Nine-year-old “Cupcake” joined Caribruisers because her mom is in roller derby. LeRae Haynes photo

Caribruisers Junior Roller Derby Team hosts back to school derby boot camp

Participants and coaches attend from all around B.C.

LeRae Haynes

Special to The Tribune/Advisor

A roller revolution boot camp welcomed derby enthusiasts of all ages when the Caribruisers Junior Roller Derby Team hosted a back to school derby boot camp.

There were 23 participants, both local and from places across the province participating in the Aug. 26/27 tournament. They ranged in age from five to adult, and were skillfully instructed by guest coaches from Vancouver, Quesnel and Prince George.

Caribruisers coach and founding member Sunny Dyck, known as Coach Bruise Lee, was thrilled with the event.

“We had boot camp participants from Kamloops, Terrace, Prince George, Lac La Hache and Vancouver,” she said, adding that no matter the experience or ability, each participant moved up a level over the weekend.

The boot camp included an instruction and information session Friday night, boot camp all day Saturday teaching basic kills and techniques and learning all about roller derby itself, and ended with practice scrimmages on Sunday.

Coach Bruise Lee has been doing roller derby since 1996. She belonged to the Lake City Girls, and founded the Pedal Pounders as well as the Caribruisers junior team.

“I love derby. I have it in my veins,” she said. “It’s a fantastic sport – all inclusive and barrier-free. Anyone can do it, any age or ability.

“It’s about sportsmanship and learning to be with other people, it’s communicating and having fun.”

She explained that derby names are chosen often based on something the player is passionate about – anime, movies, bands, or relatives they really appreciate.

“A lot of the skaters, one of the first things they do is pick a name that means something to them,” she added.

There are 22 solid members on the Caribruisers team, as well as some satellite members. It’s an almost 30-person team, ranging from five years old to adults just starting out.

“The youngest derby player I’ve seen is four-and-a-half or five years old, and that’s mainly because that’s as small as the derby skates go,” she continued. “The smallest skate is this tiny little thing, and if their feet fit, they can start.”

She said the oldest person she’s seen is a woman who celebrated her 63rd birthday with the team, noting that the average for a while was between 30-50 years old.

“That’s very cool. It lets people know the sport isn’t all about youth and speed and seeing how much we can get hurt,” she said. “It’s about fitness and being with other people with the same goals as you.”

The team just opened up this year as co-ed, and includes all ages and abilities. She explained that it’s a reflection of a trend in leagues across the province.

“It’s so successful; it’s great to have a five-year-old with a 55-year-old on the track. We all learn the same and everybody wins. We call it a rolling revolution – it’s really altering the way derby is known and the way it’s seen,” she continued.

“We teach etiquette and manners, and the importance of giving back to the community. We volunteer a lot, and are looking forward to doing a Boitanio skate park cleanup this fall.”

“I’m so overwhelmed with the parents. They are an extension of our team. We get amazing support from them; on skates or not, they are on this team.”

Derby Pool, who is 15 years old, said boot camp was amazing.

“I have finally perfected my transitions, and am doing better at my stops,” he explained, adding that he’s only been doing derby for just over a year.

“I went to some practices and would watch Sunny when she practiced with the Pedal Pounders and it looked like fun,” he said. “This was before I did any skating, and I thought, ‘This is interesting – I want to see if I can do this.’

Caribruisers member Cupcake, nine years old, said she joined the team because her mom was in roller derby and inspired her daughter to play.

“I really like to skate, and do both jamming and blocking,” she noted. “They’re both fun, but I personally like jamming more.”

Coach Bruise Lee said there is a lot of encouragement and support between the players of all ages, something she describes as unique to the sport.

“When you’re on the track, it doesn’t matter,” she said. “We’re all doing the same thing.”

For more information about the Caribruisers Junior Roller Derby Team, visit www.caribruisers.com or follow them on Facebook.

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