Roller derby fans get a special treat on Saturday, as the Kootenay Kannibelles host their first home game against the Raggedy Rollers from Armstrong in a no-holds barred women’s roller derby match up at the Rossland Arena.
The Kannibelles are the traveling all-star team for the West Kootenay Women’s Roller Derby League, and look to extend their unbeaten record to 4-0 this season. The Kootenay team faced the Rollers in June last year, beating them in a close match in Armstrong.
“It was a super hard-hitting game, they are big and tough, just like us,” said training director and team captain, Bobbi Barbarich aka Beretta Lynch. “They are very similar in terms of how they play, it was a really physical game.”
The Kannibelles started the year with a rigorous tryout and training regimen, a work ethic that has already paid dividends.
The experience gained from Barbarich’s time playing on the national team and in the World Cup in October has also benefited the ‘belles.
“Between her going to Team Canada and one of the boot camps that a few of the skaters here went to on the coast . . . they brought back a few new items that we’ve been able to use in our strategies; we’ve just kind of taken them and made them our own,” said coach Damon Walton whose derby handle is Cousin Vegas.
The coaching and training trio of Walton, Phil Loosely, and Barbarich has put more emphasis on preparation and training strategy.
“We expect our players to already be in shape, rather than coming to practice and doing fitness,” said Barbarich. “If you are playing in a 21-game season you have to have a certain amount of competitiveness and athleticism in your blood in order to even get involved.”
Every three months the coaches perform fitness tests on the players to keep them on task, and with the increased schedule, the fitness level has to be at its peak.
“There is a little bit more expectation in terms of competitiveness and dedication to the team, and it’s panning out into some pretty amazing results,” she said.
The ‘belles have had an impressive start to the season, dispatching the Spokanabelles in Spokane last month and sweeping a two-game set against the Oil City All-Stars from Edmonton and Belladonnas from Red Deer in February.
The team is ranked number nine in Canada, and will play in the Western Regional Championships on June 15-17 in Nelson. The WKWRDL will host the event, that will see the eight best teams from Alberta, B.C. and Yukon vying for the Western-Canadian title.
The match against the Rollers goes Saturday at 6 p.m. as the Rag-tag group from the Okanagan/Shuswap league look to put an end to the Kannibelles undefeated season.
“They’ve been around for a bit longer than us, so I think we really surprised them last year, they’re looking to not have the same showing . . . a little revenge perhaps,” added Barbarich.
On a sad note, Cousin Vegas will coach his last game for the Kannibelles on Saturday, as his job takes him to the prairies where he’s already secured a position with a Regina derby team.
“He was one of our league MVPs last year,” said Barbarich. “He did so much to get the league started and has been such a great motivator. He’s a huge fan and shares his knowledge and time and strategy completely unselfishly, he’ll be greatly missed.”
In West Kootenay Women’s Roller Derby action last weekend, the Salmo Babes of Brutality beat the Lumber Jackies 210-108 and Rossland’s Gnarlies Angels rolled over the less experienced but hard working Dam City Rollers 221-61.