April 10, 2012 • In web :: Features
Pump Up the Jams
Emily M. Keeler looks at the passion that fuels Toronto Roller Derby.
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Passion was definitely in high supply when I sat in with the D-VAS for a strategy meeting two weeks before their opening bout. The session was led by Smack Mia Round, or as Smackwood introduced her, the D-VAS resident rule nerd. In addition to rule nerding, Mia also sits on the ToRD stats committee, and at the end of the meeting she exhorts her teammates to volunteer. There was a real sense of community in the air; the women laughed easily and made many overtures to do more, to get even more involved. They couldn't get enough of Derby and they couldn't get enough of each other.
Even when discussing the technical minutia of the game, the whole meeting had a deliciously ribald flavour. Mia went over illegal blocking zones, and, without taking a breath, she quipped: “Every Derby girl has grabbed another Derby girl's boobs on the track.” She smiled, adding “Or off the track.”
The D-VAS are the farm team for the other six teams in Toronto, and they've mostly all come up together in the ranks. Smackwood said that there were about 90 women registered for the initial Fresh Meat training session. Including Mia and Smackwood, 25 women passed the skills test at the end of last season's Fresh Meat, and so were eligible to join the D-VAS. “You probably lose about half of the people halfway through. That's when the contact part of the sport comes into it,” Smackwood said. “[It’s like,] C'mon, it hurts! That's scary!”