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proud partner of the WFTDA

fiveonfive contents 30-33


advice ask ms d’fiant and suzy hotrod!

WFTDA Ten things to look forward to for the 2016 tournament season!


business equal opportunity recruitment playing roller derby made me a better social media marketer

Joe Mac


health and fitness blisters concussion from the inside

16-24 games and coaching

40-41 How to Begin Officiating Tournaments

the sacred bench changing focus

Some officiating veterans provide insight and advice for newer refs looking to gain some tournament experience.

26-27 34-37

junior derby junior derby gear

Jules Doyle

gear leather repair and maintenance

38-39 rookie

Balancing Sport and Show We’ve worked so hard to be viewed as a legitimate sport, but have we done so at the expense of show?

roller derby 201: playing the pack


Drew Geraets

officiating how to begin officiating tournaments coaching taught me to officiate with empathy

50-53 international derby 54-57 art and media


editor miss jane redrum fort wayne derby girls copy editor and content manager vera n. sayne rocky mountain rollergirls

from the editor Welcome to the 31st issue of fiveonfive!

art director assaultin’ pepa rocky mountain rollergirls

I met Assaultin’ Pepa, the founder of this great magazine, at WFTDA’s

contributing writers ms d’fiant angel city derby girls

Fort Wayne, we discovered our hometowns are less than 40 miles apart in

suzy hotrod gotham girls roller derby bob noxious mad rollin’ dolls brown paper tickets instaslam oklahoma victory dolls sinful sally rockford rage women’s roller derby

Annual Meeting in New Orleans in 2007. Though she lived in Denver and I in northern Illinois, and we played volleyball against each other when we were in high school. We formed a fast friendship. Three years later, at WFTDA’s annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio, she took me to lunch and asked if I’d be interested in succeeding She Who Cannot be Named as fiveonfive’s editor. I jumped at the chance and have enjoyed every issue since. My first issue was #11 in Spring 2011, and five years later, this issue, #31,

catholic cruel girl rocky mountain rollergirls

will be my last. Like all of you, my love for roller derby runs deep, and serving

culta skaro boston roller derby

as fiveonfive’s editor has provided me an opportunity to stay connected and

punchy o’guts resurgam roller derby kate runnels southern oregon roller girls

bring valuable content to our community. For that, I cannot thank Assaultin’ Pepa enough. I hung up my skates a few years ago, and in a few short weeks, I’ll be welcoming my first baby into my family, so it’s time for me to

ilana gordon queen city roller girls

put away my red pen to embark on the next great adventure, parenthood.

oxford commakaze free state roller derby

Cutting my official last tie to the sport is bittersweet. For the past decade, it

jennifer savaglio aka la petite mort fast girl skates bitches bruze southshire roller derby capital district men’s roller derby

has played a large role in shaping who I am. But, this is not good-bye. I move forward as a fan, and I will be cheering for all of you for many years to come. I am handing over my red pen to capable hands. The new editor is Stacey

standard steviation lansing derby vixens

Casebolt with Castle Rock ‘n Rollers. Stacey is a 6-foot tall former college

trouble in karadise no coast derby girls

softball and basketball player who is now focusing her energy on roller derby.

john culhane (sarge) cajun roller girls

She started skating a year ago and is currently a half a lap away from bouting. Like many of us, she firmly believes that joining roller derby has

shortstack o’paincakes tokyo roller girls

been the best thing she has ever done. She is a crafter, writer, editor,

scarlett o harder roller derby leicester

and mother of three active kids.

cover photo TI Stills Photography fiveonfive magazine

The views and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the contributing writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of fiveonfive magazine.

Best of luck Stacey. And best of luck fiveonfive... I’ll miss you! 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

Punchy O’Guts Punchy O’Guts is a skater and coach with Resurgam Roller Derby and is sponsored by Roller Derby Elite. She started her derby career with Maine Roller Derby in 2006 and skated competitively on the WFTDAsanctioned all-star team through 2012. Prior to leaving MRD, she began her career as an author and traveling derby coach. She has written several books about roller derby and has coached leagues all over the United States and Canada, along with leagues in Japan, Australia, and England (see more at

Chuck Fong

Culta Skaro Culta Skaro began skating in 2012 with State College Area Roller Derby in Pennsylvania, where she worked for an international media company and contributed to several of their social media platforms. In the fall of 2014, she moved to the Boston area and began skating with the Boston Derby Dames and continues to spend more time on Tumblr than a reasonable human being should.

Bitches Bruze

Shortstack O’Paincakes Shortstack O’Paincakes is a wife to a U.S. Navy Sailor and a mom to five wonderful kids. Paincakes started playing roller derby four years ago in Michigan. In 2012, she joined the Oakland Derby Diamonds in Waterford, MI. In the summer of 2013, she tried out and was accepted to join the fresh meat program with the Detroit Derby Girls, completed the fresh meat program, and passed her skills test in September of that year but, sadly prior to being drafted to a home team, got injured and ended up having to have surgery in January of 2014. In the summer of 2014, she and her family moved to Japan where she has been skating and assistant coaching ever since with the Yokosuka Sushi Rollers, which is a part of the Tokyo Roller Girls league.

Amy Jo Moore, aka Bitches Bruze, started playing derby in 2007. She is a co-founder of the Hellions of Troy (Troy, NY) and Burlington Bombers (Burlington, VT). She has coached roller derby around the United States and Europe and can often be heard on at ECDX and WFTDA playoff events. In December 2013, after years of insane commutes, she finally started Southshire Roller Derby close to her home in Pownal, VT.

Ilana Gordon Ilana Gordon is the owner of Turnaround Skates in Buffalo, New York. She has over seven years of derby experience and specializes in custom builds and repairing and restoring used skates.

Suzy Hotrod

Ms D’Fiant

Gotham Girls Roller Derby New York, NY

Angel City Derby Girls Los Angeles, CA

dear blocker and jammer, I’m torn between two teams and it’s really hard to decide where I should go. I left my original league due to drama and went to another league nearby. I feel I jumped too soon and really should have taken some time to cool down. Now I love both leagues and I miss my original league. Do you have any suggestions? -TORN

dear t, This sounds like you broke up with someone and are having second thoughts. Sometimes our memory gets inaccurate with time and we remember things more romantically than they were in reality. Leaving a roller derby league is a serious breakup. There must have been reasons strong enough to make you decide to leave. I suppose the decision could have been easier to make, knowing that you had another option for a place to skate. The most important reason for a skater to change leagues is to find the correct culture fit. Finding the right place as far as competitive versus recreational fitness goals, and finding a good fit of where your skill level puts you where you want to be on a team are important. I’ve seen girls willing to drive for over an hour to skate where it feels right for them. It’s disappointing to hear that drama would be a reason to change roller derby leagues. The thing with roller derby is that the turn over rate is so high in our sport that some newer leagues are 75% new faces within a few years. Conversely if the league does not have a high turn over rate it is unfortunate that drama would be tolerated without the greater good of the league uniting to address it. Well, the reality is people change leagues or retire and come back all the time. Now that you’re in the new place, you can take your time and weigh out the pros and cons list. Write one out. So long as you are a good contributing league member you should always be welcomed with open arms no matter where you go with a little friendly razzing for you “coming crawling back.” Pay your dues, do your committee work, cause no drama and make your attendance. Any league will be happy to have you. This time when you decide, think about the scenario if you had no other option. Would you leave that league and be willing to not skate at all? Or are you debating leaving only because there is some other option. Every league is different, so take inventory of which culture is the best fit for you as a teammate.


Spring 2016 |

dear t, Tough call! It’s easy to get sentimental about an old league, like your first love, but ultimately, you should step back and take an analytical look at the reasons you left your league and set your goals moving forward, before making the final choice. I switched leagues once when moving across the country. Life change aside, it was very much the right time for me to go. As a young first president, I became controlling in the name of efficiency and it was the right time to allow the league to grow in a democratic way. It wasn’t good for anyone. On the other side of the coin, there was a time at ACDG where we lost all but about 15 skaters to nearby leagues – and I knew that was a time to step up and work twice as hard to create a great league. Okay, SO, what are your goals? Are you looking to become a better skater and compete on a bigger scale? And if so, are you ready to dedicate the time to fulfill that goal? I’ve seen my fair share of transfers that want so bad to compete globally, but disappear when they realize it often means practice four times a week, plus strength training and volunteer work. On the other hand, do you like management and hope to get some professional development out of your participation? We don’t talk about the professional experience we gain in roller derby often – as if we shouldn’t benefit personally other than becoming better athletes. But the truth is, we are running businesses and orchestrating complicated events with multiple insurance factors at play. Yes, this is resumé worthy and not anything to be quiet about. Once you understand what you want, pick the league that has opportunities for your skills. I suppose an argument can be made for dealing with personalities, I won’t say it doesn’t matter, but in life you need to learn how to work with a lot of personalities. I wouldn’t let that be a deciding factor. Try to set aside those pesky sentimental feelings, like with your first love, sometimes it’s right to move on. Or not!

dear blocker and jammer, We’re putting together gift baskets for a visiting team. Any advice on what we should include that won’t go in the trash? -HOSTESS WITH THE MOSTEST

dear hwtm, Full disclosure. I really hated gift baskets precisely for that very reason. I wound up throwing most of it away. Remember, derby girls are traveling light when in other cities with carry on sized luggage that is filled with gear. Never put tee shirts in a gift basket. Sizing is difficult, they’re big, and even worse: giving old merch is insulting. I do support the toiletries emergency style gift basket: band aids, tampons, scissors, athletic tape, ace bandage, Gu packets, sewing kit, and travel sized packets of Ben Gay or Tiger Balm. (Trust me, the girl who always has the tape will thank you so she doesn’t have to keep sharing again and again.) Think of the things you could possibly forget. Someone always forgets a water bottle so maybe one or two actual high quality reusable water bottles, or just some tall plastic bottles of water. Bananas, apples, and energy bars always are eaten or taken home so I always support food. If you’re feeling extra generous, give your visiting team a gift certificate to the after party bar to buy everyone a shot, but put in in a big thick folder with a sign on it so it doesn’t get lost at the bottom of the basket in a tiny flat envelope. All of this being said, I have always been in support of eliminating the gift basket all together. Why do we need gift baskets? A simple sign is a nice way to say thank you without going to all that trouble making a basket.

dear hwtm, I’m writing the column today from the WFTDA Board of Directors meeting in Austin, TX. The Face2Face (as it’s known) is an opportunity to lock up the Board, the Employees and the Officers of the WFTDA for two days so they can talk about roller derby for 48 straight hours. This is what makes them bearable to their families and the general public for the rest of the year. What a perfect sampling to find out about best gift baskets received! Starting with me, Ms. D’fiant/WFTDA Treasurer. In no particular order: muscle cream • mini bottles of whiskey (obvs) • hair rubber bands • matches (you know why!) • protein bars (because if I didn’t forget mine – and I assure you, I did – I’ll stash them for later!) Amy Spears/WFTDA Vice-President Tiny Beach Balls! Double H/WFTDA Broadcast Director Colorful duct tape! I once had a sponsored skater laugh when I asked if she had tape because her gear is always new. The rest of us schlubs need to wash our gear religiously in order for it to not smell like a barn. Fun duct tape keeps dying Velcro together! Alassin Sane/ WFTDA President Electrolyte drink since we’re always dehydrated from travel • Host league merch • Programs Alisha Campbell/WFTDA Tournaments Director As an official, I’m happy to get anything. It’s really the offer and thought that count with me. Anything is better than nothing! Grace Killy/ WFTDA Ex-Officio Local snickersnacks (candies, chips, sodas whatever that are specific to that area if there’s a thing) • some granola or more healthy stuff like fruit or whatever to help people who are on weird eating schedules because they are away from home • mini sewing kit • mini first aid kit (bandaids, athletic tape, scissors because people can’t usually bring those on a flight and won’t have them at an away game) • a reusable water bottle or two in case someone’s forgotten theirs • a cheap bandana or two (same reason) Kimmy Crippler/ WFTDA Membership Officer healthy snacks • water • biofreeze • contact solution (sometimes I forget) • other utilitarian items • small merch items (button, sticker, etc) My favorite bout gift was a cake though. Bar none. Parker Poison/WFTDA Regulatory Officer Bottle of wine and an opener... we had to use a skate tool once. Pantichrist/ WFTDA Officiating Education Director local beer Hope this gives you some ideas and solidifies that alcohol is almost always welcome in a gift basket!

need advice? email | Spring 2016


you are an equal opportunity business, recruit like one B O B N O X I O U S, M A D R O L L I N D O L L S, B R O W N P A P E R T I C K E T S

OK, so I’m calling out roller derby on a point which few ever talk about; why isn’t there a greater ethnic mix within leagues, particularly in the United States, where we have leagues develop within mid-to-gargantuan urban areas? Using the U.S. as an example, the 2014 Census Bureau statistics indicate our population to be comprised as follows1: • 62.1% Caucasian • 17.4 % Hispanic/Latino • 13.2% African American • 5.4% Asian These are HUGE numbers. Nearly 40% of people in the U.S. are NOT Caucasian. Does the current derby environment reflect anything close to this, even for leagues within big cities? Not even close. If you’re interested in seeing the specific demographic makeup of your league’s area, I suggest going to the Census Bureau Quick Facts section whose online address is footnoted at the bottom of this article. Even more eye-opening is the projection the Census Bureau has made for the year 2060. OK, it’s a long way out, but the trend toward a more diverse country will rise every year. By 20602: • 57% of the US is expected to be NON-Caucasian • 33% of the population will be Hispanic • 14.7% African American • 8.2% Asian


Spring 2016 |

The U.S. is becoming a majorityminority nation, where the combined total of the minority population exceeds the Caucasian population. We are the melting pot, right? Does posing this question make you feel uncomfortable? If so, use this as an agent for change and outreach. Don’t simply finish reading this issue and tuck it away on a bookshelf. I’m not looking to point fingers, nor to place blame, because it’s a question ALL of us need to ask ourselves. It stems beyond league government and all the way down to every derby participant to find the reasons. So, as you read this, do so asking yourself what your league has done, or hasn’t done, to open doors to ethnic groups in your area. Roller derby is progressive in the fight against other discriminatory issues We pride ourselves on being open to skaters without prejudice to gender identity nor chosen lifestyle. Roller derby is a sport that was brought back to life by women, has created a worldwide dominance by women’s leagues, addressing gender inequity and the idea that a sport has to be male dominated. Every country has

a different heritage and racial mix, yet I have to believe that a real, concerted effort has not been made to attract skaters of all colors. Derby has not reached out to ethnic areas and our fellow women, men, and children to tell them derby is here and open to all. Traditional marketing efforts do not reach many minorities You might recruit using newspapers or do it online, but it’s obvious the sport hasn’t any real grasp on the cultural differences between the mainstream population and ethnic groups within their city. Your league is a business. It needs to recruit like other businesses. Businesses who advertise for employee recruitment will, generally, lead any recruitment ads and postings with the Acronym “EOE,” translating into “Equal Opportunity Employer.” This is not simply a statement of “if you come to us, we will not discriminate,” it should also represent a measure of steps taken to REACH ethnic groups during the hiring process. Think about how your league recruits. I do believe that most leagues are not discriminatory purposely, but lack the understanding of how to reach potential ethnic candidates.

What does this mean exactly? That many ethnic groups do not read nor tune into the mainstream media outlets in which derby often advertises, so they are excluded. This is obvious when looking at leagues in large metropolitan areas where you would expect a higher integration of ethnicities, yet find them to be overwhelmingly Caucasian. How to balance the scale One way to get ethnic groups to consider joining the ranks of roller derby is through direct outreach. Targeting community centers, boy’s and girl’s clubs (for Juniors), and roller rinks in ethnic neighborhoods where, sometimes, the skate culture is even more prominent than in the core of the city.

Work with members of the league who represent a prominent minority group! Who better to have ideas on getting your foot in the door to other areas of the city than your own members? What about picking the brain of friends who represent a minority? It takes some creativity, but it’s worth it. Yes, for those coming from predominantly Caucasian neighborhoods, it will take some research, discussions, and ingenuity to determine how to recruit from ethnic neighborhoods, but it is worth your time. Actively attracting minority skaters does a number of things: • Projects a better community image.

not exclusive to Caucasian neighborhoods. Opening the door wider for minority skaters brings access to local business interest, as well. Does this help you see recruiting in a different light? I hope so. Your current minority skaters may or may not express the frustration but it exists. This article, and the information it will add to the business materials I will offer to leagues, was motivated by a blog I initially wrote on recruiting in general. Once public, the comment section quickly lit up with one burning question: What about recruiting more minorities? She was right. It was an area totally overlooked that I promised to correct. That makes me no different than others.

Sometimes it takes a small wake-up call to realize there are issues right in our faces that have been neglected. I would say this could be the most important case of neglect sport-wide. Other tactics include advertising on radio stations, in publications, and on community calendars/boards associated with area’s where your ethnic population lives. Local newspapers will often bite at the opportunity to feature a skater from the neighborhood. Pitch your minority skaters as a story to papers written especially for their demographic. No ethnicity should be overlooked.

• Opens yourself to a totally new audience! Skaters recruited in minority dominant neighborhoods will bring in friends, family, and others who are curious about the sport. • A bevy of new sponsorship opportunities present themselves in minority neighborhoods. Selfemployment and ownership of small businesses represents terrific growth in the business sector and that is

Sometimes it takes a small wake-up call to realize there are issues right in our faces that have been neglected. I would say this could be the most important case of neglect sport-wide; however, it doesn’t have to remain that way. Hopefully my wake-up call serves as one to leagues, as well.H 1 Census Bureau Quick Facts. 2 U.S. Census Bureau Projections Show a Slower Growing, Older, More Diverse Nation a Half Century from Now. | Spring 2016


playing roller derby made me a better social media marketer I N S TA S L A M , O K L A H O M A V I C T O R Y D O L L S

I’m Candace Timmons, the University of Oklahoma’s social media marketing manager; formulating strategy, creating content and distributing it to our audiences via our official social media accounts. I’m also InstaSLAM, #84, skater for the Oklahoma Victory Dolls Roller Derby (OKVD) league. For the last several years, my life has consisted of scrimmaging, blocking, jamming, panties, whips, derby kisses, pace lines, penalties, and drills. As much as I love this sport and my teammates, it’s hard on my body and I’m spread too thin. I decided to retire. As I hang up my skates and make the transition to retired skater, I’ve been appreciating how roller derby impacted my life and drawing comparisons between my beloved full-contact sport and the job I’m oh-so-passionate about.

Putting quality time and effort into something is always worth it if it matters to you.


Spring 2016 |

teamwork, yo Roller derby doesn’t recommend teamwork – it demands it. I’ve applied relying on my teammates to my work life and better appreciating my coworkers. You learn about strengths and weaknesses – yours and theirs.

you develop a thicker skin Sometimes, in the heat of a jam, all this “communicating” gets rather boisterous. Sometimes on social media, people blow right past boisterous and are downright nasty. In both situations, it’s OK. It’s not actually OK for people to be nasty, but it’s not a personal attack. Frankly, it’s more of a reflection on them than me or the brand I represent. When it happens, when someone blows up on social media, I get to be the first line of help in rectifying the situation. Unless they’re mad about football. I don’t know football. I know derby.

You learn to have each other’s backs and it’s the best. communication The first several months of derby, I couldn’t transition and communication became important like never before. Where are my teammates? Where is the opposing team? These kinds of things are important to know while skating. As I got better at communicating in derby, I also improved crafting social media messaging and it even became easier to communicate with coworkers.

Communication isn’t necessarily difficult but it is something I have to work extra hard at.

Lesson: Don’t take things personally when they aren’t – and they usually aren’t. Violet Misch-Tif

“if you can learn to skate, you can basically do anything” When I joined OKVD, I had no skating experience. While I lacked the skating ability, I had gumption in spades! Determined to learn something new, make new friends, reintroduce competition into my life, and get a good workout minus the gym, I found my haven. To date, roller derby is the hardest, most enjoyable thing I’ve ever done. Learning this sport and using skills I never knew, gave me a great sense of empowerment I’d never experienced. At work, when trying something new, I don’t let possible failure deter me. Roller derby has made me willing and fearless in trying new things because nothing will ever seem as insurmountable as the first time I laced up my skates.

Shooter Strych9

balanced life I can get an idea stuck in my head and become obsessed with it. It can be good or bad depending on the idea. One of the nice things about roller derby (and our ridiculously long practices) is when I show up for derby, it’s all I can think about. You can’t skate around thinking about work and life. If you’re not paying attention, someone will knock you off your feet.

Derby demands that you are present when you’re there, and it’s taught me to be present in other aspects of my life, as well. when you get knocked down, you get back up – with urgency There’s nothing quite like taking a fullbody hit from someone who has sized you up, placed themselves at just the right angle, gained speed, and nailed you. As much fun as it is to give these hits, it’s equally as unfun to take one. When it happens, you don’t simply get back up – you bounce back up. Your

team is depending on you. At work, when I make a mistake, I fix it – quickly – and move on.

Social media and roller derby move at a lightningfast pace. You have to keep up and react quickly when things go wrong. There is no time for wallowing, literally or figuratively. things don’t always go as planned and that’s just how it is sometimes How I envisioned my last bout: I’d play the whole thing and high-five the circle of fans after our victory. How it actually went: I got ejected for egregious blocking right after halftime, went to the locker room, and fell to pieces. I did not get to skate the post-bout lap, but I did have to fill out ejection paperwork. Obviously not the way I thought my derby career would end. But I wasn’t in the locker room sobbing alone for long before I was

joined by league mates offering encouragement and comfort. For the record, I did (and still do) not agree with the call to eject me, but I did have to accept and comply with it. Recently, at work I threw a ton of time and effort into a project that totally flopped. Ugh. Nothing left to do but pull it, evaluate, and try again. It’s not ideal, but nothing is going to be ideal 100 percent of the time.

The key is to never stop learning and growing, no matter what you are doing. I think I found roller derby when I needed to find it. It’s been tough with both work and derby competing for my time. Both are rewarding in their own ways and each has made me better at the other. I already miss it oh-so-much but the beautiful thing about derby is you can still be involved in some capacity post-retirement and I plan to be OKVD and WFTDA’s biggest fan this coming season.H | Spring 2016


blisters S I N F U L S A L LY, R O C K F O R D R A G E W O M E N ’ S R O L L E R D E R B Y ( R E T I R E D )

blister prevention 1. keep your feet clean, dry and well kempt Easier said than done, but it really does wonders. Dry feet will cause less irritation to the skin than moist feet. Change your socks frequently. Sounds like a chore, but if you keep your feet dry, you have less of a chance to create a spot that will have excess friction. When we do off-skates training at practice, I bring a change of socks to put on before we start skating, and recently, I have started changing my socks at half time of bouts. I’ve discovered that my hot spots don’t develop until close to halftime, simply because my feet are hot and sweaty. With changing socks midway, there is less of a chance that another nasty blister will form. 2. minimize friction Baby power, skin lube, deodorant or Vaseline lightly rubbed on one of your hotspots before putting socks on will reduce friction. Other friction fighters that work well include (believe it or not) duct tape, Blist-O-Ban ( and Engo blister prevention pads ( and items like Silipo Skate Bite Protector sleeves ( or Clear Clouds sleeves ( have special gel pads to protect hot spots. 3. wear the appropriate socks The right socks can make or break you. We all want the

about blisters Blisters are simply caused by friction, which ends up separating layers of skin from one another and can fill with fluid. Blisters typically form anywhere there is extra friction, added moisture, or “hot spots.” Moist/warm conditions are perfect for blister harvesting, and anyone who skates derby knows that we could make millions in the blister making business. Blood blisters are more bothersome and irritating. They appear when all layers of skin are irritated and affect the deep tissue, causing blood vessels to rupture. In my case, my past few “friends” have all been blood blisters. They aren’t pleasant, take longer to heal, and are just plain irritating. So what’s a girl to do when prone to blisters?


Spring 2016 |

C Tasmin Brown Photography

I have a new blister. Its name is Beatrice. I’ve gotten to know Bud, Bruce, Buzz and many others over the past few years. When I was in college, I played volleyball and was an Athletic Training Major (division of sports medicine). My fellow athletic training students dreaded my visits to the athletic training room for daily practice and got sick of looking at my feet during our care and prevention of injuries class. My feet were horrible. At one point, during volleyball season, I had deep “holes” in both balls of my feet from blisters that had ripped open. It was awful and awesome at the same time. Eight years later, I have come to terms with having “Frankenstein” feet. Just 3.5 years of derby have taken a serious toll on my once beautiful and well manicured footsies, and the aforementioned “friends” I have made have taught me more than I ever wish to know about blisters. I’ve been through an endless amount of padding, blister care supplies, and athletic tape. I have bunions, bunionettes, calluses, and of course, the dreaded blister. I’ve tried everything to help prevent them and to heal them quickly once they appear. You could say I’m somewhat of an expert, so I thought I would share with all of you.

newest, most badass socks from our favorite derby apparel website, but many of these socks are made from materials that increase the chance of forming blisters. A study out of the University of Missouri-Columbia showed that 100% cotton socks are the worst for holding moisture and causing blisters. In fact, the study further found that nylon socks help prevent blisters the best. Any runner, marathoner or triathlete will tell you not to wear cotton socks. A blended sock of nylon, wool or polyester will wick away sweat and keep your tootsies dry. My new fave socks are made by SmartWool (not trying to sell the socks, it’s just what has worked for me). I’ve owned these socks for a few years for hiking but just started wearing them for derby within the last six months and have seen great results. If you still want to wear your fun, new knee highs, cut off the foot at the ankle of the sock and make them into “leg warmers”, leaving the foot part open for whatever socks suit your feet best. You can still look cute, but have blisterless feet. 4. wear properly sized footwear If your skate boots are too big, your feet will move more inside of them and cause more friction and hotspots. Make sure, when purchasing your next set of skates, they fit properly. Also, lacing your skate boots properly (based on your own unique foot issues) can be a big help. You can find some great lacing techniques online at IAN’s Shoe Lace website So you have already developed the “Blister from Hell” OR “Beatrice”; what should you do NOW? blister treatment There are so many products out there to help with blister

treatment. What works and what doesn’t can really depend on the person, their skin, their blister (size and type) and your skate boot. I’ve tried it all and below are some of my favorite items that have worked well me. • 2nd skin burn pads ( My number one choice. These come in rectangular, square and circle pieces and can be found at some drug stores. They can be cut to size to fit your blister. They are a bit pricey, but they really cushion a hot spot or existing blister. • Mole skin ( or felt/foam pads. A contender for best item to use. Both work great if used correctly. Make sure to cut a hole in the mole skin or padding just slightly larger than your blister. The blister will sit inside of the padding and be protected from the inside of your skate boot. • Blister Band-Aids/Advanced Healing Band-Aids ( These work great on minor blisters, but not well with your more involved blood blister. These dressings have a breathable center that will fill with air and cushion your blister as it heals. They are waterproof and meant to stay on the area for several days. Be careful with these though, as you don’t want to have to peel them off before the healing process is completed. If you do, you can end up ripping the blister and making blister treatment more complicated. should I lance the sucker? My personal/professional opinion = NO. It can lead to infection, ripped blisters and more problems; however there are some of you who will do it anyway. *Read as: “I’m not condoning this, however if you do here’s what to do” (you can find it on the internet anyway).* • Clean the area thoroughly. • Sterilize a needle and allow it to cool. • Create a SMALL pinprick, as you don’t want to create an open space for infection or cause any tearing of the top layers of skin. • Drain the fluid by pressing on the blister with a sterile gauze pad. • Dress the newly deflated blister with antibiotic ointment and cover with a Band-Aid or other sterile dressing. Remember that the above is only a last resort. I’ve been a Certified Athletic Trainer for eight years and I’ve lanced a blister only once or twice when really needed. Take care of your hooves... happy blister free skating.H | Spring 2016





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Dates, a simple carbohydrate rich in glucose, means that your body does not need to convert it into a different form in order to utilize the glucose. So as soon as those dates hit your liver, the energy is readily available, giving you that boost to make it through a workout or bout without bonking. Tart cherries are a delicious way to combat inflammation. Research has shown that consuming tart cherries or tart cherry juice post workout relieves pain and inflammation comparable to ibuprofen without being taxing on your liver. So enjoy these gems pre or post activity or just because they are yummy and good for you.

ingredients 3

⁄4 cup dates ⁄ 2 cup dried tart cherries 1 ⁄ 2 cup raw almonds 2 tablespoons raw cacao nibs 1 teaspoon ground ginger 2 tablespoons water pinch of sea salt 1

Place ingredients (except for water) into a medium sized bowl and toss until mixed well. Transfer to a food processor. Add 1 tablespoon of water and pulse until mixture is a rough paste. Add another tablespoon of water if needed. Consistency should be moist and dough-ish. Remove from food processor using a spatula to scrape down sides. Roll into small balls. Place in freezer for 30 minutes to set. Bring to room temperature before eating. | Spring 2016


concussion from the inside C U LTA S K A R O, B O S T O N R O L L E R D E R B Y

On Aug. 1, 2015, I was jamming in a home team bout in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I was being held by two of BRD’s best blockers, and took a solid hit to my chest while trying to maneuver my way out of their trap. I was launched backwards and made hard contact with the floor but got up quickly and kept skating. I skated in another jam or two before I started to feel a little unfocused. I told my bench manager that I thought I needed a break from jamming for a few minutes, but I could still go in to block. By the time I was on the track again, I started to feel that something was really wrong. I was confused and light headed, my movements felt delayed, and everything seemed a little foggy. I asked to sit down for minute, telling my manager that I couldn’t be sure, but I may have hit my head. Fortunately, my team took that news very seriously. My team captain is a nurse and a medical student, so when she got off the track, I repeated what I had said. “You’re done,” she told me. I tried to protest a bit. I mean, I couldn’t even remember if I had hit my head. I remembered hitting the floor, but no, I was almost positive I hadn’t made any contact with my head. I could just be dehydrated. It was so God-awful hot that day, afterall, and I probably wasn’t drinking enough water. “If there’s a chance you may have a head injury, you’re not skating anymore,” she replied, adding that if I felt like I needed to get away from the noise and the light, I could go to the locker room. I did and another league mate followed and got the EMTs. I remember teammates insisting I should go to the doctor immediately, but I had a high emergency room copay at the time and wanted to wait to see my own doctor, so I kept refusing. I was still pretty sure I was fine at this point and was getting really irritated with everyone, much more so than was

reasonable (which happens to be a sign of a brain injury). I was annoyed that no one had handed me my water bottle even though I hadn’t even asked for it. When I got home, I was fuming that my partner didn’t empty my gear bag as soon as we walked in, which again, wasn’t even a thing I indicated I wanted. It was really out of character for me, and I still cringe thinking of the way I acted that night. My partner, who has also been concussed playing derby before, had gotten detailed instructions from another nurse on the team about what to look for while monitoring me that night. Above all else, they were told that if they had any doubts at all, they needed to just take me to the hospital. No one wanted me to go home and they were certainly not going to allow me to go without ensuring I would be watched. When I saw my doctor, she immediately diagnosed me with a moderate concussion, though she didn’t think there was a high enough risk of bleeding to warrant a CT scan. I was told not to do anything for a few weeks, and she really meant anything. No working, no writing, no reading, no driving, no TV and definitely no activity. She said if I was really, really bored, I could listen to shows but shouldn’t watch the screen, and it needed to be something mindless or that I had seen a lot before so I wasn’t straining my brain trying to follow the plot lines. That’s how serious a concussion is, which I had never realized before. I was getting headaches a lot, so she gave me a pretty heavy-duty migraine medication. It didn’t help that much with the pain, but it did allow me to sleep for hours of the day which killed time, since I couldn’t do anything else. I’m not person who handles sitting still well. I can’t even type at my desk for too long without needing to take a walk or even just pace back in forth in my room for a few minutes. Listening to the doctor’s orders was incredibly difficult, but

I was told not to do anything for a few weeks, and she really meant anything. No working, no writing, no reading, no driving, no TV and definitely no activity.


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Preflash Gordon

every time I thought I was okay enough to watch a movie or try to do some work, the headaches would intensify and I’d have to lie down. After a few weeks, when I got the okay from my doctor to try light activity, I went back to skates and did non-contact drills. More time and more doctor follow-ups later and I was cleared to try contact again. That whole time my team was very strict with me about what I was and was not allowed to do, which was incredibly important. The thing with brain injuries is that the people who have them aren’t really thinking clearly, even when they’re convinced that they are. It’s critical that leagues stick to their concussion recovery plans, which for WFTDA leagues should align with the organization’s policy, section six of the Safety Protocol. Concussed skaters are not allowed to skate. If a skater is suspected of having a concussion, they need to sit for a minimum of 20 minutes to be evaluated. If they show signs of a concussion, they cannot return to play until they’ve been cleared by a medical professional. Concussion symptoms include, but are not limited to, headache, dizziness, balance issues, amnesia, drowsiness, and sudden mood changes. A loss of consciousness or seizure are especially significant signs of a brain injury.

The injury may not seem obvious at first; I’m still pretty sure that I didn’t even hit my head, but it definitely shook hard when I hit the floor, which is enough to cause concussion. It’s not as simple as seeing a teammate fall, smack their head on the ground, and pass out. The signs can be subtle, but the consequences of ignoring them can be serious. Concussions themselves are incredibly dangerous injuries, but the risks they bring increase dramatically with repeat occurrences. Each successive concussion will take longer to heal than the first did and lasting impacts are more likely. Getting a concussion while still healing from one that already exists is especially dangerous and may be linked to long-term health effects or cognitive damage. While doctors are understanding now more than ever before how serious brain injuries are to athletes, there is still a lot that they have yet to uncover. Leagues need to take a hard stand on concussion recovery to protect their skaters and to protect themselves from possible legal ramifications or WFTDA sanctions that could occur if the league willfully ignores a player’s safety and allows them to play with a brain injury.H

Concussions themselves are incredibly dangerous injuries, but the risks they bring increase dramatically with repeat occurrences. Each successive concussion will take longer to heal than the first did and lasting impacts are more likely. | Spring 2016


the sacred bench P U N C H Y O ’ G U T S, R E S U R G A M R O L L E R D E R B Y

The bench. Some people think of it as simply the place they sit until they get to play roller derby. For the skaters hoping for a chance to go in, the bench can be a holding cell. For the players who are getting their ass beat, it can be a much-needed place of rest. For a coach, it can be unbridled chaos. The bench is none of these things. It should be a sacred and focused space. Preparation and communication are crucial elements of developing a focused bench. Everyone on the team has responsibilities. If you are not in the jam, you should be discussing the plan with the other teammates who are going in the next jam. If you aren’t written in many (or any) jams, you should be analyzing the jam in play – counting points to make sure your team receives them all, watching penalties and ref calls, and observing how your opponents are successful and how they can be shut down. There is no time for bullshit. When you are on the bench, you must be just as focused as if you are in the jam. If a coach knows there are some skaters on the bench who will not be playing, they should assign them a job, so each skater is actively participating in the team’s success. Success, however, must be clearly defined and communicated through a set of goals. “Win” is not a clear goal. “Win by 50+ points” is better, but should be followed up with a solid plan of how to do that. Does that mean that you will be running jams for the full two minutes at times? Does that mean that you will be changing your lineups often to counteract your


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opponents? Every person on the team must know what the goals are and how to achieve them so there are no disagreements about what is supposed to happen. Arguing on the bench is a HARD NO. It should never happen. If everyone knows their job and is clear about their goals and how to achieve them, there should be nothing to argue about. Being prepared for a game is just the foundation of creating a focused bench. Many people can agree to their responsibilities but get caught up in the mental, emotional, and physical impact of the game. I’ve been on a bench where everything went to complete shit. Teammates were yelling at each other, the bench manager was kicking chairs, and the coach was arguing with officials. Loudly. Not only

Success, however, must be clearly defined and communicated through a set of goals.

is this incredibly embarrassing, but it also cost us the game. I’ve also been on the other end of that in which I’ve seen my opponent’s bench unravel and the point spread grow larger and larger in my team’s favor. No one can focus if the bench is not calm. Keeping a calm bench starts with strong leadership. The coaches must lead by example. If the coaches are yelling and complaining and getting heated, the players will feel that things are out of control. Some may feel that they need to make decisions on their own, which breaks the team unity. Coaches must stay calm and focused, especially when under pressure, so that they model the behavior they seek from the players. Some of the most common unwanted behaviors are having a bad attitude, yelling at officials or teammates, and individual playing (going against the team’s plan). When I’m coaching, I make it clear what I expect of players: everything you do should help the team in some way. If that is unclear, ask yourself before making a decision “will this harm or help the team?” Does complaining on the bench about the

Evan Shanks

officials or the opponents help the team? Does throwing a fit in the middle of a jam help the team? Does it help the team when you say nasty comments to your teammates? Does it help the team when you are shouting over your coach? Does it help the team when you argue with an official about the penalty you just received? No, no, no, no, and NO! Any time a skater engages in these behaviors they are making that moment about themselves and not about the team. They risk infecting their teammates with their shitty, toxic attitude. A coach must have a zero tolerance policy for behavior that harms the team. This means that you quickly deal with problematic skaters before they infect the bench. Sometimes that means sitting them when they were supposed to be playing, and sometimes that means asking them

to leave the bench. This includes your strongest players, who can quickly become the team’s worst nightmare if they are focused on themselves rather than the team. You are better off

are a contributing member at ALL times. Be grateful that you are part of the team, and be respectful of the team. There is no place for ego. Only teamwork. Work out your shit before you put on that uniform. The bench is the sacred space where individuals come together with a shared goal. It’s where you communicate, refocus, and connect. It’s the home base of operations, where everyone has responsibilities and must work together to succeed. In short, bench etiquette goes like this: Coaches (captains or whoever is the designated team leadership), you must communicate goals, give everyone a job, lead by example, and handle shit immediately. Skaters, you must stay focused, do your team job, and don’t make it about you. Just take your Act Right, and everything will be smooth and professional!H

The bench is the sacred space where individuals come together with a shared goal. It’s where you communicate, refocus, and connect. It’s the home base of operations, where everyone has responsibilities and must work together to succeed. removing the skater than allowing them to infect the team, otherwise, you may spend your focus and energy on dealing with one skater than doing your actual job, which is coaching the whole team. If you are a skater who is guilty of bad behaviors, it’s time to recognize how you negatively impact the team and how you can change so that you | Spring 2016


herbal derby

Gypsy Wagon Apothecary and fiveonfive present

A user friendly cookbook focusing on the medicinal properties of 5 popular kitchen herbs.

By detailing their medicinal properties along with some entertaining facts and applications, users of this book begin to understand how our food can become delicious medicine. With a few simple adjustments, Herbal Derby can easily accommodate every dietary requirement for optimal health and vitality. available at


changing focus K AT E R U N N E L S, S O U T H E R N O R E G O N R O L L E R G I R L S

Anyone who has ever played or coached a sport knows about plateaus and has probably gone through the frustration of trying to break out of a plateau and advance in their respective sport. I have found through teaching derby and skating, that to get those intermediate and beginning skaters to break out of their plateau is to change their focus; to get them to focus on something else rather than on their skating. Beginning skaters in this stage of their training, may still be a bit wobbly, but have adequate balance; can skate at a reasonable speed; and can safely fall, but have been at this stage for a month or longer. They may spend much of practice staring at their skates or focused on maintaining correct derby stance and body position. They don’t get much out of a practice. So the skaters I’m focusing on for this article are your fresh meats or those just on the verge of passing their skill assessment tests. You veterans can still try this but you might not get as much out of it skill-wise. For example, veterans are on the slopes of Everest, whereas the beginners are just starting their hike up Hogsback Hill. They crest the hill and start on a bigger mountain, and you only turn a corner on Everest. I’ve tried a lot of things over the years, and this one came out of the blue at a practice the other night. We have a young woman nearing the point she could pass the assessments. She progressed fairly fast and is now stalled; plateaued.


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Why did this happen to her? It took me several practices to figure it out. And it came to me when she approached me to ask how and what she could do to work on her balance. I had noticed before that at the first instance of feeling out of balance or uncomfortable on her skates, or at the gentlest nudge, she would fall to her knees. Quite safely, I must say, and she would pop right back up onto her wheels and continue with the drill. Seeing this, I told her to try and not fall at all during that night’s practice. I know that sounds odd, and she actually fell more during that practice, but she tried to stay up, instead of falling at the first sign of trouble. She was making passes around blockers, she was transitioning easier, she pushed herself beyond what she could do by focusing on something different and had a wonderful practice. She had changed

Forcing them to focus on something other than skating, they paid less attention to their skating... In effect their skating improved.

her focus from her skates to staying upright and off the floor. By no longer concentrating directly on her skating, she skated better. For that very reason, I love playing different games during practices. I have even made some of my teammates use a hockey stick and ball and skate around the track or around cones with basic stick handling. And for those of you who have never played, it is very difficult to keep the ball under control and in your possession. So after about five minutes of them with stick and ball, I take those away from them and have them go through the same drill again. Without the stick and ball, they went through much easier and faster. Forcing them to focus on something other than skating, I was able to get them to pay less attention to their skating, so that second time through the drill they were still in the mind set of having a stick and ball. In effect their skating improved. Or put another way, they were getting out of their own way and letting their body take over what it knew how to do. I understand that not everyone has roller hockey sticks and balls available. In fact, hardly anyone does, which is why I like playing games at practices. Online, I saw a derby program that was practicing in a school gym and they

Randy Stadler

played basketball. I love that idea. I like playing dodge ball myself. But it has the same idea behind it. Changing the focus from skating to a different goal will make for better skaters. And the better each individual skater on your team, the stronger your team will be. I have also adapted a soccer drill into a hockey drill. Or it was a hockey drill into a soccer drill. I can’t remember, but now I’m using it as a derby warm-up drill if you would like to try it. It requires one or two dodge balls, basketballs, playground balls, or

something similar. For soccer and hockey, it is a follow your pass drill. Have line 1 and line 2 face each other about 10-15 feet apart on their separate starting cones. 1 starts with the ball. 1 passes to 2 and then skates toward 2, staying outside and on the right or 1 will get hit with the pass as 2 passes back to the next person in line on 1. 3 and 4 are doing the same on their side. After everyone has gone through at least once, take away the ball from 3. Starting again with 1. 1 passes to 2.

2 passes to 3. 3 passes to 4. 4 passes to 1. Each person rotating to the next cone. To increase the difficulty, add the second ball back in. staggering the passes. So 2 pass to 3 and skate and then have 1 pass to the 2 position. Or 1 passes to 2 skates toward to who passes back. 1 catches and passes back to 2. 2 then passes to 3. 3 passes it back to 2, who passes back to 3 who send it on to 4, and so on. Circles are cones and the lines are the direction the skaters should skate.H

Change the focus from skating to a different goal will make for better skaters. And the better each individual skater on your team, the stronger your team will be. | Spring 2016


DRILL drill: two-point touch

purpose: to practice touching each other as much as possible; to practice effective blocking while going slow; to practice using each others’ bodies and senses on the track; to practice team-blocking; to practice communication

Jules Doyle

In this drill, skaters will go in groups of three onto the track and work together to block one opponent. Start by getting all of your skaters into four lines. Three of the lines are for blockers, and the last line is for the opponent. The first skater from each blocker line will get onto the track and form a tight-knit group of blockers, and the first skater from the opponent line will start just slightly behind the blockers and try to get by them. The blockers have one lap in which to work hard to block the opponent and really slow her down. When the lap is complete, they get back into line, making sure that they practice team-blocking 3 out of 4 times, and that they act as the opponent 1 out of 4 times (hence the four lines). The main idea of this drill is that while they are blocking they should be constantly touching – a minimum of two points of each blockers’ body needs to always be touching another skater. That could mean you touching someone with both hands, someone else touching you with both hands, or one person touching you with one hand while you touch someone else with your other hand. Either way, two points on your body should always be touching another blocker. The blockers are also to use each other, use each others’ bodies, and use each others’ senses. That could mean pushing your body off another skater (while remaining in contact with them), holding on to another skater’s hips and acting as the group booty while said person is acting as the eyes forward, pushing a teammate’s body into the way of the opponent (while still remaining in contact with them, of course) – basically you use each other and thus all together become one super-human (or super-blocker, really). While touching each other and using each others’ bodies, verbal communication is key. The blockers should be constantly telling each other where the opponent is and what direction they are going in. When skaters practice using both verbal and physical communication at the same time like this, it really improves their teamwork and team-blocking skills. drill courtesy of


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leather repair and maintenance I L A N A G O R D O N, Q U E E N C I T Y R O L L E R G I R L S

If you are like me, your first pair of “real” derby skates are the first set of quality leather anything you’ve ever owned. You’ve probably heard the basics, such as, don’t leave them in the car or get them wet, but how do you really maintain those boots?

restoration and repair 1. Clean • Remove laces and wheels. Duct tape residue can be removed by going slowly up the scale of solvents – very carefully using a wrung out soap and water rag, and then citrus solvent, finally a tiny bit of goo-gone if you can’t get it off. • Use a very lightly damp cloth to remove any dirt. You can add light soap and water if your boot is very dirty or you


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are doing a restoration. Lastly, you can also use a toothbrush or gentle brush to remove any stubborn dirt. • Clean with a leather conditioner like Lexol. Apply lexol to a paper towel and rub it all over the boot. 2. Polish • Working with black boots allows you to take advantage of boot polish, which can almost act to heal the leather itself. • Apply polish all over the boot. • If you are working with white boots you may need to get boot paint to cover any scuffs, white polish will not cover up scrapes in the leather sufficiently. • Brush boot with a very light brush, preferably a boot brush. You can get a basic shoe kit at any general store with boot polish and a brush. Boot should now look shiny. • But wait! I have a suede boot, such as a moxi. How do I polish that? The answer is DON’T. Polish and water will kill suede. Suede can be maintained by gently brushing with a shoe brush (or a very gentle brush) to remove dust. Be sure that you are going with the grain and not scraping the suede. Suede can be waterproofed to protect it from dirt and damage. I recommend Atsko Silicone Water Guard. Be sure to silicone spray the inside of your boots as well, which cannot be polished. This will keep harmful sweat moisture away from the lining.H

Gregory Scott Baxley

moisture is the enemy of leather Let’s face it, leather is dead cow (sorry vegans). Dead cow is flesh, and what does flesh do when it is kept dark, damp, and moist... like all formerly living things? It decomposes. Keep them dry. Don’t treat your skates like toys, treat them like an essential tool. Find a place where you can hang them up and dry them out after every practice. No, your car doesn’t count. If you think you are going to forget, a Skate noose might be right for you. This goes for non-leather skates too. If you get them wet skating outside, dry them off (heck it doesn’t hurt to dust off your wheels and bearings now and again either). Then leave them in a dry area in your house with the tongues open so the inside can dry out. Another important upkeep tip is to protect the toes of your boots. Since roller derby skaters do a lot falling drills and aggressive maneuvers, we have to prevent scuffs and scratches. No duct tape. If you absolutely cannot stand a toe cap, use hockey tape, not duct tape, it will remove the top layer of leather (or vinyl). | Spring 2016


2016 wftda tournaments O X F O R D C O M M A K A Z E , F R E E S TAT E R O L L E R D E R B Y

It’s not just that you can attend this year’s WFTDA Playoffs and Championships – it’s that maybe, deep down, you need to. It’s not just the killer skills you’ll be inspired to try after seeing your favorite derby stars nail them, or the high-level strategy you can bring back to your own team, it’s that maybe, after pouring your blood, sweat, and tears (sometimes literally) into skating your hardest, after putting in so much time running your league it’s practically another full-time job, beyond sacrificing time with your friends and family so you can do this crazy thing on eight wheels all the time – maybe you deserve to just relax and take a moment to have fun watching before resuming your busy derby career. Here are 10 things to look forward to as we move from regular season play to post-season. 1. The images, taglines and campaigns The WFTDA marketing machine can crank out some pretty eye-catching campaigns highlighting everything awesomely athletic (and awesomely weird) about our sport. From “for the love of flat track” to “There’s tough, and then there’s roller derby tough”, there’s always something that encapsulates the spirit and intensity of WFTDA roller derby. And what better way to share your love of the sport with your non-derby friends (those mythical, magical unicorns) than a short and punchy meme from your favorite evil marketing geniuses at the WFTDA?

“The WFTDA marketing team basically generates over 400 unique pieces of creative every tournament season,” explains Jenna “Mia Culprit” Cloughley, WFTDA Marketing and Communication Manager. “From posters to medals to merch to website banners to billboards to social share images (and on and on), it takes about ten dedicated volunteers and a full-time staff member to manage deadlines, messaging, and use of all creative.”


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2. Finding out where and how you can watch all the derby, ESPN3, ESPNW, Derby Central, and all offer high-level, thorough coverage of the sport. For those of us staying at home and participating from the comfort of our own couches via the magic of technology, the evolving broadcast coverage of the sport makes even the act of watching WFTDA derby a revolutionary endeavor. The WFTDA’s in-house teams are developing better and faster ways for fans to watch the top level games, and other organizations, like ESPN, are engaging us for even greater coverage.

“Last season, we saw the Division 1 and Division 2 storylines evolve right along with the coverage, which was thrilling as a fan,” says Erica Vanstone “Double H”, WFTDA Director of Broadcast Operations. “Our top D2 game from Detroit was played all over again on Championships Sunday in Saint Paul, with Nashville and Sacred City competing – but with different results! And to see the increasing strength of gameplay in the top 10 D1 teams of the WFTDA brings the type of gameday tension that fans have been craving. This year it’ll be exciting to see some of last season’s

joe mac

contenders on and beyond – especially because in 2016, anyone who wants a shot at the Hydra may need to beat Rose City on their home turf in Portland, Oregon, at Championships to take it!” 3. WHO IS PLAYING WHERE?? Forget Kim Kardashian – it’s WFTDA breaking the Internet on July 15. When the WFTDA releases teams and placements for each location on that mid-July date, the internet goes crazy. Websites break traffic records, Facebook posts get shared around the world, and rumor has it one WFTDA marketing team member’s phone broke when she hit the “share” button too excitedly, causing her to launch her phone into a bowl of cereal. Who will squeak into the Playoffs and overtake another team? What tournament will wind up with the greatest rivalries? This is *THE* most important day in Playoffs planning and everyone knows it.

“Even though rankings are finalized June 30, WFTDA committees start a couple months in advance to put all the pieces together for the tournament brackets,” says WFTDA Managing Director of Games Karen “Bones” Kuhn. “We make sure teams are eligible, approve location requests, design brackets and estimate travel

expenses so we are ready to go once we have the final rankings. It’s like all the preparation you do before the starting whistle of the game. We prepare as much as we can in advance so that we’re ready to jam the moment we get the final rankings from our Rankings Committee. Tweet and we’re off!” 4. Location, Location, Location Every year, Tournament Director Alisha Campbell has the honor of working with WFTDA member leagues who have applied to host a WFTDA tournament. Reviewing applications, working with local sports and tourism councils, and choosing venues – this is one of the hardest, and most important steps in every Playoffs season. Would you believe the work starts in March for the following year’s bid cycle? Finding the right combination of venue price, accessibility, dates, high-quality Internet, and proximity to hotels are just a few of the many factors that go into selection.

“You might think that the week leading up to Champs is when the pressure is on, but by far the hardest and most anxiety-driven time during the tournament cycle is selecting the hosts and locations,” Campbell says. “When the derby | Spring 2016


community looks at Playoffs and Championships as the best of what our sport has to offer, there is an immense amount of stress to do better than the time before. Just as the athletes continue to push what we think is possible in roller derby, the manner in which we showcase the sport at the elite level, both onsite and through WFTDA broadcast channels, continues to evolve. The enthusiasm and attention to detail of the host leagues is critical in the success of our tournaments.” 5. The Team Campaigns Around June/July, teams start to fundraise for and promote their trip to WFTDA Playoffs. Remember this amazing London Brawling video for Fort Wayne’s World that inspired teams around the world? Watch it now. It’s 3 minutes and 48 seconds of your life you will not want to get back. Or how about Bear City’s IndieGoGo campaign, in which you could get yourself some sweet Berlinthemed kicks instead of the typical bandana-and-sticker swag? Get your wallets ready for 2016, because you won’t want to miss out on the creative (and often exclusive) goods you can grab in this year’s round of fundraising campaigns. 6. Volunteer, watch roller derby, repeat. You know those people wearing the pink shirts that say WFTDA Official, or holding down the center track in black and white stripes? Of course you do – they are some of the most visible volunteers in the WFTDA. But you might not know that almost everyone sitting on the dais, or anyone cleaning the track, taking photos trackside, writing the game recaps, live tweeting the game, setting up vendors and hanging banners, announcing, and more, are all volunteer positions they applied for months in advance. One of the perks of a volunteer job is getting insider knowledge on whatever position you’ve volunteered for. Want to know more about marketing? Being a league Photography Wrangler gives you one-on-one time with both the Marketing Officer and Marketing and Communications Manager of the WFTDA. How about behindthe-scenes action on the track? A security shift as a bouncer in the team areas lets you see your favorite teams in their warm-up rituals right under your nose. It’s a bonus that keeps on giving.


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7. Adding stamps to your passport Your bags are packed, your derby-chic fanny pack and neckerchief are at the ready – now you just have to grab your passport. No matter where you’re from, you’ll get the chance to add some fancy border stamps to your passport as the WFTDA Playoffs continue to expand internationally. With the 2016 D1 Playoffs split evenly between Canada and the United States, you’re bound to find a great tournament-turned-vacation destination. Make sure you’ve got plenty of pages in your passport – it’s Canada and the US this year, but next year, who knows? 8. The totally awesome people that attend WFTDA tournaments It takes a village to make these events awesome, and our village is pretty fantastic. You know that if you’re paying to go to this event, you’re going to be with “your people”. You don’t have to know their names, you just know that they love what you love. If you’ve ever been to WFTDA Championships, you know it’s so packed it can be hard to find who you came with. But, while looking for your friends (and you always do find them – eventually, and maybe with a little more glitter and face paint than when you left them), you might make a few new buds standing trackside cheering for your favorite team. Or maybe you took advantage of the VIP seating available at the 2015 Champs and found out the person assigned to the seat next to you just happens to be your derby soulmate. Making plans to see those (fun and totally awesome people) is part of building on your WFTDA tournament experience. 9. The strategies Every blocker and jammer knows their team and strategy needs to come together for Playoffs. If you’re not ready for Playoffs, you’re not skating at Champs. AMIRITE? What that means is you see the best, most refined, and strongest strategies from the top teams in the sport for strategy ideas, motivational tips, and just plain inspiration. It’s also fun to take a peek at the WFTDA Archives and see how strategies have changed over time. Watch a team participate and see how they’ve changed from 2012 through to now. Got a skater you want to emulate? See what they looked like four years ago and what they had to learn to be who they are today. It’s all on!

10. The excitement of Champs So they won The Hydra for the first time in 2015, and decided to save the WFTDA a shipping charge on that cast iron trophy (that, together with its crate weighs 80 lbs) by hosting the 2016 International WFTDA Championships in their home of Portland, Oregon. We’re talking about the Rose City Rollers, of course. With a strong fan base at home and away (as evident by the sea of purple at 2015 Champs), it’s hard to tell what will be more thrilling: watching the Wheels of Justice demand the best challenge their opponents can bring, or watching the world’s top teams try to topple their throne. It’s hard to imagine a more thrilling game than the 2015 Championships, but somehow, we suspect that watching Gotham try to reclaim the Hydra – and other teams trying to make it past both prior Champions – will be worth the airfare.H

r arzwalde Jean Schw | Spring 2016


junior derby gear J E N N I F E R S A V A G L I O A K A L A P E T I T E M O R T, F A S T G I R L S K AT E S

With the huge growth of Junior Roller Derby in the U.S. and all over the world, I wanted to give parents an overview of what they are in store for if their child wants to begin playing. Our mission at Fast Girl Skates is education above all. Therefore, what follows is information based on our experience in the store helping hundreds of Juniors and parents. I am including some tips as well, but it is ultimately up to the parent to decide what is most important and/or the best value for your Junior skater. Let’s start with size and stature. Some Juniors have grown enough that they can wear adult sizes, so the information below is primarily for skaters that are smaller. skates One of the most important things to most parents when buying skates for their Junior is value. Meaning quality and cost effectiveness. It is easy for some parents to fall into the trap of heading down to the local “all sports” or “big box” store and buying their child a $50 set of skates that are more like toys, just to have to almost immediately shell out another $150 to get a pair actually suited for the rigors of derby. I have often been witness to the moment when a parent realizes it would have been better to just buy a more expensive pair to begin with. Some other parents have their Junior hit a growth spurt or two within a shorter span than expected and find themselves needing to replace the skates sooner than they thought. Here’s what you are in for, in no particular order, as well as some factors to consider and common questions that I have been asked over the years: 1. How long will my Junior be able to wear these/how long will these last? It depends on the skater, how much they wear them, where they wear them (indoor/outdoor), and how well they take care of them. One season is usually a good benchmark. If they are hard on their other shoes and boots, that is a good indicator they will be hard on their skates. Protect them with toe guards and duct tape, or plan to replace them before the skater outgrows them.


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2. If my Junior’s skates are in good enough shape when she outgrows them or decides not to continue roller derby, is it easy to sell them? It depends on how strong your area’s junior program is. That said, it doesn’t take a whole lot of participation to create a need for a wide range of junior sizes. That’s where Craigslist and/or a local skate shop can usually help you consign them. You can also use your Junior derby community Facebook or forum to advertise used skates. 3. I found some skates on consignment or in Craiglist. How do you know they are safe? For skates purchased from a private party on Craigslist or a forum, there is a good bit of common sense that needs to be employed. Do they look like they have been well taken care of and/or barely used? Are they very dirty, especially inside the wheel hubs? While dirt and grime are a fact of nearly any practice space, overly dirty skates can indicate a lack of basic maintenance and may lead to the need to replace parts soon. Does the boot have any spots that have been worn though (make sure to check under toe guards), or is the sole separating? If yes, I would stay away. Check the plate, trucks, and wheels. Do you see any rust on the metal parts? If so it could indicate the skates have been left in a wet bag or used in the rain. Rust not only attacks bearings, but also important attachment hardware and can spell trouble down the road. Finally, are the wheels chipped, coned (outside of the wheel is smaller than the inside), or separating from the hub? Any of these probably indicate a new set of wheels is in your near future so keep that in mind when considering the price. And keep in mind that wheels are about $50-$100 for a set of 8. For skates purchased on consignment from a rink or a local derby shop, the retailer should have corrected any of these issues or should be up front on how much more wear is left on any of the components. This is tricky for a retailer as even new skates

can have unexpected and unseen problems develop. Just use your best judgment and ask questions. If you feel you are not getting straightforward answers, maybe a new skate is a safer way to go. Finally, as with all skates, just because a second hand skate is a good deal, doesn’t necessarily mean it is a good skate for your Junior. This article’s advice applies just as much to the second hand skate as it does to the new one.

Alternatively, there are plenty of other skates that come in sizes down to men’s size 1. They however do not allow for 3 sizes of growth using the same boot. These skates are as follows: 2. Riedell’s R3 still remains a best seller at $119 for the recreational set up; OR the “derby” package with the derby wheels and toe cap for $149.

4. How advanced is the Junior league your skater is trying out for? If they are an established league with excellent training, you might have to buy better skates, or they will quickly outperform them. 6. How large should you buy them? Should you leave them with room to grow? Yes and no. You can give them a bit of room for growth (usually no more than a size and a half), but too much can be cumbersome and unwieldy. I would never suggest buying skates too small for a Junior no matter what they cost. Skating is too demanding and “a little too tight” will turn into “very painful” quickly. Don’t let me scare you off. There are good options currently on the market for Juniors that are still growing: (Remember, skates come in men’s U.S. sizes.) 1. Crazy Skates’ DBXj: An excellent skate for Juniors as far as quality and price. This is the only derby skate on the market specifically designed for children and growing feet by including three different sized insoles to accommodate growth. With a supportive outsole and patented Heel Lock Technology (HLT), which is a support system that eliminates lateral slide inside the boot, a growing foot need not be compromised by the convention of allowing “growth room.” Price: $159.00, and you get 3 sizes in one! Sizes 1-3 and 3-5.

3. Atom offers a package with the Jackson Vantage boot, viper plate and good wheels, their popular Poisons, for $160. This boot only goes down to a size 4, however.

4. Bont Quad Junior Hybrid Package: These boots are made with a fiberglass heat moldable base and a Microfiber outer skin. Comes in White with Pink and White with Blue. Nylon plate and bont wheels included. $149.00 sizes junior13 – men’s size 6. | Spring 2016


And for the teeny tiny sized Juniors: 5. Crazy’s Rocket skate comes in sizes from J10-J13. $59.00.

helmet and mouthguard A trend we are seeing in derby is the movement away from soft foam helmets to hard foam helmets. A helmet that has only soft foam and an outer shell, means it is made to take more than one impact before it needs to be replaced. A hard foam helmet is usually rated for safety, ASTM or CPSC and is sometimes single impact, meaning if it takes a significant impact, its hard foam is made to crack and should be replaced. Triple 8 and S One have helmets available in both soft and hard foam versions. Most parents prefer their Junior derby players to wear the most protective helmets. I know some parents already have a bicycle helmet from a reputable company that fits this requirement. This is fine, but as always, make sure the fit is proper (not too loose) or a new helmet should be first on the list. Also, unlike skates, I would caution against buying your Junior a “used” helmet, simply because you don’t know what kind of trauma it has gone through. Some helmets we recommend for Juniors: • S One Junior Lifer Helmet: Dual certified ASTM and CPSC. $45. • Triple 8 Little Tricky: This Junior Helmet is also Dual certified ASTM and CPSC. It is $40. • You can also buy your Junior skater a hockey helmet, but the cost can be prohibitive at $100 and up. proper fit The helmet should sit low on the forehead without being too loose, down towards the brows, the chin strap should be fastened such that only one finger can be tucked in between the strap and the chin. Stand in front of your skater


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and put your hands on both sides of the helmet while they are wearing it. Gently tilt the helmet from front to back. If the helmet moves freely on their head so their forehead is exposed when tilting the helmet backwards and their eyes are covered when tilting the helmet forward the helmet is too big. The head should want to tilt with the helmet while still not “crushing” the head for a proper fit. Mouthguard should stay securely in the mouth when the mouth is open. Let’s not forget about the other half of the Traumatic Brain Injury mitigation: mouthguard. The mouthguard is as important as the helmet. Many, many TBI’s (Traumatic Brain Injuries) happen from the teeth slamming together and transferring kinetic energy directly into the skull, causing the brain to get tossed around and against the skull. If you are concerned about a head injury, and are willing to make the investment on a certified helmet – don’t forget about good protection for the mouth. A mouthguard attempts to mitigate damage to the brain by putting padding between the teeth and dispersing impact energy. A thin mouthguard is super comfy, and allows the skater to drink, talk, and breathe more easily, and does disperse some impact, but a thicker mouthguard is going to be more protective, just like hockey or hard foam helmets are more protective. A good option for the best fit is to go to the dentist and get a sports mouthguard that is made out of an impression of your Junior’s teeth. These should cost under $50. It gives the comfort of a custom fit, and the extra protection/padding. padding Shorts – Per our request McDavid made us a “derby” version of their sliding shorts and they have always been popular with derby players. They consist of a compression short with hex padding along the hips, outer thighs, buttocks, and tailbone. Unfortunately, McDavid has discontinued making these shorts. Other brands, such as Triple 8 also offer padded shorts, such as the Bum Savers in a junior size, but if you go looking for shorts from other companies or sports for your Junior, try to avoid the shorts with hard outer shell padding, as it can cause injury to the other skaters your Junior plays with. knee, elbow and wrist The most important thing about your Junior’s padding is that it stays on them. A snug fit is really important when the pads are new. Larger or older Junior skaters can wear adult padding, average sized Juniors can wear the Junior versions of the adult

pads bought separately, but the littlest Junior skaters only have a few options to choose from. The smallest sized pads are typically offered in sets of knee, elbow and wrist. Caution: the “toy” pads found at some big box and sporting good stores often do not protect very well. Here is a breakdown: Tier One: Adult Knee, Elbow and Wrist guards all purchased separately costs about $100 Tier Two: Junior Knee, Elbow and Wrist all purchased separately costs about $75 • ProTec manufactures separates of Knee, Elbow and Wrist pads for Juniors. Knee pads are $25, Elbow $20 and Wrist $18. • Triple 8 Makes their adult pads in Junior sizes (smaller than their adult xs) that can be bought separately. Knee $35, Elbow, $20 and Wrist $20. Tier Three: The littlest pads come in a three pack of Knee, Elbow and Wrist and cost $40-$50 • 187 Junior Derby Pad set – great for petite to very petite skaters. $50 • Bern makes a great Junior derby pad set for the petite to very petite and it comes in colors. Black with gray, black with blue and black with red for $40. The one drawback is that these are often in high demand and can be difficult to find. • Smith Scabs makes a great Junior pad set for even the smallest of skaters, for $40.

put in the dryer. Exposing pads to extreme chemicals and/or temperatures wears the elastic in the fabric down prematurely. Pads are ready to be replaced when: 1. They no longer stay on the skater because they have stretched, ripped or the elastic on the straps is completely worn out. 2. The skater is getting bruises THROUGH the padding even if the padding stays in place. 3. The pads smell so bad you no longer want them in your home. Having a Junior derby player in the family is a wonderful thing – the biggest challenge can be having to buy equipment over and over again. The Junior Derby communities I have seen are really tight and supportive of each other and it is a great place for an open exchange or trade skates program. Derby equipment isn’t really that different from any other sporting equipment. A little common sense coupled with a good amount of emphasis on safety will steer you in the right direction. Hopefully this article will help you get a little more value for your efforts, as well.H

care and maintenance As a Junior coach and teacher, I teach the kids early to not leave their gear in their gear bag. Be sure they take it out and let it air out after each wearing. This one thing will significantly prolong the life of your Junior’s pads and skates. For washing, close all the Velcro on all the pads, and wash with cold water with regular detergent. You can add Oxy Clean or a similar product to help with odor. Do not use bleach. Do not Eric Korn | Spring 2016


roller derby 201: playing the pack B I T C H E S B R U Z E , S O U T H S H I R E R O L L E R D E R B Y / C A P I TA L D I S T R I C T M E N ’ S R O L L E R D E R B Y

One of the most challenging concepts for new skaters is learning how a constantly changing pack relates to the most basic game play. When you’re done reading this article, you should have a concept of what it means to be in the pack versus the Engagement Zone, what to expect packs to do in basic strategy scenarios, and how to quickly determine where the pack is and who may do what based on that. the pack and the engagement zone The pack is defined in section 3.1 of the January 1, 2015 WFTDA rules and can be summarized as the largest group of blockers, upright, on the track, from both teams, within 10’ (3 meters) of each other. This doesn’t mean all the blockers have to be in one 10’ area on the track. What it means is that each blocker in the pack must be within 10’ of another blocker in the pack. That can be one long line of blockers 9.9999’ apart from each other (nearly 70’ long) or all the blockers touching each other on the track. It’s helpful to also consider what isn’t a pack: tied for or smaller than the largest group, jammers, down/out of bounds/penalized skaters, groups of only one team, and skaters more than 10’ from any other skater. Because the pack moves, strategies drive teams to desire different speeds, and skaters fall down or go out of bounds, the pack is constantly changing. Following the definition as it’s written in the rules is not the fastest way to find the pack, but I’ve got a simple process for you. Find two blockers from opposing teams that are within 10’ of each other on the track. Can’t find this? Then there’s NO pack! If you did find two opposing blockers within 10’, count the number of blockers within 10’ of those blockers, then the number of blockers within

10’ of those blockers, and so on until you run out of blockers within 10’ of each other. If this is the largest group that can be made with this process, then this is the pack. If there is another group the same size and no other group that big, then there is also NO pack (because the biggest groups are tied). If there is a group like this that’s bigger, that’s probably the pack. Find the biggest one!

We spend all this time figuring out pack, but the only reason we need a pack is to have an Engagement Zone! The Engagement Zone (EZ) is the area on the track that extends 20’ in front of the foremost pack blocker to 20’ behind the rearmost pack blocker. Only in the Engagement


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Joe Mac

Zone may blockers block and assist, jammers block or assist blockers, and the helmet cover passed from jammer to pivot. Sure, jammers can score points without it, in fact they score without resistance, as blockers become nothing more than pylons until a pack reforms and makes a new Engagement Zone. All blockers and pivots on the track that are not in the Engagement Zone are responsible for returning to the EZ as quickly as they are able and are not allowed to do anything else until they do. a tale of two pack speeds One would think because having an Engagement Zone is so important that teams would always keep a pack, but most jam time is spent with the two teams wanting the pack to be different than the other team; faster or slower, tighter or more spread out, and some offensive teams would prefer there was no pack at all! A team that is playing purely

offense (has the only jammer on the track) generally wants a slow, stopped, clockwise skating pack, or no pack. A team that is playing purely defense (a team with no jammer) would love a pack that stays together and skates as fast or faster than the opposing jammer. That said, even defensive teams sometimes stop to control a jammer or skate clockwise to draw a jammer back. There are other reasons besides pure offense or defense for which the two teams end up going different speeds, such as one team’s jammer pushing the other team’s wall faster. The team with the only jammer in the pack may even sometimes play a passive offense and purposefully wait until the pack breaks, forcing their opponents to let their jammer skate free because there’s suddenly no pack or EZ. During a lot of the game, teams often want a different speed than their opponents, so the pack is always under stress! The pack will always break between two people from opposing teams and officials will almost always look for the two closest opponents to reform. As a new skater, you can practice in pictures and videos looking for the two opposing skaters that make the key to the pack and learn to identify those skaters when playing. For a more extensive explanation of Pack, Proximity, and Position, as well as sample scenarios, check out my video at | Spring 2016


how to begin officiating tournaments S TA N D A R D S T E V I AT I O N, L A N S I N G D E R B Y V I X E N S

With the New Year, the vision of officiating tournaments is in the minds of many. But, gee, “I’m not WFTDA Certified nor do I have that many games under my belt”. Questions ranging from “Why should I bother applying” to “What tournaments might I get accepted to officiate” are often asked. Since I am at the beginning of my journey to officiate tournaments, I thought this topic useful for many officials in the same situation. Here are some thoughts from our contributors: Steven Evatt, Houston Roller Derby How to get into tournaments? It’s all about reputation. The folks staffing a tournament will favor those they know. So get known. Volunteer to help the leagues in your local area. Branch out and help the leagues 300 miles away. The more you travel, the more people you will get to know who will get to know you, and the easier it will become to get staffed at events. You mention cert is vital. Well, it's a requirement for the playoffs. For the other tournaments, it’s more of a way for the folks to trust the skills of someone they don’t know. If you are not certified, then get known. Atom Smasher, Lansing Derby Vixens In short... Be seen officiating well by someone who is “known” and can write you a recommendation. Scott Carlson, Gem City Roller Girls I’d follow that up with: and look to start someplace reasonable. A tournament that’s well-known nationally and draws D1 teams is probably not the ideal place to apply as your first tournament. John Brawls, Lansing Derby Vixens It takes time, especially for refs. Moreover, the networking thing is important, of course – but just being there and doing a good job is often enough to be noticed.

Artimus Pyledriver, Aurora 88’s Before a newer Roller Derby referee should consider applying to any tournaments, they should first search out and make themselves available for officiating opportunities in their region. This will get their face (and hopefully their talent) familiar with other officials in their region. Inevitably, at one of the games that the referee attends, someone will be trying to attract officials to work at a regional tournament. Most likely this will be a smaller, less established tournament and may be promoted as a “learner” tournament for officials. Every official starts from nothing and works their way up from there. If the referee has networked enough, and other officials who are sponsoring the tournament approve of the talent and worthiness of the referee, their application may get accepted and their tournament experience can now grow. Jules Doyle


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From several sources: “It (getting into tournaments) depends a lot on who you know. More accurately, who knows you! Get involved. Find smaller scrimmage opportunities, theme-based multi-day events, and even league training practices and volunteer to help. You will gain experience, make new contacts, and learn what areas you need to work on, too.” “Start with Junior Derby and Men’s Derby. Often, their tournaments are understaffed.” “Find a mentor who is active in tournaments.” “Volunteer to NSO; learn a NSO skills (really well) and start as a tournament NSO. Often, there are pre-tournament scrimmages, open to non-rostered skating officials. Again, here is a chance to work on skills and demonstrate your strengths.” “Keep your game history up-to-date and increase your game totals.” “Optimize your skills at OPRing and LISTEN to feedback from mentors and peers.” Jules Doyle

Get WFTDA Certified. This is a big hurdle, but once you are “cert”, the opportunities increase at all levels of officiating. Becoming a certified official is a challenge, but worth the effort if you are into attaining higher goals. I hope these suggestions help. One more suggestion to add: Go to Rollercon. Surviving RC is a way to find out if you have the stamina for a multi-day event and to meet people! Thanks all for your contributions and see you next time.H | Spring 2016


coaching taught me to officiate with empathy TROUBLE IN KARADISE, NO COAST DERBY GIRLS

During my years as a referee, I have worked with such a wide array of coaches they could fill a Dr. Seuss book: mad coaches, sad coaches, loud coaches, quiet coaches! Coaches with a derby brain, coaches who can be a pain! While most of my experiences with coaches have been positive, the bad experiences still stick out in my memory. When skating officials have a negative interaction, it’s common to hear the ref say that the critical coach would behave or think differently if they simply tried to officiate a game. If I had a nickel for every time I heard this, I would have enough money to pay for my 2016 WFTDA insurance. At the end of my 2015 officiating season, I had the opportunity to venture to the other side of the OPR lane to serve as a coach of the No Coast Derby Girls for the WFTDA Division I playoffs in Omaha, Nebraska. I knew the jump into coaching was a potentially controversial one within the officiating community, but it had always been an interest of mine, so I decided to take the leap. Fortunately, my crew of officials were very supportive of my temporary transition. The team embraced me as a coach and respected my knowledge and experience as an official. Although I was not a mastermind at drills and strategy, I found my place on a leadership team of veterans – an analytical skater serving as a fellow coach and two extraordinary captains. I leaned on my skillset and worked with skaters to identify illegal actions or other red flags that may draw an official’s eye. It was decided early on that I would be designated as the alternate captain, or the “A”, so that I could employ my RefSpeak and rulebook terminology to deliver concise, detailed accounts and concerns to the head referee. Now with playoffs a few months behind me, I am preparing to put my stripes back on to officiate the same

game with a new perspective. My biggest takeaway from coaching was simply that I learned what it was like to be a coach. I now understand the hard work players put into practice, and the process of building bonds with the team to work toward a common goal. We made the one-hour drive to Omaha, seeded 10th, and opened the weekend with a heartbreaking fall to Helsinki. Despite the loss, we went into our next games riding a wave of optimism and determination that helped us defeat the team that made me fall in love with roller derby nearly a decade ago – the Windy City Rollers. To the roar of our home crowd, No Coast went on to grab another win over Queen City, but we fell short against Boston. Our teamwork and perseverance earned us the 6th seed at the conclusion of the tournament. Winning was ecstasy that I had not felt before. I was elated to be a part of this team where together we were able to succeed, to stumble, and most importantly – to grow. On the flip side, I learned what it’s like to be on the bench and observe a call made by the most talented officials in the world with which I disagreed. I discovered the feeling of frustration when the official’s eyes were focused on a different skater just as the opposing jammer flattened my blocker with a blatant back block right in front of me. For the first time, I felt the vulnerability that comes with having no power over what calls are or are not made on the track. It was the feeling of vulnerability that made me realize how much teams trust officiating crews. Coaching my team at playoffs led me to establish empathy for coaches, players, and my fellow officials. I developed my ability to share the feelings, emotions, and experiences of someone looking at the game from a different perspective. Many officials believe that if more coaches would lace up some skates and put on the stripes, then they would better understand how

I now understand the hard work players put into practice, and the process of building bonds with the team to work toward a common goal.


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Jim Dier

challenging it is to officiate. Alternatively, coaching taught me that officials could also benefit from standing in a coach’s shoes. None of my calls will be made differently following my coaching experience. A track cut remains a track cut. Rather, my adjustment will be internal. I will be more patient. I will not be so quick to assume that the coach is looking at the game with blinders on, causing them to only see what is wrong with the other team but not their own. I will be even more mindful of the tone of my voice and my body language during official reviews. I will also treat my officiating crews with more empathy. Coaching allowed me to step back and look at all of the chaos that officials have to sort through on the track to make immediate decisions on legality. Serving as a coach meant that I was, even if unintentionally, scrutinizing the officials because I wanted a safe and fair game for my team. I was partisan in official reviews that decided whether a jammer scored 4 points or 5, or if a fierce forearm hit should result in an ejection. These situations created stress not just for the coaches, but for everyone involved in the review. As a referee, I will be mindful of these pressures and will provide the appropriate support to my crew.

This article is not meant to excuse or enable the minority of coaches who do not manage their emotions in stressful games. Instead, it is meant to serve as a reminder to myself and other officials that when a coach expresses a concern about low blocks being missed, it is likely because they fear for the safety of their players. Or, from the coach’s perspective, there may have been a series of events that caused them to believe deep down that a game is being called unfairly – something that every official works very hard to avoid. Roller derby is a machine that requires numerous moving parts to work together as seamlessly as possible: players, coaches, refs, NSOs, bout production, and others. These moving parts all happen to be human. These humans are involved in roller derby for their own set of reasons, but we are all bound by our love for the game. As I head into a new season of officiating with empathy, I will be a better official for the coaches and teams, and I will be a better crewmate for my fellow zebras. I will put myself into others’ shoes more frequently, I will consider their perspective, and I will be thoughtful in my responses to the mad coaches, the sad coaches, the quiet coaches, and the loud coaches. Also to the coaches with a derby brain, and yes, even to the coaches who can be a pain.H | Spring 2016


¡Viva San Fermin in Nueva Orleans! T R A C E Y B E L L I N A - M I L A Z Z O, N O L A B U L L S, L L C PHOTOS BY JARED HOWERTON 2014

Picture this: It’s about 7 a.m. on a very bright, very hot July morning in New Orleans. The day is Saturday. Even though the sun has barely broken over the high-rises around you, sweat is already pouring from your forehead onto the collar of your white t-shirt. You have an ice cold sangria in one hand, your iPhone in the other taking pictures. Condensation from your cocktail is running down your arm. All around you, thousands of people dressed in the very same outfit – white shirt, white pants, red bandana – are smiling and laughing, singing even, despite the ungodly heat. The anticipation in the air is palpable. Scattered throughout the area are Amazonian women decked out in costumes that are reminiscent of flowery, glittery riot gear. They’re on roller skates. They have giant plastic bats and they have glued horns to their helmets. You wildly look around at your surroundings and you chuckle to yourself because you are


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reminded of that song lyric by The Talking Heads–“Well, how did I get here?” Suddenly, from blocks away, the faint sound of trumpets beckons the swelling crowd. The time is now 7:30 a.m. San Fermin in Nueva Orleans has officially begun. Known simply as “The Running of the Bulls in New Orleans,” the 2016 San Fermin in Nueva Orleans Festival pays homage to the original bull runs of Pamplona, Spain. The New Orleans festival runs from July 8-10. This year marks the 10th anniversary of its inception. Ten years means bigger musical acts and even more RollerBulls. Also, for the second year in a row, Nola Bulls will team up with local cancer charity, Beth’s Friends Forever (BFF), a non-profit organization whose mission is to help supplement the resources of women fighting cancer in the Greater New Orleans area. A portion of proceeds from the festival will go directly to BFF and Animal Rescue New Orleans.H

For day-to-day festival information and registration inquiries, please visit | Spring 2016


production – balancing sport and show JOHN CULHANE (SARGE), CAJUN ROLLER GIRLS

When you think of roller derby, what images come to mind? What you conjure in your mind has a lot to do with how old you are. For skaters who can wear the “Over Fifty” shirt, images of derby may go back to the ‘70s and ‘80s, when roller derby was definitely a show and was all about people brawling to put on the show. Movies such as “Kansas City Bomber” (1972) define that age. I have to admit, I think some of the reason I was attracted to the roller derby of today can be credited to Raquel Welsh and on a different level, and a different reason, James Caan in Roller Ball (1975). If you are in your twenties, then you know derby as the sport that is currently evolving. The first bout I went to in modern times was about five years ago. I had just turned fifty, and I was excited that we had a roller derby league starting in our area. At the bout, there was a balance of ladies in fishnets and ladies that were clearly in it only for the chance to compete as an athlete. I think I could safely bet that there were people in the audience that were attracted to the ladies in fishnet stockings just for the show. But even in the last five years, derby has evolved to be a complicated animal. WFTDA has raised the standards to be able to compete, so there is no doubt, you have to be an athlete to do so. I have seen training info that talks about throwing away your tutu and fishnets. From these first few fledgling bouts, I was drawn to

become a ref, and having trained with a roller derby team I can vouch for the fact that it is not just for show anymore. WFTDA and the athletes that participate in it have gained respect over the last few years. But, what would we have if there was no audience to watch the athletes compete? This is where the show comes into play. In order to compete, you have to have a venue at which to compete. Venues cost money. Money comes from fans... simple as that. How do you get fans to show up? Do they only want to watch girls go around and around the track scoring points? A small percentage might be OK with that. There was an outcry from fans in the past couple of years about the irony of “slow derby”... Nobody moving on the track ... Nobody making contact... but players and coaches figured out how to score and win. Boring. So... where does the balance of show and sport come together. People watch golf, bowling and baseball; and people watch football, soccer and basketball. Where does derby fit in? The first group is clearly not a lot of action, the second group is action and contact governed with rules. I believe this is what fans come to see. They want a fast action racetrack with blockers hip checking and sending frustrated jammers flying out of bounds. Listen to the reaction of the fans when you are playing. I never heard

“Roller derby has evolved from an Era of showmanship to a much more strategic, athletic sport. The athletes that have kept a level of their showmanship remain some of the most revered. Having the perfect balance between show and sport may pique the interest of new fans and maintain the interest of current fans. Athleticism + Cowbell = the most entertaining sport on the planet.” –Star-Ree Eyed Surprize (Teresa O’Neil) Cajun Roller Girls


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Drew Geraets

fans screaming wildy when slow derby was oozing down the track. For example, this is a snapshot of that time from an excerpt from a Facebook page:

August 6, 2012 from Roller Derby Rule of the Day:

“With the new version of the WFTDA rules coming up this fall, are you hoping that the conga line strategy used during power jams gets written out of the game?” If WFTDA doesn’t fix this, then there’s no hope for the future of the sport. There’s no better example of slow derby in need of fixing. I can’t fully express my contempt for the sheer stupidity of such a thing being legal. –Angela Stefanski Even the definition of “Show” can be broken down. There is the show of costume and PT Barnum type stuff and then there is the part when fans understand the finer points of the game. Listen to the fans when a jammer jumps the gap... that is when fans are really understanding the game. That is another aspect of the show.

“I would think derby is sport with a little show. When a skater joins a team, they learn fast it is not all tutus and fishnets. We train on and off the track. We put a lot of blood, sweat and tears training to learn the sport. Building endurance and learning the rules of the game are the most important parts. The show side would be doing public relations events dressing the part. During the game some skaters who jam take the chance on big hits against another jammer for the show side. In my opinion, roller derby is a true sport and I hope that one day it will be on national TV or in the Olympics.” –Talk O’Holic (Dora LeBouef Levron), Cajun Roller Girls | Spring 2016


It is important to note that while I was originally attracted to derby for the show side of it, after training with the players as I ref, I grew to appreciate a different side of the sport – to respect the players as athletes. I am fortunate enough to have participated as a ref and a fan. A big part of the show are the announcers. A good announcer will get the crowd involved and interested in the game. Fans want to know what penalties occurred and what is happening on the track. Announcers are an integral part of the game.

“I get this question all of the time. I always start by telling leagues the sport is a conduit toward greater personal growth. Simply practicing and playing provide the most important qualities a skater takes from the game. Do they have to play in front of fans? No! However, if that is your plan, you’d better put on a show! Playing a game and engaging fans with a night’s entertainment are two different things. The show is simply maintaining a production value which enhances fan experience. At this stage of derby’s progression, why do we scrutinize everything as a detractor from the sport? It’s obvious the sport is real, the girls are athletes,

and the game is the main draw. We’ve become so “by the skater for the skater” – literally – that we’ve forgotten about fans in every facet of the sport. The moment you sell one ticket, you are a business! As a business, success relies on giving customers a night to remember. A ‘night out’ at a derby event has to be an endless evening of entertainment. The game, interaction with skaters, derby savvy and fun venue announcers, and entertainment during every halftime. It means appealing to kids too. Derby participants quickly think we’re jumping back a decade when the word “show” comes up. Derby no longer has to prove

itself as legitimate. The “show” doesn’t have to include spank alley nor a penalty wheel. Yet, if the audience wants a penalty wheel, give them one! The idea is to keep people entertained the entire evening so they will return. Mainstream sports are doing more of this than ever... fan contests, kiss cams, autograph nights, quality halftime shows, dancing in the stands, etc. Go to a minor league baseball game! No other sport goes to as great a length to provide fans with a full night of entertainment. With fan retention hitting lows, we have to deliver a fun night out... period! Does a “show” fit into this? You bet it does.” –Bob Noxious, Mad Rollin’ Dolls


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Jay Vollmar

If derby is to remain a living sport and attract fans like the big sports do, it is going to require finding a mix of entertainment and respect for the sport. As a comparison, even as much action as football has in the game, there is a different kind of show going on with cheerleaders and other community participation events. For the same reason, minor league baseball teams hire marketing firms and have special nights for fans, the players have to realize that

without fans, they will be back to scrimmaging at the local skate rink. The action doesn’t have to reach the level of Roller Ball, but you have to give the fans a reason to come out to watch besides “come watch me, look how hard I have worked.� The fans come to expect that. They are hard to please. But please them you must, and the reward will be the continuation of the game and sport that we all love.H | Spring 2016


roller derby in the land of the rising sun S H O R T S TA C K O ’ P A I N C A K E S, T O K Y O R O L L E R G I R L S P H O T O S B Y A R T “ E LV I S S K 8 L E Y ” S T O D D A R D

Most people travel to Japan on vacation in hopes of hiking Mt. Fuji, seeing the Emperors Palace, or shopping in the famous section of Tokyo called Harajuku. Before I moved to Japan during the summer of 2014, my first concern was whether or not I could still play roller derby. I was pleasantly surprised and relieved to discover that roller derby did in fact exist in the “Land of the Rising Sun”. With that, my next obvious concern was whether or not they spoke English or if the language of roller derby was instantly understood by all athletes of the sport. I came to find out that the majority of the roller derby community in Japan is comprised of U.S. military spouses just like me. Roller derby in mainland Japan started in 2010 and was introduced by “Evil Jenevil” (Jennifer Kaiser-Moretty) and “TalliWhack’her” (Talia Moretty) when they made the move as a military family to Yokosuka Naval Base in Yokosuka, Japan. They had the perfect name and the Yokosuka Sushi Rollers were born. Upon her arrival, “Drag ‘N Roll” (Beverly Conrad) joined them and together they worked to have the Yokosuka Sushi Rollers become an official organization on the base in Yokosuka. (Kaiser-Moretty. 2016)

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After the start up in 2010, other derby teams on U.S. military installations across Japan were formed. In 2012, the teams came together and formed the Tokyo Rollers Girls (TRG) and were subsequently accepted into the apprentice program with the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA). In 2013, TRG became fully recognized WFTDA team. Since its inception, the league has gained and lost a few inter-league teams; but as of today, the teams that form TRG are popularly recognized as Yokosuka Sushi Rollers, Yokota Scary Blossoms, Zama Killer Katanas, Tokyo Three Rollers, and the newly formed Neon Roller Monsters. While the majority of our league is located on US Military installations across Japan, locating venues to practice and bout in consistently pose an issue. If we have a practice or a bout set up in a military aircraft hangar on base but a fighter plane is scheduled to come in at the last minute, then we understandably get booted because our men and women in uniform still have a job to do (and who are we to argue with the ones defending our right to derby on?) While sometimes locations of practices or bouts can change literally at the last minute before first whistle, we have been

lucky enough to have tolerable weather and can usually move our practices to outside locations, but it is still hard on morale and maintaining consistency. It is very challenging trying to invite teams from other countries to come and play our All Star team when we do not have a consistent dedicated venue to bout in. Another thing I have come to discover in my adventures of playing roller derby abroad is that Japan does not have many roller rinks, and the few roller rinks it does have, the rental fees can be upwards of $300 (or 32,000 Yen) per hour. Unfortunately, our league does not have the funds to rent a roller rink for this price. Due to certain guidelines that organizations on military bases have to follow, we are unable to charge entrance fees to our bouts and we also face many restrictions against fundraising. As inter-league teams, we are allowed to fundraise (within certain limitations and upon approval from the appropriate military authority) on our respective installations, we as a league are not allowed to conduct fundraisers on base or out in the local community due to specific Japanese laws that require licensing that is simply unattainable for our league at this time. This creates a tremendous problem when it comes to buying uniforms, renting venue space, or traveling abroad to help improve our skills and increase our WFTDA ranking. My hope for the remainder of my time left here in the Far East is that I can raise awareness here in Japan of how amazing our sport truly is. Outside of Japan, I just want my derby sisters and brothers back in the States to know that outside of the United

States, roller derby teams sometimes struggle. We struggle with a high turn over of skaters (because of military transfers in and out of country), the host nation government doesn’t allow for certain events, fundraisers, or organizations; the host nation citizens in general are still not completely familiar with roller derby as a legitimate sport, it is hard getting and keeping an audience and the military base rules and regulations hinder much of the monetary growth of roller derby teams. The totality of circumstance certainly create overwhelming amounts of stress. Despite all of the road blocks and struggles we have encountered, roller derby continues to be very much alive here in Japan. I can confidently say that it is through the same support, camaraderie and derby love experienced by thousands of derby players, fans and family members around the world that have allowed us as a league in Japan to continue to thrive! On March 25 and 26, 2016, the Tokyo Roller Girls All Star Team will be competing in their first tournament with the hope and intention of increasing our ranking with WFTDA. The tournament is being hosted by an Okinawa, Japan based roller derby team called the “Kokeshi Roller Dolls”. This is the first roller derby tournament to be hosted in Japan and it is called “The Japan Open”. There are a total of ten teams that will be competing in both A and B divisions. These teams are traveling from Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Alaska, and Denmark. The tournament is set to be held at the Okinawa Comprehensive Sport Park. If you or someone you know would like additional information about the Tokyo Rollers Girls, any of their home teams, or the Japan Open Tournament, you can find them on Facebook. Thanks for reading, skate hard and “Nihon kara d b ai”! (Derby love from Japan).H | Spring 2016


UK championships: has the bubble already burst? TA R A “ S C A R L E T T O H A R D E R ” R A W S O N, R O L L E R D E R B Y L E I C E S T E R PHOTOS BY PETE FLOREY

In 2015 the planets finally aligned for the UK, giving us our first Championships, hosted by British governing body, UKRDA. Excitement that there would finally be something to play for other than confusing rankings was high in the British community but unfortunately it failed to deliver the same status as WFTDA tournaments. Once the buzz was over, concerns on the ladies’ side hit the top tiers as teams started to pull out of next year’s tournament in an attempt to protect their WFTDA rankings. As a result, for 2016, there is a huge disparity in the numbers of teams for each tier, with 24 in tier 3, but only 5 in the top tier, including 2015 promotion Newcastle Roller Girls who won their division, but excluding Nottingham Hellfire Harlots who are believed to have left to focus on WFTDA rankings. Perhaps most notably absent are Tiger


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Bay, Auld Reekie and Rainy City who have seemingly pulled out of competition for similar reasons, though with little official communication from UKRDA themselves, speculation is rife. As the volume of teams pulling out at the top of tiers gained momentum, more decided to pull, fearing there would be no competition left. This in turn forced UKRDA to promote teams from lower tiers to make up numbers, reducing the chance of the higher team bettering their rankings. One heck of a vicious cycle. It has been called the ultimate catch 22 in European roller derby at present: do we continue playing the same allocated teams and not better our WFTDA ranking, hoping that with perseverance we can help grow UKRDA, or do we turn our backs on the organization altogether and play only teams that will give us some clout in WFTDA tournaments? It’s true that teams all over the world gaze at Canada and the States with misty-eyed romanticism as the sport that they love was a direct export. We haven’t spent the last ten years trying to catch up to keep ourselves completely separate from the competition overseas.

Sure, we want to establish our own scene and infrastructure and show that we can do it just as well, but to stand toe to toe with our derby heroes and come out fighting? Well... Who doesn’t want that? Tanisha “Leigh-thal Bizzle” Guy from Mansfield Roller Derby, who came 4th in tier 4 West, understands this struggle for the more experienced teams but doesn’t feel it applies to her own league, “At the end of the day they have their own aspirations and visions for their team. For us as a new team, British Champs is our main priority and biggest commitment, but I can understand that other teams may view it differently – especially if it comes to a choice between playing the big international tournaments or not.” Despite the reduced pool of skaters in tier 1, Newcastle Roller Girls are excited to play tier 1 this year if a little disappointed at missing out on the chance to play new teams. “Newcastle Roller Girls are behind British Championships. We believe it’s a positive step forward for UK Roller Derby and we want to try and be part of that. However I do think leagues need to do the right thing for their skaters so I’m not critical of the teams that have dropped,” said Helen “Gin” Drew of NRG, “I’m disappointed (as I definitely want to play them all at some point!), but I understand why this has happened.” Though all leagues approached for comment agree that the teams they were pitched against were appropriate for their level, it will be interesting to see what happens in tier 4 this year as established leagues like Midlands based Dolly

Rockit Rollers and Nottingham Roller girls were demoted last season. So great is the current gap in experience at the lower end of Champs that rumors of a 5th tier to even things out are rife. With the guys of British Derby slowly catching up in terms of experience and coverage, it seems they may have the most to gain from another season of UK Champs. Many of the local men’s teams are pushing ahead for MRDA membership but many see Champs as a great way to catch up with the girls, and Martin “Dorny Darko” Dorn of The Inhuman League feels no different: “MRDA is something that is considered especially with rumors of a European tournament in the works, but as the men’s game is not as wide spread or developed as the women’s game is, Champs provides a much needed opportunity and challenge for teams to compete.” Though Champs was something that every UK player craved, the reality of structure has been a bitter pill to swallow for most that have enjoyed picking and choosing the teams they play, with control over data and venues. With time and perseverance, this competition could be great for our little Isle, raising the standard of Derby across the board, but are derby players going to either commit completely to iron out the teething problems and relinquish some of the control they’ve enjoyed previously? I will be watching 2016 with great interest and baited breath!H | Spring 2016


the rollergirl project


The Rollergirl Project is the brainchild and creative outlet for photographer Cory Layman. Cory was introduced to roller derby by the Bleeding Heartland Rollergirls from Bloomington, Indiana, in 2007. He started shooting bouts semi-regularly in 2008, during which he attended his first Rollergirls of Southern Indiana bout when BHRG traveled to Evansville to play them. Going into the 2009 season, he decided to devote some serious time and effort into shooting roller derby and opted to devote his time to work with ROSI until they dissolved in 2012. In early 2012, Cory renewed his relationship with Bleeding Heartland where he has become a fixture at their games and assisting the league with their photographic needs. As 2013 opened, Cory was invited to join Demolition City Roller Derby by members of ROSI who had since joined the league. The Rollergirl Project is Cory’s attempt to branch out beyond shooting roller derby bouts and the once-a-year head shots. At the same time, it’s his opportunity to delve into and explore aspects of the derby community beyond the leagues with which he is involved.

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“Roller derby skaters love crazy ideas, especially when they’re for the sake of art and social commentary. Over the last three years, the success I have had in creating interesting and compelling photographs has hinged on the derby community’s overwhelming support and enthusiasm. I started The Rollergirl Project in 2010 as a way of doing something meaningful that would reach the derby universe at large. Over the last five years, it has become progressively more successful and engaging. At every turn, it' has been the members of the community who have been instrumental in making this happen, whether by helping me find Fynch, the rigger who made “Gravity” possible, or stepping out of their comfort zone to be an active part of the project. In many ways, the derby community impacts the art world as much as it does the sports world. There’s a spirit of support and acknowledgement that art and commentary are important. On the surface, roller derby is just a sport. Underneath, it’s a collaboration that comes together to say some pretty important things.”

–Cory Layman | Spring 2016

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see more photos at


Spring 2016 | 1. Blocker #33 is now #30. 2. Green pivot is missing “A” from arm. 3. Middle left blocker is missing rainbow stripes from socks. 4. Black jammer’s star is now pink. 5. Blocker on right’s shorts are now pink. 6. Official is missing whistle. 7. Green jammer is missing logo from uniform.

Joe Mac


Profile for fiveonfivemedia

fiveonfive | issue 31 | Spring 2016  

fiveonfive | issue 31 | Spring 2016