Norfolk County’s roller derby league needs fresh meat.
Every Tuesday and Thursday for eight weeks, the Norfolk County Roller Derby will host a skate learning program for women aged 18 and over.
“Anytime a new skater wants to come and have fun with us, they’re more than welcome to join,” said Angela Caswell, a veteran player who skates under the Booty Vicious moniker.
Wearing helmets, surgical masks, knee and elbow pads, along with their roller skates and signature fishnet stockings, players race through an enclosed course. Each team has a fast player called a jammer who tries to score points by dodging and overtaking opposing players called blockers.
But the beginner’s course, which started Tuesday and continues this Thursday, costs $100 and covers the basics, including starting and stopping, achieving balance and stability on skates, and how to skate — and fall — safely.
The program will prepare skaters to join the roller derby team, but Caswell said it’s also designed for people who just want to skate for fun and exercise.
“And get to know some people in a nice, friendly program,” she said.
No previous experience is required and beginners can rent equipment while they get a feel for roller skating.
There is plenty of room for new arrivals in Norfolk’s derby squad as the number has “shrunk” as players moved on during the pandemic, Caswell said.
“I just know that as soon as people put their skates on, they’re going to feel that passion and just want to be there,” she said.
Those who cannot play but would like to take part in the league can train to become referees and non-skating officials.
The team train at the recreation center at Simcoe Exhibition Center on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7pm to 9pm and travel out of town for away games against other leagues.
The action can get intense, but “we try not to take ourselves too seriously,” said Caswell, who learned to skate at the Hammer City Roller Derby in Hamilton nine years ago.
“Derby is a competitive sport, but a lot of us are there to get out and do something for ourselves,” she said.
“The camaraderie is the very best.”
The Norfolk League is hosting a family skate on September 23 with the public invited to skate at the recreation center from 6pm to 10pm. Admission and skate rental are $5 each.