Derby Name: Kaio-kensi
I play on my house league team the Bacon Pirates, CCDD’s WFTDA charter team the Dolly Rogers, and Team Ontario. I was recruited to play roller derby (along with Labrosse) by a couple of dudes on our recreational Ultimate frisbee team who were friends with my neighbour (Kent from Team Canada Men’s Roller Derby 2014 and Morson from Team Canada 2016) and I was kind of shy / nervous about starting a new sport in my late 20s so I convinced my derby wife Fish N Hits to try it with me.
Many bad fashion choices and gear upgrades later (from a poorly fitting bicycle helmet and neon children’s L.A. Gear elbow pads straight from the 90s to a well-rounded set of 187 pads and a proper helmet), I finally passed my minimum skills test and played in my first roller derby scrimmage, which was a Team Canada fundraiser where we skated in anti-derby direction.
I spent the better part of my childhood and adolescence as a figure skater with Olympic dreams, so being back on skates as a full-time athlete feels like I’ve come home. It’s also important to me that this sport celebrates queer women and provides a safe space and impetus for dialogue in the greater sports community concerning gender identity and expression. People just get to play “the version and composition of roller derby with which they most closely identify”, simple as that.
One of my favourite roller derby memories is going to the Fresh and the Furious tournament in 2014 as the captain of CCDD’s team of newbies, the Cannon Dolls, and making it through the whole day to a thrilling final jam where we ended up taking the championship.
My derby name, Kaio-kensi, is a throw-back to my days of watching Dragon Ball Z with my little sister in our shared bedroom on an old VCR or when it came on YTV. The Kaio-ken is a fighting technique invented by King Kai where you have a sudden massive upsurge of energy, where your power, speed, hearing, and vision improve dramatically, but you can only sustain it for a short time. As a child, I was bullied a lot, and superhero stories were always a welcomed escape from reality and coping strategy. So, in a way, my derby identity provides me with a powerful visualization tool for the short, intense jams we play on the track and it allows me to honour my personal journey.
When I started skating I went by the number X7 (before letters were illegal), because a “Kaio-ken x7” is a near-impossible feat, and also in honour of my grandmother – I was her 7th sweet pea home from the hospital. She passed away unexpectedly the year before I started playing derby and it was still bearing heavy on my heart, so I wanted to feel like she was always with me at my back.
When I had to change my number, after much toiling, I went with 6, because in numerology, it is the most harmonious number – symbolic of caring, sacrificing, healing, protecting, and teaching others. While it is important to ramp it up and play at my personal best, the needs of my team have to come first. The things that the number 6 represents remind me of my mother and the things I admire most about her, and meditating on its meaning helps me feel balanced as a player.
So really, derby to me is about being part of a strong and supportive grassroots movement and community that plays an exhilarating full contact sport. It is truly a privilege that I get to share the track with my leaguemates and all those who we travel to visit or welcome to the capital. My goal is to always have fun, to show respect for my teammates and opponents, and to express my gratitude openly to all the volunteers, officials, and fans who make it all possible and worthwhile.