Derby Dames roll into action sport

20:08, Oct 10 2013
roller derby
ROLL WITH IT: Kelly Courname, Pippa Rowe, Zoe Ruane (coach), Candy Penney, Olivia King, Megan Colvill - AKA The Timaru Derby Dames - are loving their new found sport.

Smashing and crashing into other girls on a roller skating rink might not be everyone's cup of tea, but for a group of Timaru women, the fun of roller derby thrills them to the core.

They call themselves the Timaru Derby Dames - a self-confessed bunch of mismatched battlers - who love the fierce comradeship, theatricality, and athleticism of the sport.

"I love the speed and aggression, you can just go out and play, and it gets it all out," founding member Pippa Rowe said.

The idea of introducing the sport was sparked over a drink. Pippa and friend Christina Burke acted and the sport was founded in May, initially with five players. Today they have a 15-strong crew of regulars, with a few more who turn up not quite as frequently.

It takes about eight months for "fresh meat," as new players are called, to learn the skills - how to smash 'em, and how to fall.

"We're just in training at the moment. We've been to Christchurch to watch bouts but haven't really had any ourselves just yet," team member Candy Penney said. No games would mean no injuries, correct?


"One girl broke her arm on the first day. Training can be quite extensive, but she just fell on her arm the wrong way," said Pippa.

The Derby Dames know they've signed up for spills, bruises and a whole lot of fun.

"We react to it the same way guys react to a rugby game. It's a lot of fun to play and watch," Pippa said.

Roller Derby is mainly a women's sport. It's fast, feisty and feminist, and as much as the girls are keen to win, they're also keen for friendship. They admit that many of the team haven't traditionally been into sport, but there's something about roller derby that is open and accepting to everyone.

The contact sport started life as a simple skating race in the US during the Great Depression. It has a reputation for being a very accepting sport.

"We're alternative people, and we might seem a bit mismatched, but we seem to get along pretty well," Pippa said.

Roller derby is growing in popularity and is among eight sports under consideration for addition to the 2020 Olympic Games.

The Timaru Herald