Local roller derby skater makes provincial debut
Six months ago, Mandy Eirich saw a long-time dream come true.
Mandy 'Anya Azz' Eirich of the Lil Chicago Roller Derby Jaw Breakers shoves a player from Swift Current during the central division championship in August at Moose Jaw Ford Curling Centre. Times-Herald photo by Matthew Gourlie
The captain for the Lil Chicago Roller Derby Jaw Breakers was selected to be part of the provincial roller derby team. This weekend, she will play her first bout with Team Sask.
“I had a permanent smile on my face because it is what I have been working so hard for,” said Eirich. “When I was first told, I bawled like baby. This is what I want so badly. I just want to practice with people who are better than me so that I can learn.”
Team Sask. will travel to Edmonton for a game on Saturday against the E-Ville Dead to make her provincial debut.
“It is awesome to play with the best players in Saskatchewan and it is really a privilege,” she said. “This is a huge accomplishment. I think everyone in Saskatchewan knows how I bad I wanted this. Everyone knows my passion for derby and I can’t wait to make everyone proud.”
Tryouts were held in Moose Jaw in January where approximately 15 skaters came out, but Eirich didn’t make the roster right out of that event.
“I tried out in January and I got an email from the coach saying that I was so close —one off from making it,” she said. “She told me to come to all the practices and that I would get there.”
That was the time when she decided to make some changes in her life — she took up the assistance of Team Redgoat and with their help, she has lost 35 pounds and has gotten stronger.
“Team Redgoat has really transformed me over the last six months,” Eirich explained. “I am faster, stronger and just have to learn how to hit smarter. I am better at jamming because I am faster and have better agility and stamina.”
All the hard work with Team Redgoat and continuing to practice with Team Sask. has paid off for Eirich as she made the playing roster this time around.
There is a pool of 30 players on the provincial team, but only 14 make the roster for bouts. There are players from across the province on the team, including Saskatoon, Regina, Swift Current and Prince Albert. Eirich is the lone skater from Moose Jaw.
“They pick the first 14 that are best and out of those, they will pull up alternates,” explained Eirich. “We have a veteran, fast and strong team.”
This game will be a big jump for Eirich just based on speed alone. She will have to play smart in order to not get behind the E-Ville Dead players.
“My goal is to stick with my walls because these girls are faster and make sure I always have that partner and work with my team more,” she stated. “I need to be playing smart derby.”
Even though Eirich is a veteran with the Jaw Breakers, she feels like a rookie with the experienced skaters on Team Sask. However, she is taking this as a learning experience and a way to improve herself and her local teammates.
“The other girls seriously do circles around me. I am the rookie and it is really weird,” she said. “I am red-faced because I can’t do half that stuff because I’ve never been taught it. Now I am being taught and I can bring that back to my team and we can start growing.”
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