Meeting many girls from different towns across Canada this past weekend has led me to realize Lethbridge is suspicious, bias, snotty and just plain no fun (when it comes to derby).
Me: “Hey, nice to meet you X roller girl. Where are you from?”
Her: “I’m from a-town-that’s-smaller-than-yours-and-we-have-a-fully-functioning-roller-derby-team.”
Me: “Wow! That’s great! Where do you practice? What’s your venue like?”
Her: “We have a great indoor arena. We have to share it with the roller hockey team, but they let us keep the tape down to mark out our track.”
Me: “You’re really lucky. How much do you have to pay for that?”
Her: Slight pause… “We’re fortunate. We only have to pay $65 a month.”
Me: Bitter jealously…
I had varying forms of that conversation several times over the weekend.
Being on the Space Committee for the league it’s our job to try and find an appropriate, permanent and affordable practice space. Right now we’re practicing in a local gym, who have graciously opened their doors to us for a manageable hourly rate. The space is nice, but the size of the gym doesn’t allow space for a regulation track and the 80%-sized track that Coach taped down leaves a few feet between the boundary and the wall, which is just not safe. I didn’t get into derby to be boarded like a hockey player.
Finding a suitable space has been like wandering aimlessly through the final frontier.
Most are afraid we will ruin their precious floors. Offers to bring over our gear and give a sample skate to see if we’ll mark the floor have been met with disinterest to try.
Others, it’s cost. A certain venue that remains empty for most the month and allows cows to shit on their floor occasionally, have offered us to use their space 2 times a week, for 2-hour practices for $1000 a month.
That’s more than my mortgage and I use my house every day of the month. But you know, I get it. They’re in it to make money. Plus they have to pay a staffer to come in, turn on the lights, clean up after us, yadda yadda yadda yadda.
Arenas in town are pretty much the same price, but you’re competing with the lacrosse leagues and roller hockey leagues as well, leaving time slots such as Tuesdays from 9:45 – 11:45 p.m. (yup, practice till 15 minutes to midnight) or Friday evenings, which makes it difficult for those with weekend commitments to attend practice.
Not to mention, of the 2 arenas that remove their ice over summer (with only 1 of those having a good enough surface to skate on) they are only available from mid April to mid August.
Not much of a derby season.
We’re not looking for handouts. We will pay for space. Our girls pay monthly out of their own pockets to secure the space we have now. We’re just looking for one kind soul who will take pity on a bunch of girls who have tattoos, like to swear on occasion and wear fishnets; who will let us use their 83′ x 108′ ft smooth surface; who will let us lay painter’s tape down for a regulation track; who will have their area swept lovingly by gals in skates before every practice; who are willing to make a few hundred bucks a month (and possibly more if we can hold bouts there).
Likely 100 per cent of my subscribers already know our dilemma. (Hi Scott, Laura, Corynn, Trinity, Desi, Kym) And I realize I’m bitching/whining/complaining. So this is more of a random rant into cyberspace. But if any of you six hear someone complaining about a space that’s not making any money sitting empty, send them our way… Gyms, warehouses, farmers’ quonsets, abandoned schools, not heated, not air conditioned… we’ll take it.
Hell, we’ll even let the lucky landlord watch us fall on our asses if it turns them on, but pants are still mandatory for them to watch.
In the meantime, myself and other gals from the space committee shall continue our mission. To boldly go where no roller derby league has gone before… in Lethbridge.