TORONTO – In 2007, Cynthia Brooks decided it was time she lived a healthier lifestyle–cue the introduction of GTA Rollergirls, Toronto’s first non-profit flat track roller derby league.
“I saw it on tv,” Brooks said. “They had this show with roller derby’s playing and I said, ‘I could do that.’ My husband said, ‘I don’t know, you’re kind of clutzy.’ And that just gave me motivation to actually do it too.”
But unlike many other leagues, where players are required to go through tryouts and have years of training under their belts, GTA Rollergirls is willing to train all of its members, many of whom have never played a sport before.
Cathy Kaddie (also known as “CAT the Conqueror”) says she was one of those rookie players but the 10-week training program quickly got her up to speed.
“[Skating] was very difficult and I really struggled, but I had a lot of support from all the vets who were here in the league and helped me get through, and it’s amazing,” Kaddie said.
The founder of the team, Brooks (or “Splat Benatar” as her alter ego name goes), said the team also gives players an opportunity to help others. The league allows the team to donate to organizations like Plan Canada, a foundation that helps raise funds and awareness to engage children in developing countries to play on sports teams.
“They are taking their passion for a sport that they love, and you can see that they have so much fun with it, and they’re channeling [that] into raising funds,” senior manager of public engagement at Plan Canada Abigail Brown said.
And their efforts haven’t gone unnoticed either. Brooks was recently honoured with the Caring Canadian Award, an award that recognizes Canadians who volunteer their time to help build a stronger and smarter nation here and abroad.
On Saturday Apr. 19, the team will be hosting their fist roller derby event of the season. Doors open at 6 p.m. at Ted Reeve arena situation at 175 Main Street. For more information on how you can help or play, visit the GTA Rollergirls website.