Jess Bandit takes on the “roll” of captain

Kirkland resident crowned head of Team Canada’s women’s roller-derby team

Jessica Paternostro decided one day that she needed a hobby. What she didn’t know at the time was that the decision would require a helmet, along with knee, wrist, elbow, and mouth guards, and culminate with her being named captain of Team Canada, leading her motley crew to compete at the Blood & Thunder Roller Derby World Cup in Toronto, Dec. 2 to 4.

“My friend Georgia W. Tush (Alyssa Kwasny) is the founder of the Montreal Roller Derby League,” said Paternostro, “I just joined in not really knowing what it was.”

When she’s not studying Physical and Health Education at McGill University or undergoing daily cardio and resistance training, the Kirkland resident’s alter-ego ‘Jess Bandit’ can be found circling a track with her teammates, doing their best to block their opponent team’s “jammer” from out-lapping them, while at the same time, forming gaps to allow their own jammer to advance. Each “jam”, or round, is two minutes long and a match consists of an hour of total play.

“It’s a race, but at the same time, you don’t want to tire out your jammer,” said Paternostro. “That’s where it’s really strategic.”

In the five years since her initial foray into the sport, the Montreal league has grown to include six teams with dappled monikers including The Smash Squad, Les Contrabanditas, and Paternostro’s team, the New Skids on the Block.

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