Believe it or not, one of the most user friendly and health beneficial activities is actually one that has gained attention via armies of male and female-clad warriors hurtling their bodies at break-neck speeds against, at, and over opponents in competitions on the oval tracks of roller derby nation wide. That popularity settled in the capital city and found a niche as the Juneau Rollergirls. Now that niche is looking to find a broader and even more beneficial footing, so to speak.
Former Juneau Rollergirls coaches, Shonda Belknap and Kelly Moore and skater Heather Gilcrest, a.k.a. Money Honey, Midgimoto and Edith Bumpher, respectively, have formed Taku Rollersports Club (TRSC) to introduce rollersports, particularly roller derby, to children and adults who are seeking a healthy activity in a new and innovative manner.
“Basically we looked at Juneau Rollergirls as a competitive roller derby league for women only, as far as the competition aspect of it,” Taku Rollersports Club president Belknap said. “Juneau could have and enjoy having that access and not having it limited to just women’s competitive. We wanted to do a recreational league.”
According to Belknap, Taku Rollersports Club, is a community-based recreational sports club open to children, women and men who are seeking a new and exciting way to stay healthy, while having fun.
“We are allowing 18 year olds and men to skate and play in a coed or men’s league,” Belknap said. “And it is less commitment and less cost. As former coaches of Juneau Rollergirls Mindy and I know how to break that down a little bit better and offer better training.”
The club’s mission is to encourage athleticism, self-confidence and fun in the world of roller sports through an inclusive, positive team environment. The goal of the club is to develop life skills through a team based sport in a semi-competitive sports model. Although the club will follow the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association’s rule set, the focus will be on teamwork, strategic thinking and simply having fun on quad roller skates.
“The coed will have the same guidelines and same safety measures,” Belknap said. “It doesn’t matter if a guy is hitting you or a girl, it is the same as coed hockey to me. If a 100-pound guy and a 100-pound girl decide to go at each other, that’s fine. If a 250-pound girl decides to body block a 150-pound guy, who cares? As long as they are doing it safely and following game play.”
Taku Rollersports will offer participants who are Gold or Black level qualified to continue non-contact play for the skating and lung endurance, muscle building qualities and core strength development.
“That is all in our training plan for skaters that come and see us on Saturdays,” Belknap said. “I want to see skaters on the bike paths and the street. Skate to work. The calorie burn is great.”
The Taku Rollersports Club’s goal is to have several leagues within the club to meet the needs of the participants. This will include a women’s league, men’s league and children’s leagues, the latter will be based on ages and skills. The club is currently recruiting women and men 18 and older. For more information call (907) 209-1943 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“It is an organic situation,” Belknap said. “We need 10 men and we can start a five on five scrimmage. It is a recreational level, an open gym type scenario. That means you come, you pass your skill level assessment and you will be allowed to scrimmage.”
Skill levels are the standard minimum of the sport. Participants will have to pass the skill levels before they can scrimmage.
Participants will sign up with the club on a Saturday, receive an initial assessment, and be placed in a skill level. They will then receive a training plan to follow to achieve a Black or Gold level. Gold level is scrimmage or battle ready.
Monthly dues of $25 will be required. Riverbend Elementary’s covered recreational area is the site of summer practices and the club will find indoor facilities in the future.
“We are taking roller derby and widening the audience,” Belknap said. “Making it more accessible to people 18 or above, regardless of their sex. Our second plan is to start a junior derby and a kid’s camp in the fall, which we are currently seeking funding for.”
Junior Derby is for ages eight to 17. Junior Derby is a non-contact with positional blocking only. It will focus on skating skills and speed development.
“I have a nine and an 11-year old,” Belknap said. “Healthy school’s initiative and things like that we follow in the school district have really opened my eyes to the fact that kids are not as active as we think they are. Roller sports are a life long skill. I would like to see kids that don’t fall into the traditional interest of sports like football or basketball, lets put them on skates and do something that is healthy whole body, core strength