Kate Hargreaves is someone you are going to hear a lot about in the future. She is a dynamo. She’s an editor, graphic designer and a graduate student in English at the University of Windsor. She has just re-designed The Windsor Review magazine, and has done some editing and design work for Black Moss Press.  But she is also a gifted poet and writer … and roller derby enthusiast. That is what I am about to deliver to you here, a sample of what she has to say about this rough and tumble sport.

In July 2010, Kate helped form her local roller derby league and laced up her first pair of roller skates. Since then, she’s spent all her free time practicing, playing, watching, researching, and generally devoting her life to the sport of women’s flat track roller derby. You can find her writing in publications across Canada as well as the U.S., including filling Station, Room, Rampike, Carousel, Windsor ReView, Off the Coast, and forthcoming in The Antigonish Review.

What you will see here is a sample of what she has written about Roller derby. This piece should appear in a book somewhere down the road. The book is tentatively called Talking Derby: Stories from a Life on Eight Wheels. It is Kate Hargreaves’ love letter to the sport of roller derby.

A skater with an emerging league, Kate a.k.a. Pain Eyre takes readers behind the scenes, both on and off the track, into the fast-growing sport of roller derby. Her vignettes incorporate derby’s unique terminology and culture, as well as a glimpse into the very real athleticism of its players. Talking Derby thrusts smelly gear under the readers’ noses and proudly displays its bruises. 

Enjoy. And the photo here is one that I captured of Kate outside the offices of The Windsor Review …

Excerpt from Talking Derby: Stories from a Life on Eight Wheels

Nov. 29th, 2011

Ibuprofin. Water gulp. I toss my water bottle into my gear bag side pocket, zip, and throw the strap over one shoulder. Slam the front door and sidestep down three porch steps. Right leg limp. My skates have been stinking up the closet for over a week and it’s been two since the initial pull. Fingers and toes crossed, my hip flexor flexes tonight as it should. What better way to find out than three hours of travel tryouts? But, I’m going to take it easy. Sure you are. Whisk’ya Sourz rolls her eyes from the driver’s seat. Seriously, I’m going to take it easy. No point in injuring myself further. My name and number are already drying on my red shirt for next week’s Santas versus Elves scrimmage, and I refuse to stay on the bench.

But…Whisk’ya raises one eyebrow. But…there’s a contest: first skater to 32 laps in 5 minutes. On the line: a free team t-shirt at next week’s Derby World Cup. I’m going to take it easy, but with a competition to raise the stakes, I know I won’t be able to skate my 25 laps and be content. 25 in 5, the much-groaned-about roller derby staple: 25 standard track laps in five minutes or less. On basic skills testing, full points for speed and endurance are only awarded to those who hit 25, and breaking through is a big turning point for a lot of skaters. Some of the top American leagues like Gotham and Oly are rumoured to demand 35 in 5 minimum for their travel teams: a solid seven laps a minute. Unlikely on our ice rink of a concrete floor. 32, though, is a distinct possibility. My last attempt maxed out at 31.5, and with a free Team Canada shirt on the line, why not try? Whisk’ya reminds me that there are several reasons why not, including a not fully recovered muscle pull, an impending holiday scrimmage, and the risk of limping my way through the Christmas break. But a challenge is a challenge.

Whisk’ya presses the buzzer and the heavy wood door swings open. Drop Dead Alice steps out from behind, sporting a paper number 8 taped to the front and back of her helmet. She points at the stack of numbered papers starting at 15 on a table next to the door. Travel team only takes 14 skaters from tonight’s tryout, so we’ve already hit the maximum with more people emerging from the nippy outdoors by the minute. I swipe number 16 and dump my bag by the wall, drop down to the floor for a good stretch to gauge the state of my hip. Tight, but not too bad. No limp, a slight tug. 32 laps? Maybe.

Number 14. We hockey stop. We pack skate. Number 15. We plow. We jump. We block. We recycle. Number 16. We run through all the advanced drills the coaches and reffing staff can recall as they stand, whistles between their teeth, clipboards in hand, calling us to demonstrate our abilities one by one. And then, the last water break before 25 in 5. Five skaters at a time, spread out across the track, one person counting laps for each. I’m assigned the second shift so I grab my water, try to guzzle as much as possible before my five minute sprint-a-thon. Pain, can you count for Paulapalooza? I sit down and hurdler stretch on the inside of the track facing out towards Paula. In between sips of water as she passes by I scream 5 laps, awesome! Great pace! Keep it up! and Push it, push it! Only a minute left! Finish strong!  As the thirty seconds-to-go mark arrives, I stand and start to loosen my muscles. Go go go! Counters scream One more lap, you can do it! The five-minute whistle blows and the skaters finally relax; some take a knee and slide to the ground as the coaches yell for them to skate it off slowly, don’t let your muscles seize up! I’m ordered to the track, and…Damn! I sprint over to the coach I’msorryIgottapeedoIhavetimeI’llberightback! I dash to the bathroom, pulling off my wrist guards, and toss them outside the door as I skate onto the damp tile. As I’m washing my hands, I hear my derby name called out from the warehouse, PAIN! PAIN! I stumble down the bathroom step. Ears burning, I strap on my wrist guards, rush to the track—the whistle goes and I’m off running on my toe-stops.

At the minute-mark, I’ve only hit six and a half laps and I’m bound to slow down. My quads are already howling at me and side-stepping inside! to pass a slower skater tugs at my hip. Almighty Dollar is counting my laps in a low voice, but as I hit 10 and then 15 well before three minutes, he starts to push me onward. Go, go, you can hit 32! I pass the 25 marker, thighs smoldering, chest heaving. Gulping air in hungry mouthfuls, I can barely force out inside! as I screech up behind other skaters. Crossing over with choppy strides, I’m bent too far over at the waist. Bad form. With 30 seconds to go, I’m at 29 laps, and desperate to push out a few more. I try to pick up the pace but my legs resist. The ten second countdown starts and I finish lap 31, heading toward Dollar, my marker for 32, when he blows the whistle. 31 and three quarters, goddammit! I can hear Victor Won in his microphone announcing that we are waiting on the final verdict on my laps. I was probably two seconds away. Two. damn. seconds.

I coast to the centre of the track, hands on knees and spin the cap off my water. The last drips slide off the plastic. Shit. Screeeee! A whistle catches me on my way to refill as Dollar waves me over to the jammer line. An impromptu race. Winner takes shirt. Three minutes recovery and then a two-lap sprint. Against a ref. Can’t I just admit defeat by quads and concrete floor? No shirt, no race? Cut off one sleeve for the missing quarter lap? Standing on toe-stoppers, a blister burns along the edge of my big toe. Two short whistle blasts. Animosity Al jumps off the line early. Yields advantage. I swing past onto the inside and hug the apex. My boots lean hard on loose trucks. Blister pressing against damp leather, I stagger down the straightaway and cross the line with Al steps behind. A free shirt from a false start. Panting, I grab for my empty bottle and drift toward the fountain for some water. A whistle shrieks. Time for scrimmage! I turn, tighten one knee pad, adjust my helmet, and head for the bench. Someone tosses me the jammer panty. Shaking out heavy legs, I stretch my arms behind my back. Bend one knee and pull my right leg up to my chest. Hip twinges. Toe burns. Water sloshes in my belly. 5 black shirts on the track! Tryouts aren’t over yet.

Bandit, Introducing a talented young writer from Essex, Ontario

Samantha Wauthier, known to everyone as “Sam,” is 17. She wrote her first novel, Nova and the Ashbeavian Wolves when she was in Grade 7. She later re-named it  The legend of Ashbeavia. Sam came to see me with her writing, asking for advice. I was taken aback at how talented and prolific a writer she is. This is someone who is going places. She is gifted. Her imagination knows no bounds. I was struck by her desire for further education is to study Paleontology and Creative writing. A curious blend. But a look at her writing will tell you all about this. Sam says: “Ever since I can remember I have had a fond intrest in both writing and dinosaurs. My favorite book is a The Goblin Book, by Hilari Bell and my favorite author is Sherwood Smith. I love most types of music but some of my favorite artist are Lady Gaga, Chopin and Adele.”

I thought I would share this excerpt of yet another book she has written.  It is one about all the farm animals on her family’s farm near Essex, Ontario. This is the first of these stories to be published, on-line of course. Sam’s lyrical portrayal is from the point of view of these little creatures, all penned in the first person. Fascinating. Maybe reminiscent of Orwell’s famous satire, Animal Farm.? Not exactly, but there are some very profound underlying statements being made. Listen carefully. She has given me permission to use this piece. Please welcome Sam Wauthier.


 By Sam Wauthier

I was a fluke. It is as simple as that, I was a mixed breed or a mutt as the humans would say. My father was a yellow Lab and my mother was a shepherd. I in my own defense believe that I got the best traits of both breeds in the simplest terms I could be called a blond shepherd. My glossy coat was the color of faded wheat and my eyes were a deep sorrel brown. I have had many owners, all of which I was loyal too. And yet each and every one of them with the exception of the last passed me onto the next without a second glance. I wish not to discuss my early life if anything I wish to forget it.

I do feel it necessary to start with the family that my life ended with. One night a strange and unfamiliar man entered my domain, his scent was odd. He was a tall male human with dark hair and pale skin. His voice was hoarse and cracked as he spoke careful words with my master. They exchanged words for quite some time, every now and then they would stop talking just long enough to reach out and touch me. The male human reached out, his hand was rather large but surprisingly gentle. I watched with great intent as he nodded to my master. I did not know this at the moment but it was suddenly made clear that I was for sale and my master was the seller. What had I ever done to him that had made him want to rid his world of my presence?

My new master and hopefully my last brought me home to live with him and his beloved family. The dark of the sky created a hue of shadows and cloud. The whole of the house smelt of new and in my own words inexperienced scents. The house was rather clean and the children were sleeping on the couch. A young female and two males slept soundly. I wished to smell them to remember their scent and so I padded closer to them.  The wet of my black nose touched the warmth of the little girls arm; she appeared so fragile and tiny. Her hair fell about her in tangles, I watched as her careful eyes fluttered open to meet my own.  Her drowsy blue eyes snapped alert, she spoke with much excitement within the tone of her voice.

“What is his name?”

The tall man who was now my master patted me on the top of the head as he responded to the young girl’s question.


Maybe a year after my coming to my new home I realized that they loved me, the children, the mother and the father. They were not like my past owners for they cared deeply for my health and well being. They were kind to me and fed me well, I followed the children almost everywhere they went. Human children were such active creatures and I was their protector. I loved them so deeply, sometimes in the dead of the night I would sneak out of the back room where I slept and walked swiftly up the narrow wooden steps of the house to the second floor to where the young children slept. Sometimes I would jump up on the soft of their beds and curl up beside them.

One day Chemo, the Rottweiler that lived just down the street, took things too far. I do realize that his master beat him without due cause and I do feel sympathy for him but it gave him no right to hurt my master’s daughter. I was in the back yard with the oldest boy of the children, George was his name.  The grass in the back yard was long, the simplest shade of dark green. I loved the summer time, for the boy and I would spend hours playing frisbee. The boy would throw it and I would run and catch it, this of course not only kept me active but also was a form of entertainment. I watched as the sun cascaded upon the boy’s dark brown hair to shadow his face. Suddenly I heard it… a scream, the little girl was in danger. Without watching what the boy was doing I bound around the house. Her screams became more desperate, the scent of her fear tingled my flared nostrils. I rounded the corner to see Chemo attacking her. His jagged teeth were exposed; the hair on his back rose. I bolted forward and leaped atop the horrid dog. In an act of bewilderment he quickly got to his feet to assess who I was and how to take me down. I watched for the slightest moment as realization hit him, he recognized me but it was no matter. He was angry and not able to control his rage. I took a few steps closer to the little girl; I glanced down at her to see if she was okay. It was apparent from the blood that stained her little pink sun dress that she had been bitten.  In the few moments I had taken to look over the girl Chemo came at me; I could feel the impact of his jaws against the soft of my flesh. Without realizing what I was doing, I thrashed back at him; no fear glazed my eyes as I protected the young girl. I waited for him to surge forward so not to allow any such amount of space between me and my young master. I sank my pearly fangs into the back of his neck just below his shoulder blade; this ferocious creature brought his weight down upon me and cried out not at my fangs. I released him then so to make sure my master was okay, I heard her whimper which tugged at my senses. I faced Chemo then just in time to assess his charge; which was directed towards the female. His wildly spun sorrel eyes seemed to plead for help as they strained against the pulsing red veins violating his vision. I Surged forward and thrust my widened and sharp jaws to clamp about the soft of his exposed throat. I added a mass amount of pressure which forced my to taste the metallic tang of the oozing fluid from his throat. I applied a slightly tighter amount of pressure which seized his whimpering; I listened to his horrid attempt to breathe. If one was to listen closer it would be possible to feel the rush of inhalation over my jaws. I felt the tension slip from his form and I retracted away from him then; a hoarse growl still stained my throat. The unexpected brawl was over and in response I stood strong next to the little girl and watched as Chemo limped wearily down the cracked road.  I vowed silently to myself that no living creature would ever hurt her or any of my family again.

I fear that with my age I may have to make some adjustments to my nature. I say this half-heartedly for do I realize that humans like to move and change. We were moving out of the city and into the country. I felt quite free as I rode in the back of the black pickup truck. The crisp wind touched my face and ruffled my long golden coat. In the country the air was clean or at least cleaner than that of the city. I tried to glance around at the fast moving vehicles and trees but even the thought of it made my stomach churn. I slumped to the surface of the trucks metallic floor. With every bump in the road my head would lightly tap the floor and bring me back to my state of awareness.  I dozed off every now and then; the rhythmic sensation of flying filled my dreams.

Not long after we had settled in at the new property I managed to break the oldest female child’s arm. I did not see her often for she really did not live with us on a daily basis as the other three children, including the youngest female, lived with me all year round. It was a humid and muddy spring day, the heavens were clear from the yesterday’s rain. The children never usually put a chain onto my collar but today I think the oldest male, George, was feeling particularly jumpy. You see it is always been in my nature to come when called on and George decided to call out my name. So in response I ran to meet him at his side, I hardly realized that I was dragging the mass of tangled chain and the oldest female with flaxen and wiry hair behind me. I do faintly remember hearing her call out, in a series of frantic shrieks, for me to stop but I do recall that I did not halt until the boy told me to.  I sat obediently at his feet, my thickly curled tail wrapped about my lower limbs and without hesitation I slumped to my stomach. The mud and filth below my heaving chest felt cool one could say it felt similar to the cool trickle of new morning dew. The kind and gentle mother of the children ran out and detached the chain from my collar. Even with the weight of the eldest girl eased away from my throat I still had to live with the constriction of air as it entered and exited my lungs.  I walked off even as I heard the moans and grunts come from the wounded female behind me. I glanced back at her, it was clear that she was in an immense amount of pain for she was covered in bits of  folded grass and her clothes were stained brown from the moist muck that I had dragged her through.

A beam of white light was all I saw before the van was upon me, I thought myself to be dead. I wondered to myself how the young children would be able to survive without me, their protector. I held on for them, the lights around me faded and I was gone. I awoke in the warmth of the house, it was dark. I strained to see with what little strength I had left; the pain was strong and my body was too achy to move. The memory of the van flooded over me, it also occurred to me that I was alive or at least half alive. How very extraordinary that I have managed to survive, it was as if my whole life was a game of chance and in a sense the luck of the draw. I gather today just was not my day to die, not my day to fade back into the depths of the earth in which I was spawned.  No matter how tragic my life was till that moment I understood not how tragic my life was to be. The truth of my considered fate was not revealed until a years pass. I have finally fallen victim to my destiny, I could not hold on much longer. I peered without feeling at the wooden ceiling of my homing structure; untended cracks lingered in the aged cedar. The scent of sawdust lingered in the depths of my fading sense of smell. A flourish of grey was all that kept me rooted to the reality of my existence. I stared longingly at the chain that lay over my brown collar before setting my face atop my forepaws. I felt all around me become abrupt darkness and this time I did not wake, I could not wake.

Lee Plaza Honeymoon









JOHN B. LEE is one of Canada’s most prolific poets. He sent me this piece by e-mail the other day after I told him I had been at the Lee Plaza Hotel a week ago. This once beautiful, art-deco building is abandoned now. The windows are all gone. Before dawn Sunday morning, I wandered through it, and stepped into the rooms. I found the remains of a piano in the ballroom. I found an entire closet full of clothes in another room. I found women’s hats, an umbrella, broken lamps and a jar of honey. I was with Windsor, Ontario photographer Jessica Bracken who spotted this white dress near a closet. I photographed it from the side. What follows below is John’s story of that hotel when his mother and father went there on their honeymoon.


My mom and dad were married in a home wedding on an uncommonly warm winter Sunday, January 9, 1949. After the ceremony in my mother’s homestead they went outside to be photographed in shirtsleeves on the lawn of the small hardscrabble farm a mile from Mull crossing. They set out from there in the dying hours of the day for the motor city where they stayed at the Lee Plaza hotel located in the shadow of the Olympia. That evening, my father and his new bride watched a game between the Leafs and the Wings from the standing-room only section of the arena. The game ended in a 2-2 tie, and Mother always remembered the pain in her feet standing on the hard and unforgiving floor in brand new high-heeled shoes. That was the first hockey game I attended, though my ovum waited in the warm darkness for nearly two years, a lonesome egg was I. Somewhere else, the team I would come to love, the Chicago Black Hawks, were waiting for me to be born a fan, though the first uniform I wore when I played my first game at 6 years of age would be that of a New York Rangers. Jar rings holding my shin pads and socks in place, I stumbled onto the ice like Andy Bathgate’s wobbly kneed newborn calf, I would have preferred a Black Hawks logo, but then, my father wasn’t one to ask me what I wanted. It seems my Mother was his willing partner even then. She hated hockey. She loved the man who took her to that game and made her suffer to be his companion in life, though now a widow, she still says of him, “he was the best man I ever knew. He gave me a good life. I miss him so.” I think of her there, her beauty often compared to that of Grace Kelly, so much did she resemble the lovely movie star, my aunt Emily bought her a Grace Kelly dinner plate that she placed on the dining room buffet. Still a great beauty at 87 years of age, my Mother laments those toe pinching high heeled shoes, the ones she wore the first night of her honey moon with George Emerick Lee on her arm as she headed for the Lee Plaza and the room where they would make love for the first time.