McLennan Recreation board invited two roller derby clubs to H.W. Fish Arena to give a reffing clinic and to play a game of scrimmage on April 13. to see if the idea generated enough interest to form a team locally.
“It is about getting more use out of our arena and to see if people are interested in bringing roller derby to the Smoky River Area, so we brought the teams in just to see,” says McLennan Recreation Board President, Marie-Anne Jones,
Both clubs, Grande Prairie’s Radleak Rollers and Grimshaw’s Grim Reapers volunteered to come and give the clinic, and as the Town of McLennan provided the Arena free of charge, the teams involved were able to offer the clinic free to those who wished to participate.
The Recreation Board’s H.W. Fish Arena subcommittee, tasked with finding new uses for the Arena, prepared food for the visiting teams who made a generous donation of $400 to the Rec Board in return.
“We have a sign up list that I posted online and there does seem to be quite a bit of interest,” says Jones. “Between ten and fifteen women have signed up and a Grim Reaper club member said that she would come here every couple of weeks to get the club started in McLennan.”
The event attracted a good turnout; with approximately twenty people attended the reffing clinic and about 25 participated in the scrimmage game.
The reffing clinic is particularly important, as having refs available is key to promoting the game in northern Alberta.
“We in the north struggle to get enough refs as you can imagine, there are not a whole lot of people up here involved in the sport,” says Grim Reaper’s member, Carissa Fountain. So, we often have to pay for refs to come up from Edmonton or we don’t get to hold games.”
Northern Alberta communities that currently have a roller derby clubs include Fort Saskatchewan, Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie, Whitecourt and Grimshaw.
High Level’s Aurora Borealis club is presently on hiatus but may be starting up again and northern B.C communities such as Fort St. John and Dawson Creek have teams that compete with other northern Alberta teams here in the Peace River region.
To play Roller Derby a player must acquire his or her own gear and new player packages start at around $300. There is also the cost of player insurance, which is approximately $50 annually.
For those interested in organizing a roller derby club visit McLennan Parks and Recreation Facebook page.