Roller derby skates into Wagga

THE jam is not quite on yet, but Wagga’s new breed of roller derby damsels definitely want to make it happen.

In a first for Wagga, 15 women have banded together

to form a roller derby club, which they hope will compete against teams in Canberra and Albury.

For the uninitiated, roller derby is a “contact sport” that originated in America in the 1940s and was a brief TV sensation two decades later.

Featuring two teams of five players on a circular skating track, roller derby is in the throes of a “renaissance” in America, Australia and a dozen other countries.

Michael Frawley, who is a force behind Wagga’s breakthrough roller derby club, yesterday revealed the ultimate plan was to form a “league” in the city.

Frawley said the initial response to recruiting players had been impressive, exceeding expectations.

“We had 15 players training at the PCYC (in Wagga) on Sunday,” Frawley said.

“The skaters ranged in abilities from experienced through to absolute beginners.

“My wife Chloe is one of the beginners.

“She’s starting from zero, but everyone is learning the skills.”

Unashamedly rough and tumble, roller derby was off the global sporting radar for 20 years before making a comeback in America in 2001.

Six years later the quirky sport was revived in Sydney – and now it is the turn of Wagga.

Frawley said Wayne and Michelle McKenna had inspired Wagga’s roller derby revolution.

“Wayne and Michelle are in the army and were involved in roller derby in Katherine in the Northern Territory,” Frawley said.

“They actually met through roller skating and later got involved in a roller derby competition.

“Since coming to Wagga they’ve been keen to try to set up team.

“There has certainly been a lot of interest.”

Keeping a lid on the anticipation, Frawley said it would be a year before Wagga had a roller derby league in operation.

“Right now we’re only in the recruiting stages,” Frawley said.

“We need a minimum of two teams to set up a league.

“Eventually we could be travelling to Canberra and down to the border to play.”

As much as roller derby is a “fringe sport”, Frawley is adamant it can carve a niche in Wagga.

“It’s very social,” he said.

“There’ll be a lot happening off the skates.”

Fitness is a key element to the sport, Frawley said.

“It should have wide appeal,” he said.

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