Tales off the track

by Community Submission | May 1, 2013

The Nickel City Roller Derby. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Each moment in our lives tests us or makes us want to run and shout off of mountain tops. For the girls of Nickel City Roller Derby (NCRD), this game does that and more.

Each member has a unique story about becoming a part of derby and how derby is now a part of them.

If you’ve thought of joining NCRD but didn’t think you were capable, read about how NCRD changed Smashley and Tuff Nutt Tilly into fierce derby warriors.





For me it was derby or be miserable, forever. I was in an abusive relationship … and I knew he was cheating on me. I needed to start looking after myself. I was unhealthy, overweight and had terrible habits. I had lost myself. I had to make a choice — his days of controlling me were over.

I was always athletic, sturdy and loved to compete, but never really shined at any sport. I knew I could pick up roller skating — I was a natural at skating thanks to 10 years of hockey.

Roller derby happened at precisely the right moment, like it does for everyone. When I started playing for NCRD, I knew I was home. I found the missing part, a new reason to live and a reason to get out of the mess I was in. I refused to let him take my pride. The girls of NCRD were my rocks when I struggled in the final stages of the breakup.

No one should ever have control over you. In derby, you get to be you, no matter what. I’m now a very happy captain, teaching others what I know and helping them get over whatever it is so they can be their own star.

Tuff Nutt Tilly

Tuff Nutt Tilly


Tuff Nutt Tilly:

Growing up, I wasn’t an athlete — I didn’t do anything remotely physical. One day, I found a video for Toronto Roller Derby and couldn’t believe my eyes. I thought derby was dead. That’s when I found NCRD.

I was never part of a sports team but I assumed my new teammates might also become friends. I just didn’t expect to develop unconditional bonds with like-minded, strong, amazing men and women that I’ve now come to love.

On the track, we push each other, literally, to be our best. We motivate each other to go further, harder and faster than the week before. We’ve become a pack, on and off the track, and when one of us is struggling, we rally.

We’ve come together and made precooked meals to help out while a teammate had a family emergency, and we’ve made Christmas a little more special for a teammate’s kids as they were going through hard times.

NCRD made me an athlete. I have my new family to thank for that.


In derby and in life we all get knocked down, but those who belong to NCRD can always count on their derby family to lift them up.
Sister Slag, the NCRD travelling team, will host a home-opener May 25 in Azilda. For more information, visit ncrd.ca.

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