If you’re over 40 or 50 years of age you may remember names like the L.A. Thunderbirds, Texas Outlaws, Chicago Pioneers, New York City Chiefs, Detroit Red Devils or the Bay City Bombers. These weren’t part of an offshoot baseball, football or hockey league, they were the names of the hard-hitting and gritty all women teams of the once again famous roller derby.
First formed in 1935 by Leo Seltzer as a travelling circus of sorts, roller derby rose steadily in popularity until it fell into bankruptcy in 1974. From 1974 until 2001 the sport sparked only fits and starts of interest until a group of women from Austin, Texas took up the sport. The rest, they say, is derby history.
Bring this no holds barred and zany sport a little closer to home and you’ll find the Tournament City Derby Dolls, or the TCDoubleD’s (TCDD) as they like to be known.
This group of 14 women from all walks of life suit up in their alter egos and once the skates hit the floor there’s no more “ladylike” in this bunch. With derby names like “The Curse,” “Celestial Beatings” and “Yvonne the Terrible” you know these girls mean business in a sport that’s not for the faint of heart.
Staci Rose Grant a.k.a. Comin’n Hot (#420) was hooked as soon as she saw her first bout.
“My teammate Dana ‘Purple Kush’ and I watched the movie Whip It and fell in love with (roller derby). We met one of the girls involved in Kamloops and she was forming the TCDD’s at the time and that’s where we started. The best part of the sport is hitting people and not getting in trouble,” said Grant with a laugh. “As long as you’re not getting hit it doesn’t hurt that much and there’s so much adrenaline if you do get hit you don’t feel it until the next day. I could barely walk after my first bout but it gets better with time.”
As a spectator sport it seems that roller derby is certainly a hit with the Kamloops crowds as throngs of people cheer at each bout from the stands and the often full beer gardens.
Grant’s boss at Oronge Boardshop and avid derby fan Kent “Koach” Thiessen loves to hit the bouts and watch the organized mayhem ensue.
“The aggressive action out there is wicked, they don’t seem to get too caught up in injuries and they’re always putting their bodies on the line,” said Koach. “What I also love about it are the crowds that come out to support the teams. It’s got great community support, everyone’s really positive and, while on a smaller scale, it’s like going to a Blazers game.”
While certainly not for all women, it seems that roller derby and the TCDD’s have given many the outlet they need in the realm of local contact sports.
“We all try to bash each other on the rink and it gets aggressive but at the end we all go for beers and a party and we’re all friends,” said Grant.
Thiessen had another take on it.
“At least she works in lifestyle retail where she doesn’t have to show up looking all perfect,” said Koach with a laugh. “Staci can come in with a couple of big bruises and still look great, so it’s all good.”
For more on the TCDD’s visit www.facebook.com/tournamentcityderbydolls