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National honours beckon

Tuesday, 29th October, 2013

Broken Hill’s Regan Birrell has the chance to qualify for the Australian roller derby squad at national trials in Brisbane next month. Broken Hill’s Regan Birrell has the chance to qualify for the Australian roller derby squad at national trials in Brisbane next month.

By Ethan James

After first strapping on her skates right here in Broken Hill, Regan Birrell is on the cusp of selection in the Team Australia women’s roller derby side.

Regan is one of about 50 who are trying out for a spot in the national squad, with trials to be held on November 17 in Brisbane. 

From there, a squad of 20 - plus reserves - will be chosen to fly to Texas, USA for the showpiece event in December 2014. 

“It would be amazing... but to put things in perspective, the Americans are pretty incredible,” she said. 

To make the squad she must navigate a five-hour try out which includes two hours of skills followed by three hours of game play. 

“A lot of the other players have a bit of an advantage. They play a lot more regularly in the Eastern Seaboard leagues and bigger metropolitan areas,” she said.

After moving to Adelaide in 2001 to study, Regan, now a primary school teacher, is now part of the table-topping Salty Dolls side.

She has also earned selection in the ‘Adeladies’ representative team. 

But she first took to the rink in 2009 after making a heartfelt personal vow.

“I started about six months after my mother passed away. I went and saw a game and thought I just had to try it, so I bought a pair of roller-skates and jumped in straight away,” she said.

And from there she fell in love with the sport.

“I had some skating experience at the old Broken Hill Roller Disco... but I just took to it like a duck to water.

“I enjoy the physicality and the fact that it’s not a traditional sport and can be enjoyed by all types of people.

“Some skaters who have never even played sport give it a crack... plus you have the chance to get dressed up a bit if you want.”

As is the case with every skater, Regan operates under a pseudonym with hers being ‘Blue Wrenegade’. 

She found inspiration from the native Australian bird the Blue Wren - a favourite of her mother’s - and combined it with a play on words on her own name.

“I was after something with a bit of meaning that also sounded a bit mean at the same time.”

Her profile on the Adelaide Roller Derby website describes her as having “red hair and a fiery attitude to match”.

Regan is one of two locals trying out for the national squad, with Sally ‘Teeny Flirtini’ Fitzalan also in the running.

The BH Roller Derby League holds “Fresh Meat” training sessions every Thursday night at the YMCA and welcomes new members to come and try the sport.

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