Sunday, 6 May 2012

My Favourite Kingston Roller Derby Girl!

    There is a post on facebook these days that is making it's rounds.  The gist of it "cousins are our first friends, "Like" if you have the best cousins in the world".  I really do have the best cousins in the whole world, and my cousins really were my best friends before I learned how to make them for myself, and even after that.  Growing up my cousin Trina, Matt and I were the closest in age, and they were closest to me period.  Trina was the oldest being 8 months older than me (as a kid that seemed like a lot), Matt is about two weeks older than me, and growing up he was my protector, but that's another story.  When I was little it seemed like Trina lived so far away ( I think it was maybe half an hours drive at most).  I was always so excited to see her.  She was a little bit older and therefore hero material, but very close to the same age, so an attainable hero.  Even as grown ups I still enjoy her company, and wish that I made an effort to spend more time with her.
    My cousin Katrina (named after my mother, she is known in our family as "Wee Katrina" or Wee "Trina") is a gentle, soft spoken woman.  I know that if I were to pick up my phone and call her and ask her to do anything for me, she would be here as fast as her car would take her.  She might be five foot two, and perhaps weight 110 pounds.  She is a pretty and delicate little woman who easily pass from a short distance as a teen ager or someone in her early twenties.  In nearly everything that I do and ask for support in, there she is with her beautiful, generous smile.  I'm always surprised to see her, and yet when I think about it, I'm not sure why I'm surprised because she's always there for me.

    My gentle cousin told me the year before last that she was going out for "Roller Derby". "Oh" was my reply trying to sound supportive, but in my head I had jumped back ten feet and was hearing the funeral march, dum, dum, to dum, dum to dum, dum, dum ,dum.  What was she thinking, they'd kill her.  It was like a newborn kitten going out to play with rabid pit bulls.   My only knowledge of Roller Derby came to me from  the episode of the Bionic Woman, when she was a derby girl.  On the Bionic Woman episode they were mean and tough!  Each time after that I would ask her when she was playing.  "I've got to pass my fitness test before I can play".  I was impressed that they didn't let just anyone get out there, they needed to prove themselves.  When I saw Trina at Easter she told me her first game (I think they call it a game) was May 5.  "I'll be there" I told her.  I'm not sure that she believed me.  

    Yesterday afternoon I loaded the big kids in the van (Elly stayed at Nana and Papa's and Christopher had to work), and we headed to Kingston to the "Memorial Centre" to see our first Roller Derby.
The kids bombarded me with questions about Roller Derby, I had few answers (did I mention that all of my derby knowledge comes from an episode of The Bionic Woman that I watched as a small child.)  "Well I know that it's ladies hurting each other, well I think that's what it is.  They skate in circles?"  All my blood thirsty Riley needed to hear was "ladies hurting each other" (please no one tell her about boxing).  The whole ride she kept saying in this evil maniacal voice "I can't wait to see ladies hurt each other".  
    When we got there, the questions still did not stop.  I had no idea what the answers were.  Lucky for me when we were waiting in line there was a nice lady who I think could sense that I was going to snap, and answered some of the questions.  They opened the doors and we paid.  The price is $15.00 at the door, or $10.00 in advance for the double header, kids under 10 are free.  $15.00 a person seems a little steep, but it was a double header, and I reminded myself that I had paid $15.00 for 4 people to have a great time, and at that price it was a bargain.  We found our seats and waited.  The Memorial Centre is an old arena.  The kids thought the seats were "weird", they were wooden.  Apparently they had never seen wooden seats at an arena.  Note to self, we need to get them out more!
    The excitement for us really happened when Trina took the track (I don't know what they call it really).  SMACKINNON (Trina's derby name) was one of the smallest players (and as I was soon to discover one of the best).  She also has the most dangerous position, "Jammer".  Lucky for us we had a program that we received as we went in.  In that wonderful program not only did they list the players, it gave a summary of the derby rules.  Here's my summary for you.  There are two teams.  There are four blockers (they wear a stripe on their helmet) on each team and one jammer (they wear a star on their helmet).  The job of the "blocker" is to prevent the opposite teams "jammer" making it to the front of the pack, and helping their own "jammer" to make it to the front.  The job of the "jammer" is to make it to the front of the pack.  The jammer earns the points for her team.  She earns these points by passing her opponents, she earns one point for each one she passes.  Blockers block her using their shoulders, upper arms, hips or upper legs.  Tripping, elbows, and shoving are illegal and lead to penalties.  Four minor penalties add up to one major penalty which lands that player in the penalty box (which was really chairs).  I am proud to tell you that Trina was in the penalty box A LOT, that tough little bugger. There were woman walking around wearing t-shirts that said "ask me about derby".  What a great idea!  For us newbies we could ask them anything that we needed to know, where was she on the car ride there?

    Early on I went and got the kids a hot dog and drink while they waited for me in their seats.  When I came back they were holding "Rogue Warriors" flags.  "A lady gave them to us".  They had a mixture excitement and shame.  "We have to hide these in case Trina sees us holding them" Grace replied. So she sat on hers.  Every time it was Trina's turn out we would clap until our hands hurt, and scream.  I noticed that we were not the only ones in our section screaming for "SMACKINNON".  That made me feel proud.  It did not make me feel as proud as watching Trina.  Here is woman with two children who is essentially my age out there playing as well as someone half her age.  She was so gutsy!  She took hits that were so hard that I felt them, and yet she would jump up and play.  I would have just lay there until the ambulance came to cart me off.  At one point she hurt her leg quite badly but when the St. John's Ambulance people came over to her, she waved them off, man she's tough!  As she played, her face shone with joy, sheer joy.  It was a beautiful thing to see.

Man Those Girls Move Fast

    So now we have seen a Roller Derby.  Grace in particular wants to go again, she loved it.  You may notice in the picture that we bought a "Derby Girl" shirt for her.  Trina's joy has inspired me to try something that scares me (maybe if I got into some kind of shape I could try Derby, and we could be team mates).  I'm not sure what, but it seems like a good idea.  I am so proud to call Katrina MacKinnon my blood.  I'm not sure if it occurred that we are in our 40's.  She saw an opportunity that seemed like fun, and took it.  That is one gutsy lady!

I found this great clip on youtube about The Kingston Derby Girls, and it really is worth watching.

So if you would like to have a fun night out, head to Kingston.  The next matches are

Saturday, June 16               The Rogue Warriors VS Oswego Roller Derby
Saturday, July 14                Disloyalists VS RVRG's Riot Squad
                                              Rogue Warriors VS The Skateful Dead (Trina's team)
Saturday, August 18           The Skateful Dead VS Capital City Roller Girls
Saturday, September 8       Disloyalists VS ToRD DVAS
                                              Rogue Warriors VS The Skateful Dead (Trina's team)

Tickets for the double headers are $15 at the door, or $10 online or in advance
Single headers are $10, and kids under 10 are free.


  1. That looks like so much fun! I wish we had something like that around here :)

    1. It really did look like fun. I wish I was in better shape (or any kind of shape) to join myself.

  2. Wish I could have been there to support Trina,but Ihad something to do that night next time we will sweet little niece is a little toughy in skates, but gentle as can be in real her to bits.glad to hear she was not hurt to bad.

  3. Katrina MacKinnon7 May 2012 at 10:29

    Tristan, this is beautiful. Thank you so much. I am very lucky to have you in my life and anytime you want to strap those skates on I would be honoured to have you on my team. Now I need to stop being so sappy, you're going to ruin my "tough guy" image. Love you xo

  4. Thank you so much for coming out to support our wonderful teammate, Smackinnon, and for writing such an amazing blog! We especially love of 'mom' fans, as we know how much work it is just to get kids out to an event like this. So glad it was a hit with Grace- she could also be a future derby star in the making! Lots of derby love,
    Booty on Duty,
    Skateful Dead

    1. We will be back for the next Skateful Dead bout, that's for sure!