Things are “rolling” again for Peterborough Area Roller Derby, or PARD, for the first time since the pandemic began, after games were put on hold due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Excited to be back on the track, Julie Stender, known as “Car on Fyre” on the derby team, says she has noticed more people are becoming interested in the sport.
“Since the pandemic started, a lot of people have decided to strap on skates and casually skate outdoors and try different things,” Stender said.
That’s led some to try roller derby, Stender continued. “We have had a few more new recruits than we normally would because of that, so it’s great.”
PARD was formed in 2013 when two local clubs amalgamated. The team now plays other Ontario squads. And while the team is tough on the track, Stender said the top priority is to create a welcoming environment.
“Our number one goal is to come out here, have fun, make new friends, make sure that everybody feels included.”
She said the team is open to people who identify as female.
“It doesn’t matter what your skill level is, what your body shape is. There are so many positions in roller derby and so many things you can do that there will be a spot that highlights the skills you do have.”
When it comes to skills, team member and coach Sarah Murray (known on the track as “Sarie Not Sorry”), said stance, falling and stopping are the first things she teaches to new skaters.
“The most important thing that we teach everyone first is to get into a nice, good stance,” Murray said.
“We want to skate with our knees bent as much as possible,” she explained. “If you’re standing straight up, you’re more likely to tip and fall, so if you’re down lower you’re more stable and already in a better spot.”
But, Murray said she has learned more than technical skills through her time on the team.
“It has helped me feel more confident in myself for sure, especially coming in and taking on a coaching role,” Murray said.
“The community is really the biggest part of all of this. Just being able to share this experience and work together as a team is really amazing.”
PARD is always looking for new members and runs a Derby 101 program in the fall, but if you prefer to watch from the stands, the team is hosting an upcoming bout at the Douro, Ont., arena on July 23.
For more information, you can visit the PARD website.