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Royal City Roller Girls to offer junior roller derby program this winter

Information session planned for later this month on beginners' program for girls 9 to 17
The Tri-City Roller Derby junior program now has around 50 girls in it. One is starting in Guelph in January.

Junior roller derby is coming to Guelph.

The Royal City Roller Girls are starting a junior program aimed at introducing girls between 9 and 17 to the sport.

It will be an introductory 12-week program starting in January. Rules, strategies and basic skills will be taught and some equipment is available for loan.

An open house information session for parents interested in signing their daughters up for junior roller derby is planned for Nov. 29 at 10 Carden Street starting at 7 p.m.

The info session gives parents and girls a chance to ask questions and find out more about the program and roller derby.

No experience is necessary and the players will be divided into three levels so that they participate with people of equal ability.

Kirstie McKinlay, the president and a founding member of the Royal City Roller Girls, which has been around for six years and now boasts six teams.

"Junior derby is growing around Ontario," McKinlay said, adding that several centres have junior teams that play against one another in the summer.

McKinlay said the hope is the junior program can produce enough interest to eventually take part in junior matches.

"Once our girls are ready we would put games together for them. Hopefully they could play before the women's games."

The 12-week junior program will get underway in January and be held at Westwood Public School on Saturdays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Cost will be $75.

McKinlay said the junior program is non-contact and focuses on developing skills and understanding the strategies involved.

"There's jostling and blocking, but not any of the hitting that can happen in the women's games," she said.

McKinlay said she hopes to get 25 girls to participate but would be happy with 15.

"I think it's going to go quite well, just based on the number of people that were asking over the last few years when we were going to be starting junior derby," McKinlay said.

Royal City Roller Girls member Laura Wombwell has been involved in a junior program in Stratford and Kitchener for a couple of years and decided to bring the idea to Guelph.

"We started out with only eight skaters at our very first practice four years ago in Stratford. Within a month, there were 12. Now, with weekly practices in both Stratford and Kitchener, we have about 50 active skaters," Womball said.

"No matter how many start out in Guelph, we're confident that it will grow and it's very likely some skaters already with us will be coming to the Guelph practices."

Wombwell said junior derby is all about having fun, learning new skills and making new friends.

"We find the sport attracts the girls that don't mind standing out a little and the ones eager to try new things. Some also find it to be a safe place because it's generally all female.  Girls in this age bracket can have limited options when it comes to sports, and we're pleased to offer something a little bit different," Wombwell said.

McKinlay said there are plenty of benefits to the sport, including offering girls an opportunity to participate in a sport that doesn't fit the stereotype of having to be athletic to participate.

"Roller derby has a bigger range of people and sizes than some of the traditional sports," she said. "It's competitive, but it's also inclusive. There's a big range of people involved."

And yes, the junior players will get to take part in the time-honed roller derby tradition of choosing a cool name.

For more information contact McKinlay at