So with Flat Track Fever rolling into the Olympic Oval in less than three days, you might be should be contemplating strolling down to the University of Calgary campus to see what this crazy and colourful world of flat track roller derby is really all about. If you are a newbie to the sport, the idea might be daunting. But don’t worry, my friend, I have assembled a quick guide to help you along.
1. Learn the rules. On the surface, roller derby might seem simple – a bunch of skaters rolling around a track knocking the crap out of one another. While true, that also only scratches the surface. The fact is … modern roller derby plays by a pretty complex rule set. Most (if not all) of the leagues skate under the WFTDA (Women’s Flat Track Roller Derby Association) rule set. This is the current international rule set that governs our current style of play. Its a complicated tome that might send your average newbie fan fleeing into the night.
But rest assured, the more you watch roller derby, the easier it will be to understand. And for the basics, just check out this link for a brief run down provided by my beauteous team mate, Crimson Shivers. Or if you are like me and a visual learner, check out this video that the lovely ladies of Hammer City put together.
2. Rest up. Flat Track Fever runs three days – a very long, intense and action filled three days. These days will be BURSTING with roller derby awesome and if you aren’t rested, you will burn yourself out. So get plenty of sleep Thursday night and pace yourself. You have the opportunity to see some of the best roller derby in Alberta and it would be a shame if you missed it because you were dozing in the bleachers.
3. Replenish. Excitement makes me hungry and thirsty. So, if you are anything like me, you will make sure you keep yourself well-fed and well-hydrated over the three days. And we can certainly help you do that. On-site, you will have access to some yummy noshes provided by the Ship _ Anchor Pub. Plus, just a few steps away at MacEwan Hall, you can access a plethora of food stylings that will cater to any palette. But just make sure you get back quickly so you don’t miss anything!
We also have a beer garden for those of you who enjoy an adult libation or two.
4. Cash money. In addition to a slathering of roller derby fun, Flat Track Fever also offers an amazing vendor alley. We have local photographers and artisans as well as some big names in the business of roller derby that will be offering their wares throughout the three days. I know I will be spying some new pads! Maybe you can even pick up your first pair of quad skates so you can play in the tournament next year!
For the most part, this means we are a cash only event. And if you are planning on buying your tickets at the door, it’s cash only. But as the brilliant Douglas Adams once said….Don’t Panic! There is an ATM machine available at the Oval and MacEwan Hall also houses several machines. So your pockets can easily be refilled with coin.
5. Go Green. Flat Track Fever is a green event. You will find recycling and compost bins throughout the venue. Make sure you use them! We’d also encourage you to bring your own reusable water bottle as we won’t be selling bottled water on-site. Every little bit helps keep our lovely mud ball of a planet healthy and pretty.
6. Team colours. Don’t forget to bring signs, pom-poms, or other fabulous fan-nish things in your favourite team or league’s colours! Skaters thrive off of fan support. The louder you scream, the faster we go! The most ruckus you make, the harder we will hit! We feast on your energy so bring as much as you can! And if you don’t yet have favourite team colours, may I recommend yellow and black?
7. Be coifed. The entire three days of Flat Track Fever will be live streamed across the vastness of cyberspace. The fabulous folks at Canuck Derby TV and Derby News Network will be taking care of streaming this event. So you never know if your mug will be beamed across the cosmos and onto the laptop of some unsuspecting derby fan in Australia, UK, or even Alpha Centauri.
8. Have fun! While this is an intensely competitive sport, our fundamental goal is to have fun – both for the skaters and the fans. For the most part, we don’t take ourselves very seriously (just look at the outfit your average derby girl is sporting). We like to have a good time and gut-busting laughter is definitely the norm. So prepare for a healthy dose of F-U-N!
9. What else?! In my advanced age its quite possible I missed something. So if you arrive at the Oval and find yourself a bit confused or have a question, you can head over to the Information Booth. The lovely Info Booth minions will be happy to answer any addition questions you might have.
And if you wanna earn a lot of points, hug a volunteer! If it wasn’t for them, this tournament would not be happening. So always remember to thank them. They are our foundation!
In closing, if this is your first foray into roller derby, you are going to find yourself in an amazing world over the three days of the tournament. You will be treated to some fantastic sport, awesome athletes, and will probably experience one of the best times you have had in a while. And in all likelihood, it will be the gateway to a brand new addiction…
All photos have been provided by Steve Recsky.