Two teams of the Winnipeg Roller Derby League are competing in DoubleHeader Mayhem at the Winnipeg Convention Centre on Sept. 28.
The WRDL All-Stars (the A-level team) will compete against the Fargo Moorhead Derby Girls, and the Bombshell Brawlers (the B-level team) will compete against Brandon’s Gang Green.
The Bombshell Brawlers/Gang Green match starts at 7 p.m. The WRDL All-Stars/Derby Girls match starts at 8 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. "It’s our hometown debut of our two travel teams," said West End resident Bess Hamilton, or Pocket Rockette when she’s on the track.
Hamilton, a team member of the Bombshell Brawlers, explained that the A-level team consists of more advanced skaters while the B-level team still has some skills to work on.
Hamilton volunteered at a WRDL bout in 2010 before joining the Fresh Meat program a year later. She had just recently become a full-time WRDL member.
"I just felt a calling. I had to do this," Hamilton said.
Roller derby is a full-contact, predominantly women’s sport played in roller skates on a track.
Hamilton explained that there are two teams for each game period, or jam. In each two-minute jam, each team puts out five players — four players are blockers and one is the jammer. The jammer scores points by lapping members of the other team, and the blockers assist the jammer by interfering with the other jammer.
"Roller derby has been around in different forms since the 1930s, but this modern form has been around since 2001, originating from Austin, Texas," Hamilton said. "It was initially all women, but now there are men’s roller derby leagues. Winnipeg doesn’t have one yet."
Hamilton is aware that there are some preconceived notions about the physicality of roller derby, and she wants people to know that the sport is not violent.
"We do wear full padding to keep ourselves protected," Hamilton said. "(But) I like the physicality of it. It’s definitely one of the hardest things physically I’ve ever done."
She also enjoys the sense of community and friendship that came out of joining the league.
"It’s a place for everyone. No matter what age or body type, there’s a role for you on the team," Hamilton said. "The diversity of the team members blows my mind. We have 18-year-olds and 50-year-olds playing together!"
Tickets are $15, and are available for purchase at ticketmaster.ca
For more information about the Winnipeg Roller Derby League, visit winnipegrollerderby.com