The Okanagan Roller Derby league is a 100% skater-owned and operated flat-track roller derby league based in Kelowna, BC.
Formed in 2009, The Peach Tarts were the first team in the OKRD league, with four other roller derby leagues in the interior. The OKRD exists as a league for the sport of Flat Track Roller Derby, holding practices, events and bouts throughout the year. We embrace women’s counter-culture sport and representation, encouraging women of all backgrounds and skill levels in a supportive environment.
In its current incarnation, Roller Derby is a genuine athletic competition complete with well-defined rules and a governing body: we follow the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) rules.
Here is a bit of personal history from one of the founding members Bettie Bellringer:
It was probably 2006 that I started watching the A&E reality show “Rollergirls” which planted the seed for what would become the OKRD. I was struck by how much fun derby looked and how interesting the girls were…they were dynamic, from a variety of backgrounds, tattooed…made for TV, yes, but pretty much reflected a lot of who I was and what my circle of women was. I was hooked and determined to start something similar. At that point we were living in Ontario and soon after made the move to BC. Once here, I realized that I needed to start a league…I needed something that was my own and wanted to meet some kick ass women.
In the summer and fall of 2008 I had approached various girls about starting a roller derby league in the Okanagan. Responses ranged from “why would you want to do that?” to “sounds awesome!”, but then there would be no commitment from them. That is until I asked one of my co-workers (Barefoot), who initially responded with “why would you want to do that?”, but came back to me the next day and said “I’m in.”
From there, Meghan MacKenzie (Barefoot Cuntessa) brought along her friend Carmen Todd (Carmekaze Karma) and we started meeting for beers to plan and scheme on how to start a derby league. Our boyfriends and husbands joked that our “derby night” meetings were just an excuse to have beers with the girls. When it came to choosing a name for our first team we chose “The Peach Tarts” to reflect the cheekiness that derby encapsulates along with something that is typical of the Okanagan.
In February of 2009 we had our first meeting in Kelowna for any girls who were interested…just from a poster run and posts on social networking sites, and we had over 20 women come out. We were stoked with the response! Of course, at the end of the day, only a few of those 20+ girls actually stuck around. But there was an excitement about that night, that what Barefoot, Karma and I had been planning was actually going to take off!
Our first practice space was very modest and most importantly, cheap, at 4th Street Place in Peachland. It was too small to fit a track, the floors were questionable, and because it was shared with the Boxing Club, there were sometimes punching bags hanging from the ceiling…which we actually used as practice for juking and weaving…it was less than perfect, but it was our first practice space. Once we had 12 girls we had maxed the space out. We started there in March with 6 girls, by May we had 10-12 girls and couldn’t continue in 4th Street Place. The weather was getting better, so we took advantage of the outdoor arenas in Peachland and Kelowna. The rink rash that summer was bad… asphalt is not nice to fall on compared to polished concrete.
By the start of the fall 2009 we were up to nearly 20 girls and had moved into Rutland Hall… after that it was another growth spurt in the new year (2010) due to some great press coverage and a video clip on Castanet. We again outgrew the space and by summer 2010 had the great fortune of moving into Propsera Place.
Currently our league consists of over 40 skaters who put their heart and soul into this sport. We’ve made new friends and love the sport so much that can’t picture life without derby. Our league now consists of two teams The Apple Smacks and the Cherry Bombs and we practice indoors (at Central Sports Centre) and outdoors (Stuart Park). Check our bout schedule on our homepage for upcoming bout dates.