Bruises all part of the game

Kapiti Observer - - FRONT PAGE -

In Se­cret lives of Kapiti, re­porter

talks to a woman with a flair for full-con­tact skat­ing, and pride in her bruises.

Mon­day nights are for meat’’.

Thurs­days are more phys­i­cal. The rest of the time Paula Ca­ton works in a tidy cu­bi­cle in an up­stairs of­fice in Para­pa­raumu. ‘‘fresh

Ca­ton is the pres­i­dent of the Kapiti Coast Derby Col­lec­tive - a group that plays roller derby, the bruis­ing, full con­tact sport played on roller skates.

The event man­ager turned up to the group’s in­au­gu­ral train­ing in 2013, laced up her very first pair of skates, and over­came her fear of ‘‘break­ing some­thing’’.

It took a few months to learn to skate - her de­but came in the first Kapiti-hosted match: heav­ily pro­moted, she said, with a big crowd. The teams skate around a cir­cuit, five-a-side, try­ing to score points by get­ting play­ers called jam­mers, past block­ers.

New­com­ers are called fresh meat till they pass train­ing and grad­u­ate to the game.

Ca­ton, a blocker, doesn’t re­call the first mo­ment of con­tact in her de­but, but three years later, she still gets nerves be­fore a game.

It’s best to get the first hit over quickly. ‘‘I’ll say to my coach as we’re warm­ing up, ‘hit me’, she’ll knock me over and that’s it, you’re in the zone.’’

It might sound bru­tal but the play­ers have pro­tec­tive gear in­clud­ing hel­mets, knee and el­bow pads and mouth­guards, and every player learns how to fall cor­rectly.

Roller derby was ex­cit­ing, a great way to so­cialise with others, and a fan­tas­tic work­out - bet­ter than the usual gym-slog peo­ple suf­fered through, she said.

Play­ers chose their own derby name, and Ca­ton’s was Glory Daze, a nod to singer Bruce Spring­steen. ‘‘I’m a lit­tle bit of a fan.’’

The out­fits can be racy, but some com­bi­na­tions, she said, did not nec­es­sar­ily work well with the vel­cro tabs on pro­tec­tive gear.

‘‘You can just imag­ine that get­ting caught in your fish­nets.’’

Peo­ple some­times got a sur­prise that an of­fice worker tan­gled with other play­ers in roller skat­ing com­bat in her spare time. But the 47 year old said most sur­prise was at her age.

‘‘Peo­ple get more of a shock when they find out how old I am, that I’m a grand­par­ent and I’m still play­ing.’’

Roller derby was a sport that em­braced all kinds of peo­ple in its el­bow-padded arms.

‘‘It’s not re­stricted by age, it’s not re­stricted by size, if you can still lace up your skates, and you’ve got stamina to race around the track, then it’s all open.’’

Peo­ple in­ter­ested can look up the team on Face­book.

Paula Ca­ton

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