Skater’s from around the interior region of BC who were trying out for the Thompson Okanagan All-Star Team (TOAST) on November 30th only had to wait a week to find out if they made this exciting new derby club’s roster. The official lineup for 2014, announced on December 8th, is:
From the Okanagan-Shuswap Roller Derby Association:
Betty Bop It 2ya
Born to Hula
Miss Chick Vicious
From Okanagan Roller Derby:
From Revelstoke Roller Derby’s DeRailers:
Akilla The Honey
From the Penticton Pisterolas:
So, what is TOAST anyway? This past July marked their debut in the West Coast Dust Up, where they competed against the RDRDA Belladonnas, the Anarchy Angels and the Terminal City Roller Derby All-Stars. While this tournament was a driving force behind the formation of TOAST, Fifi LeFlufy, one of the team’s founding skaters, explained that a team like TOAST has been a long time coming. “It wasn’t just the tournament that ignited the spark. That was just the catalyst,” said LeFlufy. “The idea for TOAST had been in the back of many of our minds for a long while. We have five leagues in the interior and they are all relatively close to each other, but there isn’t a lot of playing between us. Many of us have been feeling a need to find a way for all of our leagues to come together and grow our derby community.”
LeFlufy explained that TOAST was created with the hopes of ultimately merging the Thompson/Okanagan area leagues by turning them into house teams under a new regional association and promoting healthy competition between them. They would then also develop an A level and B level travel team to compete abroad. While this initial concept hasn’t quite been realized LeFlufy is nonetheless thrilled with what the formation of TOAST has already accomplished for the region. “Who knows if that will happen? [Regardless], TOAST is already bringing leagues together and fostering good derby mojo in these parts. It’s a great feeling to be part of it.”
LeFlufy is also quick to sing praise of her teammates Manda Moon and Stephanie Sundquist (aka Mortusha) from the Okanagan-Shuswap Roller Derby Association who she says were the individuals responsible for getting TOAST going. The three of them have spent much of this past summer gathering information and talking to other leagues, skaters and coaches about how their various All-Star teams are operated. “We’ve never had an All Star team in these parts before, so we had to get our ducks in a row before jumping in again. We are so grateful for all the leagues and people who were so forthcoming with their advice and recommendations. They saved us a lot of trial and error and now we hopefully have this dialed in and can focus on our goals for the season.”
For many of the girls, playing as a new team in the West Coast Dust Up was a huge occasion. Not only was it TOAST’s first major event but it was the first time many of these women had ever shared the track together despite living and training in such close proximity. LeFlufy recognizes that this led to a rocky start for the team at the tournament, as they were so unfamiliar with each others play styles, but she feels that pulling out a huge victory was never the end goal. “We never expected to win or to be superstars, having never played together before, we just wanted to see if we could field a team of the best in our area and make it work. We definitely realized we could make it work, so that was a win in itself!”
So what does TOAST hope to accomplish in 2014? Well, aside from continuing with their efforts to promote growth for the sport within their region, the team also plans to prepare for bigger challenges against A level competitors across Western Canada. They have already been in talks with BC and Alberta based teams such as the Kootenay Kannibelles, Vancouver Island All-Stars, the RDRDA Belladonnas and Team Alberta Roller Derby, all of which have expressed interest in playing them. “We were formed to be a competitive team because a lot of the leagues around here are primarily recreational with a smattering of skaters who want to step it up and play hard,” said LeFlufy of their focus going into next year. “We, of course, want to keep derby fun, but we also want to continue to learn, grow, improve and be contenders against the big girls!”
The team’s biggest obstacle at this point is funding. With TOAST skaters already paying membership dues with their home leagues, on top of the year round expenses of gear maintenance, LeFlufy feels it’s a lot to ask for them to also pay to play on yet another team. “The last thing we would want to do is take any revenue away from existing leagues by asking our skaters to choose between paying to play in their league or paying to play on TOAST.” LeFlufy hopes to partner with leagues in the region and share practice space every couple of weeks in exchange for offering diverse training to them. According to LeFlufy, it is difficult to populate practices in the region so combining TOAST practices with those of other leagues would lend to better growth opportunities for everyone. This, of course, would also appease worries about securing yet another venue to practice derby within. As for covering things such as travel costs, TOAST plans to step up fundraising efforts and to make merchandise available for purchase as soon as possible.
But all of that will come in time. For now, TOAST is keeping grounded knowing that their primary focus at this time needs to be team building and fitness. “Hopefully next season we can start playing for rankings, but this season we are just going to learn as much as we can and learn to play together and trust each other out there… as we get going and start to come together as a team, we’ll be upping the ante even more.”
Follow TOAST on Facebook to see what they do next!
Who Burns His Toast Every… Single… Time.