It's been a long skate to get here but after months of recruiting, practicing and fundraising the Black Diamond Betties — Whistler's roller derby team — are at last ready to bout. This week the team confirmed at least four bouts, three of which will be open to the public.
The Betties will skate their first exhibition bout against the Squamish Sirens on June 2 at Brennan Park, getting the bugs out in actual competition.
On June 23 the team will be heading to Revelstoke to play Revelstoke Roller Derby in a match-up billed as "The Ski Town Showdown."
On July 8 the team will travel to Abbotsford to play the Reign Valley Vixens in a match-up billed as "Sunday, Bloody Sunday."
On July 21 they'll play the Squamish Sirens at Brennan Park once again.
Kathryn Elder, president of the Betties and Whistler Roller Derby Girls Society, said it's exciting to finally be in competition after assembling a team last summer.
"I can't believe it, it's just amazing," she said. "I'm actually stoked."
The team has about 22 players, which is eight more than the 14 they're limited to entering on a competition roster.
All of the players had to pass a skills test and written test on behalf of the Women's Flat Track Roller Derby Association. The written test concerns rules, while the skills test was a little more physical.
"Each player has to skate 25 laps of the track in five minutes," explained Elder. "We have to demonstrate several types of falls — four-point falls with hands out, baseball slides, knee slides, double knee slides. We have to show different stops like the plow stop and t-stop. You have to be able to hit, hip and shoulder, and do all the whips."
A bout is divided into jams, where teams circle the track and try to score points. Each team has four blockers and one jammer on the track during a jam. The jammer scores most of the team's points, Jams last about two minutes, or until a Lead Jammer is established that can stop the clock.
The team has had a tough time finding space to practice, getting started in underground parking garages that are busy now the snow is flying. They found a temporary home in the Pemberton Meadows Community Centre, but that was closed in January as a cost-saving measure. Now they travel to Squamish to practice twice a week with the Sirens, and they meet twice a week to talk about the rules. Some of the players have been heading to Vancouver on Saturdays to take part in "Raw Meat" drop-in sessions.
The team is looking for a permanent home, as well as raising money to purchase their own track. A track costs around $30,000.
They are hosting a few fundraisers this spring to help cover travel costs, raise money to buy team uniforms and put money into their track fund.
As well as hosting fundraisers, the team will be holding its own Fresh Meat tryouts starting in May. The goal is to create two or three teams within the local league that will play locally, as well as travel to bouts and tournaments against other teams.
Details of their upcoming bouts will be posted online in the coming weeks. Visit www.whistlerrollergirls.com.