In June of 2006, a small group of women were looking to bring the recently revived sport of roller derby to Calgary. These women—Profanity Annie, Scarla Maim, Rollover Jean and Roxy Acetylene—formed the Sandstone City Roller Girls and built the foundations of Calgary’s first roller derby league. After a lot of grassroots promotion and some tough financial decisions, these ladies designated the league as a not-for-profit organization and became the Calgary Roller Derby Association.
A girl by the name of Wendy Wallace sent out an email to see if there was enough interest to embark on this journey, and invited all interested parties to a meeting at Trend Fashions in Kensington.
The fledgling league started conversations with roller speed skating coach Tyler Congdon at Lloyd’s Roller Rink who began to work with them to develop basic skating skills. (Congdon continues to run workshops that local derby skaters, both seasoned and fresh, attend as often as they can).
Helen Wheels (AKA Sheriff Shutyerpaio) of Arizona Roller Derby got wind of the new league getting their bearings in Calgary, when she was in town with her derby ref husband (Hot Wheels), visiting his parents. She had simply been hoping Calgary had a league so that she could get in some skating on the trip. The fledgling league ended up planning a full bootcamp with Helen Wheels and learned more about the essentials of game play, from blocking skills to falling properly.
Founding member Scarla Maim coached the league through their first season, consulting extensively with Helen Wheels and Congdon to get the league not just rolling, but playing the sport. They continued to work on their training and build on their derby skills until eventually a training committee was formed and small teams were chosen. With a booth at the Slam City Jam, and a shared booth with the already established Edmonton Oil City Derby Girls at the 2006 Calgary Tattoo Convention, they were able to recruit new players and begin practicing real game play.
The league’s first public game took place at the 2007 Tattoo Convention in teams that were mixed from girls on CRDA’s three teams, into two scrimmage teams: the Bloody Marys and the Black Sabbathas.
One year of hard work and practicing later, the Calgary Roller Derby Association hosted their first friends and family bouts at Legacy Sports to adjust to playing in front of a crowd. The teams that existed at this time were the Thrashin’ Lassies, the Cut Throat Car Hops and the Girl Grinders.
After that, the league started to gain their footing in Calgary and began hosting regular practices at Legacy Sports and D9 at Currie Barracks. It quickly became apparent that the league was not large enough quite yet to support three teams, and the decision was made to absorb the Girl Grinders into the other two existing teams. The original two teams, the Thrashin’ Lassies and the Cut-Throat Car Hops, are still in play today.
The second season saw the creation of a third team—the B52 Bellas—to accommodate the many new skaters who had achieved their benchmarks.
Now, along with a rigorous practice schedule and regular game play, the league also attends boot camps held throughout Canada and the United States. CRDA has a travel team, the CRDA All-Stars, which is comprised of the top players in the league, based on tryouts. The All-Stars have played bouts throughout Canada and the United States.
The Calgary Roller Derby Association has been instrumental in helping other emerging leagues get their footing and learn skills essential to the game of roller derby. Along with the Terminal City Rollergirls in Vancouver and the Oil City Derby Girls in Edmonton, the Calgary Roller Derby Association has been one of the flagship leagues to bring the sport to where it is today in Western Canada.
The Calgary Roller Derby Association has presented roller derby to Calgary at various venues including Legacy Sports, Triwood Community arena, the Corral, the Round-Up Centre, the Big 4 Building, and the T’suu Tina Sportsplex. Calgarians can also expect to see CRDA skaters on the streets, skate parks and bike paths around town whenever snow melts.
The Calgary Roller Derby Association expects to continue our unprecedented growth and, in January 2013, we were honoured to be accepted as an apprentice member league of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, before becoming a full member in December 2013. Our recruiting events see amazing turn-outs, and our fundraising games hold higher than expected turn outs and raise funds for various causes. As we move forward in to the future, we hope to raise our profile in the city and become a larger, more competitive league with a dedicated fan base.