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fiveonfive contents 30-31

4-5 advice

ask dahmernatrix and suzy hotrod!

WFTDA 2010 marked a milestone in WFTDA officiating with the introduction of the Referee Clinics.

6-9 business good roller derby media relations conquering your fundraising fears

concussions part two derby weight training ankle rehab

Jules Doyle

10-16 health and fitness

18-23 games and coaching

40-41 men’s derby Friend or foe to women’s flat track derby?

knee down start managing your bench

24-27 gear 34-37 JRDA motivation

Erin No Bragh

size matters wheel regrooving

42-44 derby is a sport

38-39 rookie

Tips for how you can get the media on your side.

go fast, turn left

Jules Doyle

46-49 international derby 52-56 art and media 57 classifieds 60 horoscopes

editor miss jane redrum fort wayne derby girls copy editor vera n. sayne rocky mountain rollergirls content manager annsanity rocky mountain rollergirls art director assaultin’ pepa rocky mountain rollergirls contributing writers dahmernatrix san diego derby dolls suzy hotrod gotham girls roller derby portage ‘n maim winnipeg roller derby league jam buster winnipeg roller derby league cruisin’ b. anthony steel city derby demons maura buse boston derby dames catholic cruel girl rocky mountain rollergirls dr. bob kilroy l.a. derby dolls coach t black-n-bluegrass roller girls coach pauly e-ville roller derby razorslut l.a. derby dolls ivanna s. pankin’ san diego derby dolls cruel hand luke rocky mountain rollergirls judge knot texas rollergirls betty ford galaxy seattle derby brats cat owta hell tulsa derby brigade danny “jay pegg” bourne london rollergirls biroller disorder dutchland rollers swede hurt crime city rollers anne surly south sea roller derby norb rozek frozen codebase kylie of backlash denver roller dolls cover photo phil peterson fiveonfive magazine

from the editor Welcome to the 11th issue of fiveonfive magazine, the official magazine of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA)! I love roller derby. So when Assaultin’ Pepa invited me to become the next editor of fiveonfive magazine, I was thrilled. She thought she’d have to twist my arm. She was wrong. But why do I love roller derby? My story is not unique. I hear it told over and over again every time I ask someone how he or she got involved and why he or she stays involved. After meeting the founder of my league, I knew I had to be a part of this movement. I became a roller derby skater in October 2005, when the Fort Wayne Derby Girls were just forming, and it changed my life. Like most leagues, Fort Wayne Derby Girls had a rough start. There were six of us working to get the league off of the ground. We attended open skate sessions at our local skating rink and spent a lot of time researching how other leagues established their infrastructures. We spent even more time dispelling the preconceived notions about roller derby and the kind of people who participated. It was hard work, but it was a labor of love. I am sure many of us can relate to Bliss in “Whip It” when she says, “I am in love with this.” I get choked up every time I see that scene. That pretty much sums it up. I am in love with this. The women and men involved in this resurgence are the most phenomenal people I have ever met and they truly have enriched my life. Over the past six years, I have developed some of the strongest friendships I’ve ever had, not just locally, but nationally, as well. We’ve grown together, learned together, worked hard together, cried together and persevered together. Helping build our league from the ground up and serving as a board member for the WFTDA has made me stronger, tougher, smarter and more patient. I am ecstatic to be a part of the team that brings fiveonfive into the homes of roller derby aficionados across the globe. It doesn’t hurt that I am a sucker for sentence mechanics, either. We have some great articles in this issue. Be sure to check out Danny Bourne’s thoughts about men’s roller derby on page 40 and an inside look at WFTDA’s newly launched ref clinics from Judge Knot on page 30. If you’d like to be a contributor, send your story ideas to Miss Jane Redrum Fort Wayne Derby Girls Fort Wayne, IN


Many thanks to our contributors who come from all over the roller derby community and share their knowledge based on their countless hours of dedication to this sport! Check out additional contributors at

Portage ‘n Maim Portage ‘n Maim is one of the founding members of the Winnipeg Roller Derby League. This proudly bottom-heavy blocker has worn many helmets within her league including President and director of marketing and she is currently chair of the league’s sponsorship and marketing committee. She enjoys confronting her league’s drama queens, dodge ball drills and wearing her mouth guard while walking the dog. Outside of derby, Portage works as a government communications officer.

Dahmernatrix Dahmernatrix was a founding member of Duke City Derby and an active WFTDA member from the organization’s genesis until her move to San Diego four years later. Dahmer had the pleasure of skating both banked and flat track with the San Diego Derby Dolls for two seasons, and was voted “Most Likely to Knock You on Your Ass” in 2010. Dahmer has enjoyed doling out tips with the hits as the “Ask a Blocker” advice columnist with fiveonfive for ten issues. By this issue’s publication Dahmer will have left the U.S. to teach English in Georgia (the country, not the state) and hopes to be catch up with everyone at the next family reunion – aka RollerCon.

Cruisin’ B. Anthony Cruisin’ B. Anthony skates with the Steel City Derby Demons and traces her derby beginnings to upstate New York where she was a founding member of the Ithaca League of Women Rollers. Off-skates, she is a freelance science writer and mom to a tiny child who will get wheels strapped to his feet as soon as he finishes learning how to walk.

Coach T

Coach T has had his feet in roller skates since the age of three. Growing up and into adult life, he has played hockey and roller derby, and has done some quad speed skating, too. In 2007, he began coaching roller derby and traveling to various teams around the country. In 2008, he became a full-time coach for the Black-n-Bluegrass Roller Girls of Northern Kentucky. His inventive strategies have gained him cheers and jeers in the roller derby world.

Dr. Bob Kilroy Razorslut Razorslut has been skating, training, coaching, managing and loving derby since 2003 with the LA Derby Dolls. She enjoys playing derby on the banked track, flat track and the moon. Razor has worn many shoes in her league, from cappy, co-cappy, head of merch, interleague and co-head of training team. She is just a little derby obsessed. Slutty is a libra who enjoys trying to surf and playing with her Boston terrier. In her pre-derby life, she owned an independent record store. When she closed her store, she needed to obsess on something new, and derby is the perfect obsession!

A Chiropractor of 23 years, Dr. Bob Kilroy currently works with the L.A. Derby Dolls, Long Beach Roller Derby and the Santa Monica Dolphins Women's Rugby Team. He has also worked with the Women’s Pro Beach Volleyball Tour and Southern California Aquatics Master’s swim team. Dr. Bob looks to get his patient’s back to their sport/activity quickly by focusing on strengthening and retraining injuries areas. His daughter “Death by Cheese” skates for the Junior Derby Dolls. Dr. Kilroy practices in West Los Angeles.


Suzy Hotrod


Gotham Girls Roller Derby, New York, NY

San Diego Derby Dolls San Diego, CA

DEAR BLOCKER AND JAMMER, I have a serious problem with my elbows. I'm a newb to the derby world, and I'm an addict. But I can't stop my crazy arms. Every time I get hit or think I'm going to fall my elbows get a mind of their own and attack anyone near me. What can I do (short of duct taping my arms to my body) to keep my elbows to myself? -CRAZY ARMS



(I’m saying this in my best Strong Bad Voice) The bad news is you’re asking advice from the Loco Arms Champeeeeen. I have been known to bean teammates in the face quite a lot as I exit a pack, so know that I’m kinda throwing stones in our glass roller rink here, OK? That being said, I have lots of things you can practice to help control your arms. Here’s the disclaimer. There is no roller derby magic. This is going to take a long time of a lot of hard work to fix. In the heat of the moment you’re likely going to revert to your old ways for a while. Don’t give up on yourself, just know that it’s not going to quickly disappear. Duct taping your arms down. Well sorta. Once my home team had the idea of doing skate drills with our arms in our sweatshirts... with the arms tied. We figured we could undo them quickly to avoid a literal face plant if something went terribly wrong. Well that was sort of an interesting idea, but we wound up moving from that to skating with our hands in our pockets. It’s great as a reminder to girls that so quickly would draw their arms up, to see how often they really had the urge to do it. Then they had to fight it. Crazy arms, a lot of times, come from lack of skating confidence or comfort. Putting our arms up creates the illusion of a safety net. The truth is, the safety net has to come from your strong legs and a strong core to keep you balanced. Another drill I like to teach is “stitching your arms down.” I call it something like “angry stick,” or something idiotic in the typical Hotrod-ism style. Be normal, imagine sewing your arms straight, right down the side of your body, elbows along ribcage, hands near the sides of your upper thighs. Now practice keeping your legs bent and bouncy, tighten your core by thinking about pulling your belly button straight back to your spine and change your height levels, and use your shoulders and legal back zone to smash into your neighbor like an angry stick, no elbows invited. This may make little sense in writing. You are always welcome to hire Suzy Hotrod to come to your league to physically show you. ;) A helpful tip is that I sometimes over exaggerate this motion by overly tensing my arms and actively squeezing them to the spot I’ve “sewn” them. OR put your arm in an imaginary sling. Basically bend your elbow and lock your entire forearm under your boobs and never ever ever ever let it move when you practice hitting someone. Also do not let your biceps sneak away from your upper torso. When I teach this that upper arm likes to sneak around while we’re focusing so much on the forearm. Lock it all down. Same as I mentioned above about overly tensing the arm. I sometimes make my hand a tightly squeezed fist and actively press my arm to my under boob area there to remind me to not cheat it out. Under boob. It’s like, Under Dog? Whatever. Then as with the last exercise, practice using your bouncy knees, your strong core center, and changing your levels to wreak havoc without your elbow. Mentally chop your arms off. Seriously, you gotta get comfortable with your body that no longer has arms. Practice rolling right up to your teammate and bumping into her with your chest. Laughing optional and encouraged. If you’re open and comfortable with using your chest you don’t rely on your arms for protection. Get all football player up in her. Practice some chest bumping. Seriously. Uh and towel slapping on the ass is optional, as well. Bye bye arms, hello under boob.

I was unable to find a reputable source with exact numbers regarding how much force is required to break bones. Suffice it to say, it’s not very hard to break a person’s nose, nor is it difficult to break a collarbone, give a black eye, or god forbid, collapse a windpipe. You see, your elbow is a thick piece of bone that is then covered with padded plastic when you put your gear on. Combine all that with a flailing newbie on wheels, and you’ve got a potentially dangerous instrument of blunt force trauma. I’m not trying to scare you or be a jerk, but you’ve got two truncheons whirling out of your shoulders. Crazy arms are more than just a bad habit, like not letting your equipment air out or not washing your pads enough, because it doesn’t just affect you – it can really hurt the people around you. I’m sure your girls are trying not to make too big a deal of it because they don’t want to put a damper on your budding derby addiction, but I’m going to save them from having to be the bad guy: your teammates deserve a reasonable expectation of safety, and you are not allowed to learn anything new until you get your crazy arms under control. Quit fantasizing about apex jumps, grand slams and huge takeouts. Nothing fun and fantastical until you get this under control. The reason your arms are reaching out and grabbing others when you are about to fall is some part of you feels scared and desperate, and you’re grasping for safety. The problem is reaching out for others is the worst thing you can do because all you’re going to get is an angry league mate, or even someone falling on top of you. You need to develop your core strength so that your balance is more self-contained, and so you’re not reaching out when your balance feels insecure. If your league does not have an emphasis on cross training and conditioning, you can find exercises online to focus on your abs, obliques and back. Additionally, when you’re warming up or otherwise skating in nonscrimmage drills, I recommend trying to focus on holding your hands together and elbows touching together in front of your chest, kind of like a boxer except with your fists away from your face. You will not actually be playing roller derby with your arms in this pose, but trying to skate this way when you think about it will give you an opportunity to further develop the muscles that will functionally help you skate, such as thighs, quads and glutes, and will make you feel less dependent on your arms for balance. After you start to feel considerably stronger in your core and balance, I would continue pushing yourself and focus on staying in control during unpredictable situations. For example, skating outside on somewhat cracked or irregular sidewalks, going to skate parks or doing transitions from going forwards to backwards and vice versa as quickly as possible. Of course, it goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that every time you are skating, but especially when pushing your limits, you need to be wearing protective gear and not doing so closely enough that you’ll be crashing into others. I predict that after you spend a couple of weeks focusing on core and balance, you’ll see that your crazy arms will stop being so unreasonable and will no longer attack your friends. Then you’ll be free to focus on the things you really want to be good at, the awesome derby moves that turned you into an addict in the first place!

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DEAR BLOCKER AND JAMMER, I am the president of the board and founder of a newly developed league (we haven't even had our first bout yet). With all of the recent excitement about championships, I have girls that are super pumped about derby all over again – which is great! However, now I have a couple of skaters who think that since they watched the best of the best bout each other they know not only how we need to be practicing, but how we need to be running our league. While we are a not-for-profit, skater-run league, I don't feel that bringing every single decision to the entire league is necessary or appropriate – that is what our board of directors is for. As a league, do we need to either allow a league vote on every decision no matter what or never take it to a league vote at all, or keep voting on matters as a team when appropriate and a board vote when appropriate? How do I reign in loose cannons before they create angst and ire within the league without seeming like a dictator? Help! -TOO MANY TWO CENTS



I feel like you’re asking me several questions here: 1) How do I maintain control over the league when a few people are threatening it by stirring up individual skaters to disagree with me? 2) What is the scope of decisions the board of directors should make without league involvement? 3) WTF does watching superstars skate have to do with making league business decisions? The philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli would have several answers to the first question, but I don’t know that his advice for despots on the best ways to control the masses is the best way to go when running democratic organizations. Machiavelli would tell you to surround yourself with inferiors and swiftly and cruelly do away with your opposition in whichever manner will leave you most feared. I’m generally reluctant to tell people how to do their jobs, but I’m going to take a firm position against filling the board of directors with morons and maiming your rivals. It may seem like an easy solution but it’ll cause you problems in the long run and I’ll tell you why. Roller derby leagues are comprised of confident and assertive individuals who put a lot of their time, effort, and passion into something they are not being paid to do. Due to the massive volunteer group effort that is prevalent in roller derby leagues, skaters are often sensitive to when they are not being treated as equals by their decision makers. I’m not saying you have to have a league vote every time you want to deposit a check into the league account or talk to a potential sponsor, but if it’s easy for you to foresee more than a few stray arguments against the direction you’re taking the league, the skaters need to be involved so that they get a chance to air their grievances. It may seem inefficient at the time, but it’ll save you messy cleanup in the long run. If the individual skaters don’t know the reasoning behind the decisions you make, they’re going to assume the worst and you’re going to get an unfair share of the blame when things go wrong. So even though endless league meetings and email threads sometimes make you want to stab yourself in the eyes just to make it stop, I think they’re a necessary evil in the DIY derby world. If skaters don’t know what you’re up to, they’re going to think it’s nothing good, and if they don’t know why you’re doing it, they’re going to think they can do a better job. Take the time to listen to their concerns and explain to them what you’re doing and why and they’ll be a lot less insurgent. As for the last element of your question, while I would agree that watching top tier derby is a powerful experience, I highly doubt that it has the capacity to telepathically emit the secrets of successfully running a league to all who watch it. If that’s true, the venues are not charging enough for ticket prices and I’m really missing out by reading textcasts. Also I need to stock up on tinfoil because who knows what else is being transmitted to my mind without my knowledge. All the same I’m glad to hear these girls found Championships so inspiring, and it would be great if they were able to harness this momentum in a way that is constructive for your league. If you cooperatively find a way to combine their passion with your pragmatism, you will not only avoid potential schisms but also take your league farther than it could go otherwise.

First, it’s great that your skaters are watching the Championships and getting excited. Now what to do with that energy? (As a side note: It is incredibly important for all roller derby skaters to be watching these events. They are an important tool for the growth of our sport.) Now, I could see your league mates watching and thinking, “Oh we gotta do this to skate like that team and we gotta practice this!” This enthusiasm is fine. What you want to hopefully avoid is if it shifts to negativity and takes on a vibe of, “We’re not winning because what we do doesn’t win us games and whatever that other team does is what makes them win.” Any vibes of dissing your current training system and doing what you think others are doing to produce wins is the wrong motivation. And aside from what everyone else is doing in each of the big leagues, at this stage in the game, a team with a lot of natural skating and athletic talent has a great jump start to success aside from what they’re doing at practice or how their league is run. For the success for your league, it’s about innovating and adapting your own plan. These two factors will always be the key to success. I guarantee you, the top five nationally ranked teams were training totally differently by the end of 2010 than they were from the end of 2009. It’s either innovating a new idea or adapting in response to what they saw another team doing. Another tough issue to address is enthusiasm, but at inappropriate times or from inappropriate channels. For example, our league has a coaching committee with a head, and coaches underneath her guidance. When someone who is not on the coaching committee is the one leading the feedback about, “We need to do this, we need to do that, because they’re doing it,” it can be quite disruptive to your leadership’s goals. Sometimes you get a skater who isn’t involved in the behind-the-scenes work and seems to think that they have the answers to everything... right? It happens. Know they’re coming from a good place, but it’s not helpful when it’s dished out at inappropriate times. Anyway, no feedback or suggestions are ever discouraged in our league, but they need to be voiced in the proper channels, for example, a non-public personal email to the coaching committee or head of coaching making suggestions. Each home team in our league has an elected league rep whose job is to collect feedback from skaters as well. Our head of coaching and every coach is elected to their positions in our league by the skaters. Because they are elected, they are trusted to make decisions on training without any league votes being required. However our coaching committee is checked and balanced by the rest of our Advisory Board. Large changes coming from the coaching committee are always voted on by the board. All skaters in our league are welcome to attend these Advisory Board meetings if they choose to listen or share opinions, but they do not have the power to vote. Aside from training, to go back to your question about how to run the league, if there is any large change proposed by any committee, it is checked and balanced by the Advisory Board. Our league trusts a lot of the decision making to be done at these meetings. We do allow for league wide votes when it’s something really big like, “Do we move our entire warehouse from Queens to Brooklyn?” Again, your elected leader needs to adapt and make decisions on what is best for your league. As a personal example, I travel to teach at roller derby camps. I play on a nationally ranked travel team. I talk about how we train and how we run our league all the time to help newer leagues see what works for our league. Maybe some girls immediately run home and say, “Suzy Hotrod’s league does this, we have to do this.” That is NOT the reason to change something. The reason to change something is if it can adapt your current plan to improve and innovate to being a better league. Bottom line is, not all leagues are run the same, or train the same. Many different combinations can result in success. This will be an ongoing frustration for newer leagues. Skaters see big powerhouse established leagues and think that they should do everything just like those leagues and then they’ll enjoy the same functioning and success. And it’s just not true. The harsher truth is some leagues will fail. Roller derby is growing so fast and there will be a roller derby survival of the fittest where the strong will survive and the weak will die. Your league’s functioning is dependent on its evolution guided by good leadership, a plan and trust in the elected positions to make decisions. But your league’s survival, and if it will evolve or die, lies in the dedication and hard work of every single skater.

need advice? email | Spring 2011 | 5


five simple rules for good roller derby media relations P O RTA G E ' N M A I M , W I N N I P E G R O L L E R D E R B Y L E A G U E

Someone once described the relationship between the media and roller derby as being a lot like a teenage love affair: hot and heavy at first, followed by deleted emails, unanswered phone calls and sleepless nights. Over time, the loss of media attention can have a large impact on a derby league. Without regular media coverage, a league will notice that their ability to generate ticket sales, increase fundraising and sponsorship, as well as recruit new skaters and officials becomes tougher. Simply put, without regular media attention, your derby league is going to have to work a lot harder at the non-skating stuff. Using the media to grow and maintain your league doesn’t have to be hard. By following the five simple rules for good media relations, mature leagues can secure media coverage year-round and new leagues can learn to control their intense media interest. the rules 1. love your media list! Keeping a good media list is the most critical part in mastering media relations for your derby league. Your media list is your go-to document when it comes time to generate coverage. You’ll use your list for issuing media advisories and

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news releases, as well as sending pitch letters, emails and thank-you notes. Your media list should cover all media that is available in your community: newspapers – daily, weekly and monthly; locally published magazines; radio stations – both mainstream and indie; television stations; and blogs. And don’t forget to include your local online community events guides, as well. A media list is most useful if it’s organized into media categories, such as print, radio, magazine, blog or television. Within each media category, you’ll want to keep the following headings and details: media name This is the name of the newspaper, magazine, blog, television or radio station. reporters and their contact information List the first and last name of all reporters, DJs, television hosts or writers plus their email address, office and cell numbers. If the reporter uses social media, it doesn’t hurt to include information on their Twitter and/or Facebook accounts too. assignment or beat This is the topic the reporter most often covers like sports, health or editorial. address Include the general mailing address for each media outlet as well as the main phone and fax lines.

newsrooms Most medium to large sized media outlets will have a newsroom editorial desk that handles general news tips and assigns reporters. Make sure your list includes general newsroom email addresses and phone numbers. It’s a good idea to regularly update your media list. Set aside one hour every couple of months to check through the websites of your local media outlets for reporters who have left the outlet, new reporters who have joined, or those who may have switched assignments. Your list should be ready to go at a moment’s notice! 2. who they gonna call? Designate media contacts for your league. Media relations works best if there are only one or two league representatives who are designated to work with the media on behalf of the league. This means that your media relations people are the only ones who are authorized to approach the media for coverage or answer incoming media requests. Without designated media contact(s) in your league, there’s a good chance that a media related email or phone call may be missed. Most media requests are time sensitive and should be responded to within a few hours of receiving. It’s also a good idea to create a dedicated media email address and to use this address for all outgoing and incoming media communication.

Who should be your league’s media contact(s)? Your league’s first choice for a media relations person should be someone who has experience as a member of the media or working with the media in a public relations or media relations capacity. If there’s no one with that skill set in your league, you’ll want to look for people who are outgoing, well-spoken and good conversationalists, as well as solid writers. Your media person

the story, even if they have recently covered one of your bouts. If you’re from a fresh league, the onslaught of media can be a bit overwhelming. You’re excited about what you’re doing and the media is excited too. Your fresh league has a couple options when working with the media. The first option is to let them all in and have a massive round of media stories aired or printed. This may sound like a great idea but it’s important to remember that the

should also be comfortable speaking on camera, making cold calls to media outlets and have regular access to phone and email.

media are there on their schedule and are doing what’s best for them – selling papers and gaining viewers. Fresh leagues should consider holding off on allowing media coverage until they really need it. By holding off the coverage, a fresh league can time the media for when it is most beneficial. This could be for an inaugural bout or a big fundraising drive. New leagues should remember that it is totally acceptable to tell a reporter that you’re not ready to bring the league public yet and that you’ll call them back within a few months.

3. treat your media coverage like gold and learn to say no The best way for your derby league to benefit from media coverage is to understand that there is not an infinite supply of it. Daily papers and television news programs generally run on a sixmonth news cycle. This means that they are unlikely to cover a special interest topic – like roller derby – more than once in a six-month timeframe. Mature leagues should carefully consider each news release and weigh the pros and cons of issuing it. For example, your mature league may want to announce that they have a new home team but is that home team debuting at a bout in the next few months? It would benefit your league more if the news release went out the week of the bout so that while the primary message would be introducing the community to its newest sports team, the release also mentions the upcoming bout where people can see the team in action. By properly timing the news release and giving it a unique angle (the community’s newest sports team), local media would be more inclined to cover

4. be creative: think outside the track! Reporters at a daily newspaper or television station will often receive more than 100 news releases each day. In order for journalists to want to cover your league more than once in six months, your news release will have to be well written, creative and relevant. A quick way for them to generate a good news story for their outlet is to take an international or national story and give it a local angle. A good example of taking a national story and giving it a roller derby spin, could be the annual fixation on weight loss. Your league might consider issuing a release right after the new year that links roller derby to fitness. Including statistics like the number of calories

roller derby burns in an hour or information on the kind of cross training your league does, will link the national news story back to your derby league. 5. mind your manners In case you didn’t know, reporters are really great people. They generally love their job and by nature they’re outgoing and curious about new things. That being said, there are some things you should keep in mind when working with the media. respect the deadline Reporters have a certain time of day that is sacred and that’s deadline time. They will be working hard at writing and editing their articles and segments – which must be submitted by a firm deadline. If you contact a reporter during this time, you’re likely to get nothing more than a curt thanks but no thanks followed by a dial tone. It’s best to avoid calling reporters much past 1:30 p.m. each day. The best time to call is between 10:00 a.m. and noon. no attachments please When sending out your news release or a pitch letter, it is now acceptable to email the information. Fax is no longer the method of choice nor is old-fashioned paper. Make sure you copy your news release content into the body of the email so there are no attachments to clog up a reporter’s inbox. It’s also good to keep photos and logos to a minimum and don’t forget to bcc your media contacts too. please and thank yous If a reporter covers your league and you’re happy with the coverage, take the time to send a thank you card or email. You’d be surprised at how few people take the time to thank their local media for a job well done. Sending your thanks goes a long way in building future media relationships! | Spring 2011 | 7


conquering your fundraising fears: come hell or high elbows in three easy steps JAM BUSTER, WINNIPEG ROLLER DERBY LEAGUE

Fundraising is hard. Wow is it hard. I don’t know about you, but the idea of hitting up my friends, loved ones, co-workers and amiable acquaintances for money makes me feel a little awkward. And by a little awkward, I mean completely uncomfortable and weird. I will openly admit to donating money out of my own pocket rather than collecting pledges for the first annual Winnipeg Roller Derby Skate-a-Thon in February 2010. Mea culpa, derby family. Secretly I am seriously terrified to ask for support from friends and family for fundraising efforts on behalf of my league. I tell myself it’s because I already consume so much of their time and attention with other derby shenanigans that I feel bad for asking them to buy cheese/cookie dough/citrus fruit to support us. And here’s my other secret: Fundraising is what I do for a living. On the clock, I can cold-call anyone and ask for the moon, the stars and autographed cookbooks from celebrity chefs. When I am wearing my underwear outside my tights, the ability to ask for even a few bucks for a skate-a-thon scares the purple highlights out of my hair. Some of my friends think it’s because I’m seeing my two worlds collide. Others think it’s because I’m just neurotic. Fortunately, I’ve learned that I’m not the only one who is scared when it comes to fundraising. Fundraising scares a lot of people (thank you roller derby for once again making me feel not so alone). If it doesn’t flat out scare people, it makes them EXTREMELY uncomfortable. I think it can be traced back to elementary school fundraising experiences. I’ve been working in the fundraising world for about six years now and I’ve discovered that most people have had a traumatizing experience that is somehow related to a school or extracurricular fundraiser. They generally involved the selling of comestibles, magazine subscriptions or gift wrap/knick knacks and generally it happened to the person sharing the story between the ages of 6 and 16. I’ve heard it all: melted chocolate, crushed cookies, second degree sunburns from going door to door selling cookie dough and not selling enough gift wrap to win the ‘Hello Kitty’ stationary set. Or if you’re my husband, watching some poor third grader be 8 | Spring 2011 |

made an example of in front of the whole school for not raising any money during a school fundraiser. Everyone has their reasons, and I think they’re totally and completely legitimate. Today, however, I want us ALL to work through our fundraising trepidation. By helping you I think I’m helping myself. I’m going to put on my day-job hat and together you, me and your league are going to conquer our fear of fundraising. step one: remember, it’s not about the money... okay it is a little. “Jam Buster, you’re a fundraising professional and you’re telling me it’s NOT about money?!” No seriously, it’s not. It’s about the feeling people get when they give. In my profession, I have people tell me all the time how giving money makes them feel. Proud... joyous... glad I could do it... wish I could do more... happy... giving back... part of something important... powerful. These are great feelings; everyone likes to feel this way. By changing how you perceive asking for money, fundraising ceases to be about the money but about bringing a potential donor in on an incredible movement and making them feel a part of something that is bigger than just one person’s life. Let’s be honest, derby is big. As in 600 leagues and 30,000 skaters worldwide (more or less) big. Derby is a brilliant and embracing movement that is sweeping into communities across the world and everyone in the community that your league calls home should get the opportunity to be a part of it. Offer them the chance to be part of this HUGE derby community by supporting you through a purchase or donation, instead of simply selling them a league calendar. Now let’s be realistic for a moment. We all know that fundraising = league sustainability. So let’s not downplay how necessary it is to actually get money out of all the good feelings you’re spreading around. Even the most wickedawesome fundraiser won’t work unless it gets some net profits for your league. step two: fire it up Why are you involved in derby? There was something inside each and every one of us that made us all say “YES” to roller derby. For me, it was about making my own personal dream

come true. I was no longer satisfied stalking my local league online; I needed to be part of it. I was at a place in my life where I needed something that was mine. The reasons why we all joined roller derby could fill volumes, but whatever it was, use it when you’re fundraising. Passion can be infectious (much like the flu bug that just recently ripped through Winnipeg Roller Derby League and took out every player in its path) and if you’re

It’s not quite verbal diarrhea but it is damn close. Talk with your teammates and practice your pitch before you go out and try it on somebody outside of your circle. Get versatile and fluent at how you express yourself. I know we ALL love to talk about derby but you don’t want your ask to get lost in your excitement.

passionate about derby, people see that when you approach them while you’re fundraising. Your passion to see your league succeed will register on your face, in your voice and in how you approach someone. Using that will make people WANT to give. In the spring of this year, one of our members secured a donation for our league from someone who liked the way her face lit up when she talked about derby. She wasn’t

I never thought I would ever have to tell roller derby players to take a risk, but it seems like I do. We take HUGE personal risks every single time we hit the track. We need to take that same thrill-seeking behavior and channel it into our league fundraising. What could really go wrong if you ask somebody for support? They might say no? Tragedy! If they say no, you

even actively soliciting for donations; she was just sharing her passion and joy. When you step through your fear and share the burning passion in your heart for this sport, you will be furthering your league’s sustainability. Tangent warning! There is a trick to connecting with your passion when you’re fundraising and I feel obligated to share it with you. Don’t natter. I have a terrible habit of just prattling on when I’m excited or particularly passionate about something.

step three: jump in two skates at a time

need to find out why, and then work with them to get to a yes. Be patient. It’s a lot like courtship. If you are serious, you will be persistent and loving. Just don’t turn into a scary stalker. That’s when people stop answering your phone calls. Don’t we all feel better now? I know I do. Becoming a good fundraiser is a lot like becoming a good derby player. Use the same courage that got you out on the track that first time, making mistakes and learning as you go, and get out in your community, raising funds and selling your league. | Spring 2011 | 9

health and fitness

concussions part two C R U I S I N ' B . A N T H O N Y, S T E E L C I T Y D E R B Y D E M O N S

10 | Spring 2011 |

Steel City’s solution, designed by skater and optometrist Mission Impassible after extensive research, is based on freely available tests and protocols recommended in a 2004 paper from the National Athletic Trainer’s Association. Some of the tests are similar to ones on the free internationallyused SCAT card; Steel City also includes two commonly used tests: a graded symptom checklist, and a balance test. Mission added a smell test because losing your sense of smell is a definitive but often-overlooked effect of brain injury.

Jules Doyle

Last issue we talked about what a concussion is and why it’s so important for a player who gets one to make sure she doesn’t get a second concussion before her brain is fully healed. A concussion is a brain injury that may be overlooked in the moment, and typically includes symptoms like headache, dizziness, and confusion; longer-term effects can include emotional problems and trouble keeping up with school or work. Research shows that women may be more at risk for concussions than men, although it’s not clear why. Junior athletes are particularly vulnerable, and take longer to recover. In general, a skater with a concussion may be out for days or weeks, sometimes longer. Many organizations have concussion policies and testing programs, from the NFL and NHL to the U.S. Military and Cirque de Soleil. When Steel City designed their program, a major hurdle was the lack of a budget for the computer testing those organizations use. And since some of Steel City’s skaters don’t have health insurance (and those that do may get unhelpful advice from their doctors about concussions), the league chose not to depend on a doctor’s clearance for returnto-play. While concussion specialists can provide excellent advice to help recovery, Dr. Collins, of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Sports Concussion Program, implored coaches to never accept a return-to-play clearance from an emergency room, or from a doctor who says it’s OK to return to practice after a certain time period. He says, “You can’t predict how long [recovery] is going to take.”

Concussion expert Dr. Mark Lovell, also of UPMC’s Sports Concussion Program, said that Steel City’s immediate post-injury approach is “a good broad-based concussion identification program.” He recommends two changes, though, which would help protect players even more. First, he recommends benching any player for the day that has shown any concussion signs whatsoever, such as our star jammer who briefly showed dizziness and confusion (she passed concussion testing during the bout, but ended up with full-blown symptoms later that night.) Research on high school football players shows that even athletes whose symptoms went away after five minutes ended up with weeks of recovery time. The full force of their symptoms didn’t show up until after the game.

Second, he said that while Steel City’s testing is a good way to identify concussions when they happen, the same test may not be sensitive enough to detect when a player is ready to return to the track. Instead, he recommends a computerized test. Dr. Lovell is one of the designers of the ImPACT test, but he notes that there are others that have been proven to measure recovery well. Computerized tests are great for return-to-play testing but not for evaluating symptoms on the day of injury, where Steel City style tests are the right tool for the job. Steel City is considering ways of implementing Dr. Lovell’s suggestions, although the cost of computer testing could still be an issue for cost-conscious leagues. The cost of ImPACT, according to their website, is $500/year for up to 300 athletes. Another test, by Axon Sports, can be purchased individually at $7.50 a pop. Balance tests may still have a place in return-to-play testing, since balance returns to normal more slowly than other brain functions. A possible future addition, which scientists just developed in the past year, is a test for reaction time based on how quickly the skater can catch a weighted yardstick that’s dropped from a tabletop. It’s a clever way to test reaction time without a computer, since a quick calculation converts inches into milliseconds. Any concussion test is most useful when baseline data is available for the skater, which means they should take the test before they get injured. Adults probably just need one test; junior skaters should be tested every year or two.

Jules Doyle

implementing a plan For now, there is no WFTDA-wide policy on concussions, so each league is on their own for determining when a player has a concussion and when they are cleared to return to play. Within Steel City, skaters are bound by league policies, which include testing at baseline and after a potential concussion; a return-to-play progression; and a rule that a skater is benched after her third concussion in a season. Some research suggests that three concussions in a career are already too many, but Dr. Lovell says that “nobody knows what the magic number is; it depends whether the person has recovered completely before they have another one. But [Steel City’s rule] is not a bad idea. You have to have some point where you say enough is enough.” No skater had more than one concussion in 2010, which was the first year of Steel City’s policy. No national data has been published on how common concussions are in roller derby, but the league counted four possible concussions this season out of about 60 skaters, 12 of whom were tested after hitting their heads. Miss Ill, a member of the safety committee, remembers the policy rollout going smoothly, without resistance from

league members. Doing baseline tests for all skaters at the beginning of the season was a big project, but only a handful of baselines will be necessary in subsequent seasons, mainly for fresh meat and transfers. Where the situation gets a bit trickier is at travel games. At this year’s East region tournament, a Steel City skater hit her head at the end of her last game on Saturday. On-site EMTs were only able to perform very basic brain-injury screening, so Mission Impassible administered Steel City’s test. Since the skater passed, and didn’t develop any symptoms that night, she returned to the track the next day. Concussion testing materials are now part of the league’s traveling medical kit. The opposite issue could occur if a visiting skater had a concussion at Steel City’s home venue but wanted to keep playing. EMT Ed Reich remembers a time (before the league policy went into effect) when an opposing team’s coach rejected his recommendation to keep a concussed player out of the game. “At that point it’s almost a refusal of care thing,” he says. No rule requires a skater to follow medical advice, although WFTDA rules might arguably allow a referee to prevent someone from skating who is a danger

to others. Mission says that the league won’t enforce its rules on a visiting skater because it would seem like a conflict of interest to bench an opposing player. Still, the tests add to the EMTs’ toolbox for making recommendations. Although Steel City’s policy is conservative – some might say strict – it benefits the league and players. Just knowing that the league considers concussions a serious subject makes skaters more aware of the issue and means that they won’t feel pressured to get back on the track too soon after a head injury. The league’s DIY approach also shows that a concussion policy can be done on the cheap, although seeking treatment from a specialist is a great idea for skaters to pursue when then can. Leagues shouldn’t punt the problem (as some schools do) by relying on a medical clearance since a doctor who isn’t aware of the latest information on managing concussions may send a skater back to play too soon. No skater should have to risk their brain cells to play the sport they love. Testing based on current knowledge about concussions can help skaters protect themselves by staying out of harm’s way when they are most vulnerable. | Spring 2011 | 11

health and fitness

derby weight training M A U R A B U S E , B O S TO N D E R B Y DA M E S

One of the reasons I love to go to tournaments is to be inspired. After my team’s first trip to the WFTDA National Tournament in 2009, I was determined to bring my game to a whole new level. I had witnessed the Oly Rollers: a group that, to me, seemed to be made up of speed-skating derby-newbies that dressed like volleyball players. I was forced to believe the hype about this up-and-coming team from Olympia when they took down the Gotham Girls – the seemingly untouchable reigning champs and always one of my favorite teams to watch. Oly did it with their sheer speed, athletic ability and confidence. After Nationals, I made up my mind that I wanted to compete with that – everybody did. I had a lot of experience running and doing yoga in the years leading up to my derby career (and mixed in throughout it) but I had never tried lifting weights. Some of my teammates had started weight training and I thought weight training would give me the athletic abilities that I associated with Oly and the new standard of derby. It was at this time I became obsessed with – an in-depth website dedicated to woman’s weight training. Krista Scott-Dixon, also known by her derby-like moniker Mistress Krista, is the creator and main contributor of Through her witty writing style she empowers women to craft personalized weight-training routines by her step-by-step explanations on form and technique. Through sections on such as “training art and science,” “training nuts and bolts” and “lies at the gym” I created my own routines that complement the training I do in derby practice. I wanted to share Krista’s knowledge and experience with the derby world. The following is my interview with her about roller derby and weight training. 12 | Spring 2011 |

In addition to running, Krista is the research director for the Healthy Food Bank, the editor-in-chief of Spezzantino magazine, nutrition coach for Precision Nutrition and the author of several books on feminism. 1. How would you integrate strength training into a busy derby practice schedule? For example, I practice Monday, Wednesday and Sunday. How do you add in-season strength training without overdoing it? There are a few elements: 1) Keep your workouts short and intense. You’re busy women. Don’t waste time with epic workouts and isolation exercises. 2) Choose movements that give you a lot of bang for your buck. Basic, compound, multi-joint movements will give you a good, functional workout in a short time. This includes things like squats, deadlifts, pullups, pushups, rows, presses, swings and Olympic lifts, such as the clean. It also includes “hybrid” exercises – basically two or more exercises stuck together, such as a front squat combined with an overhead press. You can do this with things like: • supersets (alternating sets of two or more exercises that work different muscle groups, such as a push exercise and a pulling exercise) • circuits (and I mean real circuits, not “chrome ‘n’ tone” circuits) that incorporate a variety of things strung together in “rounds” without resting between individual exercises, e.g. 20 kettlebell swings, then immediately 100 m sprints, then 10 pushups • hybrid exercises (e.g. squat + press combo; bent-over row plus hang clean plus front squat, sumo deadlift to high pull, etc.) • interval training for your cardio

3) Vary the intensity and content of your training days. It’s good to be intense, but don’t max out every time. For example, in a week where you practiced MWS, you could do: Monday – team practice Tuesday – full body conditioning/endurance (e.g. weighted circuits) 30 min Wednesday – team practice Thursday – heavy full body 30-45 min Friday – sprints/ intervals/speed work (e.g. sprints, jumps, plyos, etc.) 30 min Saturday – off Sunday – team practice 2. What would be a good off-season training routine for someone who wants to improve her abilities in roller derby? I would say that the average derby player is looking for explosive speed, strength, stability, agility and endurance in dynamic situations. I’d go with two days/week of heavy full body resistance training workouts, two days/week of conditioning-endurance workouts, and three days/week of intervals. These can be combined. For a heavy day, stick to the basic, compound exercises. Keep the reps low and the workout duration to no more than 45 minutes. For a conditioning-endurance day, you can get fancier and use longer sets or shorter explosive sets. Combos are handy here. Don’t get tied down to the usual bodybuilding style “3 sets of 10” kind of thing. Train with a variety of set and rep

ranges, using a time limit for a set instead of a rep range, mix it up so you do 10 sets of 3 instead of 3 sets of 10, etc. I also like timed rounds of things. So, for example, a heavy day might be: • Sumo deadlift 5 reps per minute on the minute, for 10 minutes • Pullups (or assisted pullups) 5 reps/set alternated with standing overhead press 5 reps/set, 5 rounds total • Barbell rollouts 2 sets x 15 reps That’s it. You’re done. Go home. A conditioning day might be: Circuit: • 20 dumbbell swings • 10 pushups • 10 jumping pullups • 20 medicine ball slams Do all that with no rest in between – try to get through as fast as you can. Rest 30 seconds following that 4-exercise circuit, then go again. 5 rounds total. Another possible circuit: • 15 squat + overhead press combo with dumbbells • 15 burpees (include pushup) • 15 bent-over alternating dumbbell row • 15 plate flips (put a plate on the floor, squat down, grab the edge, flip it over) Same deal – do as a circuit with no rest in between, then rest 30-60 seconds between circuits. Notice how you have exercises here that build explosive power. However you can jump, hop, sprint, slam, yank, throw, punch, press explosively – do it on this day. Also notice how these longer sets/circuits will suck your oxygen big time. This will give you the ability to withstand the brief, intense bursts of activity. Finally, for intervals, find a way to do an activity at max speed/effort for 10-30 seconds, then rest for 10-30 seconds. For instance:

• Sprint 100 m, walk back, repeat • Sprint up a hill or several flights of stairs, walk down • Swim like a shark is after you for one pool length, swim moderately for another pool length Aim for around 10-15 min of intervals. You can put these at the end of a conditioning workout if you like, or give them their own day. 3. Are there any specific exercises you can recommend that train getting up off the floor quickly after a fall and general endurance through other dynamic situations such as check blocking? Get off the floor quickly after a fall. Seriously. If that’s the position you find yourself in with your sport, then train that movement specifically. Rep out 20-30 “falls” and leaping to your feet for starters. And train in your skates. There’s a big difference between standing up with bare feet and standing up with skates on, so practice competition/sport conditions as much as possible. Then try a knee squat to “frog” position. Get your knee pads on. Kneel on the floor. Sit back on your heels. That’s your start position. Shift your weight back and try to jump up to your feet in a squatting position as quickly as possible (use your arm swing to help you). You end up in a full squat position, basically by sort of swinging your arms forward explosively and flipping your shins underneath yourself. This is an old wrestling drill but it works great in RD too. Full depth squats for sure. Always train full depth in the squat. Squat down till your hamstrings touch your calves; accept no substitutes. Full depth squats to a jump are great; you can add resistance with a light barbell or by holding dumbbells. Squat down, pause for a sec, leap up as high as you can. Land softly; lower down under control.

However, there’s also a place for partial squat holds in roller derby, because you sit in a half-squat position for a while. Something like a lateral squat would be helpful here. Stand with feet wide, toes pointed out a bit. Squat down. Now, staying in the low squat position, shift your weight/hips from side to side. Do this one for high reps. And what the heck, try this one on skates too. The Turkish getup, done for speed and high reps, would suit roller derby: 4. Derby players have very busy schedules and are often going straight from work to practice, or on game day we are at the venue for many hours playing. Timing our meals and making good food choices can be a challenge. What would you recommend eating before and after practice and/or on game day? Well, I can tell what I DON’T recommend, which is chemical crap like Gatorade or commercial protein bars. Avoid processed garbage even if the package claims it’s healthy. The more the package says it’s “healthy”, “high protein” or “nutritious”, the more likely it’s crap. I generally recommend that folks make their own nutrition/protein bars. This sounds very Martha Stewart but it’s actually very easy and you can whip together a big batch in a short time, then have it on hand for grab ‘n’ go. I have a recipe on my site ( Have a moderately sized “real food” meal 1.5 to 2 hours before training or competing. This means lean protein, some fiber, some good fats, and some good carbs from either veggies, whole grains like brown rice or quinoa, or beans/legumes. Just before and during training I recommend something liquid, as solid | Spring 2011 | 13

health and fitness

food often doesn’t sit well when you’re bopping around. A protein shake made with some fruit or even something like 1/2 cup of yams thrown in the blender with the shake (seriously it’s not that bad!) will keep you energized. Plus you can whip up a shake or two in the morning, then just bring it along with you (I use a very fancy Mason jar setup for mine). If you don’t make the shake with milk or anything else perishable then it’ll keep quite well for several hours at room temperature. For electrolytes if you’re really sweating in a hot room, try a bit of coconut water (not coconut milk). You can make your own Gatorade by using some coconut water plus a bit of fruit juice, diluted. Immediately following a hard workout, get some carbs plus protein in there. Again, a shake is really easy, but you can also simply have a banana and some cottage cheese, an orange and a handful of almonds, or something similar. Get yourself a little cooler bag and pack some food with you. Stick an ice pack in there and it’ll keep all day. Resist the urge to over-consume carbs or big post-workout meals because you think you’ve “earned” it. One of the major problems I see with clients is that they go and suck down a 1200-calorie Jamba Juice or some other sugary crap because they figure they “earned’ it with a workout that actually only consumed 400 calories. Or they think “OK, nuts have protein, so I can eat unlimited quantities.” Nope. Unless you’re depending on your size to help you, you’re better off erring on the side of staying a little leaner to be faster on the

14 | Spring 2011 |

skates, so avoid over-eating even though you’re active. Most folks over-estimate their activity and under-estimate their intake. 5. What foods are good for preventing excessive bruising and supporting muscle recovery? I like that you asked about foods because evidence shows that supplements really aren’t that useful, and in many cases they have the opposite effect than a particular substance in food form. (For example, vitamin C is NOT the same as an orange.) Plus there are about a zillion chemicals that we’ve only barely begun to recognize in food, and they likely work synergistically. So eat real food. Colorful fruits and veggies, especially leafy greens like kale. Antioxidants are your friend and they’re in the plant pigments. Red, purple, orange, dark green, black/dark purple berries... eat the rainbow. If you eat meat, then eat lean red meat or darker cuts of poultry (e.g. chicken thighs, ostrich) a few times a week (or more). If you don’t, then you’ll need another iron source. Leafy dark greens aren’t bad. You might also consider a multivitamin with iron, although be wary of overdoing it with the iron, because too much can easily be toxic. You are at particular risk of anemia if you are female, vegetarian/vegan, and training hard especially if training involves bruising, so be aware. Vitamin D helps keep bones strong and seems also to be involved in overall recovery. Get out in the sun without sunscreen to get moderate exposure – 15 min a day or so. Vitamin D supplements are not equivalent.

You need adequate protein for tissue repair. Shoot for a baseline of about 0.7 to 0.8 grams per pound of bodyweight (so if you’re 150 lbs that’s 105 g protein/day as a baseline). Yeah, that’s more than you think you need, many of you! You need adequate good fats. In particular you want to keep your intake of omega-6 low because these contribute to inflammation. That means cut down on vegetable oils, margarine and processed foods. However, you want more omega-3s because these promote recovery. Get some liquid fish oil and take 5-10 mL daily. Yeah stop whining! It’s not that bad! Also eat oily fish. Veggie sources of omega-3 are not as good because the conversion from ALA to EPA/DHA is poor, so if you’re vegetarian/ vegan, look for an algae oil supplement. Round this intake out with nuts, seeds, avocado and coconut. 6. Lastly, I know on your site that you have a section on how to choose a personal trainer. What are some tips you can share for derby players looking to hire a personal trainer? Look for someone who understands the concept of sport-specific training. Don’t bother with someone who is physiqueoriented, such as someone who trains bodybuilders or fitness competitors. Look for an athletic trainer, someone who trains people for function and performance, not just looks. Pretty abs do you no good. You want to be all engine. Make sure that person understands your needs and really tries to grasp the movements and demands of the sport before giving you a program.

Carrots one main ingredient served up three delicious ways Catholic Cruel Girl, Rocky Mountain Rollergirls photos Jean Schwarzwalder, food styling Leitha Matz

Crunchy Carrot Slaw ingredients: 1 small jicama 6 medium carrots

dressing: ¼ cup seasoned rice wine vinegar 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil 1 teaspoon red chili paste Juice of ½ lime Black and natural unhulled sesame seeds

Peel jicama and carrots. Cut julienne style 3-4 inches long. Whisk together vinegar, oil, chili paste and lime juice until evenly combined. Toss jicama and carrots with dressing and sprinkle with black and unhulled sesame seeds until lightly coated. Serve chilled or at room temperature. for added flavor and nutrients toss with some chopped kale or baby spinach

Spicy Sweet Carrot Wraps ingredients: 1 lb. carrots 1 medium yam 1 small white onion 2 cloves garlic 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil 1 12 oz. can pineapple chunks (or fresh pineapple)

3 tablespoons fresh orange juice 3 tablespoons vegetable broth 1 cup chopped walnuts ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper 1-2 bunches collard greens or Swiss chard

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. While heating two medium-sized saucepans of water to a boil, peel carrots and yam and (while keeping them separate) cut into chunks. Boil both in separate saucepans until soft when poked with a fork. Finely chop onion and mince garlic. Strain pineapple from its juice, place onto cookie sheet and roast for 10 minutes. (Pineapple should be soft and caramelized). Heat oil in a wok or large skillet. Add onion and garlic and sauté until soft and fragrant. Strain carrots and yam. In a large mixing bowl add carrots, yam, pineapple, onion and garlic. In batches, pulse in blender or food processor until coarsely chopped, adding the orange juice and vegetable broth as you go. Stir in walnuts and cayenne pepper. Trim tough stems off greens. Place a large dollop of carrot mixture onto a leaf and roll up like a burrito. Yum!

Maple Ginger Glazed Roasted Carrots ingredients: 1 lb. carrots ¼ cup maple syrup 2 tablespoons minced ginger 2 tablespoons Earth Balance vegan butter

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Peel carrots and cut into ¼ diagonals. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Add maple syrup and ginger. Whisk until combined. Remove from heat. In a medium bowl toss butter mixture with carrots. Place on a cookie sheet and roast in oven for 20 minutes or until soft yet firm. Serve immediately. | Spring 2011 | 15

health and fitness

ankle rehab D R . B O B K I L R OY, L . A . D E R B Y D O L L S

16 | Spring 2011 |

rocker board. For those familiar with these boards, we call the boards that move in two planes of motion rocker boards, and those with 360° of motion, balance boards. It is important, especially in the early stages, to take time to ice for 10-15 minutes after each therapy session. On the rocker board, we start the skater with front to back motion. In bare feet on a carpet, so the board won’t slip, the feet are placed at about shoulder width apart in the center of the board. The idea is not to rock back and forth, but to be able to balance on the board. We will start skaters off doing three to four times in one minute. If this is tolerated well, we may increase the time spent on the board or even send the skater home with a board to use. When the skater can perform inversion and eversion, they then work to balance themselves in a side-to-side motion. When the skater can perform both of these motions with no pain, we have them balance front to back with one foot on the center of board. At this point in time, they can also return to simple skating. We will often tape the ankle or have the skater wear a brace. When the skater can finally balance side to side on one foot, she should be ready to return to drills and, finally, the track. Depending on the skater and the number of injuries to the region, she may still get her ankle taped or wear an ankle support. Continued proprioceptive work and strengthening are encouraged. These advanced exercises are part of the training regiment we will address in a future article.

Jolinda Smithson,

Proprioception. No, this is not some skater’s derby name. It is the word for the body’s ability to make the muscles and joints work together to perform a task. The simplest example would be lifting something using your biceps muscle. Yes, your biceps flex and up comes your forearm. For that to happen, the muscle on the other side of the upper arm, the triceps, which works to extend the forearm, has to relax. If not, it will be working against the biceps and nothing happens. Also the muscles of the shoulder have to stabilize the shoulder blade against the body while you lift. Proprioception is the body’s ability to coordinate the firing of all the muscles so they work together to perform a task. Rehabilitation of muscle and ligament joint injuries used to focus on three things; strength, flexibility and stamina. In some cases this is all that was needed. But with recurrent nagging injuries, it was realized that something else had to be added to the approach. That turned out to be proprioceptive training, which has become an integral part of programs in athletic and rehab clinics. In this article, we will start with the ankle. The motions of the ankle are flexion/extension and inversion/eversion (rolling the ankle under/out). What about rotation you ask? That actually occurs mostly all the way up at the hip. Depending on the severity of the injury, in the acute states of an injury, the focus is RICE; Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. This can be supplemented with some passive physical therapy modalities, such as ultrasound, electrical muscle stimulation and other techniques. Once the skater can bear weight on the injured ankle and has full range of motion of the joint, it is time to start rehabbing the joint. Ligaments and muscles require time to grow back together. Our job is to help speed up that process and to build up the muscles around the joint so they can provide extra support. I like to start skaters back using a rocker board and theraband. Theraband is used for simple resistance training to help build the muscles of the joint. Most ankle injuries involve turning the ankle under, AKA an inversion sprain. Inversion is usually the range of motion that is slowest to return, so we start the skater off with just flexion and extension exercises using theraband. The load on the muscle provided by the theraband is a great place to start, as it is much less than weight bearing. As the strength of the theraband is increased and the skater has less pain with movement, it is then time to begin proprioceptive work. We like to start the skater on a




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games and coaching

knee down start C OA C H T, B L A C K - N - B L U E G R A S S R O L L E R G I R L S

Note: Plays for derby start BEFORE the first whistle! This is key in most all sports – the team with game strategies tend to win over teams that just play. In the latest clarification of the rules (5/26/10), WFTDA made it legal to destroy the pack off of the start line. This was revised so that the team skating at the first whistle would not get called for destroying the pack. This team is trying to start the jam, as the other team may be staying behind the pivot line to eat up clock time. WFTDA also added that taking a knee to destroy the pack was an automatic major. Then I thought, “What if there wasn’t a pack before the first whistle, no penalty? No, not for destroying anyway.” Also, there is another rule to address then, “attempting to reform” the pack. If no attempt is made to reform, there will be a minor assessed to one of the OOP (out of play) skaters, a brief pause, then a major if they still haven’t attempted to reform. In those few seconds where only minors can be given and pauses before majors are assigned, a lot can be accomplished, even more if you are willing to take a major penalty. WFTDA minimum skills requires skaters to recover from falls within two seconds. Many referees seem to be using this two second recovery requirement as a standard for standing up after a fall or knee down play before they 18 | Spring 2011 |

issue a minor penalty. Later in this article, I discuss five scenarios that help illustrate these new rulings. This brings up another debate about what are called “Smart Fouls”. Is it “Careful Calculation of the Rules” or is it “Blatant Disregard for the Rules?” All sports have them, and if roller derby is going to be a true competitive sport, then it is something we will all need to accept. Are you willing to commit a major penalty in order to score points if it can win the game? Or do you feel that if something is illegal that it should not be done? This is something that only your team can decide. The first step is to figure out what your team wants to accomplish. It is important to look at the skaters on the track versus in the penalty box. One major advantage is to gain LJ (Lead Jammer) status, another is to get your jammer through the pack unscathed. You may want to start the jammer(s) as soon as possible or you just may be defending against the other team eating up the clock by stalling before crossing the pivot line.

As roller derby grows and rules change in an effort to keep the sport fair, strategies and styles arise from many different leagues and regions. Additionally, it is important to mention what rule set and revision is being utilized each time a strategy is put into writing (here refer to the May 26, 2010 rule set). What is legal today may not be legal in a month or two. We have all practiced things in the past that are now taboo on the track since the last rule set has been revised. Knee down plays have many advantages when run to their full potential. However, they may soon end up being one of those taboo things...

These are some scenarios that I have my team using. Here I must mention that the jammer needs to leave the line like a “Bat Out of Hell.” It is up to the jammer to keep her blockers from receiving sacrifice fouls and for the blockers to create an open lane for their jammer to sprint through. It is important that the blockers never kneel down in front of their jammer or impede her in the pack!

Phil Peterson

Scenario 1: You want to get the jammer whistle blown as soon as possible and get the jam underway. Action: All of your blockers kneel and then stand after the jammer whistle has sounded. Result: No-pack starts right away, no penalties. Everyone in play may now engage, including the opposing team. Scenario 2: You have a power jam. Action: Bring all your skaters back close to the jammer line – No Pack. When the PW (pack whistle) blows there is no pack and the JW (jammer whistle) immediately follows. Result: None of the opposing blockers can block your jammer. LJ status for your Jammer in about 30 feet and no fouls for your team. This is also advantageous in that if any of the opposing team blocks, they will get penalties. How to defend it: Join the other team near the line to form a pack, then your team gains the advantage of eating up your jammer’s time in the penalty box. Your team then forces the pack to pass the pivot line for the JW. Scenario 3: You have a power jam and use Scenario 2, but the opposing team defends it by joining you near the jammer line to form the pack. Action: All of your blockers kneel down.

Result: LJ status in 10 feet. No fouls. How to defend it: Set up a bridge. Less than 10 feet distance from an opposing blocker, then 10 feet and another 10 feet, the last blocker can then go up to 20 feet to chase the opposing jammer. Result: The team kneeling against your team will either have to reform, which allows your blockers to engage their jammer or it will force them to take a major penalty for not attempting to reform the pack. This is one of those times that the foremost blocker should engage the jammer, pack or not. I would gamble on the fact that the skaters will stand and reform in time to make engagement legal. Scenario 4: Full pack where the jammers are mismatched in your favor. Your jammer will have an awesome start off the line, and the opposing team’s jammer will be slower off the line. Action: Have all of your blockers kneel down in a row (down the straightaway) near the opposing blockers, making a wall and leaving a lane for your jammer to take off on the whistle. Once your jammer is clear to get LJ status, stand and engage the opposing jammer. As you are kneeling, the other team may not engage you. Result: LJ status, still have the opposing jammer in the pack. You also draw fouls from any opposing blockers trying to get

past you to engage your jammer while you are down. Scenario 5: You have a blocker or two “goated” behind the pivot line. The team goating is stalling to keep the jammer(s) from starting. Your team would rather get the jammer(s) started ASAP. Action: Since taking a knee after the pack whistle to destroy the pack in order to start the jam would be a major; we have to get creative here... If the “goat(s)” take a knee while her teammates are still part of the pack (out front) there is no destruction from the knee down, therefore no penalty. Then the “In Play” teammates can skate away to legally destroy the pack to start the Jammer(s). Result: There is No Pack and the jammer whistle will sound. Once this happens the goated blockers can rise to reform the pack. Scenario 5 is also useful as a play to engage the opposing jammer just in front of the jammer line. Since the speed differential favors the jammer, it is sometimes an advantage not to let her gain speed to begin with, rather than trying to slow her down after she is up to speed. There are many more ways to use knee down strategies. These are a few scenarios that could make the difference. I believe a team should compete with every advantage possible. | Spring 2011 | 19

games and coaching


drill: blocking around the barricade purpose: to make quick and directed blocks around a barrier.

Jules Doyle

Set up approximately 4-5 skaters (barriers) at equidistant points around the track and stand still. At the end of the track, have skaters pair up. Each pair should skate around the skaters on the track (barriers) and laterally block each other after each barrier. The pairs should try to block each other as soon as possible after they pass the barrier.

DRILL drill: volleyball toss

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Š 2010, Basil Gravanis

Have each player hold a ball about volleyball size in their right hand and start skating in derby direction. Distance players about five feet apart on the track. Pass the ball behind the right leg and through the legs and grab the ball in the left hand, then pass the ball behind your left leg and through your legs back to your right hand. As you do this you will notice that it will force players to not only get low (so they don’t drop the ball) but it will turn their feet in the direction you would use when hip checking someone. Make sure your players are bending at the waist and bending their knees, not just bending over at the waist.

S U B M I T T E D B Y T H E R E V, M O N T R E A L R O L L E R D E R B Y

purpose: improving hipchecking skills

coach’s corner by coach pauly

know your roll

part 11: tools for your toolbox

You are down two blockers and staring down the barrel of the opposition’s best jammer. To top it off, they have a full complement of blockers to punish you. I have been asked many times what I would do in this situation and I finally came up with a strategy. While I was watching a scrimmage in Birmingham, England, my mind was thinking back to the classic strategy of having my jammer just go full defense and put work in on the other team’s jammer. No matter how good your jammer is at blocking, five on three odds are as tough as a nails. Round and round you go, points are scored and depending on the factors of the equation, you can take a beating in this scenario. “Dick Jammer” is what I call my new spin on an old idea. You can use it in many ways, but let’s start at the ground floor and work our way up. When you are down blockers, have your jammer sprint to the pack when the jam whistle is blown, all the while making sure she is keeping the opposing jammer behind her. If she can knock her over the boundary line before she makes it to the pack, bonus!!! She loses lead status. When your jammer reaches the back of the pack, have her take the cover off and put it in her shorts/skirt/pants. Once the cover has been safely stored for easy access, have her partner up with the nearest blocker and build a wall and put some work in defensively. By taking the cover off she seems to become invisible to the opposition, the jammer ref and the audience. Now don’t get me wrong, there are many jammers that stand out, star or not. The point is with the star gone, the other team doesn’t have a target to hit. They are confused for a second and before you know it they forget about your jammer and focus on their own. They take comfort in the knowledge that with the star off she isn’t scoring. With the other team on offense and yours on full defense, you have a fighting chance. If the collective blocking can slow the scoring long enough to allow the other two blockers to join the fray and free the jammer to skate to the front of the pack, then put the cover back on and start her scoring pass. Let’s say you are a new jammer just learning the ins and outs of getting your ass handed to you by stronger, more experienced skaters, and your bench coach calls out the next line up and you get the panty. Well it’s too late now, you are on the jam line and you give it your best. You hit the back of the pack and you are greeted by a two-wall of the meanest skaters in the pack. Round and round you go and you haven’t gained a stride of positive forward motion in the pack... What are your options? You can try to go defensive and hang back and block the other jammer, but you know by now the pack has your number and would come back and tear you a new one. You could pass the star... if you could get to your pivot but she is TCB in the front of the pack

and you are not at the top of her list of business to take care of. Well what else could you do? You could quit, but from my experience there isn’t a skater that skates competitively that has that word in their vocabulary. So you have another option. You can be a “Dick Jammer” and add yourself to the pack and turn your lemons into lemonade. So we have covered two ways to use this strategy. Here is one more: Let’s say your coach has been keeping a watchful eye on the jam rotation and it’s clear that every third jam the superstar jammer is on the line. Put in your best blocking line and put in your best blocker/jammer. Follow the same process and if the other team isn’t paying attention you can suck the life from their offensive drive for points and take away the tempo of the bout. Now before the screaming starts, let me cover a few key points: 1. You use this only when the scoring is out of hand, they have their best jammer in or you are skating short two blockers. 2. Yes, you are giving up your possible lead status, but you must remember if you can do anything to stop a parade of grand slams why wouldn’t you? 3. Yes, the refs freak the first time they encounter the Dick Jammer, but I was pleasantly surprised in Toronto when I taught the girls there. I spoke to Hanging Chad about it and the crew he was with understood it and were able to keep on trucking seamlessly. (I was very impressed by all involved.) What is the antidote to the team that uses the Dick Jammer? The “Cock Blocker” of course. When you see the cover come off have your best blocker shadow the jammer and make sure she never leaves the pack. The longer the Cock Blocker can engage the jammer and keep her in the pack the better. Sometimes all you need is a minute to regroup and gather your wits, take a deep breath and turn things around. I don’t think there is a team around that has not been in this situation at some point in their history. Ultimately points, or lack thereof, can keep you from advancing in some tournaments. House team championships can be won or lost by points if total points scored decide the victor. All in all, anything you can do to stop the bleeding when you are hemorrhaging points to the opposition the better.

‘Til next time, see you on the track… If you have any questions, comments or feedback please email me at | Spring 2011 | 21

games and coaching

managing your bench R A Z O R S L U T, L . A . D E R B Y D O L L S

The secret key to a great game is a great bench. That bench is comprised of a number of key elements: skaters, managers, bench coaches and even runners. For the purpose of this article, I am going to focus on managers and bench coaches. There was a time when it seemed like most teams relied on their captains and co-cappies to run their benches. As our sport has evolved, we have seen the rise of, in my opinion, your secret weapons: the manager and the bench coach. Terms are very interchangeable, so I am going to break down the ways I best see these positions and detail some of these responsibilities. None of this is set in stone but can be used as a guideline to improve your team’s performance. For my purposes, your manager manages lineups and your bench coach is more involved with penalties and plays. In an ideal world, these people are permanent fixtures on your team. They aren’t around just for games but actually are part of your team and the more you treat them as such, the stronger your team will be. Choosing who fills these roles is just as important as deciding who will jam in the very last jam of a game with a one-point spread. Don’t just take the first person injured on your team or the nicest volunteer you have. These people need to be able to handle a lot of stress; they need to know the game and the rules; and most importantly, they need to be able to create a bench environment in which your team will thrive. Your bench environment can make or break your game. Have you ever come down from a jam where you whiffed a big block, or even called off the jam at the wrong time? Of course you have, it happens to everyone. When you get back to the bench and you are down on yourself, that emotion you have is contagious. Having a strong bench team will help you get out of that mindset and back in the game. Your manager is that part of your team and she/he knows your inside jokes and in that moment can say just the right thing to get you out of your

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funk and back in the game. Managing a team is not just reading names off of a list. It’s knowing who those players are, and if your team is really on top of their game, the manager will be part of the making the lineups process. Understanding the captain’s ideas of who is playing where and when is really important when penalties start to stack up. If your manager understands why player C is in certain lineups, they will be able to better manage who to put in to particular situations. You may have a really strong player who doesn’t understand the nuances of a small pack. If your manager knows that player C is not the fastest player but understands how to play in that situation, then your manager will be better able to help your team win. As we have all seen, recognizing the right moments to run that certain play is key to your game. Your bench coach is, as Isabelle Ringer says, your “outside pack pivot”. If your team trains for having a strong bench coach you will be that much stronger. Having a pivot that can see your pack from the outside is an incredible feeling. Your bench Stalkerazzi coach can help your team slow down at the right moment, switch to defense, and help your jammer call it off at just the right second to get that all important point differential. This doesn’t come easy. You have to learn to look for your bench coach, but wow! This can certainly be game changing. If you are lucky enough to have chosen these people, they can help your team train during practices, too. The more your bench coach sees your team, the more they know what types of strategies you have been working on. It’s always tough on cappies to run private practices and get their skate time in. Asking your bench or manager to help run drills, will allow your cappies more time to work on their game. Having a meeting with your team early with your new staff will help your team understand their roles and get comfortable


trusting these people to guide your team while your cappies are busy killing it on the track. Going over simple things like understanding that sometimes you will play a lot and sometimes you won’t play much at all are huge things for people to understand. These types of conversations before a game will hopefully help manage the climate of your bench at game time. There is a time and a place for every player on a team, sometimes it’s three jams in a row, sometimes it’s one jam in a game. If you don’t like this, your meeting will help you get tools to use to discuss things with your bench team. If you are not getting played, don’t throw a temper tantrum mid game; just make your manager aware that you are fresh and ready to go. Keeping yourself calm on a bench only makes your team stronger. A strong bench staff is not going to transform your team over night, but it will be a huge key in changing your team dynamic. I am sure we have all played on teams where everyone started off happy and ready to play, and after a few minutes in, everyone is doubting themselves and each other. Being able to look to your bench staff to cheer you up and get you in fighting mode can be key. I am not saying you are not responsible for your own attitude, but having these people on your bench is partly to help regulate the mood of

the team. If your team thrives on yelling and being yelled at, then find someone who can fill that role. I thrive on positive reinforcement, so having someone around who smiles and makes a game enjoyable is key to me. Trusting your team and your bench is not an easy process, but it will be a huge part in transforming your team into a cohesive unit. Sometimes you will disagree with decisions being made. Mid game is not the time to discuss them or throw a hissy fit about them. Keep your calm and you can discuss it after the game. There will be another game. Having open lines of communication with your bench staff and your team will only assist in making your team stronger. I am not saying throw your emotions at your team after a game. What I am saying is to learn to be able to discuss your game, both the highs and the lows. The more your bench staff is part of your team, the more they will be able to understand your team dynamic. They will be able to reference and inside joke just at the right moment to make you smile. They can tell you how pretty you are when you’re mad, or help you get your pack ready to use that amazing new play you have been working on so hard. Keep your bench staff close to your team and your team will be that much more prepared to kick ass and have a great time doing it. | Spring 2011 | 23 | Spring 2011 | 23


size matters I VA N N A S . PA N K I N ’ , S A N D I E G O D E R B Y D O L L S

Chances are you’ve ordered at least some of your gear online. Sadly, most skaters aren’t lucky enough to have a derby gear shop in driving distance – some not even on the same continent. Whether you’re just joining a league or you’re a seasoned vet, you most likely spend at least a few hours a week in that gear and you want it to fit right and last. But trying to determine your size can be very stressful, especially since exchanges can involve costly shipping charges. It’s especially tricky if you’re making conversions from Metric to Imperial measurements or trying to judge what you need based on shoe sizes. However, it doesn’t have to be. You can cut down on the hassle pretty significantly with a few of these pointers. measure yourself Most shops have some form of sizing charts, provided by the manufacturers or, in our case, created through trial and error with our own skater employees. First, check out the sizing advice offered on the website. Are there directions for how to get an accurate measurement? Start there. Unless the charts say otherwise, you can usually get a pretty accurate measurement if you start with recreating the condition your feet are in when you are skating. • What’s the Time? When you measure matters. Feet can swell up to a size between morning and evening for most people. If you measure in the morning, and like most of us, practice in the evening, you’re a.m. measurement is likely to put you in skates that are too small. • Wear Socks: Unless you skate barefoot, you don’t want to measure bare feet. If you like a particular type of socks or combination of socks and tights, measure your feet while wearing them. • Get Up, Stand Up: Feet spread when you put your weight on them, so stand to measure – unless you plan to skate sitting down. • Length and Width: Both matter, so measure both. And most people aren’t symmetrical – so it is best to measure both feet, as well. Size to your largest foot.

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• For length, make sure you’re measuring from the back of your heel to the furthest forward part of your foot (maybe your big toe, maybe your next toe). I think the easiest way to do that is to back a foot up to the wall, stand on a piece of paper, then draw a line where the longest toe hits. Make sure the pen is perpendicular to the paper. Trish doesn’t like how paper crumples, so she recommends you stand on a ruler. • For width, measure all the way around the widest part of your foot where your toes attach. We call that your ball girth (then we giggle). If you measured all the way around, your width measurement is likely to be in the same general range as your length measurement. An accurate width measurement will not ever be anything like 3 or 4 inches (or under 10 cm). general fitting advice Skate sizes are generally equivalent to U.S. Men’s shoe sizes, though there are variations (just like there are in shoes). Skate sizes run about a size to a size and half different than U.S. female shoe sizes. But there are variations in the fit of each skate model and shoe sizes aren’t a reliable way to choose. Most people wear their shoes looser than an ideal skate fit. For example, a woman who wears American size 9 women’s shoes will usually choose a skate in the 7-8 range, dependi ng on their feet, how snug they like their fit and what skate model they buy. Fit is in the eye of the beholder, but most skaters prefer NEW skates to be snug as possible without compressing their toes. Your toes are compressed if they feel squished together, or if you can feel the knuckles of your toes bent and pressing on the top panel of the boot. I like my skates to fit a tiny bit longer than my feet (my toes do touch), with the skate’s front axle under the center of the ball of my foot (so the pivot point for quick lateral turns is in the same physical spot on my feet and my skate trucks). I can almost always spot a skater in overly large skates because they usually develop a very distinctive stride (not unlike a person running in clown shoes) to compensate for their skate axle (and the skate’s pivot point) being in an awkward, not ideal place. Too-tight skates hurt and can injure the small bones in your feet (sometimes permanently) – and too loose skates can mean your foot slides around inside the skate, leading to blisters, callouses and pain. Really well-fitting skates may take time to break-in comfortably. But after the break-in period, well-fitting

skates do NOT give you blisters or callouses. It can be difficult to get a perfect fit off the shelf for some people. We recommend that you try on teammates’ skates if you can’t get fitted in person. There is no substitute for trying on skates. specs to compare for skates commonly purchased for roller derby This information is based on our experience fitting skaters in person and trying on every skate ourselves (every single employee of Sin City Skates spends their first few weeks trying on all the gear we stock). I switch to “we” at this point because a bunch of us collaborated on this info. General Length: Sure Grip and Riedell are the most common manufacturers of derby skates and they use a different size chart. Sure Grip skates are longer, about a quarter of an inch at skate size 7, more for bigger sizes. Make sure you’re checking the appropriate size chart. Unfortunately, we can’t give you reliable info about the fit of the Antik skates yet, because at the time of writing, only the prototypes were available for fitting. Production skates often fit differently than prototypes. Width: Every skate model is a bit different, including different models from the same manufacturer. • Rookie / Recreational (Chinese-Manufactured) Skates • RW Outlaws and Sure Grip Boxers are vinyl and run a bit narrow (B) • Riedell R3s and Diablos are the same vinyl boot design and fit, narrow to medium (B/C) • Riedell Rogue / Phantom and Vixen are forgiving leather mediums (C) • Sure Grip Rebels are also leather, medium to wide (C/D) • Sure Grip XL series skates run a little wider than Rebels (C/D) • Rock GT-50s are vinyl and just wider than medium (D) • Rock Flames are also vinyl and very wide (E) • American-Manufactured leather stock Riedell Boots • The 125, 195, 395, 595, 695 and 1065 boots are built “C” width (on the “248” last), though design features may make some of them “feel” wider or narrower. The 1065 boot (before the owner heat-molds the fit) feels the narrowest and runs longer than the Riedell size chart indicates. • 395, 811, 911 and 951 boots are made on the “395” last, which features a “D” toebox.

• 126 (She Devil), 265 (Vandal, Wicked) and 965 (Minx) boots are built on a “split” last, with a “D” toebox and “B” heel (which Riedell has determined is ideal for many women). The 965 boot has a rounded toe that has almost universally made people comfortable in a half size smaller than they would in typical lace-to-toe speed boots (like 125 or 265). If you’re ordering a She Devil, make sure you ask which boot it comes with because they were made with 125s for a couple years; newer models are made with the 126, which is the wider boot. • WIDE WIDTH / ASYMMETRICAL FEET • Customs American-made Riedell and Antik boots can be custommade in narrow “B”, or wide “D” or “E” width if you can bring yourself to wait an average 3-5 weeks plus transit time and don’t mind paying customization fees. You can also get two different sized skates for a customization charge, as well. Custom skates are made to order and you have more than just size choices, of course. • Stretching Leather boots can be *stretched* wider by the factory for a fee (usually up to 1/2 inch), or you can take them to a local shoe repair shop to have them stretched. We recommend you skate in them at least once before you get them stretched so that you can have them stretched in the right places (the spots where your feet hurt, that is). This process takes a day or more and is usually more successful when done *slowly* so that the leather stretches without stressing sewn or glued seems. Stretching works best on higher end boots, because higher-grade leather is softer and more pliable. It is typically NOT successful on vinyl or cheap (coated) leather, such as that found on most of the recreational skate models. Stretching does not usually make skates longer, though if you just need a bit of wiggle room for one toe, most shoe repair shops (and awesome skate shops) have a pop-out tool that can often help. Hopefully this information helps you start to narrow down the choices about what skate is right for you. A good fit can mean you don’t have to think about your skates at all; they become an extension of your body, so all your attention can be on the game. | Spring 2011 | 25


wheel regrooving C R U E L H A N D L U K E , R O C K Y M O U N TA I N R O L L E R G I R L S

why are grooves important? Roller skate wheels come from the factory with small, parallel grooves running circumferentially the length of the wheels’ surface. These small grooves increase the lateral traction, or grip, of the wheel. These factory grooves tend to be somewhat shallow, and after a moderate amount of usage, the wheels will go completely bald. Bald wheels can be slippery.

why not just use softer wheels? Softer wheels do provide more grip, but the cost of this grip is the energy expended in compressing the urethane. Think of trying to ride a bicycle with a flat tire. This is why harder wheels feel faster and softer wheels require more energy to maintain the same speed.

what is regrooving? Regrooving is a process by which grooves are cut back into the surface of the wheel. There are several different ways in which this can be accomplished. Most people use purpose-built regrooving machines.

how does regrooving increase grip? There are two ways in which wheel grooves can increase grip. When small particles of dirt get between wheels and the track, they act like tiny ball bearings. Grooves catch these small particles of dirt and help to prevent sliding. Grooves also decrease the rigidity of the urethane at the surface of the wheel

what is grip? Wheels rely on friction to grip the surface of the track. Softer wheels have more grip because they deform to the shape of the track surface, which puts more urethane in contact with the track. More surface contact means more friction and more grip.

w hich allows the outermost layer to deform, increasing the surface area of the wheel that is in contact with the floor without requiring the energy it would take to flex the entire wheel. In this way, grooves allow a harder wheel to retain its fast feel while giving it the grippiness of a softer wheel.

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does regrooving make the wheel smaller? The regrooving process removes some material from the wheel. Depending on the process used, this can reduce the diameter of the wheel. Some regrooving processes will reduce the diameter of the wheel as much as a millimeter. Other processes space the grooves so that the overall diameter remains unchanged. how many times can a wheel be regrooved? Since the regrooving process removes some of the urethane from the wheel, there are a finite number of times a wheel can be regrooved. If one wheel has a deeply worn flat spot, the whole set will have to be cut deeper to equalize the diameters, which will reduce the number of times the set can be regrooved. The type of wheel, the thickness of the urethane and the material of the hub will all contribute to the way a wheel performs after several regroovings. I currently have a set of Hyper Shamans that I’ve regrooved four times that still perform great. how can I prolong the grooviness of my wheels? All eight wheels will not wear at the same rate. The wheels used for pushing will typically wear down faster. Wheel life can be extended dramatically by rotating the wheels so that they wear more evenly. Especially skaters who perform a lot of hockey stops and plow stops. why listen to me? About a year ago, I built my own regroover and I have been providing regrooving services to derby skaters nationwide. I have updated and improved my own process though a lot of trial and error. By working with a large number of skaters, referees and their wheels over the past two years, I have learned what works and what does not. | Spring 2011 | 27








ref clinics J U D G E K N OT, T E X A S R O L L E R G I R L S

2010 marked a milestone in WFTDA officiating with the introduction of the WFTDA Referee Clinics. These two-day events were held in four locations throughout the U.S. and garnered attendees from over 51 leagues. Participants came from as close as the hosting leagues to as far away as Canada (we’re talking about you, Montreal), and the overwhelming response was one of “Wow, I learned the answers to questions I didn’t even know I had!” Through the efforts of the WFTDA Games and Referee Committees, the challenges confronting officials in the sport of roller derby were identified and training materials were created to address them. The focus was on consistency and uniformity. With so many member leagues in the WFTDA, it is imperative that the officials from each country, region, state and city call things the same way every time. A member league should not have to worry about the officiating and should show up at each and every away game expecting the same procedures, same communication, and the same calls. The WFTDA Referee clinics address this need, along with furthering the continuing education of our officials around the world. With separate classes for skating and non-kkating officials, as well as specific curriculum for both skating skills and rules knowledge, there was truly something for everyone. A small classroom setting encouraged attendee participation and Q&A sessions, while the instructor/attendee ratio allowed for personalized attention on the track. Participants experienced one-on-one help and training on specific skating skills and gained the confidence to exceed even their own expectations. On day one attendees participated in rules discussions and training with topics ranging from impact assessment to rules hierarchy. Breakout sessions, group discussions

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and instructor presentations covered all facets of the ruleset and the correct way to enforce them. From common mistakes and errors to the wackiest scenario you can dream up, the full range of calls (and no-calls!) was covered. Communication was also a big part of day one, with training on how to most effectively communicate with other officials, skaters and fans. The overall emphasis of day one was consistency and uniformity, making sure that all officials in attendance had the tools to call an accurate and consistent WFTDA bout. Day two put that knowledge to the test with the skating portion of the clinic. All the knowledge in the world is useless if you’re not where you need to be to make the call. With skating drills, scenario re-enactment and angle training, officials were able to put the previous day’s information into action on the track. No subject was left uncovered, whether it be passing a certification skating test, how to best communicate with other officials on the track, or how to best spot a back block in turn two. Under the guidance of experienced skating instructors, attendees were encouraged to push past their current comfort levels and learn how to become a stronger, faster and more confident skater. Regardless of their starting skill level, every participant was able to see a marked improvement in their abilities and take what they learned back to their

Jules Doyle

home league and share that knowledge. Building on the goals and achievements of the 2010 Clinics, the WFTDA will be offering a continuing schedule of Referee Clinics beginning in the summer of 2011. The curriculum has been revised to be even more expansive and will include classes and information on Standardized Practices, Referee Certification and up-to-date rules clarifications.

The WFTDA Referee Clinics are truly the best ongoing resource available for all officials, from aspiring to experienced. Active participation from officials and leagues is encouraged, and will move us closer to the goal of consistent and accurate officiating for EVERY bout. Keep an eye out for the dates and locations of the 2011 WFTDA Referee Clinics, coming soon to! | Spring 2011 | 31


motivation B E T T Y F O R D G A L A X Y, S E AT T L E D E R B Y B R AT S

have fun: the reason we are all here

“Anyone can tell you how to do something. A coach can show you how to do something. A good coach will break it down into small steps so it’s easier to understand. A great coach will empower you to believe you can do it.” - N.O.W. Derby Junior derby needs great coaches. The future of roller derby depends on the youth of today continuing the new generation of roller derby that was born with Jerry Seltzer and reborn with the Texas Rollergirls. When I create lesson plans and when I am coaching, I think to myself, “One day, one of these kids just might go to the Olympics, I better do a good job today.” When I started a little junior derby five years ago, with a handful of kids in

home teams, two at each of three levels (non hitting, light hitting and full contact) and a full contact travel team (the Galaxy Girls, which I coach) and my life has never been the same. It is much, much better. The junior skaters motivate me in ways I cannot even describe. They motivate me to be a better person, and I definitely try to be a cleaner skater. My junior skaters have motivated me to start a mobile business coaching derby

a little run down gym at Pathfinder K-8 in West Seattle, WA, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had never been a coach before and it was by chance I became a coach at all. As the little derby grew and I got to know the kids and parents, I realized that this was not just a fun thing for me to do on my days off, but it was serious business and every action I took had a reaction with the kids. I no longer had the same luxury to blow things off or not worry about penalties because it wasn’t just about me anymore. I bought books about coaching, asked questions of current coaches from all types of sports, read psychology books about teens and listened to the kids and parents. Five years later it has morphed into the Seattle Derby Brats and we have six

boot camps with a fellow skater, Re-AnimateHer, called N.O.W. Derby. If I can teach a 12-year-old, I can teach an adult. In return it shows them that with determination, what starts as a dream can turn into something real.

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how do you motivate a junior skater Well, in some ways it really isn’t that different than motivating an adult. The first thing is you have to treat them with respect. When a kid doesn’t feel respected they won’t respect you as the coach and will not listen to you. If they do not respect you it’s going to be hard to motivate them. So that is a good way to start. Do not talk down to them and make sure you listen to them. They have some great ideas and many, many questions about derby.

The number one rule at my practice is HAVE FUN. Every coach book I read states a child will join a sport for many reasons but the number one reason is always to have fun. Just as the number one reason a kid will quit a sport is that it is not fun anymore. The trick is, what is fun to one kid is not always fun for another and you cannot let one disruptive kid’s fun ruin the fun for the rest of them. Certain skaters will say the fun is the camaraderie, while others say it is working hard. There has to be a balance where all kids can learn. The best way to find out which type of kids you have is to just ask them what they want. I sit down with my team each year and ask them their goals for the season. What kind of team do they want to be? How will we work toward that? Do we want to win, and what does that mean, what are the costs and benefits to being a winning team? Let them answer these questions so that when it’s time to do the hard work, they know the reason. who am I: who are you? Please learn all the kids’ names and call them by whatever name they want you to call them. It can really be embarrassing for a kid if their coach knows most the kids names but never learns theirs. It can make them feel unwanted or unliked and that is not acceptable. If they don’t have printed shirts yet, put tape on their helmets with their name until all the coaches have learned all the names. Yes it could take a few weeks, but it is really important to them.

Jesse Freeman,

goal setting: why we do what we do Goal setting is super important for kids. You should have them set both personal and team goals. “A goal without a deadline is just a dream” – Napoleon Hill. Make sure they are goals the kids and team can complete within your season or session, depending on how your league works. When a kid has a goal it helps them focus in practice because they know WHY they are doing a certain drill. Example: you might give your team the goal that by the end of the season your team will have the best traps. So when you do trapping drills, your kids know they are working toward a goal and it gives them drive to do better. One particular goal for every skater should be to make a roster for

the next bout. Playing in front of a crowd is just as exciting for a junior skater as it is for an adult. Energizer Bunny says, “The bouts motivate me because I wanna get a spot on the track, because when the crowd is cheering and I’m standing on the jammer line my heart pounds and I go into a shock of adrenaline. I love the rush. It makes me feel powerful, yet vulnerable at the same time.” The kids are geniuses by the way. be consistent: don’t monkey with their brains You need to set guidelines. Guidelines for practice attendance, dress codes, participation, attitude at practice, proper gear, etc. Part of gaining their respect is being consistent. You need to have

guidelines and stick to them. If a skater forgets her wrist guards she does not get to skate, we do not make exceptions; If they miss a lot of practice, they do not play in a bout. The other kids will see you make exceptions for one kid and think you are playing favorites and might lose respect for you as the coach. Be stern. Last season I started to get soft on the kids. I started to let things slide about sticking to guidelines and being consistent. I suppose for a minute I maybe got a little burnt out or lost my focus as a coach. You know who got me back on track? The kids! It was my own junior team who told me I was getting soft and not taking charge of practices the way I used to. They jokingly said they wanted “Mean Coach Betty” back. | Spring 2011 | 35

jrda It was a wake up for me as a coach, that’s for sure. I had to take a good look at myself and what motivated me to be a coach. That could be a whole other article. Let’s just say I found my focus and got back on track. I got my new coach jacket and shirts all printed to say “Mean Coach Betty” on the back, and I started to sign that on my emails to the kids and parents. I began being consistent again and “running” practice, not letting practice run me. I don’t want to go soft again, but mostly, I don’t want to let them down. They deserve a great coach. All kids deserve a great coach. positive feedback: never underestimate the power of the high five Let the kids know how they are doing at practice. You will want to give plenty of positive feedback comments to all the kids. Do not single one out as your favorite and ignore others, you must make sure that all the kids get positive feedback pretty evenly. Definitely give them feedback on things they need to work on for improvement, but it should be done in a kind way and with something positive about it. If a kid is not the fastest but they can hit hard, let them know that getting faster is something they should work on because imagine how many more awesome hits they could do if they were able to keep up with the pack better. Let them know they are doing well and that you know they can do it. Don’t pick on skaters. It breaks them down, and your job is to build them up. Don’t get me wrong – it is LOUD at a roller derby practice. I yell all the time. I make sure I tell the kids that I am yelling to be loud so they can hear me and not yelling at them and I say it several times throughout the season so they remember.

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It is the job of a coach to not only teach the kids the sport and sportsmanship, but to really empower them to believe they can do anything. Anything is possible in roller derby. They are so young that they all have time to develop into amazing jammers, destructive blockers and intelligent pivots. Let them know it takes time,

motivate each other and come together as a team. At the end of a practice or after a bout, you sit everyone down in a BIG circle, skates in. One at a time you go around the circle and give the girl the floor. She is to say a nice thing about another skater, kudos for herself, something she learned or just something that was fun about that practice or bout.

reference how long it took you to master some derby skill. With determination and drive, these junior skaters have their whole bright derby career in front of them. The hard work they put in now will help when they are older to get spots on nationally ranked travel teams or positions as coaches themselves. It will reflect in all the work they do, on and off the track, if they can learn discipline now.

Each kid takes a turn saying something and it really boosts everyone up. I have done this after bouts and sat both teams together to do the same thing. It is one of the most wonderful things to witness seeing their pure little derby hearts congratulating one another on a job well done. It is one of the things they do that motivates me the most too. Another good way for you to instill positive peer pressure is to have your older or more advanced girls coach the newer skaters. It teaches the vets leadership and gives the newer skaters a chance to get to know the other girls and hear the stories about when the vets were new. That seems to have a really positive effect on the new kids. Just as the vets have their heroes on the adult teams, to the younger new girls, the junior vets are sometimes their heroes. And who doesn’t want a skate lesson from one of their heroes?

positive peer pressure: if she can do it, I can do it I polled the team I coach to ask them what motivates them and all of them said one thing was other skaters, both adults and other juniors. Voodoo Lady GooGoo gets a “sense of determination from opposing skaters” and Lilly Lightning says, “Watching my favorite players motivate me to skate harder, faster and longer so I can get to be that good one day. Especially when it seems impossible.” Don’t be afraid to challenge these junior skaters, they are a unique breed of kids who are definitely up for any challenge. Doing relays and timed drills can get really competitive, but it’s that competitive nature that has these girls in junior derby and what will propel them to the next level. The Circle of Awesome. This has been a life saver for me since the beginning, especially after a hard bout. It really is a great way for the kids to

know your stuff: you talk the talk, but can you walk the walk? Junior skaters are smart – really smart. They can catch onto a drill in about an hour, which takes my adult team a month to master. They are kids, they absorb information like a sponge, but they also know when you are talking about something you don’t know about. Junior skaters go to many adult bouts and they watch and, man oh man, do they learn and know. The kids I coach

often tell me that when they go to adult bouts, they look for teams doing the strategies I taught them at practice and when they see teams doing different things, they will come back and ask a whole lot of questions. Come to each practice prepared with drills and a lesson plan. Stick to the plan the best you can but be fluid if you need to. Ask the kids for feedback and at the next lesson bring at least one drill they suggested. It gives them a sense of being part of the process. Also, kids need structure so don’t waste their time, and a lesson plan helps with that. For the youngest group (ages 8-10) we have what we call “snack attack.” About 2/3 into their practice, the little ones can get really hungry and start to lose focus. We found that letting them take a 10-minute break to get a quick snack and a drink gets them back on track to learn more. We have the parents bring the snacks; things like raisins, protein bars or nuts (be careful about food allergies they might have). get some help: a different point of view might be what a kid needs to see the light Get some skaters from your league to come from time to time to be a guest coach or just assist. The kids say that having different coaches helps them learn because we all sort of see derby a little differently and they get to learn new ideas and strategies when they have a variety of coaches. Try to have a few extra helpers at every practice to help you with the feedback. It is pretty hard to coach and high five everyone as much as I would like to. Skaters need to know what they are doing that is good and what they can improve on. Make sure the skaters you bring in work well with kids. It is really fun for the

Jesse Freeman,

skaters if you bring in a star jammer from your league or a crowd favorite. (Many junior leagues now do background checks for coaches, check with your league president or head coach before you start inviting people in.)

is a privilege and not a right and that if they do not get good grades and get their homework done, they probably won’t be able to go to practice. To a junior skater, nothing is worse than missing a practice. They help at fundraisers and bouts because they do what they need to do to bout. Parents

roller derby I would say of all the things I do for the kids the biggest thing is just that I started a junior derby. The roller derby itself is the biggest motivator these kids have. Every kid I have ever coached has said nothing less. Junior skaters work hard in school because they know derby

have thanked me and let me know that derby has changed their daughter to be a better sister to their siblings, a cleaner person around the house, a better student, etc. I know roller derby isn’t raising perfect angels, but with the right guidance they are becoming super great kids who will grow into awesome adults. | Spring 2011 | 37


go fast, turn left C AT OW TA H E L L , T U L S A D E R B Y B R I G A D E

I removed my contacts, washed off all of the makeup, unbraided my hair, took off the bandages, slid the fishnets down my legs to the floor, unhooked my athletic bra, peeled the Tiger Balm patches from my back and stepped into a cold shower. I was home from a roller derby bout. My skater name is Cat Owta Hell and I am hopelessly addicted to roller derby. My obsession was instant and deep, like a hit of crack. It was only a year ago that I didn’t even know what roller derby was. I had never heard of the sport; I’d never seen it on television or in the movies; I am a snobby, solitary, bookish type who was more interested in opera and yoga and therefore, oblivious to a great deal. One day in the break room at work, I picked up a blurry, crumpled flyer for the local team, The Tulsa Derby Brigade, and some madness compelled me to go. A good deal of my character is composed of stubbornness and audacity, both of which I demonstrated as a child by skating for hours on the neighborhood sidewalks by myself and by respecting only intelligence and reason. Grown-ups wanting to control me just because they were grown-ups received neither respect nor obedience. As an adult, I continued this by rollerblading alone year-round, shaving my head shiny bald on a whim, and saying yes to every experience I could embrace. So against my logical judgment, I went to the rink. I borrowed rental skates and stinky pads that smelled like rotting Fritos and cautiously wobbled onto the floor. I met the derby girls who exuded a potent happiness that bordered on mania. They were so warm and friendly, they even laughed when they crashed and applauded each other’s silly falls, so I felt welcomed. The coach, Court Collier, a multi-award-winning skater himself, was charming and affable, trying to help me learn, yet never remembering my name. It was a disappointing practice. Any fantasies I had about soaring onto the floor and instantly becoming a superstar were pulverized and scattered to the wind like cremains. I was s o terrible; I didn’t even comprehend how badly I sucked. If it weren’t for the derby dream already having taken hold, I would’ve quit that night. But I was in love with the idea of this ‘Fight Club in Fishnets.’ Finally, a place where women were

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expected to be fierce and unapologetic warriors instead of placating, caretaking doormats. Being the independent loner that I am, I have never participated in a team sport, thinking teams are for obsequious fools without enough sense to go it alone. But when I attended practice with Tulsa Derby Brigade, I was infected with an ineffable euphoria alongside my overpowering despair at being so bad at it. It was a strange duality, but from what I understand about golf is that the holes in one are rare and ecstatic experiences and that one is enough to keep enthusiasts going to the links and enduring the hooks, slices and worm burners. So it was with derby and me. I would execute the occasional graceful glide and that was enough. After the first two hours of trying to stride, hopping to edge, tangling my feet in sloppy crossover wannabes, a voice clearer and truer than all my fears and doubts spoke: I want this; I can do it. So I began showing up early for all the practices. I bought the Riedell R3 package. I found a new outlet for my invincible stubbornness: persistent failure at derby. But it didn’t matter. I had been derby-bitten. No matter how long and hard I struggled, I would not quit! The performance anxiety was excruciating. I began to shake before every practice and was painfully shy about scrimmaging, but the lure of derby persisted, beneath all the frustration and failure, month after month. The obsession with derby held me tight even when I returned home crying because I had never worked at anything so hard and for so long and failed so miserably. Even when I felt the sting of cliques being formed and the disappointment of not being one of the MVPs, I still craved it. Even when my feet hurt so badly I had to spend several hundred dollars on custom orthotics. Even when the Fresh Meat who joined after me caught on and surpassed me. Even when I practiced skating on my lunch hours and weekends, took speed classes and private lessons and still failed. Even when practices went late and I practically slept through my day job; even when I got injured and had to limp stiffly through the office. Even when I was racing to practice and had a collision th at totaled our car, I couldn’t give it up; derby was in my bones. Then there was that Minimum Skills test! I fearfully poured over the pages. Would I ever be able to do twenty-five laps in

Jules Doyle

five minutes? Could I learn hopping and how to avoid unexpected obstacles? It seemed impossible, but I kept showing up. During last summer’s practice, the heat was so intense that several skaters suffered from heat exhaustion. One fainted in the middle of scrimmaging. To prevent that, I wore a gallon Ziploc bag packed with ice under my helmet well into September. And the ice was always melted to a bag of lukewarm water an hour into practice. But I would not quit. I knew I had really arrived as a derby girl the night I was sick from overexertion and vomited into my hands, wiped them on my jersey and kept skating. My coaches never knew. After months of failing, I finally started getting it. Then, I passed Minimum Skills! Next, I tried out for the team and made it! And when I got picked to be on the roster for my first bout, I grappled with the conflicting emotions of pride and panic. I didn’t sleep well and as the day drew closer, I experienced knee-knocking, stomach-churning, mind-blowing terror. But once I started skating, it all ebbed away. It was my skates and my derby sisters. Fear eventually evaporated and was replaced with training memory. I was awful, but I did it. After a year, I have been in nine bouts and two tournaments.

I can finally keep up with the pace line. I have a rudimentary knowledge of positions and strategy. I upgraded to Riedell Sirens. And when I see the Fresh Meat showing up for practice, I have a true perspective of how far I have come and I didn’t even know it. At last, derby is fun not fear and I relax and enjoy my time on the track. Sometimes I even laugh. Now I’m learning how to be a Jammer Assassin and during our last bout, coach yelled at me, “Boobs to the floor!” reminding me to skate low. I grinned and squatted, rolling fast and feeling fine. Why would anyone do this? For those elusive moments that I wish to make less so, such as when I hip check their jammer into the crowd or send their brutal behemoth blocker flying with a shoulder hit. When I block their pivot into a dogpile and our jammer scores a grand slam, it triggers the euphoria of being part of a team – and we all need teams to give us connection and support. Win or lose, derby is worth everything. To play is what matters. Why do I do this? My honest answer is: I don’t know. It’s like trying to explain why I love blood in my veins or oxygen in my lungs. I’m too close to it. Try it for a month and if it doesn’t have you, then no words would make it clear and if it gets you then no words are necessary. | Spring 2011 | 39


merby DA N N Y “ J AY P E G G ” B O U R N E , L O N D O N R O L L E R G I R L S

It’s November 14th, 2010, and we’re in London’s historic York Hall head ref of Newcastle Roller Derby League says, “Most leagues where my team, Southern Discomfort Roller Derby, has caused started out with ESPN quality highlights because that’s all new a bit of an upset in defeating the heavily fancied NERD 209 to 58. leagues knew how to do. You get on skates and you smash I’m feeling on top of the world and totally rocking my black and red people.” The combined result of this is that men play, almost boutfit – complete with winner’s medal and ridiculously short skirt literally, demolition derby. And this is where the problems lie. Says – when someone in the audience says to me, “You shouldn’t be Bedfordshire Rollergirls’ Sweet Petite, “With merby having bigger playing derby.” Surprised, I make my excuses mentioning that hits and more impressive wipe-outs than female roller derby, it’s it was my first bout, the floor was a concern that the general very slippery and so forth. “No, public will watch for full contact “Bay Bomber Charlie O’Connell, c.1963: not you,” she says, “Men. Men entertainment rather than the “Get rid of the girls, Jerry... nobody will should not play roller derby. It’s our strategic sport that it is giving ever take us seriously as a sport as long sport.” To say I was surprised by a danger that roller derby will as we have women skating.” this was an understatement, but be perceived the same as Texas Rollergirl, RollerCon 2006: it got me thinking – which is wresting.” Many hold the view “We don’t need men skating, they’re our bitches.” that it’s a throwback to the dark generally dangerous – is merby such a bad thing? days of Rollerjam – something Merby. Even the word is which the current incarnation controversial – Rose City voted to has been doing its utmost from have banned the term within their which to disassociate itself. league, although Swede Hurt Others view it differently. “Men claims to have coined the phrase are not the reason roller derby and, seeing as I don’t want her is not taken seriously,” says to beat my ass, I’m going to Rose City’s Skatie Kat, “It’s girls apologize in advance to anyone dressing up like hookers and I may offend when using the term. calling themselves names that (And I’d rather say Merby than are not fit to be shared in mixed Dangle Derby any day!) company that is holding the It has to be remembered that sport back. If anything, now that guys play roller derby in a very men are playing the sport, different way than girls. There are modern derby may finally be a few reasons for this. Men are seen as legitimate.” generally taller (although I’m 5’ 7” The second problem, Erin No Bragh and Swede is 6’ 3” so that’s not which has been briefly always the case) and have more upper body strength with a higher mentioned above is, paradoxically, part and parcel of the success center of gravity than women who are stronger in their hips and of the women’s game. London Rollergirls head ref and SDRD have a lower center of gravity. This means that women tend toward skater Ballistic Whistle sums it up. “A new fan to derby, who is being naturally better at positional blocking, whereas guys are built interested in watching something entertaining, will generally have more for big shoulder hits. Also, it has to be remembered that male a preference for male derby as it’s instantly entertaining. Women’s teams are way less experienced or established than female teams. derby, on the other hand, is played with more intelligence, and Remember back when your team was new? As Major Puddles, therefore has the fans thinking. Put a brand new fan in front of

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Erin No Bragh

a derby bout as if they’ve switched their brains off and they’ll likely opt for merby over women’s flat track. I don’t necessarily agree 100%, but I know that it is a concern for burgeoning leagues. They’re trying to develop fan bases and if there’s a quicker fix (entertainment wise) in town, the fans will opt for that.” Sweet Petite echoes these sentiments. “Merby IS exciting to watch and personally I do enjoy being a spectator, but I firmly believe this is due to me being a derby girl and can therefore appreciate the men’s game and its differences. I am concerned that the general public will find merby more appealing to watch. Although the female sport is enjoyable for anybody to watch, it is very complicated for a novice to understand – especially as the female game has a higher level of strategy and tactics to grasp.” This is a fear that may be more imagined than real, however. An analogy can be made with car racing. If women’s flat track roller derby is Formula 1 and banked track the equivalent of NASCAR, then men’s derby is akin to stock car racing. Each has its pros and cons, each has its adherents and detractors, but imagine these to be three branches of the same tree, three separate heads on the roller derby hydra. There’s no reason why people who start out watching men’s derby can’t move onto enjoying the subtler nuances of women’s flat track derby. Indeed one may be underestimating the roller derby audience. Many people go to watch games for the substance over style, and while merby may have a certain style, women’s flat track derby is leaps and bounds ahead in terms of substance. Rather than fearing merby, perhaps women’s leagues should look to embrace it. Skatie Kat makes a very important point. “There is an audience for everyone. If women’s and men’s leagues worked together, they would certainly draw the same numbers. Why not have double headers?! Everybody wins.” So, does men’s derby have anything else to offer women’s

derby? Co-ed teams have long been a thorny area. Jerry Seltzer points out that when he “took over management of the sport, the game was four 12-minute periods with women and men alternating. There was always controversy because of the fact that men and women skated equally but not together – especially in the 30s when a full contact sport for women was practically unheard of.” Eighty years later and many people are still reticent. “I refuse to take part in it,” states Major Puddles bluntly. “I’ve copped a bit of flack about it, but I’ve stuck to my guns. The main reason is that I feel it’s dangerous.” Ballistic Whistle continues in the same vein. “I’ve played with plenty of guys who, as a men’s derby player, I’d be more than happy to be on the track alongside girls. Conversely, there are guys out there that just don’t get it.” Major Puddles agrees, “When you see a 100 pound girl get taken out by a 250 pound guy, it’s only a matter of time before something goes horribly wrong. Most guys are very sensible playing co-ed, but it only takes one fired up guy who thinks he can show these girls how it’s done, and then you’ve got some real league issues.” Sweet Petite knows this only too well, having had three ribs broken playing co-ed Queen of the Track. But this does not mean that merby can offer nothing to women’s flat track. Possibly not, but maybe it can. As Ballistic says, “I think female players would be stronger for playing against guys. I believe there’s more potential for injury – or at least there’s a definite perception that there is – but playing against difficult, unpredictable opponents will make them better. Hell, Oly scrimmages against Puget Sound Outcasts every weekend!” And the reverse is definitely true, SDRD has improved immeasurably through being coached by, and training with, members of London Rollergirls who are kind enough to give up their spare time to come to our practices and matches – if only to tell us how shocking is our pack play and awareness and to blow off steam at their long suffering refs. | Spring 2011 | 41



We face many levels of obstacles to promote derby as a sport. The colorful cultural history of roller derby doesn’t help; even when people figure out derby girls aren’t scantily clad mud wrestlers on wheels, clichés persist. Copycat news hounds spin tales of angstridden housewives and Sunday school teachers erupting out of a frustrating 9-5 day into a battle royal at night. To get past these misconceptions, we have to convince people that derby isn’t fake, despite its colorful history to the contrary. Then, we have to fight the notion that derby is recreational; since almost anyone can play at some level. Finally, we have to do more than talk and spit out facts; we must proactively market the sport to fans, sponsors, and the media. If you do nothing else, learn an elevator speech, an explanation of roller derby that you could deliver in 15-20 seconds, or the length of an elevator ride. Elevator Speech: Today’s roller derby gives credit to the culture of the 70s and 80s spectacle while pushing forward as a sport, with rules, athleticism, and sanctioned tournament competition on the national and international level. step 1: overcome a history of fake names, fishnets and fraud Bottom Line: “Roller derby is not fake. We keep the punk rock image and names to attract fans and to acknowledge our history. We don’t get paid; we actually pay to play! And we follow rules – 43 pages of them!” Tell anyone over 30 that you play roller derby and they’ll wax nostalgically to memories of the Los Angeles Thunderbirds, fierce skaters who appeared to beat the living crap out of opponents. Appeared – because it was fake; not the athleticism or the bruises, but the falls, the shakedowns and the flying punches. From the names to the fishnets, modern roller derby doesn’t look that different from the old Roller Games to the casual observer. Derby names draw crowds, protect skater privacy How do you explain the cheeky aliases and the punk-rock booty wear while also insisting that you’re not putting on a show? Names and derby wear are marketing tools that create a curiosity and excitement that enriches the sport and fills seats. Once you’ve captured the audience with the curiosity, you can show them the real sport. Fake names keep derby girls safe from creeps; after all, derby

42 | Spring 2011 |

girls can’t afford to hire bodyguards to protect them from overzealous fans. Even so, some derby girls use their real names. Per Denver Roller Doll’s website, “In 2009 the majority of the skaters on the Denver Roller Dolls’ all-star travel team, the Mile High Club, started skating under their legal names.” For intraleague play, the girls keep their monikers; for tournaments and sanctioned play, they use their real names for credibility. Derby Bouts Are Meticulous, Unscripted, Regulated Events We’ve explained the fake names, but what about the theatrics? How do you prove that roller derby isn’t just an entertaining show? Entertainers get paid. Derby girls pay hundreds of dollars a year for equipment, travel, dues and fees. Commit the list of expenses to memory to rattle off to doubters, and as a nice segue way toward soliciting donations and sponsorship. Derby bouts have blowouts and official timeouts. What producer would engineer a 300 to 10 loss? What sane scripting agent would write in ten-minute official time outs to debate the fine points of 43 pages of rules? Derby bouts have stats. There’s no logic behind doing lineups, penalties, scores, actions and errors for a pretend sport. Derby coaches create game plans, not scripts. They aren’t choreographing epic battles; they’re plotting strategy, in derby fashion. “In the same way that awesome coaches like Rex Ryan sit in swank clubhouses watching footage of their opponents, conceiving plays and build strategy, derby teams are doing the same things in diners, living rooms, and local bars,” says Eric Rawk, Level Five Certified WFTDA referee. step 2: convince them that derby isn’t recreational aggression therapy for harried housewives Bottom Line: “Derby is professional and internationally sanctioned, with rules; tournaments – held in 7,000-seat arenas; officiating – with a five-level certification process; statistics and box scores; and dedicated news venues like Derby News Network.” Derby is largely represented as a novelty, a social phenomenon rather than a sporting one. Even when derby makes national sporting news – it’s been online on ESPN, Sports Illustrated and NBC Sports – the usual stories persist; skaters are “teachers and attorneys and real estate agents,” who need to “adopt an alter ego and take out some of their frustrations.” Worse yet, NBC actively

Jules Doyle

resists a mainstream derby: “Don’t expect this sport to join the establishment any time soon.” Explain away the recreational image by showing that derby is regulated, international, and distinguished by levels of play. And in many cases, it attracts a sports demographic to athletic venues. Derby is accessible to almost anyone, but not all skaters or teams compete at the same level. Home teams are no less a part of derby than all-star teams, but the latter compete for official rankings and perform at a higher level of play. All-stars are a different class of athlete; but they are largely snubbed by a mainstream media more interested in culture than competition. Derby has rules, referees and standards. Says Gotham’s Level 2 certified Ref, In Peace: “28 girls getting together to skate is a game or a hobby; girls skating with rules, officiating, and sanctioning is a sport.” Officials who are serious about the WFTDA mission endure an intense, five-level certification process that requires not only a mastery of the rules (in context, not mere repetition of fact), but also rigorous demonstration of skating skills; and multiple evaluations by coaches, other referees, and skaters. Derby is internationally sanctioned and recognized as a sport. USA Roller Sports (USARS) recognizes derby as “the most rapidly growing (roller) sport with well over 500 women’s leagues in 16 countries (all over North America, to Europe, Australia and Brazil).” FIRS, an international roller sports governing body (recognized by the International Olympic Committee) also recognizes roller derby, alongside figure skating, speed skating, and rink hockey. Derby has its own governing body that regulates the sport and runs regional and national tournaments. The Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) promotes the sport of derby, produces large-scale, bracketed national and international tournaments, computes rankings, provides standards, and gives growing leagues structure and integrity as they join. Derby fans aren’t just punk rockers and disaffected youth. Per

the audience data published on WFTDA’s site, they’re an appealing, varied demographic. While many leagues field bouts at classic roller rinks, some leagues fill arenas. Key Arena, home of the Rat City Rollergirls, regularly attracts 5,000 to 7,000 fans, according to IRockit, Marketing and Development Chair and league skater. Statistics demonstrate legitimacy, longevity, and sports focus. Today’s roller derby bout fills a 38-page Excel workbook, tracking game flow, jammer and blocker performance, scoring and penalties. Without capturing this information, derby would have no way of measuring improvement, calculating rankings, or showing continuity – as every other sport does. step 3: proactively market derby and educate fans, media and sponsors Bottom Line: Knock down difficult decision makers with words, pictures and the raw action of derby. Teach derby, gently, to fans with words they know and box scores that every other sport has. Market the sport, not the sex, with action-oriented advertisements and sports-oriented sponsors. You’ve got your elevator speech in hand and can talk to anyone about derby as a legit sport, but that’s not enough. You’ve got to engage and create repeat fans, create a league-wide sports image, and sell derby to the media to get more coverage than a onceyearly entertainment write up. Prepare your pitch and deliver an experience to a difficult audience You’ve secured a meeting with the sports editor from hell. He’s short on attention and stubborn with 20 years of covering the “big three” – basketball, football and baseball. You’ve got to do more than talk; you have to demonstrate. Try the following strategies: Bring a bound copy of the ruleset with you, suggests DNN correspondent and co-founder Justice Feelgood Marshall. “It doesn’t matter if your target actually READS the rules so much as they see how detailed they are and realize how seriously the competitors take them.” | Spring 2011 | 43

feature Push large-scale tournaments; show big action with bout footage. “With Montreal, we now have ‘WFTDA World Championships’,” says Eric Rawk. Fire up the portable DVD player and play the nail-biting final jam of the 2010 WFTDA Championship, with a single point separating first place Rocky Mountain and second place Oly. Promote derby media outlets to demonstrate how “it should be.” Cite Derby News Network (DNN) – a veritable ESPN of roller derby – that delivers live boutcasts, scores, recaps, predictions, strategy, and analysis. Close the sale and bring the experience home with a local scrimmage invitation. Give the editor an insider look from track center to see the complexity, the strategy, and the intensity of the sport firsthand. If all else fails, appeal to the bottom line, advises Derby Phil. “If you can show them that you have sponsors and between 500 and 2,000 fans per game, they know those people could also buy their newspaper.” Follow through quickly with a novice, yet sports-oriented focus You’ve created a new fan in the sports editor; make sure you act quickly after your next bout to get coverage. “Value with most sports fans is lost more than 24 hours after an event,” says Derby Phil. Resist the urge to write a droning jam-by-jam recap, but don’t kill your reader with derby for dummies, either. Write a brief, plainlanguage review that covers the game-changing events. If the paper won’t take an actual article, you’ve still got a chance with a game summary or box score. Use Box Scores to Distill Complex Stats, Engage True Sports Fans Box scores, tabular summaries of games popular in other major sports, “provide easily digestible summaries of data that give fans fodder for the water cooler, and bar debates,” says Hurt Reynolds, DNN co-founder and project manager for Derbymatic, a massive bout statistics program.

44 | Spring 2011 |

Box scores are comfortable to existing sports fans, and if not overdone, can be a nice segue way from something they know to something new. Make Derby Accessible To New Fans at Bouts Forget every intricate detail of the rulebook at bouts; send forward non-rostered “ask me about derby” skaters equipped with a friendly, 15-second explanation of game play. It’s okay to sacrifice the nuances and subtleties for a basic understanding. Try “it’s a race on skates inside a track with one person from each team earning points by passing the other players, who are trying like hell to stop them.” Refs and skaters alike will hate me for this: Suck it up and do the agonizing, ham-fisted demo jam. It’s a nice walkthrough for newbies who may be expecting an all-out brawl. Stop Pushing Sex: Market Your League As A Sport Some leagues play coquettish and softcore to draw in all manner of curious parties, hoping that some will come to appreciate the actual sport. While this is okay to some extent, it’s better to fill seats with advertising that portrays the action of derby, with a focus on the strong, athletic, fast-paced excitement aspect. See for a model bout ad that screams sport. Get More Sports-Oriented Sponsors Many struggling leagues take any sponsor willing to pay or trade to keep the league afloat, but Gatorade looks better than Mike’s Pet Shop in a sponsorship brochure. Final Thoughts – Keep Derby Exciting – and Simple Gaming the rules may be good strategy, but it makes bad watching. Try to explain to a fan why girls are stopped on the track, shuffling in place; or why they hang out behind the pivot line when the jam whistle blows, waiting for seconds to tick by before entering play.

Jules Doyle



Roll DMC: German Championships S W E D E H U RT, C R I M E C I T Y R O L L E R S , M A L M Ă– , S W E D E N Denise van Deesen,

2010 was the year of the first German Championships in roller derby. It was a


one-day event with five competing teams and an audience from all over Europe. The five teams competing were Bear City’s travel team Berlin Bombshells; Stuttgart Valley Rollergirlz A-team; Barock City Roller Derby and Friends (the friends were girls from K-town Roller Derby, Zurich City Roller Derby and Red Lion Roller Derby); Hanse-Connection (a combined team from Bremen: Meatgrinders Roller Derby and Hamburg Harbor Girls); and last but not least, Essen Devil Dolls Roller Derby, who lost some girls to travel and snow issues and had to borrow girls from Stuttgart and Berlin to be able to skate at all. I got a little sad for a hot minute that I for once had not brought my skates. The event was held in ARENA BERLIN that reminds me of a huge warehouse. There were two tracks set up and since this was a one-day event, the bouts were


overlapping with half an hour and I did not get to see them all. All bouts in the qualification rounds were forty-minute bouts, but the final two bouts were played

11. DEZ

as full-length bouts. I must say that I was very impressed with the organization and also with the level of skating. I also want a high standard, and we shall never forget the importance of good reffing, it makes game play more fair. Luckily my German is also held to a high standard, since that was the language and the only language that was spoken at the event. But after all,

46 | Spring 2011 |


to point out that the reffing was held to





I was at the German Championships so

into their own during 2011, since there was

I shouldn’t expect anything else.

a fighting spirit and talent on both sides.

After the first two bouts, it was very

The final was the match-up everyone

evident that Stuttgart and Berlin were the

had been waiting for, Berlin vs. Stuttgart

dominating two teams and that they were

and it was a hard one to predict. Stuttgart

destined to meet in the finals (Stuttgart 145

is the grandmother of German roller derby

– Barock City 33 and Berlin – Hanse

with great blockers like Titty Twister and

Connection 131-42). They seemed to have

Dolly BustHer, and with fast and agile

the more skilled skaters and also had well

jammers Polly Purgatory and Blitzkrieg Baby.

thought out strategies. Berlin and Stuttgart

Berlin is a slightly younger league that has

really showed that they are used to playing

rapidly been improving and also got

together and that team play is an important

accepted into the WFTDA Apprenticeship

part of roller derby. The other three teams

program during 2010. Berlin has showed

put up good fights, and they matched up

that they are a force to be reckoned with,

well against each other, but in the end it

fielding the tall double-threats Master

was Hanse-Connection and Essen Devil

Blaster and Resident Shevil and shorter

Dolls who ended up playing for third. Funny

Hanna Hellfire. Last time they met, Stuttgart

thing was that they had just played the

beat Berlin by over 60 points, but everyone

previous match against each other and the

knew that Berlin had improved, so the

Essen Devil Dolls beat Hanse Connection

question was, how much?

(101-75). So the question was; could they

The final turned into a real nail biter

do it again? In a full-time sixty-minute bout?

with everything a great bout should have.

The second time around it looked like

Great skating, great strategies, positional

Hanse Connection had a chance to redeem

blocking, big hits, small hits, an enthusiastic

themselves. They came out swinging and in

audience, lead change, penalties (not so

the beginning they looked like they would

good), and two teams that were putting

beat Essen, but with twenty minutes left in

every ounce of themselves into winning.

the match, Essen was ahead and kept on

It all came down to the final jam where

pulling away. Hanse Connection looked

Master Blaster got lead jammer and did her

really tired and their defense fell apart while

best to even out the score. But the Berlin

their jammers kept getting stuck in the

blockers were not able to keep Stuttgart

pack. And in the end, it was Essen that took

jammer Polly Purgatory back and Stuttgart

third with a final score of 146-97. I am

became German Champions with a four

looking forward to seeing those teams grow

point margin. 128-124.

Denise van Deesen,

Denise van Deesen,

Denise van Deesen,

Denise van Deesen,

Denise van Deesen,

1 Michael Wittig, Berlin 2010 | Spring 2011 | 47


derby down under A N N E S U R LY, S O U T H S E A R O L L E R D E R B Y

There are a few things that Aussies love: snags on the BBQ (that’s

Women’s Office and, using their connections with the Adelaide Roller

sausages for all you non-Aussies), the beach, a cold beer, thongs

Derby, engaged the services of Smarty Pants (Texas Roller Derby)

(the shoes, not the undies) and their sports. Indeed, some Aussies

and Cheapskate (Gotham Girls Roller Derby) for some coaching.

joke that watching and playing a sport is not just a hobby, it’s a full

Says Bullseye Bettie of CRDL, “Their visit marked a turning point

time job and I can attest that (much to my dismay) the citizenship

for CRDL, with skills, events and infrastructure becoming further

test contains questions about cricket.


As is the case all over the world, however, women’s sport in

As the sport in general grows so do the leagues, with many now

Australia just doesn’t get the same attention, media coverage or

training three or more teams over several sessions a week. Fresh

funding that men’s sport does and, as a result, women’s sport tends

Meat intakes have gone from 30-40 skaters to literally hundreds

to be relegated to a few seconds of footage at the end of a lengthy

of wannabe rollergirls signing up. Interleague and interstate

sport segment on the news, or a small paragraph in the paper.

competition is booming and, in 2010, Adelaide Roller Derby hosted

There have been few female-only sports in recent years that have

The Great Southern Slam (TGSS). Says Marshall Stacks of ADRD,

captured the public’s attention and support. That is, until now.

“TGSS was the first ever tournament of its kind in the Southern

Enter roller derby. Leagues began forming in Australia in 2007

Hemisphere and one of the largest roller derby events ever held.

and, at current count on, there are 51

With 500 skaters participating, almost 4,000 public in attendance

leagues, though not all are established and incorporated. This

and 23 bouts on 4 tracks plus 12 hours of challenge bouting it was

number is growing rapidly as the sport gains more media coverage

big and has changed the landscape of Australian derby forever.”

and the public realizes that it has something to offer to everyone.

The group rounds and quarter finals at TGSS got the crowd riled

Says Bella DuBois of the Victorian Roller Derby League, “The die-

up as more experienced leagues went head to head with some

hard sports fans appreciate the intricate strategy and simultaneous

newbies. The scores were often evidence of this with 100 point

defensive and offensive play. People who aren’t normally the

gaps not uncommon. When it came to the finals, however, the score

sporting types love the community vibe and the theatrical nature

was close and two of the best leagues in Australia lined up to fight it

of derby. The first timers love watching people knock each other

out. Victorian Roller Derby League (VRDL) and the Sun State Roller

down on roller skates. And let’s be honest, everyone loves a sporting

Girls (SSRG) are known for their fierce play and high skill levels, and

event that sells cheap stubbies [beer].”

the final match didn’t disappoint. As Chop Chop (SSRG) and Swish

Leagues started out with a lot of effort, determination and

Cariboom (VRDL) lined up for the final jam, the score was 78-73, in

perseverance, with members struggling to learn the rules, how to

favour of VRDL. Chop Chop skated hard, but her three points weren’t

play (many started out watching YouTube clips) and finding venues

enough to beat VRDL who proudly took home the first ever Golden

for training and bouting. As the word spread, so did the excitement.

Roller Thong (again, the flip flop type thong, not the undies!).

Some women had been dreaming about starting leagues in Australia

2010 continued to be a huge year for VRDL and on October 9th

for years, but the birth of some leagues was more spur of the

they opened The Factory. The first dedicated roller derby training

moment. Perth Roller Derby, for example, started in 2008 when,

space in Victoria, it will house a permanent roller derby track, off-

after a screening of the documentary “Hell on Wheels” a woman

skates fitness area, skate maintenance workshop, administrative

jumped up and yelled across the theatre, “Does anyone want to

office and a “clubroom” for league members. Present at the opening

start a league in Perth?” She and a few others started a Facebook

was James Merlino, Minister for Sport, Recreation and Youth Affairs.

page, and the rest is PRD history.

Says Candy Rocks of VRDL, “That the venue was opened by the

Since 2007, interleague support has been alive and well with

Minister for Sport is testament to its significance – for the sport of

established Aussie leagues helping out those just starting as well

roller derby and for women’s sport generally.” In January of 2011,

as welcoming international support. In 2009, Canberra Roller Derby

VRDL became the first Australian league accepted into the WFTDA

League (CRDL) received funding from the Australian Capital Territory

Apprentice Program, a landmark for Australian derby.

48 | Spring 2011 |

Douglas Cowley

The derby community is growing rapidly, as evidenced in the

on the sports pages. When asked where Australian derby will be in

increasing sales of skates and skate gear, as well as publications

five years, Marshall Stacks of ADRD says, “[Derby in Australia] will

dedicated solely to derby, such as Hit and Miss magazine. Minnie

be competing on the world stage. Our more established leagues have

Screwdriver and PT Bruza are the founders of Hit and Miss (HAM),

been trained by some of the best skaters in the world, our country

which was initially planned to be a small publication that reflected the

loves its sport and punches above its weight in every discipline

Australian roller derby community. Says Screwdriver, “We intended

and Australia is embracing derby wholeheartedly. There is funding

for it to be a local rag filled with stories from and about Aussie derby

and sponsorship available and some major venues are making

leagues. The first issue was hard work and we were completely

themselves available to roller derby. WFTDA has invited Aussies

blown away by how well it was received when it was launched at the

to join the family and it won’t be long until we have leagues from

Great Southern Slam. Now, as we prepare Issue 4, HAM has grown

Australia jet setting their way to rinks all over the world!”

to the point where we are full to the brim with amazing articles and have a backlog of ideas and proposals. In fact, it has been such a hit (we've had issues sell out) that we're now looking at when to increase the size of the magazine and the number that we produce. With an average of five new leagues popping up in Australia every three months, roller derby just keeps growing, which is not just exciting for HAM, but exciting for the derby community.” The public’s support has grown as well, with bouts regularly attracting crowds of more than 1,000. Bout tickets sell out within hours of going on sale and the Northern Brisbane Rollers regularly average 3,000 people at their games. Many come for the spectacle but fall in love with the sport. A spectator at the South East Side Story season final between South Sea Roller Derby and Ballarat Roller Derby League said, “When I came tonight, I expected it to be more like pro wrestling, with fake fights and punch ups, except with hot chicks in fishnets. And, to be honest, I was a little disappointed at first. But, by the end of the game, I was in awe of how athletic these women are. That’s what I’m coming for next time... to watch some hardcore athletes play a hardcore sport.” It’s no secret that derby skaters have guts and aren’t afraid of a little hard work. They also have big dreams for the sport, both here in Australia and all over the world. Many would like to see the sport become recognized the way netball and footy are, with regular stats | Spring 2011 | 49

Respect your elders. Cast from a vintage skate key. 419/946 8506 Team discounts available.

DFB City Street Gems

art and media

jam city rollergirls video game N O R B R O Z E K , F R O Z E N C O D E BA S E

Most videogame postmortems lead off with sort of a “what a long, strange trip it’s been” remark, and, though the road to fruition for the Jam City Rollergirls project was indeed long (we initially hatched the idea in summer 2006), and undeniably strange (hey, have YOU ever had to deal with a bunch of rollergirls on an almost daily basis? Oh... er... nevermind), and at least rudimentarily trippy (what was in those Rice Krispies® Treats at 2008 Nationals anyway?), I still have enough residual punk rock self-respect left in my system to eschew any such Grateful Dead cover and move directly to the meat of the matter: Explaining the whys and wherefores of how the Jam City Rollergirls game came to be, in the off chance you care. In case you’ve somehow sidestepped the rolling juggernaut that is our press machine, Jam City Rollergirls is a downloadable videogame produced by Frozen Codebase (that’s us) for the Nintendo Wii, which should be available via WiiWare by the time you read this (and if it isn’t, I certainly hope I had a nice funeral which nobody picketed). The concept was suggested by the wife

52 | Spring 2011 |

of our company’s fearless leader, Ben Geisler, who had a college friend skating for Milwaukee’s then-brand-new Brewcity Bruisers at the time. Though we were rank outsiders to the flat track derby phenomenon, we did manage to create a crude demo under the working title Brat City Thundergirls, consisting primarily of ten skaters, completely remiss protective gear, skating forward and falling in a pile of bodies at turn one. This certain blockbuster was shelved when we signed other projects, but, in 2007, Ben suggested we take another swing at BCTG – this time using the real skaters of the WFTDA. I was (full disclosure!) initially resistant. No one had made a roller derby game before, therefore no one really knew what makes a roller derby game fun – we were gonna hafta kinda make it up as we went along. I felt restricting ourselves to the WFTDA ruleset and track dimensions would significantly narrow our options in this regard, but I had to admit that using real skaters and teams in our game would be undeniably bad-ass. Leveraging our meager contacts in the derby world (including

Brewcity’s own Grace Killy, who would later grow up to be WFTDA President), we managed to secure an audience with the WFTDA high muckity-mucks prior to 2007 Nationals in Austin. The outline of our presentation had been laid out on the back of an airsickness bag the night before. Knowing no one in attendance, we babbled and stammered and stated our case: We’re not EA – we’re just a handful of nerds inhabiting some Class B office space in Green Bay – but, dammit, we GET it. Some aspect of our ragtag pitch (and/or our ability to drink beer at 9 AM during business presentations) apparently resonated, because, by 2008, after the requisite papers had been signed and the relevant coffee chains had been mollified, we found ourselves manning the helm of the WFTDA’s first-ever licensed product. We put out a general call for applications for teams interested in being in the game, receiving all of eleven responses in return (I’ll state for the record that Charm City’s application was, by far, the funniest). After plentiful debate, we initially settled on four teams, as that was all we had the money to license: Texas, Gotham, Rat City and the Mad Rollin’ Dolls (we later scraped up the dough to add a fifth, Brewcity, because they were so instrumental in getting the project off the ground... and because they’re AWESOME... and we’re homers). We originally licensed five skaters per team, who were chosen by team vote, later adding a sixth “wild card” skater per team, whom we chose ourselves ‘cause we’re crazy control freaks. Securing another round of investor cash, we started over from scratch, attempting to more or less replicate real-life derby on a small scale. We quickly discovered a few inconvenient truths about transporting the sport of roller derby from the squared oval to the gaming console, namely: 1) Going to the penalty box sucks; 2) Cutting the track and falling on your ass in the crowd sucks; 3) Trying to keep tabs on and block an opposing jammer who is continually racing past you from your blind side when you can’t really pivot your head also sucks. We realized we were going to have to move from a more or less faithful attempt at replicating derby to an approach slightly better suited to the videogame

medium, so we hunkered down to experiment and tinker. Meanwhile, our plans for the project had grown. Initially, we had planned on creating a downloadable title for Xbox Live Arcade, but with interest in derby escalating (owing to the forthcoming Whip It movie and a few other factors), we thought we’d swing for the fences. Instead of producing a smaller, downloadable derby game, why not produce a slick, “vertical slice” demo of a full retail game – the type of thing you’d pay forty bucks for at Wal-Mart, as opposed to a ten-dollar download – and use it to attract publisher interest in backing a retail product? (Publishers being, essentially, the companies with money who do the actual funding and releasing and marketing of videogames. Development studios, like Frozen Codebase, are the hapless grunts who actually make the damn things.) We slaved away for the entire summer of 2008, using the top-of-the-line Unreal engine to produce a reasonably slick demo. Our intent was to make a huge splash at the Austin Game Developers Conference that September, get the project signed, and have it in stores by the end of 2009. To this end, we sponsored a Texecutioners vs. Dairyland Dolls bout coinciding with Austin GDC and ran shuttle buses from the convention to the bout, figuring that, if industry bigwigs could only see derby for themselves, they’d fall in love with it – and us – and be falling over themselves to sign our game. This wasn’t a bad idea. Unfortunately, it was a terribly mistimed idea: Our big push to sign the game coincided almost exactly with the bottom falling out of the economy, and few bottoms fell harder than that of the gaming industry. Our valiant stab at securing backing for a full-on retail product did garner a moderate amount of publisher interest, but purse strings around the industry had become prohibitively tight; sinking cash into an unproven concept had quickly become a highly unappealing venture. Still, we pursued interested publisher-types throughout 2009, modifying the game this way and that to appeal to the whims of whatever patron we were courting that month. We were close – damn close! – to getting the thing signed, but, eventually, the economic turmoil prevailed; by the end of the year we had run up the white flag on our notion of | Spring 2011 | 53

art and media a full-retail derby game which, at this point, you might ask why we didn’t just do it ourselves. Two reasons: #1) Creating and manufacturing a full retail videogame is a massively cash-intensive undertaking. Budgets for retail titles are measured not in thousands of dollars, but in millions, plural. We do not have, nor can we readily obtain, this kinda dough. #2) You need a publisher to get retail shelf space for your game. Trust me, Wal-Mart is not gonna start stocking less copies of Halo 3 and Tiger Woods Golf in order to make room for some roller derby game released by a bunch of podunks from Northeastern Wisconsin. They’re just not. If you don’t believe me, go take your derby league’s t-shirts into your local Wal-Mart and see if they’ll move the Family Guy and AC/DC tshirts off the racks so they can sell yours instead. (Let me know how that works out for you.) We’d been working on the project, off and on, in one form or another, for over three years, and we still had nothing to show for our efforts. What to do? Of course! Get more money! In 2010 we scraped together enough money to take one more stab at the game – this time, as a downloadable WiiWare title. The pros of the situation were that the Wii was the console we figured most skaters were likely to already own, and that WiiWare games are small in scope (capped at a maximum file size of 40 MB), meaning that we didn’t need comparatively vast sums of money to fund the project. Going WiiWare also meant that we could sidestep the need for a publisher, allowing us full control of the project from start to finish. The small file size, however, also worked against us: Since space was at a premium, we had to find ways to save on disc space whilst trying to cram in as much derby goodness as possible. We were able to fit all five teams in the game, but at a cost of reduced textural detail. We didn’t have enough space to give every

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skater her own individually-shaped body – we only had room for two body types, “small” and “large,” then stumbled across a method to make the two body types look like four. We had originally wanted about five quasi-regulation oval tracks and five freaky “challenge” tracks; we wound up with room for one oval and four challenge tracks. The Brewcity Bruisers “Shotz Brewery” level will have to wait for another time, I guess. All in all, though, I’m pretty proud of how much stuff we were able to cram into those 40 puny megabytes. I’d say we’re pretty full-featured for a WiiWare title. If you haven’t played the game yet, it’s basically roller derby crossed with an arcade-y racer like Mario Kart. A 40 MB WiiWare game has to be fast, fun, simple, pick-up-and-play action – a reduction of derby’s core components, served up in a mildly over-the-top arcade style. The “sports simulation” style derby game we had originally set our sights on will have to wait ‘til a more appropriate format presents itself. Hopefully, if enough people buy this one, new avenues of opportunity for future derby games will open up. As far how the meaning of life goes, I’m kind of unclear on that myself – but the more I play the game, the more I notice the characters engaging in odd behaviors that can’t be accounted for, so I’m pretty sure they know, although they ain’t telling (for example, one day we came to work and there was a HUGE scorch mark on one of the tracks in the game. Nobody put it in there, it just... happened. I’m convinced that the skater characters get together when we are not playing the game and grill out on the track. Seriously). And, if nothing else, Jam City Rollergirls provides an excellent way to bring the magic of Dumptruck into the intimacy of your own home – without the hassle of wiping gold paint off your furnishings afterward.

& P







PHOTO ANNUAL available at

classifieds Want to get rid of that old gear? Need to get the word out about something to the derby community? Searching high and low for something you just can’t find? Submit your classified text (up to 50 words) FOR FREE to to include in our next issue!

WANTED SALES REPS WANTED for DFB City Street Gems Retail and wholesale accounts wanted. Skate team/fan club discounts available. Team colors may be special ordered. Commissions sales (generous) only. See our ad in this issue. Email

CHECK THIS OUT! Roller Derby Owned and Operated: HellBent makes custom helmets for rollergirls (and boys). Using the same techniques used to make professional NASCAR racing helmets we can create the worlds best customized roller derby helmets. Glossy, sparkly and full of attitude at an affordable price. Get more info at

Roller Derby Fundraiser! Fun, Easy and Profitable Coffee Fundraiser. Your team’s custom label and colorful foil bag is a great way to fundraise and advertise your team! Everyone loves fresh roasted coffee so this is an easy fundraiser. Contact Chuck Olympic Crest Coffee Roasters, Inc. for details –

from custom leather belts to dog collars and so much more | Spring 2011 | 57

horoscopes P R OV I D E D B Y Y O U R D E R B Y P S Y C H I C , K Y L I E O F BA C K L A S H



February 20-March 20

August 23-September 22

Sometimes, a friendship is too good to be true. In your heart of hearts you’ve known it all along. While that doesn’t mean you need to end the relationship, it just means now is a good time to re-evaluate what you expect from the other person as well as what you want to give. Don’t drag out the decision; be honest with yourself and the other person.

It takes a strong will and an even stronger heart to get over the hump and move past the physical plateaus – and there is no doubt that you posses those qualities. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice from a skater or two you admire, even if you don’t run in the same circles. People on the outside can often see what you can’t.


September 23-October 23

March 21-April 19

It’s time to shake things up a bit. This rut just isn’t working for you. Change your routine to get your brain stretched in a new direction. Join a different committee or try a different type of cross training – Pilates or long-distance running might be a good place to start.

TA U R U S April 20-May 20

Who knew that under that inflexible, self-indulging exterior was an amazingly patient and dependable trainer? Stay open to questions from those around you and answer them honestly. They will value your straightforward manner and you’ll benefit from their appreciation. Just don’t be surprised when more people start coming to you for advice!

LIBRA Don’t let your excitement and the momentum of reveling in the New Year slow down! In fact, now is the best time to share your ideas for making this the best year possible. Some won’t work out or will change as other ideas are added, but the team will need you to keep the ball rolling.

SCORPIO October 24-November 22

You know that grudge you’ve been carrying? Let it go. The original argument is long forgotten, and the negative cloud hanging around is really holding you back. By releasing it back into the universe you can set your sights on something really productive, like being team captain or trying out for the all-star team.

S A G I T TA R I U S November 23-December 21

GEMINI May 21-June 20

All the mental preparedness in the world is not going to make the tedious task you have to do any easier. Channel that anticipated boredom into something creative. Give the “that’s the way we’ve always done it” mentality the boot – that task is way overdue!

CANCER June 21-July 22

Stop fighting it – sit down, shut your mouth, and let your family and friends take care of you for once. You don’t always have to be everyone’s supportive rock. It’s okay to let others take over that position so you can enjoy some much needed downtime. Your emotional well-being will depend on it during an upcoming event.

LEO July 23-August 22

It’s official – your grumpy side has come to the surface and it looks like it’s here to stay. While it’s not pretty, sometime it must be accommodated for a few days. Don’t let it get too comfortable. Take time for yourself, figure out what is at the root of this sudden pissyness, and move past it.

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This running late for everything has gotten you in a bind more times than you can count over the past few months. A strange occurrence indeed, as you are normally ahead of schedule. To clear your head you need to clear your social calendar, par down your to-do list, and re-evaluate your priorities – the sooner, the better.

CAPRICORN December 22-January 19

You can’t understand why people have to be so wishywashy about every decision because, to you, it’s all either black or white, nothing in between. They are not annoying you on purpose, everyone has to work through choices in their own time. Take the time to step away from the problem while they debate, it will help you solidify your opinion on the matter.

AQUARIUS January 20-February 19

Ah! The world is your oyster! Life will always be an adventure for you, but this time is especially fun and exciting. Laugh, dance, and drink in every facet of those people and events around you. Share your love of derby with the world! You’re the best ambassador for the sport you love so much and your enthusiasm will be contagious this season.

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fiveonfive | issue 11 | Spring 2011  

fiveonfive | issue 11 | Spring 2011