Roller derby presents opportunities to a local youth

Raina enjoys learning new skills from her teamates and coaches

Roller derby may have a lower profile as a sport in Warman but that doesn’t stop local athlete Raina Owen from pursuing the activity.
She’s just in her second full year with the Bridge City Bruisers junior roller derby team out of Saskatoon and she already has a chance to compete in a tournament that features the best athletes in the sport.
Raina will be participating in the Big O in Eugene, Oregon on May 5 to 7. It’s an international roller derby tournament and athletes from around the world will be competing in the event.
Teams from, Argentina, Australia, Finland, Sweden, New Zealand, among other clubs within the United States and Canada will be participating in the event.
The tournament features both men’s and ladies teams along with a junior division, which Raina will be competing in.
She will be playing with the Gapland Rollers out of Rocanville as that is an elite junior roller derby team. Raina became a part of that club when the coach for the Rocanville Small Town Smashers junior roller derby team was looking for players.
“Nicole, who’s the coach in Rocanville, needed to put together a high competition team. So she contacted our coach (Curb) and said ‘you got some girls that are at that level’ and she suggested Raina and a couple of the girls,” said Raina’s mom Janice.
After a tryout, Raina, along with her Saskatoon teammate “Skidlette,” made that elite junior team and they’ve been practicing with the club twice a month, since the beginning of March.
Raina learned the sport quickly and even though it came natural to her she was able to gain some life skills.
One of those skills is communication. She said outside of roller derby she doesn’t really socialize with that many people. However, being in roller derby helped her come out of her shell a little bit.

“I’m very socially awkward, I don’t know how to talk to other people,” Raina said.
After Raina joined the sport it didn’t take too long for her to advance through the levels. Level one and two are for the beginner skaters who still need to work on their skating skills. Level three is for the experienced and more skilled skaters.
“She (Raina) jumped from one to three basically in the first six months she was here because it was natural,” Janice said.
Janice also believes that roller derby has a positive effect on Raina as well.
“(It’s) a really good community … and it’s just a really neat community. There’s such a wide spread backgrounds of people here,” Janice said.
“You probably wouldn’t have met or be friends with (people) away from here. It’s just a really cool community,” Janice said.
Even though it took a while for Raina to learn certain skills, Janice believes it fits Raina’s lifestyle.
“She’s always been a sporty girl. She played tackle football … she’s in hockey and she played baseball and basketball,  and all the school sports,” Janice said.
“It just fits in with just who she is. She’s not just a little wilting, little flower type of a girl, so she’s always been very active.”
When Raina competes in a roller derby game she usually is the jammer.
“I’m the one that gets hit a lot but I’ve been trying to be a blocker more because a jammer is only good as the blocker,” Raina said. “The jammers are the ones getting the points, and the blockers are trying to stop that from happening.”
One skill that Raina said she has learned but needs to get better at to become a better blocker is booty blocking.
“It’s basically getting in front of people and jumping … it’s a big thing, I have a friend on my team that’s amazing at that,” Raina said.
Another key technique in roller derby that you need to learn is footwork.
“I need to learn about being more balanced. I need to learn more about that because new skates, old skates, all skates, anything, it’s really hard to balance on them,” Raina said.
“Especially if you’re used to something else. I’m used to hockey skates and switching (skates) … it’s kind of hard trying to maintain balance between those.”
An important aspect of roller derby is communication and Raina said she has really picked up on that since joining the sport.
“They taught me how to communicate (in the sport). They yell at you … ‘you need to speak up,’ then you speak up. They’re basically like your critics. So they’ll help you because they see everything. They’re either sitting off the track or they’re on (the track) with you.” Raina said.
The Saskatoon ladies teams and the junior team come to the Legends Centre usually once during the season to play some games.
That is a great way to showcase the sport in Warman and generate some interest, as Raina is the only youth from the community participating in the sport.
“It would be nice to have more people from my town to come (play the sport) because … I only see (my teammates) twice every week,” Raina said.
Raina is 15 years old and she has a few more years of competing in the junior league, as youth 8-18 play on the junior team. Once she ages out of that division, she said she wants to play in the ladies division as they’re are four teams in Saskatoon.
“It’s definitely … one of those things you wouldn’t normally do … (and) it’s a good experience.”


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Nonstop action expected throughout softball season

With the snow melted and the birds chirping that means only one thing, ball season. The Warman Minor Softball Association has wrapped up registrations and is waiting to get the season underway.
There are a couple of divisions within Warman minor ball, the Twin City Angels which consists of females in the U12 to U18 category from Warman and Martensville. And the generic Warman minor softball which features youth in the U5 to U14 age groups.
Warman Minor Softball Association president Jason Larner is excited for the upcoming season as there are many youth  registered to play ball.
He said there are around 110 girls registered in the Angels program and another 220 youth will be competing within the Warman Minor Softball Association.
“Numbers are consistent, they’re about on par with where they were last year, Larner said.
“There’s so many activities for kids now that parents have to choose, so we’re happy with them (the numbers).”
Even though it’s just starting to get nice out to practice outside, Larner said some players have been preparing for this upcoming season throughout the winter.
“This was the first year we did fall tryouts for the A teams for the Twin City Angels. We didn’t select individual teams, we short listed 17 players and those 17 players got to practice all winter and then the teams were  named in the end of January, Larner said. “So it gave players the opportunity to develop and show themselves before final team selections and then once teams were selected, the teams have been practicing on their own in February and March and the hope is to get outside here pretty quick.”
That extra playing time just applied to those A teams as the rest of the minor ball teams will start up practice pretty soon.
“They’ll start probably in the next few weeks, once the city releases the diamonds for use and then we’ll be going full bore. May 2 will be the first night of ball games for the little guys and they’ll go May and June,” Larner said.
He also mentioned that the season for the more competitive teams is little longer, as they have chance to qualify for nationals and they also play in more tournaments throughout the summer.
For the majority of the youth playing softball, the season is only a few months, however Larner said there will be lots of opportunities to play a lot of games.
“We compete in the Saskatoon Minor Softball League and they host a tournament. There’s the presidents tournament for the “A” teams then the Hustlers have tournaments and for our “B” teams … there are tournaments in Regina, and tournaments in Alberta. Teams travel a long ways now for ball … and it all depends on the individual teams and what commitment they have from the parents,” Larner said.
Overall, Larner can’t wait for the softball start since it’s getting warmer outside.
“We’re kind of itching to get outside, there’s only so much you can do in a gym.”

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Skills mastered at sparring seminar


The sparring seminar was a great opportunity for martial arts students to learn more skills and techniques of the sport.

Students of the McDowell Taekwon-Do Martial Arts School had the opportunity to learn new skills during a sparring seminar at the Legends Centre in Warman on Sunday, April 9.
It was an open sparring seminar as other martial arts students from clubs around the area participated in the event.
“We had some karate people, some kickboxing people and other styles of taekwon-do as well,” said McDowell Taekwon-Do Martial Arts School owner Jock McDowell.
McDowell invited Clint Diekema, of  Diekema Martial Arts in Saskatoon, to teach the sparring seminar.
Diekema experienced success in the sport and has been involved in it a lot longer than McDowell. McDowell thought it would be a tremendous opportunity to bring Diekema to Warman and lend his expertise to the youth.
“He’s competed nationally and internationally and he’s a three time world champion,” McDowell said. “He was able to do things and teach things that I’m just not able to do.”
Diekema’s daughter also helped out at the seminar which McDowell thought was great because she’s competed in martial arts tournaments provincially, nationally and internationally.
McDowell said there were around 40 martial arts students of  variety of levels, from white belts to black belts, that participated in the seminar.
He was glad to see youth from other clubs at the event, as it gave his students an opportunity to spar against other athletes.
“When you practice with a small school you are sparring and competing with the same students over and over again … and you’re still learning what you’re good at and what you’re not so good at,” McDowell said.
Sparring with other students in the province made it more of a challenge for the youth while learning new skills.
Having Diekema teach this seminar McDowell thought was a privilege. He said there aren’t many world champions in Saskatchewan and to have one this is close by is such a great opportunity for the students to learn new techniques.
“He was able to provide a perspective in some of the skills and competitive knowledge that someone like myself … just isn’t able to do,” McDowell said.
The McDowell Taekwon-Do Martial Arts School is based out of Warman and it’s a fairly new club as it’s in its third year of operation.
Having seminar’s like the one the club just hosted helps with the development of the youth, so they can be competitive when they compete in tournaments against martial arts school that have over 100 students.
McDowell’s martial arts school is also an affiliate of Diekema Martial Arts and it made it that much easier for Diekema to come to Warman and facilitate a seminar.
McDowell believed this seminar was beneficial to his students and he said they probably learned new skills in three hours from Diekema than they could’ve all year from himself.

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