The Prince Albert Outlaws played their first home bout in front of a packed house on Saturday at Dave G. Steuart Arena.
More than 700 people attended the city’s first official roller derby bout. Organizer and member of the Outlaws Danielle Reneau was impressed by the turnout.
“As of yesterday, we knew that we would have a pretty good crowd, but we didn’t realize we were going to sell out at the door,” Reneau said following the bout. “Roller derby has been booming in Saskatchewan and Western Canada for a while, but this is pretty exciting for Prince Albert.”
Reneau sees the public response as a good sign for hosting future bouts.
“We’ve finally been able to host something here and bring it to the public’s attention a little bit more,” she said. “Hopefully, we’ll get a lot more people interested in playing, and we’ll be able to host a lot more bouts here.”
Invitations were sent out to a few opposing teams that the Outlaws felt were at the same skill level. Ringleader, a team from Whitewood, S.K., gladly accepted the opportunity.
Ringleader member Kelsey Stewart said she was equally impressed by the crowd.
“It was an awesome turnout,” she said. “Hopefully, more people are interested in the sport. There are lots of places that are starting to take roller derby up, and it’s so much fun ... It looks way more dangerous on here than it actually is.”
Roller derby is played by five players a side. Points are scored by the "jammer" — a member from each team who starts off behind "the pack," or the other eight players.
The number of points awarded is based on the number of opposing players the jammer passes. A major penalty — or four accumulated minors — results in one minute spent in the penalty box.
Tables can turn very quickly in roller derby. The Outlaws saw their once commanding 30-point lead fully evaporate with just three minutes left.
“In one two-minute jam, if the jam is right, you can score 30 points in two minutes,” Reneau said. “It seems like a big lead, but it’s easy to lose it.”
Whitewood powered its way back to win the bout by a final score of 149-136.
“It doesn’t take very much to come back,” Stewart said. “As soon as you get a major jam in there, one simple move can lead to their jammer getting in the penalty box. And we just hold back their wall and our jammer just goes right through. It’s five points just like that, and we had two of those.”
The full-contact sport can be fierce, as demonstrated by the half-time announcement that one of the players may have broken her ankle.
Following the bout, however, the two teams enjoyed each other’s company.
“The after party comes with every derby bout,” Reneau said.
The Outlaws are currently the only team in their league, but with more players starting to join, a second team may become a reality. Until that happens, however, the Outlaws will continue playing teams from all over Saskatchewan.