Roller Derby: Tina's take on trading talent

By Anendra Singh

Across the table of contention, Tina Allan will forever be the face and voice of reason in her daily routine.

Attired in her corporate dress, the 33-year-old from Napier will be the first to tell you having any other persona can be counterproductive to achieving her goals.

"It's a very non-aggressive persona ... it's always about clients and their needs," says the employment relations consultant who mediates between employers and employees when differences inevitably arise.

"They have disputes and there are a lot of very angry people at times. Facts become obscured so parties sometimes start arguing over those obscure issues so I have to cater to their personalities."

But the mother of one, 8-year-old Lachlan, is only human and after dealing with multitudes of disenchanted people every week she reaches for a release valve to soothe her own jangled nerves.

Out goes Temperate Tina diffusing others' moods, something she has specialised in for more than a decade for the Government as a union delegate before going private.

Enter Tempestuous Tina, masquerading as "Khloe Karbashemin", threatening to thump anyone who has the temerity to jostle with her on the path to glory on the polished floors of the Meeanee Indoor Sports Centre every other night of the week.

That's because Allan assumes the mantle of a member of the Hawke's Bay Roller Derby team who train and play against each other before travelling to other regions for inter-leagues several times in a year.

For the record, her track name is a play on Keeping Up With The Kardashians star Khloe who champions anti-bullying campaigns.

"I just love it. You can be around friends and hit each other in good nature so it can be particularly addictive for some people," she says.

"Half the appeal is to let off steam after long days in the office or having to deal with kids all day or being around negative people."

The Bay derby is a co-ed one and proudly boasts 40 members in its first year of existence.

Competitors come from diverse backgrounds as accountants, mothers, artists, nurses, general practitioners and business people.

Allan's husband, Brendon, a courier businessman, gravitated to the sport once he saw how much fun his wife was having.

Not only does he compete but he also referees.

Having moved to the Bay from Palmerston North in 2007, Allan put her feelers out to carry on with sports she had engaged in - netball and softball - but soon discovered that old traction proved somewhat elusive.

While driving one day, she heard a promotion on a community radio station for roller derby that rekindled her flame of a childhood passion.

"When I skate I have a sense of flying.

"It [roller derby] is full contact so it isn't prissy or girly."

Allan readily admits skating isn't everyone's thing but she stresses newcomers aren't urged to jump into a scrimmage in a sport that has five-member teams who skate in the same direction around a track.

The game consists of a series of short matchups (jams) in which both units designate a scoring player (the jammer) who musters points by lapping members of the opposing team. The teams attempt to help their own jammer while hindering the opposing jammer. In effect, they can engage in offensive and defensive passages of play simultaneously.

Allan, a "big girl" who is a pivot blocker, says five coaches train newcomers on a one-to-one basis and twice a month head coach Pixie Lumby, of Auckland, visits the Bay to hone the skills of the coaches.

Effectively, the skills are broken down to suit individuals for players predominantly between the ages of 20 and 40.

"You'll find those who will pick it up early and love it to bits or they won't," says Allan who uses her frame to keep opposition jammers at bay but says the slimmer girl has the advantage of sneaking through tighter spaces.

She says once players grasp the fundamentals they find myriad intricacies which demand they upgrade their skills.

"For some that's disheartening but for me it's more intriguing," Allan says, adding players become aware of the intricacies of scoring points not just individually but milking penalties that can boost the team score.

Other provincial areas have had players out with injured tailbones, broken legs, fractured wrists and dislocated shoulders but the Bay side have been lucky.

"We're very lucky because Pixie's put in a training structure to play safely," she says, revealing there's only been one injury and that was due to faulty gear.

Setting up for a derby can be an arduous task, requiring countless volunteers to build tracks and help officiate with seven referees but they have had a couple of proper games in Palmerston North this year.

The Bay will host a Black Skates men's representative scrimmage here on June 1 as they prepare to take on the Aussies in Sydney on August 17.

While some women have full-arm tattoos and motifs on their legs and backs, Allan is comfortable her inner strength provides enough aggression.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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