Bow Valley Roller Derby: Times and Trials of a New League

By Rachelle Honeyman

I was attending an 80s-themed bachelorette party in the summer of 2010.  Joanne was the bride to be, and only an acquaintance to me at that time.  I wasn’t exactly sure why I was invited to her party, although I appreciated the extended invite. Turns out it was meant to be. The party was a blast, and I met a new friend named Amanda. We got talking and she mentioned she was going to start a Roller Derby league in Canmore. No kidding – count me in!

Photo courtesy

The party ended, and I never saw Amanda again. I surrendered to the fact that we all have great ideas, but sometimes life is too busy to make them all happen. Then, one random evening I bumped into Joanne, who was heading down to a Roller Derby meeting. I couldn’t believe it!

That first recruitment night at the Drake  must have attracted 50 to 60 enthusiastic women.  And there was Amanda. The focus of the group was on Amanda and another woman, Ray. I learned that they were from Saskatchewan and were initiated into derby there. These ladies decided this sport was something that they couldn’t live without in their new mountain town of Canmore.

A month later it began – Bow Valley Roller Derby.  The first practice was an intimidating one. People sheepishly put on their skates for the first time in public, despite some practicing at home on  hardwood or linoleum floors where we had counters to grab onto or couches to bounce into. Here we didn’t.

One of our drills at Cross Zee called “The Train of Pain”, lead by Ray Morin, one of BVRD’s starters. Photo courtesy Rachelle Honeyman.

Thirty women gathered at Cross Zee Ranch in the donut tent for the first meeting. Some girls had no problems, but otherwise the scene reminded me of the first school trip to the hockey rink. At least half of us were hunched over, with a wobbly wide-leg stance, arms and hands straight out. The only thing we were missing were the metal walkers they give the kids learning to skate on ice. Nonetheless, we were determined to learn.

One thing that stood out in my mind was a comment Amanda had made at the recruitment night: “Don’t worry. The first thing you will learn to do is to fall.” Meanwhile I was thinking to myself, “Isn’t the point not to fall?”  We were two to three inches taller on new “shoes that move.” Falling was the dreaded fear for me, even though I was head-to-toe in protective gear. And you don’t know how much it’s going to hurt the first time you fall.

For the record it didn’t hurt at all.

To learn more about the Bow Valley Roller Derby, check them out on the web.

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  1. SO glad you ladies all started this league in the Bow Valley!! Keep on rolling!