Roller Girl gets ready to rumble

Roller Girl, Naomi Morrell

Grade 11 student Naomi Morrell and her family recently launched a fundraiser to pay for Naomi’s expenses for her participation in the 2023 Junior Roller Derby World Cup.

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer — Lacing up her roller skates and putting on a Team Canada jersey is a huge deal to Naomi Morrell.

The 16-year-old is preparing to represent Canada at the 2023 Roller Derby Junior World Cup in France this July.

“The idea of representing Canada hasn’t quite set in yet, it feels too big to hold in my head,” Naomi said. “I try to think of it like my dad’s role in the military; when he’s in uniform he’s part of something bigger, and he holds a feeling of belonging to something with greater purpose.”

Naomi found out in December 2022 she had been named to Team Canada’s 35-player roster. Her parents are glad to see she will soon take to the world stage in the sport she loves.

“We’re incredibly excited and proud of Naomi for her achievements and can’t wait to cheer her on at the World Cup,” said Cindy MacDougal, Naomi’s mother.

Her father, Master Sailor (MS) Clayton Morrell, works as an Electrician for Fleet Diving Unit (Pacific). He said Naomi is a natural at the sport and is glad she is shooting for something big.

Naomi Morrell, Roller Girl

Naomi Morrell, Roller Girl

“She’s worked hard to get where she is and is working even harder to prepare for the World Cup,” MS Morrell said.

Naomi began playing ‘derby’ five years ago after reading a graphic novel Roller Girl featuring the sport. Her on-the-rink nickname ‘Scream Soda’ also derives from the book. She explains the sport’s rules so frequently that she has a script for it.

“Most assume I play banked track derby which is very different in its rules and far more dangerous,” she said.

Roller Derby has existed as a sport since the 1930s. The version Naomi plays is not to be confused with the more violent Roller Derby made popular on television in the 1970s and ‘80s and played on an elevated track. Her game prohibits dangerous play and consists of two teams of five skaters who compete on an oval track wearing quad-style roller skates. One player on each team is designated as a jammer to lap opposing team blockers to score points. The other team members, pivot or blockers, work together to prevent the jammer from passing through.

“That’s when the hitting happens,” she explains. “I like to jam and I’m good at it, but I’m also a good blocker and pivot, so any position suits me.”

While being shorter in height in most team sports can be a disadvantage, Naomi said having a low centre of gravity has helped her excel on the rink. Equipment includes a helmet, mouth guard, elbow and kneepads, wrist guards and roller skates. She doesn’t deny there are injuries but says all sports come with some risk of injury.

“Despite being full-contact and having constant collisions, there is no malice or anger behind the contact and as soon as you get knocked down there is always an outreached hand to pull you up,” she said.

Morrell’s local junior club team is the Rotten Apples which plays in the Eves of Destruction League. Games in Victoria are played at the Archie Browning Community Centre in Esquimalt and the Eagle Ridge Community Centre in Langford.

Team Canada will play an exhibition game against France in Toronto in April and then host a training camp in Calgary the following month. They will compete in the 2023 World Cup in Valence, France, from July 28 to 30.

Naomi and her parents recently launched a fundraising campaign with a goal of $5,000 to help pay for her expenses at the tournament and upcoming training camps. You can support Naomi by donating to the family’s bottle drive on Feb. 4 at the Belmont Park Canex location from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Donors can also contribute to their GoFundMe campaign: 


Naomi Morrell, Roller Girl

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