Slam Rock a hit for Steam Rollers

Slam-RockA grant from the Rotorua Trust was vital in staging the showcase of the emerging theatrical and spectacular sport of roller derby.

The Sulphur City Steam Rollers was founded in 2011, and has made the annual event the focus of the sport locally. The $3,500 grant was used to pay for the costs of staging the event at the Sportsdrome in June.

Steam Rollers marketing and events coordinator Layla Robinson says Trust funding was vital in making the 2015 version of Slam Rock happen. “Our costs were quite high and, seriously, without funding from the Rotorua Trust, we would not have been able to put on Slam Rock.”

This year saw the locals up against the Northern Nightmares from Whangarei, with the Rotorua team overturning last year’s result to deliver a home turf win.

Roller derby is classed as a contact sport and sees two teams skating around a track as a designated “jammer” attempts to lap the opposing team. Other team members play both offensive and defensive roles as they try to stop the opposition’s jammer and help their own.

Slam Rock 2015 repeated the previous year’s success as a sell-out, with the crowd attracted by the action, the teams’ wild costumes and the participants’ quirky names. The success has encouraged the Steam Rollers to confine their home efforts to a single, strongly promoted event rather than trying to stage several during the season.

The club has nearly 40 members fully participating in training and playing. New members go through a 15- week course to learn how to roller skate before being inducted into the derby.

“It is a sport that anybody over 18 can play. A lot of us were not natural athletes and didn’t fit into the mould of most competitive sports in New Zealand.

“It is a serious sport and we follow a strict rule set, with seven referees on the track during a game.”

The club is looking at establishing a B-team to supplement its A-team and an information evening will be conducted for the new recruits’ intake on 4 April 2016.

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