Celebrating their 10-year anniversary this year, Montréal Roller Derby celebrated in true style by not only hosting the 2016 International WFTDA D1 Playoffs this September but making it for their very first time to Championships in Portland! A league that focuses so hard on sportsmanship, inclusiveness and competitive play has shown how everything can come together to not only be successful, but have a lot of fun too. Read on to learn more about Montréal Roller Derby, your featured WFTDA league!
Where are you located?
Montréal, Quebec, Canada
When was your league formed?
When did you join WFTDA?
When did you graduate from the Apprentice Program?
We didn’t! We were pre-AP! But we’re still very involved in the apprentice program as a mentor league.
How does your season run?
Typically, our season runs from November to August for our home teams, and until playoffs for our travel teams. We were more than happy to extend it this year after making it to champs! During our “off season” we run our rookie bootcamp to recruit new members to the league.
What are the closest WFTDA leagues to you?
Roller Derby Quebec (Quebec City), Toronto Roller Derby, Green Mountain Roller Derby (Burlington, VT), Rideau Valley Roller Girls (Ottawa), Capital City City Derby Dolls (Ottawa).
How many skaters/teams do you have?
Three home teams, two travel teams and a development team — about 100 skaters in total.
How is your league structured (home teams, travel team, management)?
We have three home teams, the Contrabanditas, Les Filles du Roi and La Racaille, the #1 B team in Canada, the Montréal Sexpos, and the first Canadian A team to ever make it to WFTDA championships, The New Skids on the Block!
Who is your biggest rival? And have you had any outstanding, memorable moments when you’ve played them?
One of our biggest rivalries has always been with London Roller Girls. We rose up the ranks together and turned heads as some of the first international leagues to be WFTDA members and we always seemed to meet up at playoffs! One of the most memorable was when we faced off at playoffs in Baltimore. It was the first time two international teams had played each other at “Regionals” and it was a close game until London took the win at the end.
We’ve learned so much from London over the years (and suffered some heart breaks too).
We’ve also developed great competitive relationships with Boston Roller Derby, who we LOVE to play year after year, Toronto Roller Derby, and of course, the time-honored east coast vs. west coast rivalry also exists in Canada between the Skids and Vancouver’s Terminal City Rollergirls.
Do you have any sister/brother/junior leagues you’d like to give a shout out to?
We have great love for our friends at La Ligue Montréalaise de Roller Derby Masculin, who are a tremendous support to our league, and for the future of roller derby in our great city, Montréal Junior Roller Derby.
What are the individual challenges of your city?
There’s no shortage of good times in Montréal, so competing for attention can be a challenge. We have amazingly loyal fans who have supported us for years and who continue to come out to bouts and bring everyone they know.
We’re also a bilingual city and a bilingual league, which we’re extremely proud of, but it also takes a bit more time and effort to make sure we’re inclusive of all our membership and our community.
Also, being Canadian has its own unique challenges when it comes to travel and inviting leagues up to play us at home. We were so excited to welcome the derby world in September when we hosted the first international D1 playoff and we hope we left a great impression with everyone who made the trip!
What are your biggest training challenges?
I think all leagues dream of having their own space, and some have it! Here in Montréal we have access to great venues, but are still renting hourly. Geographically, it is sometimes difficult to get teams to travel to us, and so we travel a lot.
How many days a week do you practice? How are your practices divided/organized among your teams/skaters?
In general, we have one league practice a week that every league member attends where we work on skills and fitness. We then have home team and travel team practices for three hours once a week and an additional practice for all members of travel teams on Wednesdays. Travel teams also have off-skates training throughout the week. During the summer season we add on an additional all-league scrimmage practice once a week.
Tell us about your training facilities:
Often in Canada leagues are able to find space in the summer when arenas are empty, but finding space that is heated and accessible in the winter is tough. We are very lucky to have a year-round practice facility owned by the city (and heated!) that we have access to, however we do share the space with other groups and events. We also have a great bouting/practice space in an arena from April to August that is ours alone.
Where do you hold your public games?
Depending on the time of year, they are either at our practice space, the Taz, which is a large skate park and roulodome or at our beloved Arena Saint-Louis in Montréal’s Mile-End neighbourhood.
Who are some of your star skaters on the track, and why?
Our team is stacked with shining stars, but the strength that we really believe was able to bring us to champs was skating together and not focusing or relying solely on individuals.
Here are just a few of the skaters we’re sure you’ve noticed in their neon:
Surgical Strike brings many strengths to the team through her experience. With a sports background that includes hockey, as well as six derby seasons under her belt, her consistency, communication, and strength is a huge part of our packs’ success. She has a unifying presence and definitely helps make the pack work smoothly!
Falcon Punch was a consistent performer throughout the entire season and, during Champs, was able to finish the bout with a positive differential despite our loss. She has power, quickness and lightning fast feet. Don’t leave your ribs open or she will punch right through you!
Jess Bandit is a long-time Skid with an incredible amount of experience on the track and on the bench. She’s a two-time skater for Team Canada (2011, 2014), head coach of Team Canada Women’s (2017), assistant coach for Team Canada Men’s (2016), and head coach of the Mont Royals. Bandit’s 10 years with Montréal Roller Derby has given her a wealth of knowledge and experience and it makes her an amazing asset on and off the track. She ended an incredible skating career this season with a trip to Champs!
Miracle Whips is one of the hardest workers on the team. She has an unmatched amount of energy and emotion that she channels into every game. You can always recognize her on the track by her apex jumps and smile!
It was also the first season of WFTDA competition for six of our skaters and we are so impressed and proud of how they all stepped up and elevated our team. Al K Traz, Ti-Coune, and Why So Sirius? are three names you have to watch out for on our starting lines!
Who are some “behind the scenes” skaters/members who really help your league run?
We are very, very lucky to have an amazing group of officials and NSOs who return year after year to keep us rolling. They are all extremely dedicated to their jobs and are continually working towards new certifications within WFTDA and training future bout staff. We also have great coaches and volunteers who dedicate phenomenal amounts of their time and energy to making our league a success.
And we are for the skaters by the skaters in more than just words. Members of our league from our rookies all the way up to our A-team are involved in all levels of our board, committees and organization.
And, of course, we can’t forget Plastik Patrik. Patrik has been the very public face of Montréal Roller Derby for a decade, but he also does an incredible amount of work behind the scenes, contributing his time to everything from organizing playoffs and tournaments to bout production and travel booking to helping out with our social activities. We’d be lost without him. And far less good looking.
What are some of your league’s biggest accomplishments?
We love to be first! We were the first international members of WFTDA (seems wild now, doesn’t it?) and the first international team to make it to a regional playoff. We were the first international league to host a D1 tournament this past fall and the first Canadian league to ever make it to champs. Just wait and see what we’ve got in the works next!
As one of the first international teams to join WFTDA, what was the experience like to be at International Championships this year?
Bandit, Mange and Cheese have been members of the Skids the longest and have been through seven playoff runs. They finally got a taste of champs this year. In the past, the Skids have made it very, very close, but this year was the year all those dreams finally came true!
An weekend of intense gameplay and outstanding sportsmanship, what were some of the big “take-aways” from your experience at Championships? How do you feel this better prepares for you next season?
It was incredible to be at champs and be to skating on the biggest derby stage among the top 11 teams in the WFTDA. We were able to accomplish our season-long goal of performing at champs, and it is definitely a place we plan on returning to.
Angel City was such a powerful opponent to face in Game 1 and being able to keep the lead for the majority of the first 12 jams was proof for us that we deserved our spot at champs. The Skids have played four top-five team games this season (London twice, Gotham, and Angel). We believe these games forced us to elevate our play, teamwork, and strategy. We don’t anticipate many retirements from the team and hopefully we will be able to carry over leadership roles, which will leave us in a place to pick up where we left off. We will set higher goals for ourselves and continue to push harder and play smarter to create the strongest team possible.
Do you have any big games and/or other tournaments coming up that you’re really looking forward to? Why?
We are just taking a little break right now after champs, but we’ll soon be in full-gear again working toward our annual home team tournament, the Beast of the East, and our 11th season! Our two travel teams are in the process of lining up their year and we can’t wait to see what 2017 brings!
We also have great local sponsors such as La Boîte Thérapeutique who takes care of our bodies and Restaurant Gus, who is proudly sponsoring our penalty box (and they make a mean caesar salad)!
For this upcoming season, Beau’s All Natural Brewery, an amazing brewer from just across in the Ontario border, will be our beer partner and we are very excited about this new partnership!
Do you have a special message for your fans?
Montréal Roller Derby represents a lot of different things, but one of the most important has always been fun. If you’re not having fun while playing roller derby, what’s the point? Thanks to our fans for following us for last 10 years and thanks to all the players in the greater derby community who have cheered for us, donned some neon and been generally rad to these crazy Canadians! We hope to make the next 10 just as exciting!
Would your league like to be the WFTDA Featured League of the month? Have you had an extraordinarily successful season that you’d like to share with the wftda.com fans? If you are a full WFTDA member league and have the authorization to speak on behalf of your league, we’d love to hear from you! Or nominate your favorite league and tell us why they should be featured on wftda.com! Please contact .