A LEEDS roller derby skater is heading to America to play at the sport’s highest level in a moving tribute to her grandmother.
Kelly Wolstenholme, who has played for Leeds Roller Dolls (LRD) since 2011, was selected to represent Ireland in the second Roller Derby World Cup, which takes place in Dallas, Texas, next week.
It’s not the first time the talented skater has competed at roller derby’s pinnacle, but at the inaugural world cup, held in Canada in 2011, she represented England, rather than the Emerald Isle. Kelly, 30, applied for Irish citizenship and now has an Irish passport in a bid to represent her nan, Margaret Green, who was born in Belfast.
Margaret saw her granddaughter make the Irish national squad’s training team in February, but sadly died before Kelly discovered she’d made the final 20 heading to the world cup last month. “After nan passed away, making the final roster was all the more emotional,” Kelly said.
The squad is made up of skaters from across Ireland and the UK, and even has skaters based in America, who tried out via video submissions.
Preparation for Dallas has been tough, but Kelly’s supportive teammates at LRD have helped by adapting their own training plan to include tactics and drills set out by the Irish coaching team.
Kelly, who makes a 90 mile round trip twice a week to train with LRD from her home in Manchester, said: “I’m really lucky to have such supportive coaches and teammates at LRD.”
Kelly will fly to the States on Monday to join the rest of the Irish squad for two days of intense training before the competition begins on Thursday. Ireland will face Spain, Germany and Kelly’s old team, England, in the group stages of the competition. England will be a force to be reckoned with, after they came third in the 2011 competition, behind Canada and winners the USA.
Kelly added: “That will be a game that pushes us to our limits.”
LEEDS ROLLER Dolls will thrash it out to be named Queens of the North in the final of a nail biting tournament tomorrow.
The Dolls, who train at the Futsal Arena, will face Middlesbrough in the final game of the Northern Series in Newcastle.
The tournament has been closely fought, and Anna Ward, who plays for LRD’s A team, the Rebel Roses, said preparation had helped the entire league improve.
She said: “This year our training has undergone a big revamp and we have been getting back to basics. The whole league has improved and in the midst of that the Rebel Roses have been preparing for the final by working hard on fitness, focus and team psychology.
“To win would mean everything to us.”