Roller skates are no longer a thing of the past.
Prior to a Toronto Roller Derby (ToRD) semifinal matchup this past Saturday, the league held the debut of its junior derby girls.
Though the popularity of roller skating peaked in the disco era and began to die off before many of the participants were even born, the young women have embraced their new pastime.
Better Red Than Dead, who has been a part of the junior organization since it began earlier this year, enjoys it because it is distinctive.
“It’s a really unique sport,” said Dead, who like everyone involved, goes by a derby name. “Nobody else does roller derby.”
As of right now, the junior league consists only of Toronto’s team, and they have been practising together since May. Getting together once a week to work on their skills has allowed them to bond and make new friendships.
For Beady Eye, she thinks the program offers girls like herself even more.
“I like it because a lot of the girls who come in usually have self-esteem problems because of bullies,” Eye said. “This just boosts it right up.”
Misfit, one of the youngest in the nine-to-18 league at nine years old, enjoys the sport because it’s a fun way for her to get exercise.
“I like that it’s very active and you get really hot,” Misfit said. “It’s a good workout.”
Though the adult version of the sport includes some heavy hitting, parents’ concerns were put to rest when they found out the junior league includes only light contact.
Jessica Wolf, the mother of Misfit, brought her daughter because the nine-year-old wanted to be involved in a physical sport.
The young mother has been impressed at the way the coach, Coach R’effin, instructs the girls in making contact with one another, stressing the difference between the junior and adult organizations.
“We teach them that the hitting isn’t something that we do in the junior league but it is something that is done and performed based on thorough training,” Coach R’effin said.
“They understand that the hitting that is involved in the adult’s league is something that they train to do on a regular basis so it’s executed and received properly.”
Wolf was apprehensive about signing her daughter up at first, but after watching and seeing how great the coaches were, she immediately got Misfit involved.
“It’s a women-run, women-organized league and I thought that was a really great thing for her to see as a young girl growing up,” she said of her daughter.
Wolf was most surprised at how quickly Misfit took to the sport, embracing it right away.
“She was immediately in love with it,” Wolf said. “She practises every chance she gets. I’ve never seen her so excited about something.”
Betty Buttbruiser, like the majority of the participants in junior roller derby, is most excited about the fact that they are involved in an activity that is strictly for young women.
“I like how it’s a women’s sport because most sports are more targeted to men,” Buttbruiser said. “I like that there’s finally one just for girls.”
The introduction of the juniors at the hangar at Downsview Park on Saturday was to help raise funds for the non-profit organization that is roller derby, and also expose them to the community.
According to Coach R’effin, junior derby is the future of roller derby.
“They’re a new generation of kids that had never really been given any reason to get into a pair of roller skates.”