TRENTON – Growing pains are welcome by those involved with roller derby, especially as the province is in the process of creating their first provincial team.
It’s a new sport to many as it continues to see more and more women lace up a pair of skates and slap on elbow and knee pads. The province of Nova Scotia is looking to have their provincial team selected by September with the intention of competing in a national roller derby championship. The first national event is currently slated for the spring of 2015.
“The big achievement around here would be to build a strong team of 20 and take the title of number one in the Maritimes,” said head coach Aaron Crocker. “Then we would work towards future Team Nova Scotias getting further in Canada. Quebec, Ontario and B.C. are where roller derby started in 2005 in Canada. That’s where all the top players, coaches and that are. It’s a like a David vs. Goliath scenario there.”
Sunday in Trenton was the first tryout for the squad, with players from HRM, Cumberland County and Cape Breton in attendance. Crocker hopes to have three, with the second scheduled for August in Halifax. The location for the third has yet to be determined. From there 14 roster players and six alternates will be selected.
With this being the first time Nova Scotia formed a provincial roller derby team, it has come with some challenges according to Crocker. The main one is distance.
“Unlike Ontario and Quebec where everyone is centralized in big city centres, we have the distance,” he said. “So, Cape Breton to Trenton is two hours and Trenton to Halifax is two hours. To have the people spread out around the province means there will be extra travelling, an added expense on top of what the players already have dedicated to their leagues and the sport.”
Other challenges also include needing volunteers for events and space to hold practices, tryouts or bouts.
“Sponsorship will also be huge because of the travel and uniforms, which will all be coming up very soon,” he said. “These girls already give 110 per cent to their leagues with donations, fundraising and all that. We’re hoping that the people of Nova Scotia will back a Nova Scotia team.”
Originally from Riverton, Crocker now lives in Moncton where he travels from to coach on a regular basis. He’s only been involved in the sport for four years, but in that relatively short period of time he’s had the opportunity to travel across the country with the sport.
Once he heard about the local league starting up, the Highland Derby Dolls, he also made sure he helped donate his time to his hometown group. It’s that help that has likely made two of the Derby Dolls ready to be in the mix for tryouts.
“I immediately got in contact with Brenda (Jones) and the Derby Dolls,” he said. “I started coming up here to coach and teach them the rules. I’ve been back and forth from town to Moncton a lot, but it’s been great.”
In that time he has also watched the sport grow. When he started there was one league in Nova Scotia, now there are five. In New Brunswick it has increased from three to six leagues, while P.E.I. has three teams and Newfoundland has four squads.
“It is the fastest growing sport in North America right now, people are signing up everyone that has an interest on getting involved.”