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Playing in Kingston's first flat track roller derby league is a family affair for these alumni.
Cat London, Artsci’03, is a photographer and editor. Her husband, Matt Wonnacott, Artsci’05, is a family physician. Together, they are parents to young daughter Emily. They are also active members of the Kingston Derby Girls, Kingston’s first flat track roller derby league.
It was when Matt was attending medical school in London, Ontario – which has had its own derby league since 2006 -- that Cat met her first derby girl. She was intrigued by the idea of the sport, which has experienced a huge resurgence in popularity in the last few years. At the time, though, the idea of participating herself didn’t even occur to Cat.
In 2009, the couple moved back to Kingston, where Matt began his residency at Queen's in family medicine. Cat established herself as a photographer for istockphoto.com and a freelance editor (www.catlondon.ca). They enjoyed Kingston’s lively arts and cultural scene and the sense of community in their downtown neighbourhood. Flash forward to 2010.
“One day, I was at my gym,” says Cat, “and I spotted a flyer that said, ‘Want to play derby?’” This time, she decided to give it a shot. The fledging group that had hoped to attract around 20 women interested in roller derby had 60 enthusiastic women, including Cat, sign up following that first flyer campaign.
“The last time I was on roller skates, I was 12,” she laughs. Despite a wobbly start, she liked what she saw in the group; women with varying degrees of skating experience coming together as teammates and friends. Cat quickly honed her skating skills and made one of the three Kingston Derby Girls teams. On the track, she’s known as Cat O’Clysm, skating for the Rogue Warriors. She’s also a member of the Derby Girls Board of Directors.
Matt got involved in derby in the spring of 2011. As he says, “At a certain point, you have to decide to get involved yourself, or resign yourself to never seeing your spouse again!” Skating in the league is strictly for women, but there are roles for men as officials and other volunteers. Interested in learning the many rules of derby, Matt began training as a referee (and learning how to skate.) Now, as alter ago Fraud Flintstone, he’s the Head Referee of the Kingston Derby Girls, whose teams have two strong seasons behind them, competing against teams throughout Ontario and New York State. “It’s a really interesting sport,” says Matt, “and it’s a great community.”
Last July, Cat and Matt welcomed the newest “derby girl” to their home team. Now almost one, Emily no longer fits into her mom’s helmet, but she is still a regular presence at bouts. And, as the first baby welcomed by the league, she even has her own derby name, Em Ageddon.
Learn more about the Derby Girls at www.kingstonderbygirls.com