Rotten to the (Apple’s) core

Teenage girls get a taste for roller derby as Eves of Destruction develop junior league

Members of the junior roller derby team

Members of the junior roller derby team



Wearing a black halter dress and purple-striped tights, Ann.R.Kee loops the track on roller skates, announcing the score on a whiteboard held overhead.

It’s the roller derby season finale, and Victoria’s own Eves of Destruction play Vancouver’s Terminal City Roller Girls at the Archie Browning Sports Centre, in Esquimalt.

It’s also the public debut for the Rotten Apples — Victoria’s new junior derby league launched in May.

“This is the future of derby!” booms the announcer, after the Apples lead a demonstration bout, wearing shoes instead of skates.

It’s a future for which many of the teens can’t wait.

For many, derby isn’t just a sport. It’s a passion, complete with sexy-campy personas and a supportive group of girls that have your back both on and off the track.

The Apples, aged 13 to 18, are helping out with the tournament. The rest watch as their elder Eves jostle for position in the moving pack, hip checking and taking spills along the way.

During a recent practice, 14-year-old Eli Portillo (derby name Ann.R.Kee) takes a break from drills and removes her helmet to reveal a pink mohawk haircut.

“My entire life, I’ve taken pride in getting scars,” she says. “I’m not afraid to get out there and get dirty.”

It’s a common theme among the girls, known as the Apples for short.

Shelby Simons signed up because she likes rough sports.

The 15-year-old Victoria High school student, with short purple hair, has chosen Twitchie as her derby name.

“It’s a nickname,” she explains as she fiddles with the Velcro on her elbow pads.

She tried rugby, but says, “it sucks.”

Roller derby is different.

The people are more open-minded, she says. “No one’s weird or catty.”

So what do you need to be a roller girl?

“Balls,” she says. Plain and simple.

The girls are months away from any rough play, however.

The teens have been training, learning the rules and getting comfortable on their skates.

At this practice, Apples co-coach Trisha Maxwell is teaching them to get comfortable being physical with each other. Skating single file, they practise a move called “the barn door,” pulling a teammate forward by linking arms.

The idea for a junior league came from some of the Eves’ teenage daughters eager to get involved.

It’s the latest step in a rapidly growing league.

Back in 2006, roller derby in Victoria consisted of eight women, a parking lot and an online rule book.

Today, the Eves of Destruction has 70 members, corporate sponsors and three house teams. The elite team tours in Canada and the United States, and in June the Eves placed second in the Western Canadian playoffs.

n n n

Roller derby is a full-contact sport.

Although there are few serious injuries, the possibility made the Eves initially guarded about launching a junior league.

“But Edmonton started a junior league last year, and we just took our cues from them,” says Maxwell.

The sport’s roughness, however, has left some parents wary.

Rotten Apple Sarah Shumanski tried to recruit her friends, but their parents said no.

Her own mom is supportive, but she does have a concern.

“She doesn’t want me turning into one of the scarier people,” says Shumanski, a Reynolds secondary school student with long blond hair.

“She doesn’t want me to change.”

Roller derby can be racy.

It offers an outlet from the real world, says Maxwell, derby name Nadia Comin’ Atcha. “I get to be this crazy person that jumps in front of 1,200 people in fishnets and a pair of panties.”

At first, she explains, “we definitely fed off the campiness of it.”

So did the fans. Many just came to watch girls hit each other, she says. As the Eves improved, however, they toned down their early tournaments’ raunchy appeal and ramped up the competition. Now, the crowd knows the players and the strategy.

While the Eves keep it playful (they dub new recruits “fresh meat”), they make sure the show never crosses the “parental guidance” rating line.

“A lot of us are moms,” says Maxwell.

Dressing up is fun, but the appeal of the sport runs much deeper for the Apples.

Being on the team takes practice and confidence, says 13-year-old Maia Ramos, skate name Celine Demon.

“It helps with teamwork because usually I’m just this shy little one,” she says.

“I like how it’s all girls,” adds Ali Greene, in Grade 11 at Stelly’s secondary school. “It’s really empowering.”

Portillo makes a point of encouraging everyone who comes out. “It seems rough but everyone want to play the game and be friends.”

The next challenge is getting the numbers they need to start playing games, potentially by next summer.

“We want this to become big enough to have two teams, so they can play each other,” Maxwell says. All skill levels are welcome.

Wearing frilly pink panties overtop her leggings, Roi Batke skates to the track’s sidelines, and confidently drops on one knee, coming to an immediate stop.

She says she’s never been into sports before.

Roller derby, however, “allows for a lot of different kinds of people to join.”

Her mom comes to every game.

“She’s really happy I’m in this.”

rholmen@vicnews.com

 

 

Just Posted

Greater father involvement in the home leads to improved childhood development and increased marital satisfaction, says expert. (Black Press Media file photo)
University of Victoria researcher finds lack of father involvement a drag on gender equality

Working women still taking on most child and household duties in Canada

Emergency health services treated a person after they were blocking traffic at the intersection of Fort and Douglas Streets on June 17. (Evert Lindquist/ News Staff)
Victoria intersection traffic returns to normal after protester blocked roadway

A person in a motorized wheelchair was blocking the intersection at Fort and Douglas Streets

New COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island by local health area for the week of June 6-12. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control image)
New COVID-19 cases up on Island, but health officials say trends going right way

There were 22 new COVID-19 cases in Greater Victoria last week after just four the week before

With local high schoolers unable to have a traditional graduation ceremony due to COVID-19 restrictions, Amica Douglas House celebrated the momentous occasion of eight of their dining room servers. (Courtesy Amica Douglas House)
8 Greater Victoria teens don fancy dresses, celebrate grad with seniors

With celebrations nixed, Amica Douglas House hosts event for its serving staff

Eric White’s roadside farm stand in Metchosin sits stocked with produce. (Photo courtesy of Eric White)
Fledgling Metchosin farmer frustrated by thefts from stand

Eric White said every dollar made at the roadside helps sustain his farm

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: When was the last time you visited the mainland?

The films are again lighting the screens at local theatres, the wine… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of June 15

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

The Co-op gas station at Whiskey Creek is burning after a camper van exploded while refueling just before 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Exploding camper van torches Highway 4 gas station between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni

Highway traffic blocked after Whiskey Creek gas station erupts into flames

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

Most Read