Roller girls have designs on bringing game to town

SCOTT ZERR -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 12:34 PM ET

An athlete has made it to the big time when he or she becomes a household name.

In Edmonton, there are instantly recognizable names like Chris Pronger and Ricky Ray. Then there are those you don't even need the full handle to recognize - Gretz and Gizmo being two at the top of the list.

Now there's a new list of names trying to make a breakthrough.

Sour Cherry.

Stiletto Bandit.

Harmin OnYa.

Tinker Hell.

Evil Shenanigans.

They are names that could only belong in one sport - roller derby. And if a group of local women get their way, they'll be booty bumping on the track by September.

"The girls are just starting to adjust to life on wheels. It's a whole different ball game," said Sour Cherry, who is actually 35-year-old Sherry Lynn Bontkes and the brains behind the roller derby resurgence.

There are 15 women now registered in the Oil City Derby Girls league which hopes to launch in the early fall with three to five teams. And interest is growing, noted Bontkes.

"This is a sport about women coming into their own," said mother of two who is also a hairdresser and cab driver in Spruce Grove.

'APPELAS TO WOMEN'

"It is a female-dominated sport and I think that camaraderie appeals to women. A lot of women have gotten into sports that have been traditionally male-dominated, but roller derby has always been just for females.

"It's something I've wanted to do since I was a kid watching Skinny Minny kick butt."

The current group meets every Sunday morning for a two-hour practice at the roller rink on the grounds of the Edmonton Garrison.

The players won't be paid. Any money raised from live-event ticket sales and fundraisers will go towards local charities.

It's an eclectic mix of women - stay-at-home moms, chiropractic assistants, secretaries and government employees.

"It's a blast," said 21-year-old Jay Martin.

"This is going to be so huge when it gets going."

And when it does get rolling, roller derby will offer viewers brutality and bodacious babes.

"It isn't a gentle sport but it's a good way to get rid of all that built-up aggression," said Martin, who is well-aware there will likely be spectators wanting to see more skin than slams.

"I don't have a problem with that at all. A lot of people might look at us and say, 'What are you doing?'

"I just say to them, 'Well, what am I supposed to be doing - staying home and baking cookies?' "

RCPMS

The costumes, no matter how revealing, are part of the teams' character.

Already tabbed to play in the Edmonton circuit are the Mad Cows and a crew sporting outfits similar to those of the RCMP. They'll be known as the RCPMS.

"There will be short skirts, frilly panties and fishnet stockings," said Bontkes.

"I'm not a small girl, but I'm comfortable with who I am and I'll be wearing the short skirts and fishnets. Different girls appeal to different men.

"They're going to be out there putting on a show. And, excuse the pun, but it's going to take a lot of balls."

There are more than 25 league already in existence in the U.S., including the Assassination City league based in Dallas and the Mad Rollin' Dolls in Wisconsin. The Oil City loop would be the first in Canada and already have a promoter on board.

"I think they'd draw 3,000 the first time out,"said Glen Carriere, boss of KO Boxing Promotions who is jumping on the craze created by the Roller Girls reality show on A&E.

"People will go because it's all-female and it's sexy. Girls rolling around in shorts - c'mon.

"I've already talked to the Rat City Rollers in Seattle and the Roller Girls in Minnesota about coming here for a one-game special event. But I'd love to have an Edmonton team in there."


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