You don’t mess with Angel O’deth.
That imposing-sounding derby name belongs to Crofton’s Monica Arthurs, who’s now the eldest of the energetic Cowichan Valley-based Brass Knuckle Derby Dames after turning 50 last July.
When she’s not hammering opponents around the ring during heated roller derby action, in real life Arthurs is a self-employed tradesperson with her own company known as Crowsfeet Finishing Company Ltd.
Arthurs does all sorts of trades and has been working diligently behind the scenes on sets and props for the upcoming Chemainus Theatre Festival production of Grease. But first and foremost on the mind of the Derby Dames’ president and most experienced player is leading her team into roller derby battle against the Harbour City Rollers Ship Rex in the second half of a Saturday, May 26 doubleheader at the Island Savings Centre in Duncan at 7:30 p.m.
Doors open at 5 p.m., followed by the opening bout between Harbour City Rollers Hydras and the Margarita Villains at 5:30 p.m.
Arthurs loves the competitive spirit of roller derby, but after it’s all done, the friendships and the bonds both on her own team and the opposition remains strong.
“What I love about our team, we’re like the rec league,” she said. “We want everyone to play, everyone to have a good time.
“We’re all working towards a common goal. No one person stands out. Even though we have superstars, one person can’t win a derby match.”
Arthurs is looking forward to facing the Harbour City Rollers again this weekend.
“We’re all friends,” she noted. “After the bout, it doesn’t matter. At the end of the game, it’s a laugh. We do play to win, but winning isn’t the ultimate goal. The goal is to make sure we’re on the same page and we’re communicating.”
Arthurs was born and raised and still lives in Crofton so she’s like a celebrity around town with her derby prowess that started about seven years ago, proof it’s a sport that can be picked up at any time.
“I remember it from the ’70s, but it’s a whole different world,” she noted, compared to the televised derbies of the time that were more like all-star wrestling.
“There was a couple of movies that I’ve seen that had it in there.”
Arthurs dabbled with a group in Youbou for a while that led her to the Nanaimo Nemesis that morphed into the Derby Dames.
They practice Mondays at Fuller Lake Arena once the ice comes out each year and Wednesdays at the Cowichan Exhibition’s Mellor Hall
“Our last game we had a full roster of just our team players for the first time,” Arthurs indicated. “We had 15 skaters.”
That was at the end of April during their annual Fuller Lake appearance. When they’re short of regulars, they often pick up players from other teams.
Mixing and matching is the roller derby way to make sure bouts go ahead no matter what.
Roller derby is played world-wide. There are Russian teams, Egyptian teams, and Arthurs noted Beirut just recently got a team.
“I love the sport; it’s challenging,” she enthused.
“Not since my university days have I been in a team sport. You’re taught everything you need to know and in your own time.”
The more you skate, the less likely you are to get injured, but “the risk of injury is always there,” noted Arthurs. “It’s a full contact, high-speed chase.”
Some of the derby words of wisdom that fuel Arthurs’s passions are “we destroy our bodies to save our souls” and “be your own hero.”
Back in the other part of her world, Arthurs has worked on constructing and painting during the last few shows at the Chemainus Theatre — Once and Kim’s Convenience, plus Grease — in addition to her regular company jobs.
“I’m going to finish up Grease and that’s probably it for me here for the time being,” she said.
She’ll be putting the Greased Lightning aside and focusing a bit more again on burning up the roller derby track.
“Currently, I’ve been busy here so it’s a bit difficult,” Arthurs conceded. Regardless, Angel O’deth, doesn’t show any mercy when she’s in full derby mode, as the Harbour City Rollers are sure to find out Saturday.