spaz in my day-to-day life. I wish I could tell you it’s from being bad-ass.

Needless to say I took some time to stay off skates, and since have had to pack it in for roller derby. As sad as this is, I have found that since I have become a vet at this concussion thing lately, and more and more leaguemates of mine have been asking about it: What does it feel like? What can you do about it? Who do you go see? Should I get a hockey helmet? Face shield? You too??!! And so on. Or sharing quietly that they think they have one and ask what they should do.

I am not sure if you have noticed in your leagues, but I have never seen so many people off skates at the same time due to this injury. We have become fitter, better, more agile, faster and more aggressive skaters. We are weapons on wheels. We are making fancier moves on our skates. Our style of play has evolved to be more scrum-like. Our rules have recently changed to allow some clockwise movement. I am not sure if all these things are linked, but they can’t be ignored either. If this is the way things are going, then let’s look after our brains cause we only get one (at least for now: c’mon science, where are you on this one?).

I also sucked up precious screen time searching the Internet for answers as to how I was feeling, what’s normal, and what I should do as a coping mechanism to counter the fear and anxiety I was experiencing. Now that I am mostly symptom-free 5 months later (hurray!) I thought I would compile some resources as well as share my learning from a derby perspective. This way, they are on-hand for others with symptoms who might be new to this or for teammates, captains and coaches to refer to in case of future injuries. Thanks to others who have gone through this too who shared their tips and resources with me.

I am not a doctor, or a professional healthcare provider, just a gal who has been searching for more and more answers on the Internet every time she bonks her face in roller derby.

If you think you or your buddy might have suffered a concussion, please visit a physician (sports or specialist if you can rather than a walk-in clinic or even your family doctor. Get checked out as soon as you can. Even if you think it’s no big deal and you feel mostly fine. Even if you only feel “just a bit off”. It’s very easy to talk yourself out of your injury, especially if you have a game coming up, or are super busy in life, so you really need others close to you to call you on your bullshit.

Following is a summary of things you might be wondering about concussions along with some handy references.


Your skull is your body’s built-in helmet. Your brain sits in your skull suspended in fluid. When you get rocked by a hit, your brain bounces around inside your skull, which can result in “bruising.” This could be because you fell and hit your head, but can also occur by being jostled or shaken.

Watch this! Science!

Also watch this: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Concussions

Also read:

What Happens to the Brain During a Concussion” from Scientific American

What a Bump to the Head Looks Like Inside Your Brain” from PBS.


Found to be highly related to concussions, whiplash can produce similar symptoms. Sometimes the tension or alignment in the neck that results can cause a pinching in your spine, which can have the same weird neurological effects as a concussion.


Whiplash: 5 Things You Should Know” from


I am sure you are creative and can find more ways but here are some common ones:

– impact to the head from a hit or a fall

– impact to the face or jaw causing the head and neck to jostle and may include whiplash

– impact to the body causing the head and neck to jostle and may include whiplash

Read the Mayo Clinic’s list of basic causes here.



Ensure that your first-responders or coaches and managers in your league have been trained to screen and assess if a concussion may have occurred or can help with triaging the injury. Review WFTDA Safety Protocol Section 6 carefully as well as Appendix C-D for concussion info.

The SCAT (Sport Concussion Assessment Tool) is quite commonly used. The current version is SCAT3: Sport Concussion Assessment Tool

Here’s an offline sheet that you can keep a few copies of near the track or in your bags:  Sport Concussion Assessment Tool PDF

The CDC also offers this palm card that walks through the assessment: Palm card assessment

And, of course there’s an app for that! Here’s a great breakdown of the popular concussion apps.


You might end up getting a CT Scan or in bad cases an MRI to be sure there’s no head trauma or blood clotting, but because it’s really hard to “see” bruising on your brain, there is really no conclusive way at this time to see how bad your concussion is. You break a bone, you get an x-ray and can see it. We don’t have that kind of thing yet for concussions.
So the best you can do is monitor your symptoms which is why it’s super important to see a doctor and talk this out with them. Bonus points if they have a specialty or are a sports physician who deals with this a lot.

There are tests that rely on testing your neurological responses, cognition and balance, but their accuracy is debated and there aren’t any broadly accepted tools at this time for diagnosis. A couple of them are:

As for finding a physician, many in our league here in Toronto have visited the David L. MacIntosh Sport Medicine Clinic at the University of Toronto for help

Also check out:

The clinic you visit already for physio for your myriad of other derby injuries might also have someone there with a specialty in treating sports concussions.


Here is a list of common symptoms. This is your best way to track your progress, so really try to monitor how you feel. Write it down every day even. You might start seeing patterns emerge after certain stimulus. For example, during a regular work day post-concussion, it was normal for me to get a pressure headache between 3 and 4 pm due to computer usage and thinking so darn hard. I knew I was getting better when that would start to go away.

Think of it as a “buffet” of options, or a “portfolio”. You might not feel all of them at any given time, but even feeling one of them counts. Don’t tell yourself that you don’t have a concussion if you feel a bunch of these but then don’t feel nauseous, for example. A good sign is thinking that something is out of the ordinary for you. Also, you aren’t better until your symptoms go away completely.

If you decide to take anything to treat these symptoms (like ibuprofen or anti-nauseants), just be aware that you could be masking your symptoms which is your only reliable way to measure progress in your rehab.

  1. Headache
  2. Pressure in head
  3. Neck Pain
  4. Nausea or Vomiting
  5. Dizziness
  6. Blurred vision
  7. Balance problems
  8. Light sensitivity
  9. Noise Sensitivity
  10. Feeling slowed down
  11. Feeling “in a fog”
  12. “Don’t feel right”
  13. Difficulty concentrating
  14. Difficulty remembering
  15. Fatigue or low energy
  16. Confusion
  17. Drowsiness
  18. Trouble falling asleep
  19. More emotional
  20. Irritability
  21. Sadness
  22. Nervousness or anxiousness

Read more:

Concussion Signs and Symptoms” from

Concussion Signs and Symptoms” from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


This is actually a thing! You are not on crazy pills! You may have rolled away from a practice or game feeling alright after a hit, but then start feeling the effects later or a month later. Post-concussive disorder symptoms skew more on the psycho-behavioural side of things rather than physiological. So if you are seeing behavioural or emotional changes in yourself, this could be why. Like feeling extra “hulk-smash-y” or like you are PMS’ing, or like your old anxiety challenges have been triggered again. Try not to get too paranoid about it and go see a doctor to put you at ease and work on next steps to rehab.


Rest. That’s it. Cognitive and physical rest. Nothing fancy. Unfortunately this often means laying down and doing nothing, no brain stimulation. This includes abstaining from watching videos, listening to music, reading, writing, audiobooks. Stay off your smart phone! It’s like your body is now grounded as punishment for doing something dumb to your brain.  You might be sensitive to light and certain frequencies of sound, so hang out in a dim and / or quiet room. Earplugs and sunglasses become your best friends.

ETY Plugs by Etymotics have been the best ever, I take them everywhere with me.

Work with your physician to determine a plan for what’s best for you as far as timing, rest and return to activities and exercise. Determine if you have to take a leave from work or school, and if there is any disability support in place to assist you with keeping up. If you are typically a busy-body, then you might need someone to explicitly tell you how to rest.

Stay away from practice. Watching your teammates skate fast around and around while whistles go off can be overstimulating. As much as you might want to participate off-skates and be with your team, this environment does not help with your rehab. Hopefully your coaches and teammates understand.

Supplements: Unlike taking something to treat your symptoms, your doctor might prescribe supplements that promote brain healing and cognitive improvement. This might include:

  • Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) – promotes the production of energy in the brain’s blood vessels (1)
  • Magnesium – improves synaptic plasticity, aids memory and learning (2)
  • Vinpocetine – enhances cerebral blood flow and neuroprotective effects (3)
  • DHA Omega-3 or Fish oil – brain development (4)
  1.  Vitamin B22 (From
  2. “Magnesium Boosts Brain Function” from
  3. Vinpocetine (Wikipedia)
  4. Docosahexaenoic Acid (Wikipedia)

Physio / massage: Your treatment plan from your doctor might also include cranial massage or acupuncture to help with the pressure release and stimulate circulation to the brain to aid the healing process. I have had cranial massages, skull pecking, acupuncture in my head and even a deep neck flexor massage for whiplash. I have also been prescribed neck strengthening exercises as part of my physio.

Your treatment plan might even include some low-impact exercise to help increase blood flow to your brain. I found it also helps get those feel-good endorphins going to counter those downer feelings you might be experiencing.


This is going to take time, and like all injuries, rushing back will only harm you in the long run. You want to be sure that you are fully recovered before trying to skate again in order to avoid aggravation or re-injury. Since multiple concussions have a cumulative effect, you don’t want to experience another, and especially not right away. It will set you back exponentially and can leave you with lingering or long-term effects.

Most concussion guidelines for sports have a pretty explicit return to play outline, however, ensure that your doctor clears you to skate initially (your sport is skating around and around for hours!) and then again to resume contact.

Here are a few good ones:

Captains and managers should also treat this injury as they would any other player injury. Depending on your league policies, a doctors note would be ideal. Know the steps:

  1. No activity, complete rest
  2. Light aerobic exercise
  3. Sport-specific activities – like skating
  4. Drills, no contact
  5. Drills with contact
  6. Game play

Take it step by step.

Start with light, low impact activity, like biking, walking or swimming, and move through the levels only if you are completely symptom-free. Not even a little headache. If you do feel your symptoms as a result, you need to continue your rest and rehab. Then try again at that level. This can sometimes be a slow, frustrating process.

There are also newer studies that suggest some exercise might also accelerate your progress. Best to just monitor how you are feeling. Try and see what might work for you and how you feel.

If you have suffered from multiples or even a single major event, know when it’s time to pack it in. Look at your risks vs rewards if you are considering returning, and consider how to avoid long-term damage (Decrease competitiveness? Try low contact? Take a couple of years off?)

As much as we are in love with our sport and the derby community, you only get one brain.


Like my catholic upbringing taught me, the surefire way to avoid accidents is abstinence from engagement in risky activities. But really, we can’t skate around in a safety bubble like in bubble sports, can we? No really, can we??!!!

We play a contact sport that celebrates our athletes’ differences in size and shape, and we would hate to see that change. We have complete understanding that sometimes accidents just happen in contact sports.

Here are some ideas, however, that could help avoid first or future concussions in roller derby, or at least reduce the frequency we are seeing. It would also be wonderful if the ruleset was evaluated for safety by medical professionals and revised accordingly in addition to considering changes related to improvement of game play and spectator experience.

  • Helmets and face shields: Helmets can be great for helping absorb impact when hit, and protect your skull, but can’t help as much when you get a shot in the face or whiplash. At least, start with a legit multi-impact helmet for real! With the hard foam. Take that rubberized helmet you bought and throw it in the garbage. Don’t let your fresh meat buy them when they are investing in gear at the beginning. Check out section 9.1.3 of the rules to find out what equipment variations pass. Just like all of your other gear try options on, or borrow from your pals till you find the proper fit. Acknowledge that your head shape just might not fit properly with certain models. Look for a balance of protection and functionality (lightweight, not too hot, etc.) Some might find that hockey-style helmets stabilize the jarring and head and neck a bit more. Some find that face shields help prevent face hits. There are many options, just don’t cheap out on this body part when it comes to protection.
  • Practice backwards blocking as a skill: This is a newer blocking style that is becoming more prominent in game play, however not one commonly taught as a foundation in fresh meat programs. Practice greater control when transitioning quickly. Practice more upper body blocking techniques, giving and receiving, with the aim of avoiding flailing limbs or head/face hits. Especially try safely backwards blocking and side blocking or “picking” with a variety of different-sized opponents.
  • Strengthen your neck and upper body: Roller derby is definitely a total body sport, so don’t forget these body parts in your dry land training. Now that there is much more backwards blocking and shoulder blocking, strengthen this part of your body so that you can safely absorb and deliver these upper body hits. For blockers, this may also help dealing with that transfer of momentum from jammers coming in hot to a slow or stopped pack.
  • Call out head and face hits: For coaches and managers, try to pay attention to these hits as much as you would cutting and back blocking if refs aren’t at practice to call the high blocks. I feel like we let this one slide a lot because “it just happens”, meanwhile, we might be enforcing sloppy play and letting repeated hits to the face or head happen, which over time could increase susceptibility if a bigger hit is received. Remember that this injury is cumulative. Pull or bench any players for egregious play for sure.


Finally, talk this out with others in your league or reach out to our amazingly supportive sports community. As horrible as it was that a number of us got injured at the same time in our league, we’ve become a great little support group for each other. It has also helped raise awareness about the injury in our league. There’s a great deal of comfort in knowing that you have leaguemates concerned for your well-being that have experienced the same symptoms and are going through rehab with you, especially in dealing with the psycho behavioural effects. We have also shared a great deal of knowledge and referred others to the right doctors, as well as have some ideas for future projects in this area, so stay tuned!

We play an adrenaline-driven sport that on top of it all, we put our hearts into organizing, building, running and progressing. This can make it extra challenging to pull back when the time comes, whether it’s taking a short break or a long one.

There’s a great documentary called The Crash Reel that helps puts things into perspective and does a great job illustrating how passion for our sport can take over. Thanks Kamikaze Kitten for the recommendation and for being just a random Facebook message away!

Watch Trailer: The Crash Reel

Save your brain, you may need it later.

And if you are currently rehabbing a concussion, thanks for using up some of your screen time here.

Feel free to keep the conversation going here in the comments section, or by sharing your resources and experiences too!

Guest Blogger Speedin’ Hawking skated with Toronto Roller Derby from 2009 to 2014 as a member of the Death Track Dolls (2013 co-captain) and the Bay Street Bruisers B-level travel team (‎2012-2013).
Speedin Hawking blocking in a preseason game against Tri-City's Venus Fly Tramps before her 2010 rookie season with ToRD. (Photo by Chrissie Woo)

Speedin Hawking blocking in a preseason game against Tri-City’s Venus Fly Tramps before her 2010 rookie season with ToRD. (Photo by Chrissie Woo)

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