Precious memories for retiring Sirens captain
Inspirational Sirens of Smash roller derby captain Fay "Precious" McKenzie is retiring from the sport.
After six years with the Sirens, joining soon after they were formed and playing in their first competitive match, McKenzie is hanging up her skates at the end of the season.
The eco tour guide and educator wants to spend more time with her increasingly active children, aged 12 and 9, and also wanted to "leave on a high".
"I have really loved it [roller derby], and I still do, so I wanted to leave while I was still enjoying it," she said.
It's given extra significance to what will be McKenzie's last home match against the Otautahi Roller Derby League from Christchurch at the Nelson Roller Rink at Tahunuanui on Saturday.
The Sirens beat the Christchurch team to take the Lady Luck trophy at a tournament in May, but the southerners are now ranked ahead of the home team.
McKenzie will play a key role in the outcome as one of the Sirens' jammers, the players who dodge, weave and smash their way through the opposing blockers on the track to score points.
She said one of the joys of the sport was getting through the opposing pack; the tougher the struggle, the bigger the buzz.
One of her proudest memories was the Sirens' debut in a tournament that packed out the Trafalgar Centre in 2012.
"We didn't really know what we were doing, and we played teams way better than us, but we gave it a good go," she said.
McKenzie said she would miss the camaraderie and the laughs shared on and off the track by "a group of really cool women".
For now her focus is on Saturday night: "I want to go out with a bang".
Sirens head coach Meagan "Femme" Turner said McKenzie brought a positive, supportive spirit to her teammates, who were "gutted" she was retiring.
"Before every game, Precious would say 'I hear a ticking', as in a bomb is about to go off, as words of encouragement to our team, and to get everyone amped for the bout.
"I'm sure we now all hear the ticking of the season winding down. She's leaving behind big skates to fill."
McKenzie will play her last game for the Sirens in Wellington on November 4.
* Sirens of Smash vs Otautahi Roller Derby League, Nelson Roller Rink, Tahunanui, 7pm, Saturday. Adults $6, children $3.