709 Roller Derby is expanding to create Newfoundland’s first and only Junior Roller Derby League.

“The junior league is something I’ve been wanting to start for a while, it just seems like the logical next step,” said Terri Jane Maxwell, the founder of 709 Roller Derby about welcoming younger players into the sport.

The Junior Roller Derby League will be open to people of all genders between the ages of 12 and 18.

“In the Junior Roller Derby League it doesn’t matter your size, your gender, your age it’s all about skills,” Maxwell explained.

Maxwell was inspired to start Newfoundland and Labrador’s first roller derby league after seeing Cougar Party, an all woman punk band from Toronto who visited St. John’s in 2009.

After learning members of the band were involved in derby, Maxwell started doing some research about the game. At the time Maxwell had never been to a roller derby match and didn’t even particularly like roller-skating, but when she learned about the sport she knew she wanted to play.

“It was something lacking here in Newfoundland at the time and just looking up the information and seeing how badass the girls looked made me want to play. It was a group for girls that I didn’t have growing up, it was a different kind of sport,” Maxwell explained.

So in the DIY spirit that defined Cougar Party, Maxwell and two friends founded 709 Roller Derby. Today the league is governed by a board of five, league-elected officials. It hosts practices year round, invites players to visit the province, and occasionally travels to participate in tournaments in other parts of Canada.

The new Junior Roller Derby League will be divided into three levels where players will learn to skate, understand the rules of the game, and master positional blocking.

“Junior Derby isn’t focused on the hits, it’s focused more on positional blocking, being able to positionally block it will make you a better adult skater,” Maxwell explained.

Maxwell is excited to usher in a new generation of derby players who will be able to join the senior league with the advantage of understanding the sport and having trained from a young age.

“We’re planning to teach them the rules of the game play right off that bat so they’ll become better players when they get to the senior league,” Maxwell said.

There will be an information session about the Junior Roller Derby league in the Community Room at Merrymeeting Road Sobey’s on Sunday, November 6th at 2:00pm. Parents and players are invited to come with any questions they might have about the league.