Skating around a track and knocking players over in roller derby may seem like a hectic sport, but for Esther Beauregard, it’s a huge stress reliever.
In the hours leading up to a roller derby game, Beauregard admits she still gets butterflies. However, as soon as she laces up her roller skates and hits the concrete track at the Archie Browning Arena in Esquimalt, the butterflies go away and the adrenaline kicks in.
“The adrenaline pretty much wipes everything else out. When you see an opportunity to take a really big hit on someone your brain shuts down and your body takes over. When you get off the track you just think ‘yes I want to do that again and again’,” said the 28-year-old.
“It’s a really good stress reliever.”
Modern roller derby started roughly 10 to 12 years ago in Texas. It is a full contact sport in which five members of the teams skate in the same direction around a track. Both teams have a jammer, who scores points by lapping members of the opposing team. All the other players are blockers who try to stop the opposing jammer.There is no punching, kicking, hits to the head or clothes lining, however, players are able to do hip and shoulder checks.
Players must wear helmets, mouth guards, elbow and knee pads, wrist guards and roller skates.
Beauregard, who plays with the local league called Eves of Destruction as a blocker, first read about the sport a few years ago. While attending post-secondary school in Ontario, she decided to hit the track and try it out. As soon as she returned home in 2012, she joined the league.
She had never used roller skates before and admitted much of her first practice was spent falling on her bottom. But since then, she’s gotten the hang of things.
“It’s not like any other sport that you see around right now. You’re going from offence to defence all the time, you can actually be playing offence and defence simultaneously. It’s a really big mental game to get your head around that,” said Beauregard, whose derby name is C-3Ph0 and is a blocker with The Hardcores.
It’s a sport that has continued to grow in popularity among women on Vancouver Island. The league, which began in 2006, has five teams and 70 players, officials and volunteers. The season runs from March to September, with teams playing against each other as well as against teams from up Island, Vancouver, and Washington State.
“It pushes the social gender norms of society to a point. It’s a little bit irreverent. People don’t take it too seriously, but at the same time it’s still a really difficult, athletic sport to participate in,” said Beauregard, adding she’s had a few bumps and bruises in the past.
The Eves of Destruction’s season finale takes place Saturday, Sept. 24 at the Eagle Ridge Community Centre in Langford. For more information about the league or tickets visit evesofdestruction.com.