Photo: Morgan Leik
Photo: Morgan Leik

With names like Foxie McMuff, Ballsy Benoit and Lumber Smack, Campbell River’s roller girls will floor you with the rock ‘em sock ‘em style of Roller Derby

When Kim Emsley-Leik rollerskates around a rink, it’s no leisurely roll.

She takes numbers and clears bodies.

Emsley-Leik is one of a growing number of local women who have taken up the thrilling sport of roller derby.

But it’s more than a sport. It has a culture all its own. It even comes with its own rough and cheeky nicknames.

At the rink, Emsley-Leik becomes Foxie McMuff and her job as a blocker is to block the opposing team’s jammer from passing Emsley-Leik’s fellow blockers and scoring points. If the jammer gets around twice, she racks up one point for each skater she passes on the second lap.

Emsley-Leik is one of seven from Campbell River who skate for the Rink Minx, a team based out of the Comox Valley. The other members are: Lindsey Ryzak, who’s known around the rink as Lita Riot, Peggy Benoit (Ballsy Benoit), Lisa Jackson (Whiskey Jack), Chantelle McPherson (Chantos Sanchez), Kari Barker (Swifty), and Taisa Brown (Lumber Smack).

Though so many members of Rink Minx call Campbell River home, the team has had a difficult time bringing the sport to the River City.

“What’s challenging is finding the space,” Emsley-Leik says. “A lot of facility staff assume our roller skates will ruin the floor, which is not the case. So we practice in Courtenay, which is unfortunate because half the team is from Campbell River.”

But having said that, Rink Minx will be hosting its first ever Campbell River bout at Strathcona Gardens on Saturday, July 5.

Emsley-Leik said she hopes the bout, which will attract teams from all over Vancouver Island, will show the viability of having the sport in Campbell River.

“Every time we host a bout there’s an influx of skaters,” Emsley-Leik says. “They spend money on hotels, on restaurants, they go shopping, they go to bars. The more events we have, it only benefits the community in the long run. People want events to go to, they want to be entertained.”

And roller derby is no doubt entertaining. It’s a full contact sport full of positional, or booty blocking, ride outs, and hip whips. For that reason, each skater must wear full gear which includes a helmet, mouth and wrist guards, knee pads, elbow pads, and roller skates.

While serious injuries are rare, Emsley-Leik says she does come home with some “wicked” bruises. “We call them trophy bruises,” she says smiling. “They’re these huge things sometimes. We’re actually kind of proud of them.”

But she enjoys it all the same.  “I just love to skate,” says Emsley-Leik, a former figure skater, who first got into the sport while living in her hometown of Williams Lake. “I’ve always loved to skate. I like being a part of a team atmosphere. It also promotes fitness. We’re always trying to find a way to up the bar just one more notch.”

Emsley-Leik and teammate Melicious Mooose (Melissa Curtis) have even started roller skating from Courtenay to Campbell River on Sunday mornings after bouts, leaving Courtenay at 4 a.m. and winding up with breakfast at the Dolphins Resort.

Bouts are typically held Saturday nights at the Comox Valley Sports Centre between May and July. But Emsley-Leik says the team is trying hard to bring some of the games to Campbell River. “I think the Campbell River girls definitely have a certain amount of pride in trying to bring the sport to Campbell River because we live here, it’s our hometown,” Emsley-Leik says.

For more information on Rink Minx or to sign up for the team look for Rink Minx Roller Girls on Facebook.

“We’re always accepting fresh meat!” Emsley-Leik says.