You wouldn't know it by looking at them: two stay-at-home moms living in the Tri-Cities, each raising four kids. To the untrained eye it would seem their only battles involve taking their kids to sports practice and preparing dinner. Oh, how wrong that is. How very, very wrong.
These women, Victoria Parhar and Tina Kuefler, are like Transformers - more than meets the eye. In the morning they're helping their kids pack their bags for school, but by night they're helping their team kick their opponents to the dirt.
Parhar becomes Victory Slap, Kuefler becomes Justine Timberskate, and both girls take no prisoners when they don fishnets and leg warmers as part of the Riot Girls, a team of tooth-and-nail roller derby girls on their way to their first league championship in five years.
"I'm amazingly excited and completely in awe that after getting cut and, you know, my long road, that I ended up in this position," Parhar told the Tri-Cities NOW. "And I know it's going to be a tough game and the Bad Raps - they're a strong team."
Parhar considers herself a rookie to the team as she only started getting into roller derby two years ago after seeing players skating in downtown Vancouver.
"They looked like they were having a blast," she said. "I thought I loved roller-skating as a kid, so what do I have to lose?" After attending a few games and watching, the fire started to build and Parhar couldn't stop herself from joining, even if she wasn't at the top of her game.
"For the first time I tried out I hadn't put on skates in many years," she said, laughing. "I couldn't stop. I couldn't do anything really. I went to tryouts anyway but figured I would never hear from them again, but they accepted me. I couldn't believe it."
However, after the first month she got cut from the team. But by then it was too late for her to be disheartened.
"I had fully fallen in love with it at that point, so I reffed instead," she said. "I reffed for my first year and learned all the rules. It taught me to skate too, because as a ref you have to skate even faster sometimes than the skaters."
It also taught her the rules of the game, something many people don't know.
The game is played on a flat oval track with a bout running for either three 20-minute periods or two 30-minute periods.
Each club is allowed 14 players on its gameday roster, with five participants from each team on the oval at any given time: four blockers and one jammer. The action is set up with the two jammers - the players who score points - stationed about six metres behind the pack of eight blockers. The play begins with blockers taking off first, while the jammers attempt to pass them.
The first jammer to pass through a pack becomes the "lead jammer" if she passes through the group without taking a penalty.
The lead jammer has the ability to call off a jam - nullifying the other team's ability to score - although if she doesn't, the jam lasts two minutes before a 30-second break allowing time to change the players on the floor.
And roller derby is a full contact sport, something Parhar has learned all too well.
"I had my first derby injury, which was a small tear on the three months to get better," she said. This happened at the beginning of the season, cutting Parhar from the roster for the first time she would have had the chance to play.
"It was disheartening, especially because of the injury I couldn't do any upper or lower body exercises," she said. "And I was so excited about playing and being there."
But she worked through it and now she's helping her team to the championship bout on Saturday, Sept. 7. She and her teammate Kuefler are both nervous and excited about getting in the ring with the Bad Raps, and they're trying their best to make sure they're prepared.
"I think we're going to be pretty confident," Kuefler said. "But it's going to be a hard game because the team we're playing is really physical."
Both women will be playing their hardest not just for themselves or their team, but for their families as well.
Being mothers, the two women look at roller derby as a prime example of how women can play as rough and tough as the men.
And it seems to be leaving an impression. "My daughters are my biggest fans," Parhar said. "They are at every game with signs. For me, I get a chance to be a role model."
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