Thirteen teams from all over the planet are gathering in Toronto for the first ever Roller Derby World Cup, December 2 – 4, 2011. With teams featuring from the best players from each country, it promises to be an epic three days.
As previously announced, four local athletes have been chosen to play with Team Canada. TAZ and Gunpowder Gertie from Red Deer Roller Derby Association, Teeknee from the Oil City Derby Girls, and Hell on Keller from E-Ville Roller Derby will represent our country in this historic international tournament.
Alberta has another reason to be proud. When invitations were sent out to officiate the World Cup, Red Deer’s David ‘Papa Razzo’ Chapman was on the list. While seldom recognized with fanfare that star derby players enjoy, referees are an integral part of the sport. Just like the players, derby officials work hard in terms of athletics and knowledge to learn their craft. It has been suggested that roller derby is one of the hardest sports to referee, a persuasive argument considering that derby refs skate fast within a small area while processing a flood of information that must be framed within modern flat track derby’s convoluted three tiered penalty system.
Chapman says, “In sports like football, soccer, baseball, and, of course, hockey there is a common knowledge of the rules. Up to a certain level anyone can play the game, and most people can ref, without an in depth knowledge of the actual rulebook. There is no such knowledge of roller derby, just a vague memory of seeing it on TV as a kid. It’s like watching WWE – an athletic entertainment product – and trying to apply that to amateur wrestling – an actual sport.”
During Chapman’s two and half years with Red Deer Roller Derby Association, he has been official, player, or announcer for well over fifty bouts, travelling all over Canada and the United States. Last July he became one of only two officials in western Canada (less than ten in all of Canada) to be certified by the regulatory body, the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association.
Chapman explains, “If all I ever did was work at home games, I would never have learned to be a good ref. The officials that came before me in Edmonton, Calgary and beyond showed me that you need to travel, and be part of a larger community to succeed. I learned a lot from them and I’m still learning today. The rules are still evolving, and the way the game is played within those rules is changing as well.”
Like all derby officials, Chapman is a volunteer and will be travelling to Toronto for the World Cup on his own dime. To help with Chapman’s costs, along with players TAZ and Gunpowder Gertie, come support them and Red Deer Roller Derby Association this coming weekend, October 22/23, at Skate and Destroy. This boot camp and headliner game features four amazing bouts over two days. Yours truly will be playing Saturday night when my Nightshades take on the Gas City Rollers. Sunday will see two women’s rookie bouts and a co-ed game later on in the day.