© Herald file photo
The Prince Albert Roller Derby League Outlaws, pictured here during a 2012 bout, will be hosting the Red Daun Memorial Bout on Saturday in memory of one of their former players.
It will not only be a night to remember, but a night of remembering.
The Prince Albert Roller Derby League will be hosting the Red Daun Memorial bout on Saturday night at the Dave G. Steuart Arena in Prince Albert. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. and the bout will start an hour later.
“It ended up being sad circumstances -- it is a memorial bout for Amber Jones” Sandy Elsaesser, also known as Vexatious Valkyrie, said.
Jones, whose roller derby name was Red Daun, passed away on June 17 from complications of her broken leg, Elsaesser said.
“She would have been a freshly benchmarked skater, which means she would have passed all of the minimum requirements that made her eligible to play in a bout,” Elsaesser said. “This would have been her first bout in Prince Albert. Because we lost her, we decided we wanted to honour her with this event and have a big, fun, derby memorial in Prince Albert to honour who she was and the athlete she was as part of our team.”
They decided it would be the perfect way to honour her not only as a teammate, but also as a woman and athlete.
This is the first bout the league will be hosting since last September.
“We can only host in Prince Albert in the spring and summer because of the limited facilities for us to be able to host an event,” Elsaesser said. “We are hosting here August and again in September. Then we will not be able to host again until next spring.”
The roller derby girls are very excited for the bout, which is also a fundraiser for the league.
“All bouts end up being a type of income for our league and any derby league that hosts,” Elsaesser said. “Because we are a non-profit and all derby players pay to play, we don’t get any kind of subsidized funding from any organization. We have to do all of our own fundraising and we pay dues to play.”
Hosting a bout gives then a chance to raise some funds to cover the costs of rent for practice facilities, to travel to other bouts and other expenses throughout the year, Elsaesser said.
“We played in Moose Jaw, North Battleford, Regina and Saskatoon this year,” Elsaesser said.
Roller Derby is a fairly new sport to Saskatchewan, Elsaesser said.
“Roller Derby in Saskatchewan is probably five or six years old -- the first established leagues started in 2006-2008,” Elsaesser said. “The Prince Albert Roller Derby League was established in September of 2010. As far as roller derby leagues, we are one of the newest.”
Although it has been popular in other provinces for longer, Elsaesser said Saskatchewan has developed into a force to be reckoned with in Western Canada.
“They have done really well and actually two sets of Saskatchewan teams ended up playing in the finals for the first ever Canadian Roller Derby Association Nationals in Edmonton in March,” Elsaesser said. “Saskatoon played Regina and Saskatoon came out on top but it was a really close game between two teams that have always been rivals.”
Elsaesser encourages people to come out to the arena on Saturday and watch the bout.
“ It is a really fantastic source of entertainment,” Elsaesser said. “It is a full contact sport with a lot of regulations. There isn’t a free for all brawl, the way roller derby was in the past and it isn’t choreographed and scripted -- it is a very, very athletic sport, but it is super fun to watch.”
One of Elsaesser’s favourite things about roller derby is the relationships that develop through the sport.
“The camaraderie and sisterhood that develops in roller derby is really apparent on the track because even though you are the fiercest of competitors, as soon as that whistle blows, you are immediately friends because that is just how the sport works,” Elsaesser said. “There are no grudges. Rivalry is healthy, but it doesn’t go beyond that.”
In June, the Prince Albert League felt that sisterhood from other leagues, Elsaesser said.
“When Amber passed away, the outpouring of support we got from the roller derby community was outstanding, and that is what this night is going to be all about,” Elsaesser said. “It is going to be fun, it is going to be in honour of Amber and everything about it is just going to be a really uplifting and exciting fun experience, for everyone involved both spectators and players.”
“We can get you in touch with whatever information you may be interested in to become involved in roller derby in some aspect.”