As an announcer for Montreal Roller Derby, I was fortunate enough to meet a huge number of awesome people. As Montreal Roller Derby is celebrating their 10th anniversary, I wanted to talk to some of my favorites about what derby was to them, and what it’s like to move on from it.

Lynn “Lyn-Dah Kicks” Poulin was a member of La Racaille, the Sexpos and the New Skids on the Block, won multiple Montreal City Championships and competed in the WFTDA championship tournaments with the Montreal All-Star team, the New Skids. She is the bomb.

 

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Tell me a little bit about your Roller Derby Career. How did you start? What are your highlights?

To be honest, since I was a little girl growing up across from Detroit Rock city I used to watch roller derby on TV. When I read up in a magazine talking about a league in Montreal starting up, it occurred to me that this was my chance to finally just go out there and do it. So I did.

The magazine mentioned they were looking for some new blood, it was some kind of recruitment except it ain’t what it is today. I had nothing to lose. The group that showed up became the third Montreal team and it later became “La Racaille” as they needed a third team in order to play bouts at home games.

As for highlights, well I think we were kinda a rookie team that no one ever expected us to do as well as we did. To have won a Beast of the East trophy was probably my biggest highlight ever, as no one expected us to do pull through and we gave it our best.

You talked a bit about winning the Beast of the East. What was that like, to win against the odds, and in front of so many other derby players in Canada?

To win the Beast of the East felt so great, especially when you didn’t expect it. We didn’t see it coming but just tried to stay focused. It’s a long weekend and you’re burnt out, playing so many short games, closed in the arena with loud speakers and crowd cheering you on, it burns you out. But I know I’ll always remember that weekend. La Racaille had a huge bond and we stayed together and just played our game, with Nadine and Johnny Capote coaching us, that really helped us keep it together. We ate healthy, went over drills and game play, and really it paid off. It was nice because we didn’t expect to be where we were and there were conflicts during our last game but having the girls just play and believe in each other gave us the strength to pull it off.

Every year I go to Beast of the East I have such a hard time watching it really eats me up. I grip and clench so hard, it just brings me back to that day. Watching this year was fun, it was like in the past where we are always up against our home teams. Those bouts are fun to see but not fun to play, especially for the title, because we practice all together so you know each other. When you play an outsider team, you don’t know their strategies so you play your game and that’s it.

I have to say watching this year and having Iron Wench back on La Racaille was just really fun to watch. It was like a blast from the past, it brought chills and just brought back so many memories. Brie (Bone Machine) coaching, it’s really nice to see them there and to also see the new faces too, and pull their magic and stand up and be proud and just have fun. I love watching the girls playing and smiling and laughing while playing just goes to show they are in it to have fun, yes winning is also the best feeling but to not forget the fun in it, is what La Racaille was all about.

 

What was your first bout like? How did the crowd react, and how did that affect you?

Our first bout was chaotic it was a little “n’importe de quoi”. We had no clue what we were doing or how to play, we were just put out there and tried to understand and go with it. It was actually pretty funny, the crowd too had no clue what was happening either as it was pretty new as a sport here in Montreal. It’s a hard game to follow when you don’t know all the rules, but I like to believe the crowd loved the entertainment, that they had a blast watching women kick butt on track. Not the drama like before, but to see girls really working it, the crowd was into it. That’s how I remember my first bout, after playing trying to go over what just happened, the game is so fast that you don’t have time to process what just happened. Being on wheels really speeds up everything leaves you no time to think, you just do it.

It bothered me big time because we didn’t play well, but for a first time it wasn’t so bad. It left us wanting, so afterward we worked harder as a team to earn it and never give up. It took time but that’s where all the workouts and drills came into play. I really focused and worked to be where I was. I was pretty proud cause it did pay off later on.

 

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You played on 3 teams, La Racaille, the Sexpos and the New Skids on the Block. How were they different? How was being on the road?

Being on different teams was great.

I got to play with amazing women and to bond and learn a lot from them. You learn different strategies and play differently than your home team because the competition level of game is higher. Being on more teams allows you to adapt quickly to your surroundings. You don’t always know who’s got your back and the lineup changes all the time depending because of penalties, so you just learn how to adapt and just go with it. I think it’s great to work with all types of players, it makes you learn so much. Learning the rules helps too. There are so many rules and they change often so you needed to be on top of it otherwise you ended up in the box not knowing why. That sucks. It really affects your teammates and the scoring and could even cost you the bout. It’s probably the biggest family I’ve ever had. After we worked so hard together for years, I will always have them there for me if I ever need them.

Being on the road was fun. Sometimes it’s hard for an athlete to stay put for several hours in the car or plane, but it was always a highlight of my career. We would only have some good laughs, or some tears depending how the bouts were, or if you got injured. It wasn’t always pretty, but that was part of the game. We always had an amazing time.

 

What was your favorite road trip and why?

There have been so many great times held on the road. What is great is that we took turns driving, so it was different all the time. It was never the same people in the cars, yes you cling to the ones you love but it could change depending who was able to go play in England or Arizona. You become closer and learn from each other.

I guess I’m still getting this with my all girl band except its always us four. The derby world is so much fun, you bond. The road trips were always just a blast, never dull. We stuck together and would just become an entity. On the Skids we used to stand out. It was our trademark. C’mon, with a name like that we had to stick out and be fun and wild and be liked. It was all part of the derby world. It brought everyone together. Choosing the best is really hard, There were so many good times on the road, many shared stories and let me say some pretty whacked stories.

I met you on one of my road trips where I drove and everyone in the back was passed out and you were my co-pilot all night long. Others I did love were long trips, like to Tennessee, San Diego or to Scotland. I would always try to convince some of the girls to stay a bit longer and visit since we were already there, so when we were a bunch it was great. In Nashville, it was Tush, Wrath Poutine, Bandit and No Holds Bard, and we got to go line dancing, to visit Dollywood and at night we went bar hoping one venue to another and danced so much that people were just following us around, it was such a highlight. Traveling far did make you feel like a star. People were always curious about us, especially when we were loud or had helmets and roller skates on, just hanging out. Derby is another world I can guarantee you that much. Fun and freedom.

 

What did you see change in Montreal Roller Derby while you were there? What about Roller Derby in general?

It’s pretty neat to have seen the beginning freshness of a new sport and to be what it is today. I noticed the way the game became more serious as a sport. It used to be played for fun, but when playing on a travel-team, you realize it’s very serious and you aim to win. My first year put in a lot of time, but when I started playing on a travel team I knew it would be a whole other level of dedication. Practicing twice a week it becomes four times a week, if you wanted results. It was so serious that sometimes over weekends we would do personal training at someones house, do hardcore drills, it was the real deal.

Roller derby is the most fun I had ever done in my life. I played five solid years and I never regret what good times I had. I sometimes dream about it and think about going back. It did so many wonderful things for me I can’t even begin to know where to start. I miss this sport so much but it moves forward so fast that I barely see the veterans anymore. The life of a derby girl is not very long.

It’s nice to see the new faces continuing this tough sport. Now there’s even a mens league and a youth league, it’s great but still just the beginning. I’m surprised it’s still seen as an underground sport.

 

You did have some injuries as a player. What happened? How did you rehab?

Yeah well I had a severe concussion. To be honest when I played derby I was kinda fearless. I never thought of the dangers when I played. But when you think about the falls to the ground and the girls on top of you, you don’t analyze the danger or the damage you are actually doing to yourself . That is the chance you take when you play a contact sport and I kinda played rough without really looking at it too deeply.

Having to quit my roller derby career really bummed me out. I wanted it to continue, but I knew I had to put an end to it before it put me out for real. It was the hardest decision in my life. I miss the girls and the work outs and putting my skates on, but I haven’t hung them up. I’m not completely done. I sometimes skates outdoors, and for awhile I was skating scrimmages once a week with all the new recruits or extra practices, or I would sometimes scrimmage with the mens league.

Playing on La Racaille plus The New Skids, and with practices, well I was playing almost five times a week. I know is I played a lot and we traveled, it really adds up. I would never take it back, I enjoyed my derby life and love the family and friends it gave me and I watch and support still today and would love to play again dream to come back but the concussion really was the most painful thing I have ever lived and don’t ever want to go back there.

I watch hockey, and those cheap hits that really do damage hurts me to see. I did play after my concussion, more as a blocker, but the fear of getting hurt again was always in the back of my mind. I tried to play more controlled but you can’t control everything around you. You must play the game, either you go full force or you just don’t play. I went back and it wasn’t the same, I was playing with fear, so I decided it was time to end my derby career. I would go back in a heartbeat, but just to play and have fun, not to to compete again, play with no commitment. I’m getting old.

Now, my dad is sixty-nine and still plays hockey. He won the world cup in their age group this year in Windsor, Ontario, with teams all around the world, so anything is possible. Yeah I guess it runs in the family.

 

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What are you up to now, post-derby?

I now play in a band! So instead of wrecking my brain, now I wreck my ears by playing drums in an all girl band called Pale Lips. I play pretty much any sport I wish, but I mainly play floor hockey with the boys, I feel like I can somewhat play at their level because I had so much training with derby, that I’m able to follow. Hit after hit really makes you stronger.

After playing all these years there’s something so special that will remain in my heart forever, I still get called by my derby name “Kicks”, I can always go watch and Derby will feel like it was yesterday. I can’t describe what it brought me, but just fell into it at the most perfect time.

 

Check out Montreal Roller Derby. It’s the 10th Anniversary, and you should go see an awesome bout this summer.

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