The first ever Roller Derby World Cup is just around the corner.With flights booked and accomodation sorted,the thoughts of many fans travelling to Toronto will be of the city itself.To find out a little more about Toronto,i talked to Bryan Mcwilliam aka Flyin' Bryan Killman.
Bryan is the manager of Chicks Ahoy! of Toronto Roller Derby and a freelance journalist from Toronto. He has covered roller derby for Gear Up For Sports and his writing portfolio can be viewed at Bryan McWilliam.com
What sort of building is the bunker?
The Bunker is Toronto Roller Derby’s new home in the Downsview Park region of Toronto. The area of Downsview Park was once used for army training. The government turned the majority of the facilities into businesses. The Bunker is located at the back of a building that houses a weekend flea market and has been used for film production in the past. It does not have separate halls; it is one large open space. If you visit layer9.ca and watch the latest bouts featuring ToRD’s CN Power against Montreal’s Sexpos and Hamilton’s Eh! Team you can catch a glimpse of what the venue looks like.
What is the crowd capacity?
I do not know the official crowd capacity, but if I had to guess I would say between 1200-1500 people at the maximum. Keep in mind that if you are watching recent videos of roller derby at The Bunker only half of the space was being used. The entire building will be used for World Cup which means double the capacity and seating
What is the seating and disabled access like?
There are grand stands for the fans in attendance and there is also suicide seating trackside where fans can sit at their own risk. I would recommend bringing a cushion or pad for your bum if you are going to sit in the suicide seating. The grand stands and suicide seating cover the majority of the track, but do not cover the areas where team benches, media and emergency medical staff are located. The Bunker has a disabled ramp for easy access to the venue and there is space between the grandstands and the track for disabled patrons to get a good view of the action. A disabled friend of my wife’s actually attend her first bout in early October and praised how easy it was to get into the building and how great of a view she was offered.
Is there a bar? and if so is it open all day?
Normally during bouts there is an area where alcohol can be purchased with identification inside the arena. I am not sure what the drinking hours will be during the World Cup, but I would assume no alcohol before 11 a.m. due to Ontario Alcohol serving laws and that the bar will close upon the conclusion of the last bout of the day.
Is there a cafe or restaurant within the Bunker?
Downsview Park sets up a snack bar in the arena whenever there is a bout. They provide food and beverages, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. There is also some businesses near by that provide food and drink such as The Hangar restaurant, Grand Prix Kartways and California Sandwiches.
Is photography allowed from the crowd?
Yes, photography is allowed in the building. Fans bring cameras all the time.
How easy is it to get to the Bunker using public transport?
It really depends on where you are coming from in the city. Downsview Park is located in the North West end of Toronto near Downsview subway station. There is a regular bus route, the 101 Downsview Park bus that on weekends drops you off right in front of the venue and there are also other bus routes that take you within close proximity of the venue. The best idea for anyone travelling via our transit system is to visit the Toronto Transit Commission website for details on how to get to the venue. I recommend using the Trip Planner option, it’s a great feature that allows you to punch in where you are going to, where you are leaving from and the times you need to leave and arrive by. It’s very handy!
Is the subway system the best and cheapest way to get around Toronto?
Yes, Toronto has a subway system (TTC) in place and depending on where you are staying in the city you will probably have to use it to get around. Each fare, each way is $3CAN or you can buy week or day passes which will save you money and allow you to travel more frequently. The TTC starts running very early and closes very late so the schedule of the transit will work accordingly with the World Cup’s derby schedule.
Taxi cabs are also an option and are very accommodating in the city. Toronto has numerous cab companies such as Beck Taxi, Diamond Taxi, Crown Taxi and more. Beck is very reliable and can usually pick you up from any location in the city in five – ten minutes. You can find their company information via Google. Cabs are fairly expensive in our city and The Bunker is far if you are coming from the centre of the city, which means your cab ride will be expensive, but cabs can be affordable if you fill the ride (four per cab) and split the fare.
What will the weather be like in Toronto come December?
Toronto’s weather has been very odd over the past few years. We never know when to expect the snow. Sometimes it happens in December; sometimes it doesn’t happen until February. I recommend you prepare for the wet, slush and snow. It will be cold, no matter what. Freezing or below zero Celsius is normal for our winter. If you wear a decent winter coat, a winter hat and make sure you are dressed appropriately you will be fine.
However, when the wind kicks in it can get extremely cold. The wind chill added onto our cold temps can really push the temperature low, so please make sure you are prepared for the cold. Bring a winter coat!
Our snow has not been unmanageable for quite a long time. Most of the travel will be direct to the venue on transit so there shouldn’t be too many times where you are trucking through snow, if we have any by that time of year. Toronto does a fairly decent job of cleaning up the snow so it shouldn’t be too bad. The only thing to worry about is slush. This is a pain to deal with and makes driving conditions a bit unsafe at times, so be careful of that.
Any restaurants around the venue worthy of a mention? Are you expected to tip and is it a set amount?
The Hangar bar and restaurant and Grand Prix Kartways are the only places reasonably close that sell alcohol and provide food that isn’t just plain old pizza and potato chips, which is what kind of food you can expect at The Bunker. You can check www.toronto.ca for info on Toronto area restaurants. It is the official website for our city and has everything you need to know about food, shows, tourist attractions, etc. Canadian service industry does expect tips. The norm is 15%, but I base tips on service. If they give good service I increase from 15%, if they give bad service I decrease from 15%, it all really depends on the customer and how they feel like tipping.
What can visitors expect to pay for a meal?
Toronto has an abundance of restaurants that offer a wide scale of food types that range in price. You can find some solid places to get a good sit down meal for less than $20. It varies based on how you eat, what you want to eat and where you are in the city. There are a lot of helpful websites that you can go to for this information such as www.toronto.ca or www.dine.to or you can just ask some of the locals. There are so many people with so many recommendations you’ll always be able to find a decent meal for a solid price if you’re willing to ask. Stay away from the franchise restaurants; they normally have sub par food with high prices.
...and how about prices for beers and shots?
It depends really. If you go to a pub and drink Canadian domestic beer out of a bottle such as Molson Canadian, Budweiser, Coors Light you are looking at around $4CAN. A pint may run you about $5-6 depending on the establishment. If you drink beer that is considered foreign to Canada you will pay more. A shot usually goes for around $4 as well, but can increase based on the liquor you are drinking. You may come across lower and higher prices depending on the establishment. Night clubs and higher end restaurants will charge you much more. You can usually find a few spots that regularly offer lower priced alcohol. Ask some local Toronto folks and surely they will give you tips on where to go for cheap drinks.
Is there anything else Toronto specific that visiting fans need to know, like local holidays or clashing events?
Toronto always has a lot going on, but there are no holidays occurring during World Cup. There will always be clashing events going on in Toronto since we are a busy city, but nothing so dramatic that it will affect the World Cup very much.
Are there any do's and don'ts in Toronto?
Toronto is like any big city. We have friendly people and we have unfriendly people. Overall I’d say this city is friendly and so are most Torontonians. Normally if you stop to ask someone for advice, directions, etc they will go out of their way to help you. You may run into some people that are not so friendly, but that normally occurs when they are in a rush or a bad mood.
We are also very multi-cultural so you’ll run into all kinds of different cultures and languages. We have certain neighbourhoods where you will find more of a certain language, i.e. China Town, Little Italy, Little Portugal, etc. As for do’s I recommend you discover the city, but know where you are going. Ask locals for fun neighbourhoods to visit. Try to get the best out of your time here, when you’re not watching derby of course. As far as don’ts, I wouldn’t recommend trying to discover the city without a little know how. Ask locals at the derby events if they know some fun places to explore. Toronto is generally very cool. It’s a big city and there is a lot to discover so I recommend you do it! Canadians and Torontonians love to drink and have fun. We like to party and always have events going on in our city to entertain us. You’ll never be bored here.
I know it’s somewhat unthinkable, but what are the must see sights and experiences that Toronto has to offer that visiting fans might indulge in other than the world cup?
If you can afford it, try to attend a Toronto Maple Leafs game. You can visit the CN Tower, the Hockey Hall of Fame, visit our theatre district, hit up one of our many nightclubs, and attend a rock show in one of our many venues. Again, check out www.toronto.com for all kinds of information, but the World Cup will probably take up a huge amount of your time.
Team Canada are beyond doubt one of the contenders to win the upcoming World Cup,they have a stellar squad with a colossal amount of experience.Many of the skaters on the roster will not only be familiar names,but also Derby heroes to many a skater here in Scotland.
The team roster.. Beretta Lynch Kootenay Roller Derby British Columbia Bone Machine,Georgia W Tush,Iron Wench,Jess Bandit(Co Captain),Lil Mama and Smack Daddy Montreal Roller Derby Brim Stone(Co Captain) Toronto Roller Derby Eight Mean Wheeler and Lulu DemonTerminal City Roller Girls Vancouver Gunpowder Gertie and TAZ Red Deer Roller Derby Red Deer,Alberta Hell ‘on Keller E-Ville Roller Derby Edmonton,Alberta Killson Forest City Derby Girls London,Ontario Maiden Sane Pile O' Bones Derby Club Regina,Saskatchewan Motorhead Molly Tri-City Roller Girls Kitchener,Ontario Rainbow Fight 709 Derby Girls St.Johns,Newfoundland Soul Rekker Rideau Valley Roller Girls Ottowa,Ontario Teeknee Oil City Roller Girls Edmonton,Alberta Windigo Houston Roller Derby
Coaching Staff Head Coach – Coach Pauly from E-Ville Roller Derby Assistant Coaches – Mack The Mouth of Terminal City Roller Girls, Paul Piche Hammer City Roller Girls
Team Canada have no warm up bouts planned and will instead use the time remaining before the world cup to concentrate on training.They have a mix of scrimmages and training sessions planned to take them up to December and unlike many other squads in the competition,Team Canada will not require much in the way of practice time together to enable them to play well as a team,such is the level of their experience and abilities. The team will also enjoy the benefit of home support,Roller Derby is massive in Canada,there are dozens of leagues,a huge number of which are regularly featured in the press at a local level,with some national tv coverage too.As a result the World Cup venue in Toronto will be like a sea of maple leaf shirts. Expect Team Canada to play their hearts out for their home crowd.
Roller Derby is a relatively new sport in France,both the Paris Roller Girls and Roller Derby Toulouse were formed in early 2010,but already there are dozens more leagues,as Bravehurt,assistant coach to Team France explains,"most of them are too small yet to be considered full on "leagues" with multiple teams, but the teams are growing and multiplying rapidly.Derby is definitely catching on in a big way here!" The French leagues involved in sending players to the World Cup already have quite a bit of experience when you consider the length of time they have been operating,having played bouts against the likes of Crime City Rollers and Stuttgart Valley Roller Girlz,plus the Paris Roller Girls were accepted into the WFTDA Apprentice Program in October 2010,a mere eight months after they were formed.
The Team France final roster is.. Bambu Sengoku,Bestia Loca,Cash Pitashe,Chakk Attack and Maggie Yo Teen-Roller Derby Toulouse Belle Zebuth,Karla Karcher and Emi Wild-Les Petites Morts De Bordeaux Bone E Vicious,Bloody Vuitton,Butch Shan,Cherry Lielie,Katy Fury,Kosmic Bruise,Joan Jet 27,Meryl Strip-Her,Truck Off Pooky and Whisky Mama-Paris Roller Girls Dual Hitizen-DC Rollergirls Frenchy Pants-Montreal Roller Derby
It's also worth mentioning that one of the squad's alternates,Router Girl,skates for Pioneer Valley Roller Derby in Massachussetts. The head coach is Amelia Scareheart From Paris Roller Girls and the assistant coaches are Bravehurt and Slash Gordon from Roller Derby Toulouse with Dixie Pixie From Paris Roller Girls.
Team France will be holding several weekend training sessions for the entire squad in the run up to the World Cup,with assignments for the skaters to complete inbetween each session.Additionally some of the leagues involved are close enough together to enable portions of the team to train and practice together regularly.The team have not bouted together as yet,although a fundraising demonstration scrimmage is planned in Bordeaux in October. Without doubt,their skaters from US and Canadian leagues will be able to pass on a wealth of experience,together with the intense training schedule and the fact that by the time the World Cup comes around,they will be well used to skating as a team means France cannot be taken lightly.They may not be up to the standards of the US and Canadian squads...yet,but they pose a serious threat to teams like Scotland and Ireland.It would be a mistake to write off Team France.
Injury. Every skater’s worst nightmare.
Unfortunately, playing a high impact contact sport, you have to expect that you will pick up injuries along the way. What shows real strength of character is how you bounce back from that. No injury should be taken lightly, no matter how small you think it may be. Listen to your doctor, they might not know/understand roller derby but they do know what is best in order for your injury to heal properly. Only you can know if your body will handle being back on 8 wheels. Do your physio, it will help immensely with you getting back on your skates. Even after you’ve recovered, keep doing the physio, it will help to continue to strengthen the muscles in the area of injury.
Having been seriously injured myself; I know how frustrating it can be not to be skating. But fear not, there is a way to stay involved with derby while you aren’t skating. I went to practice every week when I was injured, it may sound ridiculous, you’re thinking “Why the hell am I bothering, I can’t skate!” but it does make sense. You’ll be surprised how much you pick up just by watching. You’ll learn how your team works with one another, things for improvement etc. So get someone to drag your broken ass to practice, and more often than not, your league will be over the moon to see you.
Watch as much derby as you can. Make notes of interesting tactics and bouts that you see. Research. Take what you have learned back to your league, everyone sees things from different vantage points, so make yours heard.
A trick that an injured skater from Dundee Roller Girls used was to keep a journal of her progress throughout her recovery. You don’t have to write in it every day, but write down significant things about your recovery, even if you feel it’s as trivial as “Today I managed to take a bath by myself”. Whenever you feel blue about your perceived lack of progress, look back on the journal and you’ll see how far you’ve come.
Being injured does not mean the end of your skating career. If playing derby is not an option, why not look into becoming a referee? They are just as important in derby as the skaters and play a pivotal role in the smooth running of any bout. Ask to get involved with training, you will be super vigilant as to how to avoid picking up the injury that you suffered, pass it on to other skaters, they will thank you for it.
There are lots of committees within each league, some that are not directly related to skating but are important in the continued progress of the league. Join as many committees as you physically can. You might not be able to make every meeting, but this will ensure that your voice is still heard. An injured skaters opinion is just as valid as any other skater.
You can and will bounce back from any injury you suffer in the span of your derby lifetime. Want to know how I know? Cause I did and so have many others.
Did you always go into roller derby with the aim to become a ref?
In all honesty I began roller derby to get involved, simply to get involved. I found the prospect of a new sport exciting and the opportunity to be part of a team was something which I relished. It is true that I began skating on the team; I’d say it was a straight forward choice as that’s how I took my first steps back on skates after a few years. After around 18 or so months I had a go at refereeing after discussing it with Ella Bella Bang Bang and it just stuck. Officiating is a critical part of the sports development. Skaters need officials as much as officials need skaters and a wee bit of ground to roll around on. What do you think makes a good referee?
Firstly I’d say time. We all have to learn and practice, it’s very difficult to become a referee. It takes a lot of time and commitment to develop. You have simply got to training as much as you can, push yourself, get involved with as any scrimmages and bouts as possible and be very frank about your strengths and weaknesses. The strength to take feedback, self-assess and appreciate the support that’s given to you and the support you must give to others. Finally I would say respect, you never throw a fellow official under the bus, we all make mistakes and seek the elusive perfect bout but to achieve that would leave us with little to learn and I don’t believe in that. We are called a ‘crew’ for a very good reason as working together is fundamental to a bout being well officiated including those on and off skates.
Do you have any referee idols? Is there a particular referee that you look up to or go to for advice?
I have a huge amount of respect for officials in roller derby, skaters too as we all make our sport what it is today. I have been very lucky to work with some of the strongest and most knowledgeable officials in the sport, both in Europe and the USA and I look to everyone I work with for feedback or advice.
If you were to twist my arm for a few, first up would be Ella Bella Bang Bang (ARRG), this lady is truly inspirational and is the reason I became a referee. She is supportive and constructive with incredible determination to support everyone she works with. Miss Trail (NYSE) really impacted the style of referee I have become. Her calmness and knowledge of the sport is incredible. I admire her development work with the MRDA and always to aim to live up to her standards.
There really are too many to mention and I don’t want to leave anyone out but, I always learn from every bout I officiate and every official I work with. Officials are constantly discussing rules, debating changes in the game and pushing the boundaries of our knowledge. We support and push each other which are a real credit to all the individuals involved.
You are quite famous among the roller derby community for your small reffing pants, but recently I have noticed that you have been covering up a bit more. Is there a reason for that?
Hahaha, yes the pants. I don’t really have a specific answer. Yes, the WFTDA tournament protocols have an officiating dress code but that doesn’t affect most games I skate. I have some very good compression tights which help me with my leg and you’ll notice I wear those under my pants. Maybe the fact that 80% of my ref photos on Facebook are of my bum, makes getting a good headshot a nightmare, but again I’ve never received any complaints. I do have a black pride of scotland kilt for thr world cup which i love to skate in now too.
If and how have things changed since you became a ref ?
Our game is constantly changing, from rules development to the skill and ability of skaters. I believe in supporting the sport and accommodating it as it develops. The most notable thing for me is the technical level to which teams are applying and bending the rules. As an official you need to have exceptional knowledge of the rules, protocols and how those are applied to the game. Teams really are pushing the boundaries of what can be done within the rules and it is up to the officials to develop and keep ahead of that curve.
What's is your greatest achievement in your reffing career?
My greatest, wow, well that’s a tough one as there are so many things and so many bouts that I have been part of which I am proud of. I’m working towards my certification and if I achieve that ill be over the moon but so far if I had to pick one it would be being selected to ref the MRDA championships in New York. I am a huge fan of the men’s derby and have a huge amount of respect for the men’s teams both in Europe and the USA.
You've been one of the more widely travelled scottish roller derby referees. How does it feel to be refereeing at the first World Cup?
Its fantastic! I get the opportunity to work with some amazing officials, see some fantastic skating and just being part of the first derby world cup ever is awesome. In all honesty knowing that there is a Scottish team amongst a fantastic range of European teams and two Scottish Refs among a crew of excellent European officials representing European derby at the event makes me proud of everything that everyone in European derby has achieved.
2.2.2, it’s the prime directive that keeps us rolling.
Once more Aoanla treats us to a bout report,this time for the recent Glasgow Roller Girls intraleague match,between their Death Stars and Hell's Belles.You can read the review here ,as ever,there are also some excellent pictures and video to look at.
Many thanks to Aoanla for doing these bout reviews,all from his superb blog Ante Ortus A Lumen Ars.
Team Argentina are one of the dark horses of the competition.Much like Team Ireland their team is a mix of experienced skaters from some famous leagues and enthusiastic newer girls. Roller Derby is a fairly new sport to Argentina.The first league formed there was 2x4 Roller Derby in June 2010 and there are currently seven leagues operating,three in Buenos Aires and the rest throughout the country.
The Team Argentina roster is-
Arson Tina from Gotham Girls Roller Derby Chargin’ Tina of The LA Derby Dolls Crazy Legs from The Queen City Rollers Barbie Turik,Disturbio Santo,Ini,MAKIavelica,Minx X Vixen,MissVik,Nina Brava,Psycho Thrasher,Sun of the Beach,Turbonegra,Vale and White Rabbit from 2x4 Roller Derby Rosie the Ribhitter from Houston Roller Derby Sargentina from The Windy City Rollers
Coaching staff Head Coach:Crazy Legs (Queen City Roller Girls) Assistant Coach:Nina Brava (2x4 Roller Derby) Manager:Tyrant Doll(2x4 Roller Derby)
Team Argentina are playing exhibition bouts with a split team as part of their preparations and will no doubt be soaking up all the lessons that their skaters from US leagues can pass on.They plan to travel early to Toronto, get in some practice time and gel their skaters together. The girls that skate for US leagues,do skate for some pretty major ones...Gotham and the LA Derby Dolls among them,these girls will doubtless have a wealth of experience in terms of training and in bouting and scrimmaging against some of the best leagues in the world.It only remains to be seen if Team Argentina can absorb and adapt.
It will be a difficult choice for some attending this bout,as over in the west,Glasgow Roller Girls are hosting a double header on the same day.
There is no way around this fact:England have put together an amazing team-twenty girls from eight leagues,some of the best and most respected anywhere in the country.The collective experience of these skaters cannot be overstressed and as a result England will be a major force in the forthcoming World Cup.
The Team England Roster Fox Sake,Frightening Bolt,Grievous Bodily Charm,Juicy Lucy,Kamikaze Kitten,Metallikat,Ninjette,Raw Heidi,Shaolynn Scarlett,Stefanie Mainey and Vagablonde from The London Roller Girls Jack Attack and The Mighty Mighty Bash from The London Rockin' Rollers Dee-Mise and Missy Rascal from Rainy City Roller Girls(Manchester) el VISIOUS from The Hellfire Harlots(Nottingham) Hustle’Her from Central City Roller Girls(Birmingham) Rogue Runner from the Dolly Rockit Rollers(Leicester) Violet Attack from the Birmingham Blitz Dames Feral Fairy from Leeds Roller Dolls
The Coaching team comprises:Ballistic Whistle of LRG,Barry Fight of CCR and Rollin' Stoner of The Royal Windsor Roller Girls
At the recent Eastern Region Playoffs,LRG's London Brawling squad finished in fifth place,a more than credible feat against some of the best leagues on the face of the planet,an amazing moment in UK and European Derby history and surely the crowning glory thus far for the London Roller Girls.Eight skaters from that squad have made the team for England and as there are no scheduled warm up bouts,Team England will instead choose to spend their time until the World Cup in training.Rest assured that those eight skaters are wringing out every last scrap of that experience in the States and passing it on to the rest of their team mates. The English squad will be able to train together,many of them will already know each others styles and strengths and they have experience of both UK and European bouts....including against many of the members of Team Scotland,confidence and motivation will be high after London Brawling's performance in the States.Undoubtedly Team England will do well in the World Cup.