Toronto, Ontario — Alex Evans’ long, dark pony tail sticks out the back of her helmet as she hits the flat, concrete roller derby track with her Smoke City Betties team-mates, a distinguishing feature accompanied by a tattoo of a skate wheel on her right thigh. The intensity is apparent on her face as she prepares for a bout against the Hammer City Harlots.
The setting for the event is known as The Bunker, a large, open space filled with bleacher seating, brightly lit by fluorescent bulbs beaming off white walls. The arena is the main headquarters of Toronto Roller Derby, Evans’ home league.
Her pre-game intensity turned to ferocity during the bout. She landed heavy hits, sending opposing skaters flying to the concrete floor, while striking fear into her opponents from Hamilton, as they tried to avoid her on the track.
Evans plays extraordinarily in the first Betties’ victory in close to a year, a one-sided 164-75 win. She customarily blows kisses to her adoring fan base, who witnessed her impressively play every position in the bout, a difficult task for any skater to accomplish.
Evans quickly skates off the track at the game’s conclusion to change out of the blue and black uniform of the Betties and into the fuchsia uniform of CN Power, Toronto’s roller derby all-star team which she is also a part of. CN Power is featured in the main event of the evening, playing after the Betties. Evans has the night off of CN Power to avoid playing in back-to-back games.
More commonly known as Bruiseberry Pie or Bruisey in the derby community, Evans has made a name for herself in the sport by leaving many bruises on her oppositions, hence her fitting derby alter ego. She is notorious for big hits, unmatched effort and relentless endurance. Originally a member of the cross town Derby Debutantes of Greater Toronto Area Roller Derby, the statuesque frame of Evans made the decision last season to leave her comfort level as a top player for the Debutantes to come to the Betties. Whilst enjoying the cool breeze of the back parking lot of The Bunker, Evans explained the league switch, “Back on the Debs I was pretty much in control of all the training, basically all that I was doing was training. It was really nice to just come over and skate. It was one of the main driving forces, coming to learn from some really great skaters. It wasn’t too bad. It was good. I’m really glad I came to ToRD; it’s been such a great experience. I really feel back in the group. I like the whole dynamic of what is going on here. Its fun.”
Evans initially had a reputation as a dirty player when she made her first appearance in her new league, but as time went on her fellow skaters realized the rumours were not true and her talent set her apart from speculation. A rookie of the year candidate, Evans became an immediate threat in her first season with the Betties, but the award would not be one of her biggest accomplishments in derby, “Making CN Power. Definitely my biggest highlight. It’s been a lot of fun. Every single practice I have with them I learn something new and I’ve also really come to appreciate the organization and how it’s all set-up.”
The Toronto native, born in London, England giggles uncontrollably as two men scream her name in the parking lot; she waves to them in acknowledgement and a big smile appears below her bright, red cheeks. Her smile only increases in size when we discuss CN Power’s recent acquisition of WFTDA status, which allows the team to compete for the national title, “I think it’s fantastic! I’m so excited! One of the reasons I came to ToRD was that I knew they would be WFTDA and that it was serious. We’re going to be serious competition in the North Central division and I’m so excited. I really hope we can get ranked and get our shit together and I really want to go to regionals next year.”
The brisk, night air has Evans shaking in her low cut, silver derby shorts and the CN Power bout is about to begin. As we walk in the back door of The Bunker to escape the cold, Evans releases her pony tail from its constraints and takes a smell of her exposed mane, “Man, I stink.” She bursts into laughter and makes her way to the beer stand to grab a cold one to sip on while she sits trackside, rooting for her CN Power team-mates.
Written for: Writing for Magazines course at George Brown College in Toronto
Instructor: Steve Veale