The Sulphur City Steam Rollers' signature event of the year, Slam Rock, is returning to the Southern Trust Sportsdrome this month and is promising to be action-packed.
On Saturday, June 26, local team Motley Crew will take on Taranaki's Rumble Bees for the first time in five years, and the match-up promises to bring thrilling skate action to the city.
Both teams are fielding a mixture of experienced and rookie skaters, bringing a supportive dynamic to the game as the veterans help newer players navigate their way through the sport.
Roller derby is played in a series of two-minute increments called "jams", over two 30-minute periods.
Each team can have a total of 15 players, five of which take the track for each jam.
Teams field one point-scoring skater each. These players are called jammers and it is their goal to lap as many opposing skaters as they can.
Each team also fields four "blockers" whose objective is to play offence and defence at the same time - both to block the opposing jammer, and to clear a path for their own jammer.
In New Zealand, the game is often likened to "rugby on roller skates" because of the high-contact nature of the game.
Players are permitted to hit, or "check" each other, providing they are checking the other skater legally. Legal target zones include shoulders, hips and chests.
Played by an extensive rule set, developed by the Women's Flat Track Derby Association, a game of roller derby features seven referees and up to 14 non-skating officials.
This governance ensures the players are required to use strategy, rather than just sheer force - although force is definitely part of the game.
The Sulphur City Steam Rollers recommend watching the 2009 movie Whip It starring Drew Barrymore and Elliott Page, which was the inspiration for the Rotorua league's creation 10 years ago.
Layla Robinson (Primevil), Sulphur City Steam Rollers marketing and events co-ordinator, says, "While it doesn't take just two weeks to play in the country's best roller derby team in real life, the spirit of the movie captures the thrill of the game.
"Roller derby players are passionate, committed, resilient, strong and determined - and those coming to Slam Rock will absolutely see that shine through."
Rotorua's roller derby league was forced to cancel last year's annual Slam Rock event due to the effects of Covid-19.
As the league's biggest fundraising event of the year, the negative impact of cancellation was not only financial, but it also hurt membership numbers too.
"Slam Rock has become a very popular and well-known event in Rotorua," says Layla.
"So when we had to cancel last year we were devastated. But hitting the streets to promote Slam Rock this week has been amazing.
"People remembered our event and were rushing off to purchase their tickets."
Along with an action-packed game of roller derby, Slam Rock also offers a halftime Air Guitar Crowd Competition, giving spectators the opportunity to win a guitar or ukulele.
There is free face painting for the kids, food and drink available to buy (bring ID if over 18yrs) and team merchandise for sale.
Tickets are available from Ticketmaster at the Energy Events Center or online at tinyurl.com/SlamRock2021Tix.
For more information and ticket giveaways, find the Sulphur City Steam Rollers on Facebook.
- What: Slam Rock 2021
- When: Saturday, June 26, 6pm to 9pm
- Where: Southern Trust Sportsdrome
- Tickets: Ticketmaster at the Energy Events Center or online at tinyurl.com/SlamRock2021Tix