Team Canada released their roster early last November with the anticipation of a 2017 World Cup date since the previous two Cups took place in December of 2011 and 2014. With the Roller Derby World Cup announcement that the tournament will take place February 1-4 of 2018, they will have a bit more time to organize and train, as will the 39 other teams attending.
Canada has been a big contender at past World Cup tournaments, taking second place to the USA in 2011, and then placing fourth in 2014 after falling to Australia on the final day, 197-128. The roster for 2018 looks a lot different than 2014, and with a vision to build a sustainable national team, Team Canada will be laying strong groundwork over the next year to prepare for the World Cup and beyond.
Of the current 28 Team Canada skaters, there are only seven listed that skated for the team at the last World Cup, while Maiden Sane participated in 2011 but not 2014. There are no skaters who have skated all three years, but there are two that have been involved in each version of the Canadian World Cup team. Jess Bandit and Georgia W Tush both skated for Canada in 2011 and 2014, but now Jess is head Coach of the team, while Tush has taken on the new role of Business Manager.
Coaching alongside Jess for the 2018 team is Assistant Coach Bryan Mcwilliam, both of which were selected by a three-skater committee that was put together by the former Canadian World Cup team. From the two skater tryouts in 2016, one in Rockland, Ontario and the other in Calgary, Alberta, the coaches focused most on skaters who could work well as a team. While both the 2018 and 2014 roster has skaters from 12 different leagues, the newest one pulls from more Canadian-based leagues and also includes a European skater, Sara Ekholm from Helsinki Roller Derby. However, a majority of the skaters still come from either Montréal Roller Derby or Terminal City Rollergirls.
Practice for the Canadian team will alternate between the West and East side of the country and so far have included scrimmages against the public. Team Canada has also utilized big derby events such as Beast of the East and The Big O to get time in on the track together. First Team Canada helped kick off the Beast of the East in April against the Mont Royals, taking down the Montréal MRDA league 310-78. Then, on the Monday after the Big O, USA Roller Derby scrimmaged Team Canada with USA taking victory 302-60.
Besides training for the 2018 World Cup in Manchester, England (hosted by Rainy City Roller Derby), Team Canada has also looked at the long-term goals of their National team. In the summer of 2016, Germain Koh (Chef de Mission), spearheaded a Strategic Planning survey of past members, staff, sponsors, officials, announcers, and members of the Canadian roller derby community to hear their thoughts on the past, present, and future of Team Canada. For full transparency, they posted top suggestions and highlighted direct responses from the results. Their hopes were to not have to re-build Team Canada for each World Cup and prepare and plan for the longevity of the team.
For this third iteration of the team, they created Tush’s position of Business Manager to delegate behind the scenes tasks such as human resources. This has helped allow the coaches to put more energy into their jobs instead of worrying about the business side of things. Then, to continue the growth of the league, Team Canada also released a list of Development Program Players with their National roster. Despite not making the top 28, these skaters showed great potential and Team Canada wanted to foster their skills over the next few years.
The next time the roster for Team Canada will come together will be in Europe at “Northern HemisFear“, hosted by England Roller Derby. There, Canada will take on Sweden, Finland, and England over the weekend of August 5th and 6th. For more information on Team Canada and to read up on some of the skaters, check out their website.