Name: Judy-Lyn Sylvester
Location: Stettler, Alberta, Canada
Occupation: House mom to Amber (9) and Evan (7), all around volunteer and a skater for the Heartland Rollergirls.
Judy-Lyn Sylvester isn’t your average mom. In fact, this stay-at-home domestic goddess is actually a roller derby rockstar when she isn’t shuttling her children, Amber and Evan, to and from school, tae kwon do, and hockey, or helping her husband with his business and volunteering for the Royal Purple of Canada. Whew!
Although Judy had been interested in roller derby for a few years, there were no local teams within the vicinity of her home in Stettler, Canada. To her surprise, a new league formed and decided to set down roots in her area. She went with her cousin Kelsey to the team’s information session and both women signed up on the spot, even though neither of them had ever even seen a bout! It wasn’t long until Judy was a regular roller derby disciple.
“Kelsey and I loved the can-do attitude of the women getting the league off the ground and their positive attitude towards the sport,” Judy explains.
It’s these women of the league who keep the new team together, even though the time commitment and physical demands of the sport can be somewhat overwhelming.
“It’s true what they say when derby will take over your life,”
“It’s true what they say when derby will take over your life,” Judy says. “I had to learn how to balance my home life with my derby life – which can be extremely hard at times but you learn to work out what’s important and what isn’t. I now sit on the board and am chairman on our marketing committee, so between practices and bouts, there are meetings and a lot of behind the scenes planning going on. The best part of competing is meeting all of these incredible, smart, strong women, not only from my team but within other leagues as well. They all become like an extended family and their positive attitudes and willingness to share their knowledge of the sport is a huge inspiration to keep going at it and bettering myself.”
One of the many appealing things about roller derby is the fact that it’s universally accepting: women of all ages, sizes, and levels of physical ability are on squads and competing fiercely with smiles on their faces. This empowerment that Judy witnessed, and the inspiration she gleaned from her enthusiastic cousin Kelsey, were life-changing. Even though it was a bit intimidating at first glance, Judy learned that, in spite of her previous lack of derby experience, it didn’t take much to become a regular.
“I was hooked on the diversity of the community and the players,” she says. “It’s a sport that accepts anyone to play who has the heart and will to do it. There’s never a “Oh, you’re not good enough” attitude, it’s a “Yeah, come try and see if you like it” spirit.”
She also has advice for ladies who might be thinking of checking out a roller derby league in their hometowns.
“My key piece of advice is to not limit yourself. I didn’t even know how to roller skate when I joined my league, my only background was ice skating that I did for fun when I was kid. So don’t think you have to be athletic or good at sports to join, but do join with the intent to better yourself physically. It’ll help in the long run. Also, don’t take yourself too seriously.”
Great advice for life and derby! For being a queen of the roller derby and an above-average mom, we think that Judy-Lyn is one Cool Girl!
Aside from roller derby, Judy-Lyn volunteers at Royal Purple of Canada, which is a women’s organization focused on raising funds for the Elks club and the Royal Purple Fund for Children, which is a charity that provides medical funding to kids under the age of 19. For more information, check out their website which Judy-Lyn has been instrumental in developing: www.royalpurpleofcanada.org