October 29, 2012

Beer doctor hones his skills spreading roller derby fever

Posted by WARREN PERLEY – Editor, BestStory.ca
Writing from Montreal

In the midst of researching an article, a journalist sometimes stumbles upon a secondary story which deserves its own write-up. After all, who can resist a yarn consisting of a "beer doctor", roller derby player and coach all rolled into one who happens to be a ground-breaking entrepreneur streaming live roller derby matches from across Canada onto the Internet? His derby name is Dr. Johnny Capote and any roller derby fan who has ever watched Canuck Derby TV has him to thank.

I came across Johnny only after I had spent two months researching and writing about why the women of roller derby are so passionate about their sport, as seen through the eyes of players in Montreal Roller Derby. All 9,066 words and 41 photos can be found on the home page of this website. In doing my research, I was aware of the big stars, such as Smack Daddy of the New Skids On The Block and Suzy Hotrod of Gotham Girls Roller Derby. But I wanted to find out what was attracting average athletes to the sport.

I followed the transformation of a waitress named Amy I had met at a restaurant in west-end Montreal called Otago as she morphed into her weekend derby persona of Sneaky Devil. Amy is a young lady, a down-to-earth, shy individual who grew up in the small Saskatchewan town of Assiniboia, 60 miles south of Moosejaw near the border with Montana. She is willowy and soft-spoken, hardly the image one might conjure of a rough-and-tumble roller derby chick. 

The only clue I gleaned that she had an alter ego was a discreet sugar skull tattoo on her svelte left calf. When I asked a few questions, it didn't take long to realize that she was passionate about roller derby and that her fragile looks belied a steely determination to compete on the oval, where female players show they're every bit as tough as the men and a lot more entertaining to watch because of their athleticism and agility. 

My story covers all aspects of women's international roller derby — sporting, social, sexual, political and business — as seen through the eyes of players and observers. We posted the piece on BestStory.ca  in September 2012 [SEE TEASER] and immediately started working on a complementary short YouTube video which we hoped would reflect the passion and fun of the sport. Of course, we thought it only appropriate that the two-minute video start with Sneaky Devil. But we realized we needed  to transition from a closeup of her to some of the exciting action we had witnessed during the August 2012 championship match of Montreal Roller Derby.

I decided to call the good doctor, Johnny Capote, the founder of Canuck Derby TV. Without hesitation, Johnny made available to us some superb high definition game footage which you can see in the video at  http://youtu.be/BVlvKv0ZFr4  

In speaking with him, I learned that Johnny plays on the Team Canada men's team (he's No. 10) and that between 2007 and 2010 he coached La Racaille, the Montreal Roller Derby team for which Sneaky Devil  started playing in 2012.  What makes his story even more compelling is that he used his own money to start Canuck Derby TV — www.canuckderbytv.com — in March 2010 to stream "live boutcasts" of all Montreal Roller Derby matches, as well as various tournament games across Canada. He has trained personnel at affiliate station ToRD.TV in Toronto to stream games from that city's league, and is in the process of setting up affiliate stations across Canada.

Johnny was originally trained in streaming techniques for Internet boutcasts by Hurt Reynolds, one of the founders of Chicago-based Derby News Network (DNN), itself the primary clearing house for derby news and video broadcasts on the Internet. Canuck Derby TV and DNN maintain a close working relationship with all the Canadian boutcasts made available to DNN. In fact, it was Canuck Derby TV which streamed all the games worldwide from the first ever Roller Derby World Cup in Toronto in December 2011. 

In March 2012, Johnny formed an alliance with Aaron Johnston, founder of Vancouver-based video production company AMJ Pro Video, to create high definition Internet boutcasts for 93 of the matches covered in the 2012 season.  Johnston, with experience broadcasting professional football and hockey, feels there is a Canadian television market for HD Saturday Morning Derby. Johnny and Aaron plan a "soft" launch for  HD DerbyTV.com in the spring of 2013 for those Canadians who would like the option of watching derby matches on their television, as well as on their desktop computers and mobile devices.

For those wondering where Dr. Johnny obtained his doctorate, I can now report after my interview with him that he is a certified "beer doctor" with a Montreal-area microbrewery called Les brasseurs du nord, which brews under the brand name Boréale. Johnny, 46, is referentially known as "doctor" when he visits the bars and restaurants of his Montreal clients to ensure the beer is flowing smoothly through their pumps and taps.

What motivates the good doctor to continue his hectic quest to spread video of Canadian roller derby worldwide? The gratification of hearing players like the woman who recently thanked his crew for allowing her husband in Afghanistan and her parents in the U.S.  to watch her in action. Plus his ambitious HD roller derby plans keep him out of trouble. "If I weren't working on this monster of a project, I'd probably be in the stands, watching roller derby and drinking far too much PBR [Pabst Blue Ribbon, a sponsor of Montreal Roller Derby]." Sounds like fun, eh?