They’ve spent all of their free time for the last several weeks preparing for it and tomorrow is finally the big day! Prince Albert Roller Derby (PARD) is ready to host their first ever home game, entitled First Blood, at the Dave G. Steuart Arena where they will test themselves against the Ringleader Roller Girls from Whitewood, Saskatchewan. When asked just how much time has gone into making this first game for PARD a reality Danielle Reneau, aka Knox Hersoxoff, said “Don’t even ask! Coffee breaks, lunch breaks, days, weeks, [practically] every spare moment we can find has gone into the prep for this. Between finding sponsors, a venue, a team to play, postering, supplies, getting the liquor license, etc. it has been SO much work.”
Luckily, the girls of PARD haven’t been left to fend entirely for themselves. “We’ve met a ton of awesome people from Saskatoon, Regina, and other leagues. So there are a lot of refs and derby girls coming to help with this event. Without them, I’m not sure if we could have pulled this off! The derby world is amazing!” PARD has also been getting a little support from their community but it has been challenging to raise awareness and to get situated when much of Prince Albert has never seen a bout and doesn’t know the first thing about modern roller derby. But all of that has begun to change with tomorrow night’s big game! “Now that we’re hosting an actual game we’ve noticed a lot more support and sponsorship. I think things will pick up a lot once people get to see what we actually do,” explained Reneau. “[I’m] super excited and nervous. [Prince Albert] has only heard about derby but we get to show them what it’s all about!”
Reneau, a property manager for Weidner Apartment Homes by day, has been a member of PARD since May of 2011 when she first saw an article about the league in paNOW. “I had no idea what it was but I wanted a new hobby.” Little did Reneau know that her newfound hobby would become an obsession. “It’s just like an addiction, you just get hooked. Once I put on my skates I become brave. I’m not afraid of anyone or to try anything and if I can’t do something I’ll keep trying until I can.” This boost in confidence that comes from derby is something Reneau wishes all women would experience. “I think that anybody can do derby. People might think that because they have kids, or don’t have tattoos, or aren’t big athletes, that they can’t join derby but they’re WRONG. Derby is for everyone. Our team is made up of the most diverse group of women and we fit together. There are no judgements, we’re accepting to anyone and we help make sure we [constantly] bring out the best in each other. There’s nothing else like derby!”
PARD was started just over two years ago in September of 2010 by Katrina Zimbaluk, aka Supertramp. Zimbaluk was born in Regina and has been playing with the Pile O’ Bones Derby Club for quite some time now but when she had to move to Prince Albert for school a haunting realization crept over her. She couldn’t live without derby! “I could not bear the thought of leaving derby behind. I started by just posting flyers and making an email account where people could email me if they were interested in helping me start up a league. From there it just kind of exploded!” Though Zimbaluk is back in Regina she still keeps in touch with many of the PARD skaters and asserts that her heart will always be with them. “Derby honestly saved my life, [so] when I left home I [just] had to bring it with me. If it wasn’t for PARD I wouldn’t have survived away from home for 2 years. Thank you, girls!” She’s also thrilled that her PARD sisters are finally getting to see the results of all of their hard work. “Words cannot describe how excited about and proud I am of them hosting their first big bout this Saturday. They have put so much blood sweat and tears into this sport that they deserve to reap the benefits.”
The blood, sweat, and tears Zimbaluk is talking about can be seen through the sheer amount of experience PARD has been going above and beyond to obtain. They’ve been going to scrimmage after scrimmage and invitational after invitational all year round, sometimes travelling as long as four hours away for a chance to get some more time on the flat track. “I have had the opportunity to see the girls since I left and the improvement is amazing! They’re not only growing in skill but as a league they have come so far. It just amazes me,” said Zimbaluk.
PARD has also been sure to do everything they can to raise awareness for the sport while simultaneously supporting their community and a variety of worthy causes. On April 28th the PARD girls were out at Price Breakers where they volunteered for a fundraiser in support of Muscular Dystrophy Canada. Then on May 26th, they raised over $3000 for their Relay for Life team by hosting an outdoor Skate-a-Thon where friends, family, and local pledged money for the girls to skate increasingly crazier amounts of laps in an hour. Every cent of those pledges was given to a Canadian Cancer Society as part of their Relay for Life on June 2nd. A few days later, on June 7th, the PARD roller girls put on a demo and invited the public out to skate with them as part of Queers on Quads, an event for the Prince Albert Pride Festival. On top of all of this, PARD frequently has information booths up at street fairs, have skated at a number of public functions (such as car shows), and can regularly be seen out in the streets in their quads handing out flyers promoting new recruitment nights. “We really do everything we can,” said Reneau.
So come on out to the Dave G. Steuart Arena in Prince Albert, SK tomorrow night (Saturday, Sept 22nd) to see just how much the PARD girls have improved in their first ever home game!
PARD is always looking for more skaters, referees, non-skating officials and volunteers of any kind. To learn more about the league visit www.princealbertrollerderby.com (such a cool website) or check out their Facebook page.
All photos are courtesy of Shaun Savage Photography. Photo gallery of the Prince Albert Roller Derby Outlaws from Shaun Savage Photography can be viewed at: The Outlaws – New Beginnings and Meet the Outlaws.