History of the Hammer City Roller Girls
In January 2006, Lasha “Whiplasha” Laskowsky initiated the establishment of the Hammer City Roller Girls (HCRG) as the first all-female flat-track roller derby league in Canada. On July 22, 2006, in Burlington’s Central Arena, history was made as these ambitious skaters from Hamilton held the first modern public roller derby bout in the Great White North.
HCRG continued to rack up an incredible number of “firsts” in 2007. Comprised of the Hamilton Harlots and Steel Town Tank Girls home teams, HCRG held its first full season of derby action. Plus, they skated in their first inter-league games, formed their first all-star team (The Eh! Team), bouted in their first away game in Mount Laurel, NJ, and competed in their first international tournament, the Fall Brawl in Fort Wayne, IN.
In 2008, HCRG expanded to include a third home team, the Death Row Dames, and at the inaugural Beast of the East Tournament in Montreal, (QC,) the Hamilton Harlots claimed HCRG’s first tournament championship victory. Meanwhile, the all-star Eh! Team represented the league in its most competitive season ever on the road, with outings to Toronto (ON), Kalamazoo (MI), Fort Wayne (IN), Chicago (IL), and Buffalo (NY), and wrapped up the home season with a spirited game against Texas Rollergirls’ legendary Hot Rod Honeys. At the end of the 2008 season, the league re-aligned its home teams. While the Tank Girls were no more, the strengthened Harlots’ and Dames’ line-ups promised fans the most exciting intra-league play possible.
2009 brought international recognition, along with further competition and expansion. In the most exciting development of the year, HCRG became just the second international member of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA), joining the North Central division. Through its participation in WFTDA, HCRG helps shape the continued growth and development of roller derby by contributing to the rule set, learning from established leagues, being eligible for ranking and tournament play, and improving the public image of women’s flat track roller derby in Canada, North America, and the world. For more information visit: wftda.com. Meanwhile, on the track, the Eh! Team defended its home turf against teams from Toronto (ON), Montréal (QC), and Cleveland (OH), and hit the road for tournament action in Montreal, plus as well as games in Buffalo, Pittsburgh (PA), and Minneapolis-St. Paul (MN). In 2009, HCRG also launched its Derby 101 training program to develop new talent for the league, and completed another successful intra-league season at home.
In the 2010 season, Hammer City’s travels took them to tournaments in Montreal, Toronto, Milwaukee (Midwest BrewHaHa), and Philadelphia (East Coast Derby Extravaganza). The Eh! Team bouted against teams from Indiana, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Vermont, and Pennsylvania. On the home season front, the Harlots and the Dames were bolstered by an influx of dedicated new skaters, competing both at home and on the road in Kitchener and London, Ontario. Their own intra-league rivalry culminated with a hotly contested outdoor bout at the newly minted Hamilton Waterfront Trust skate pad.
HCRG entered its 2011 season with a renewed, focused effort on skating competitively at the highest, most demanding levels of roller derby, and as such, the league restructured to two teams: the WFTDA chartered Hammer City Eh! Team and the Hammer City Harlots regional team. Both teams compete against roller derby leagues from cities in Canada and the US, while the Eh! Team represents the league in sanctioned WFTDA inter-league competitions that count towards WFTDA rankings. That season, HCRG battled it out in tournaments in Milwaukee (WI), Philadelphia (PA) and Ottawa (ON), and both the Eh! Team and the Harlots hosted Canadian and American teams in another full season of hard-hitting action at home.
The Eh! Team continued to roll on the road in 2012, playing at Quad City Chaos in Toronto, BrewHaHa in Milwaukee, and Ruckus in the Rustbelt in Youngstown, Ohio. Season highlights included a sanctioned win at BrewHaHa, a solid run at the Beast of the East for the Harlots, and a winning season at home for both the Eh! Team and the Harlots.
2013 was HCRG’s busiest and most successful season yet. The Eh! Team opened with a home bout against the Killamazoo Derby Darlins in February, battled Fort Wayne in March, and took home their first WFTDA sanctioned win of the year against Fargo-Moorhead at the Spring Roll tournament in Fort Wayne in May. More sanctioned wins followed against Circle City (Indianapolis), Glass City (Toledo, OH), Little Steel (Youngstown, OH), and Hudson Valley (Kingston, NY). Close losses to Grand Raggidy (Grand Rapids, MI) and Killamazoo in September solidified the Eh! Team’s surge up the WFTDA rankings – from 133 to 84, a 49-spot rise. The Harlots, comprised of many of our newer skaters, only got stronger as the season went on, closing with four straight wins against Royal City’s Killer Queens, Hudson Valley, Toronto’s Chicks! Ahoy, and Grand Raggidy. And finally, the newest of the new, our Hammer City Fresh Meat, put up a victory against Durham Region’s DRRD’Y Farmers, plus a solid third place finish at The Fresh and The Furious tournament.
The 2014 season was highlighted by a historical first in Canadian derby. Hammer City hosted Maple Stir-Up in August, the first tournament to feature an all-Canadian, all-WFTDA lineup. There, the Eh! Team scored a victory against Forest City (London, ON), capping off a very competitive season against Paper Valley (Appleton, WI), Bleeding Heartland (Bloomington, IN), Fort Wayne (IN), Brew City (Milwaukee, WI), Ithaca (NY), and Rideau Valley (Ottawa). The Harlots notched wins over Forest City’s Luscious Lunch Ladies and Paper Valley, and our Fresh Meat squad handled Royal City (Guelph) and the GTAR Derby Debutantes (Toronto).
2015 marks Hammer City’s 10th season of competitive roller derby, marked by a jam-packed calendar on the road and on the home front against Canadian and American teams. We are proud to represent the city whenever we take to the flat track – we are Hammer City, we are roller derby…#WEAREHAMILTON.