Roller Derby Bout Kicks Off Season

On May 11, Courtenay, BC played host to the season opening bout of their Brick House Betties against the Sea to Sky Sirens of Squamish, BC. While the Betties may skate a mean game by “dishing out the hits, ’70s style,” they do embrace good sportsmanship to the fullest. The Betties’ mission statement includes the phrases “keep it positive,” “optimistic, open and accepting” and “talk it out; let it go.”

“Our team’s mission statement reminds skaters to always bring their best self and keep it positive, so that the team may focus on being friendly and competitive,” says team junior coach Val Wright, who’s known as Wright Krazy around the track.

The Brick House Betties have members from the Comox Valley, Campbell River, and Nanaimo. Team-building was a major goal for them this year, and they managed to reach a full roster of 15 players by the end of the season. They train together twice a week from September to April for their short four-bout season. The Betties hosted three home games, and travelled to Powell River for one away game.

“Our stats for the season were 1-3, but the team was incredibly pleased with how [our skills] developed with each game,” Wright says. “We feel that by focusing on our player skills and team strategies together, we achieved the season’s goal.”

While their bouts weren’t designed as fundraisers, since roller derby “has a tradition of involvement within the community” the Betties made an effort to involve other community groups in their events so they could raise money for their own causes.

“One of our game half-times this season was a performance by QUEST, a group of grade 6 and 7 students from Queneesh Elementary who make up a percussion band,” Wright remembers. “Their performance was very entertaining and helped raise funds for a band trip. Another fun half-time was hosted by the Motorcycle Ride for Dad crew, who staged a bike race to raise money for prostate cancer research.”

Wright says that anyone who thinks planning a roller derby game is a secure-the-venue-and-show-up proposition should know that teamwork is helpful for bout preparation as well as gameplay.

“Planning a roller derby bout is a lot of work! We have various committees to accomplish all the tasks involved, including bout production, marketing, coaching, sponsorship, and hospitality,” she relays. “Our players put in four to six hours a week at practice and, as we near bout season, each committee probably puts in at least that much more per week as well. Derby players are passionate about their sport!”

The ladies had an aggressive promotional plan for this season which included a team-made poster with matching Facebook banner, event listings on Facebook for each bout, and poster placement at two major traffic intersections in Courtenay. They also sent press releases for each bout to local newspapers, had individual players promote through their own social media pages, and secured sponsorship from 97.3 The Eagle, which gave the Betties generous airtime on local radio.

Wright believes that having professional tickets printed aided their advertising efforts a great deal.

“Our team received great feedback about your design-your-own-tickets. There were comments posted on our Facebook page about them being the coolest-looking tickets around!”