Heartland Steam Rollers looking for a few good skaters

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JULIE BERTRAND/Independent reporter

After months of planning and training, it looks like the Heartland Roller Girls Association will have a roller derby team before the end of the year.

On June 29, three players passed the benchmarking test, which is a very thorough examination of the skaters’ skills.

“The benchmark test is made up of three pages of required skills,” said Stephanie Hadley, member of the Heartland Rollergirls Association.

“It’s everything from really basic skills like how to do your stops, how to fall, what your proper stance is, how you skate, to the more complex skills like how to give a shoulder check, how to give a hip check, breaking through the pack, full contact.”

The test was administered by Hoochie, the president of the Canadian Women’s Roller Derby Association and Lime, who coaches the Red Deer Belladonnas and the Canadian Women’s traveling team.

The benchmark test is mandatory for all skaters that want to play league roller derby.

“It would be very dangerous to send somebody out that didn’t have that benchmark test. It protects the skaters,” said Hadley.

“It also protects the other people that you’re playing with, just knowing that everybody is fully prepared when they get out.”

Roller derby has been become very popular in the last decade, becoming in fact the fastest growing sport in the world. During each bout, two teams roller skate in formation around a track, scoring points when each team’s jammer laps members of the opposite team.

The next step for the association is to recruit more players, as a roller derby team must have a minimum of 14 benchmarked players.

Only women 18 years and older can join.

“People are welcome to come out and give it a whirl Friday nights at the SRC. That’s our fresh meat night,” said Hadley. “We’ll give you a set of gear to try on and skate around a little bit, give you a few pointers just so you can feel it out.”

The association is also on the lookout for volunteers, since 37 non-skating officials are needed for each game.

“It’s a great way for people to get involved if the skating or the contact intimidates them. There’s always a place for everybody in derby,” said Hadley. “For men, we’re looking for refs. We’re always looking for coaching support.”

The association hopes to be able to schedule an invitational bout at the end of August with players from all over Alberta.

“Probably even those of us that are benchmarked will not be playing in that bout because we are quite new,” said Hadley.

“It will be a higher level of skaters that will be coming to form a couple of teams.”

There will also be another benchmark test around that period, for new skaters.

For more information, please contact Stephanie Hadley at 403-741-9233 or look for the association’s Facebook page.