Written by Pamela “Pamtera” Cunningham
For Derby Frontier
I remember… It was back when it was sport court, blue, with chips coming off and corners lifting up. It was called Xtreme Sports Roller Hockey.
I remember our first bout against the Rocky Mountain Rollergirls in December of 2006.
Sour Cherry, OCDG founder, was the one to find a venue and eventually a new home for the Oil City Derby girls back then. Jefftimus was the soundman of the evening, and I was a pregnant announcer missing my first ever derby bout. We had a band that night (The Ignitors) that would play immediately after each of the 3 periods (yes there used to be 3 periods!). In between, Jefftimus would be running across the venue to switch the breaker back on, and we had a generator outside running in the cold.
We were so happy to have a venue to move into, coming from Sportsworld, where we only had one hour each Sunday morning to practice.
Gord was the landlord of Xtreme, he was cranky and would ride around in a little zamboni that cleaned the sport court. Or, at least he thought it did. When Xtreme went into receivership all of the belongings including the sport court, were moved into large containers at the back of the building until the court case was settled. Oil City moved the broken pieces of sportcourt mixed with years of mouse poop and dirt into the storage container, out in the icy back alley. It was a horrible job, but we all did it, wearing masks on our faces, making jokes, groaning, and talking about how many showers we were going to take afterward. It was all for free rink time.
So, an end to an era is happening as Metro Sportsplex, or as we lovingly call it “The Grindhouse”, will be torn down this year. Oil City has until July 1st to vacate and our last bout will be Fresh Meat Frolic #4 on June 8th, a Sunday bout starting at 2pm. Any Oil City Alumni are invited to come and say goodbye and we will have a special section for you. All skaters and the public are asked to come and partake in a Goodbye to the Grindhouse afterparty after the games are finished until 9pm.
I guess I feel the closest to this building as I went forth to get our own Class B liquor license back in 2011. There were endless hours on the phone and appointments with various city officials to get licensed. The Fire Marshall wanted a door cut into the far corner, and for the exit sign to light up. The kitchen needs this, we can only sell beer in this area, etc. It took approx a year to get our license and I was happy to say we did it!
Ahh, the Grindhouse, we have had 7 years of Sk8mare, along with 4 officials clinics, 4 Fresh Meat Frolics, countless practices, bootcamps, and meetings outside on the grass. We brought in our largest crowd when we played the LA Derby Dolls and we set up the largest set of bleachers when Vancouver came to play us.
We’ve played quite a few leagues in that venue including, Montreal, Victoria, Vancouver, Saskatoon, Rage City (Alaska), Treasure Valley (Boise, Idaho), Prince George, Red Deer, Calgary, Yukon, OSRDA, Medicine Hat, Regina.
We’ve hosted a pillow fight with wrestling, an actual boxing match, garage sales, laughed, loved, broke things, cried, got mad all on that track. We spent hours cleaning it, rallying the skaters on the weekends to try to make it more welcoming for our fans.
In this building I watched our kids grow up there, running around, waiting for us to finish our meetings, bored at practices, hanging out at bouts.
And while we always had something to complain about, the lack of washrooms, the dust on the floor, the broken lighting, it was our home and we are sad to see it go. I think Trip Vicious said it best “I’m gonna miss this sh*thole.”