E-Ville Roller Derby is one of four Canadian teams who qualified for WFTDA Playoffs this year. They join the list of seven teams making the trip for the first time in 2017.
Although the team is located in North America, travel can still be a big undertaking for Canadian teams. E-Ville has been around for over a decade, but they only recently became a member of WFTDA.
Read on to see how their journey will take them from Edmonton, Alberta, to Pittsburgh, PA, this weekend for Division 2 Playoffs.
Established in 2006, E-Ville started playing roller derby before the creation of the Apprentice Program, a tool that has helped many leagues towards becoming competitive members of the WFTDA. Once it did become accessible to them in 2009, they worked towards the goal of becoming a full member league.
Captains of their travel squad, Tron, Shania Pain, and Tuf Luv spoke to us about how as time went on, it became clear how valuable that status was. “Eventually, it became more difficult for us to schedule competitive games without WFTDA membership. It was just a matter of putting the right people in charge of the application that finally got it done.”
Their charter team, the E-Ville Dead, have always liked traveling and competing. They participated in many tournaments before they could even play sanctioned games. The team started to venture out of Canada to play, and played at the 2015 Spudtown Knockdown Invitational where they took three big wins.
Then in March of 2016, they went to Bremerton, Washington and picked up two more hefty wins at Wild West Showdown, before finding out later that month that they were finally graduating to a full WFTDA member status.
The E-Ville Dead Captains say that they have always been driven to compete competitively, but while they were unranked or under-ranked, it was an issue to find the right matchups. “We pretty much had to say yes to anyone that would take us, and hope it worked out.”
Prior, they had to look at the Flat Track Stats rankings to try and line up teams for unsanctioned games, but even though they became a member, they still faced issues getting good games since they had a low Strength Factor. That led to them utilizing another WFTDA program, taking on Calgary in a Strength Factor Challenge game in August of 2016.
Despite being a fresh WFTDA face, they’ve been playing the sport a long time, so it makes sense that in their overall history of sanctioned games they have only lost one of fourteen. The team went to a tournament in Winnipeg last year, Riot on the Red, which claimed them their first ranking: #86 by the September 30th release. Those games that got them that ranking were against teams unranked or around the 100 mark, so in Spring of this year, they upped the stakes a little bit.
At Skate to Thrill, in Missouri, their wins came against Killamazoo, St. Chux, and Happy Valley. They met up with Happy Valley again in June when they participated in Mayday Mayhem, an elimination tournament that had teams ranked from #48 to #113. E-Ville improved on their previous victory by 33 points and worked their way through the tournament past Boulder County, Omaha, Chicago Outfit, and Dub City before meeting Oklahoma Victory in the final game. There, they finally took their first sanctioned loss, and placed second to OKVD with a score of 233-188.
The E-ville Captains say that weekend of play really was a bit of mayhem, but it puts the coming weekend in perspective. “When we applied, we just saw ‘bracketed tournament where the winner gets a gold belt’ and thought that sounded fantastic. Now that it’s behind us, the potential to play five games in Pittsburgh seems less daunting.”
Those nine games, plus one single sanctioned game in February against the Mainland Misfits made up their schedule this season, and when the June rankings release came out, E-Ville had landed just outside the D2 cutoff at #57. They didn’t give up hope of still making it to the tournament since they knew some teams might decline, but as days passed they began to worry.
The invite finally came, however, and they made the decision to accept immediately. “Declining didn’t feel like an option after all of the work we put in to get the invite. Some of us had already booked the time off, and were checking out flights.”
Leading up to the tournament, E-Ville says they have been weeding out the weaknesses in their game and practicing playing through multiple situations. They also focus a lot on offense, and understand the necessity to support their jammers in a long weekend.
Shania Pain, one of their core jammers, has prior D2 Playoff and Championship experience through her history with Rideau Valley, when they advanced in 2014 and played at D2 Champs in Nashville. E-ville also contains world class talent: Shania skates for Team Canada, while fellow team member Rude Barbie has a spot on Team Russia. And E-Ville boasts a sports psychology expert: Skater Rip Kurl, who helps with their mental game training, arguably one of the most important things to work on leading up to a long tournament weekend.
The #15 seed E-Ville Dead hit the track Friday on track two at 2:30pm (12:30pm MDT) against #2 seed Tucson Roller Derby.
You can still help them on their journey by donating to their GoFundMe.
To watch D2 Playoffs purchase a pass on WFTDA.tv and keep tabs on the games here and on all of our social media throughout tournament season.