Understanding the sport of roller derby

A look at some important rules for bouts

Published on August 11, 2017

Kristine Heer, left, and Alyssa Laperriere of the Summerside Twisted Sisters block an opposing team’s jammer at the Muddy River derby tournament in Moncton, N.B., recently.

©Richard Lafortune Photo

SUMMERSIDE – Maureen Gay admits roller derby is quite unique from other sports.

“We play defence and offence at exactly the same time,” said Gay, a member of the Summerside Twisted Sisters. “In hockey, you are on offence if you have the puck, on defence if you don’t have the puck and then it switches as the possession of the puck changes.
“In roller derby, that’s happening exactly the same time. You have to have an awareness of what’s going on; some people can be doing defence and offence at the same time.”
P.E.I. fans will have the chance to check out a bout as the Twisted Sisters will host the Cape Breton Tar City Rollers at Credit Union Place in Summerside on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Fans can anticipate thrills, spills and displays of athletic ability and agility noted Schurman. Teams have five players on the track at one time – four blockers and one jammer, who is identified with a star on her helmet.
“The jammer is the fast person trying to get around the track as fast as they can, and the blockers are blocking the other team’s jammer,” explained Sally Bernard of the Twisted Sisters.

The jammer is the fast person trying to get around the track as fast as they can, and the blockers are blocking the other team’s jammer.

Summerside Twisted Sister Sally Bernard

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Jammers score points on their second pass through the pack of blockers. Jammers score one point for each opponent they pass after their first pass through.
“I’m busting holes or making space for her to get by the other team’s blockers,” said Bernard in describing her role as a blocker. “There are other blockers who are just blocking the other team’s jammer. Roller derby is really unique in that you are constantly defence and offence within the same second.”

Gay also plays the blocker position.
“The positions people take kind of suits their personalities,” said Gay, a substitute school teacher. “It works well for me. I’m competitive, I’m a little aggressive and that allows me to have an outlet for that.”
Players can also be assessed penalties. For example?
“Just like in hockey, there are legal zones we can hit and target other players,” answered Gay, 40. “There are no elbows, hands being used, contact to the back, no contact below the knee. . .
“Penalties you may get are a low-block penalty, which is the same as tripping (and illegal use of) elbows and forearms. It’s still about big hits and knocking people around and people down, but if you knock a player out of the track and they come back in and have gained position ahead of you, then they get a penalty for that. It’s often about trying to create that to happen.”

Did you know:
How the sport of roller derby is played:
A roller derby game is called a bout.

Bouts consist of two 30-minute periods.

There are five players on the track for each team at one time.

Points are scored during jams.

Each jam can last up to two minutes.

The first jammer to legally get through the pack of skaters is awarded lead jammer status and can end that jam at any time.

For more information on the Summerside Twisted Sisters, check them out at Facebook at Twisted Sisters or on Instagram at twistedsisters_rollerderby.