Page 1


proud partner of the WFTDA

fiveonfive contents 28-29


advice ask swede hurt and suzy hotrod!

WFTDA Learn more about the WFTDA roller derby world summit.


business supporting your volunteers opening access to roller derby


health and fitness creating healthy habits live fit


16-24 games and coaching

how to tell your team you are leaving

game day coaching mental toughness blocking ride out

The fine art of saying goodbye is as important as it is difficult. Learn how to leave with bridges intact, with kindness and respect.

26-27 gear 32-37

junior derby junior derby: the next generation littles

Steve Messerer

sisu aero nextgen mouthguard

48-49 reinas rojas Cancun, Mexico’s first roller derby team!

38-39 rookie welcome packet


Aurelio Ramirez

officiating officials across the pond

editor phoenix aka stacey casebolt castle rock ‘n’ rollers art director assaultin’ pepa rocky mountain rollergirls

from the editor Welcome to the 35th issue of fiveonfive! Welcome to our first entirely online issue!

contributing writers swede hurt stockholm roller derby

Spring is in the air and the new season is in full swing. This issue has so

suzy hotrod gotham girls roller derby

much to offer, it’s difficult to know where to start. However, I always like to

bobus maximum sheffield steel rollergirls

start with dinner, so how about a recipe for some delicious Raw, Noodle-less

downton stabbey

Manicotti? Yum!! Once you have drooled over the recipe, sit down and enjoy

smash tank midge mayhem denver roller derby

the rest of this issue.

catholic cruel girl rocky mountain rollergirls

Old Xchool is back with tips on adding the “J-block” to your repertoire, and

professor piedmont riot roller derby

Swede Hurt and Suzy Hotrod are back with expert advice from both the

lindsay gypin denver roller derby

Jammer and Blocker’s perspectives. In this issue we have quite a few articles

old xchool northern californian roller derby fiona grapple rocky mountain rollergirls hermione danger sheffield steel junior rollers betty ford galaxy rainier roller girls scarlett o’harder sheffield steel roller girls

focused on volunteers, from the perspectives of the volunteers themselves in “Officials Across the Pond” to tips on supporting your volunteers so they’ll stay around. Downton Stabbey talks about the importance of archiving team history and information, while Smash Tank talks about setting and keeping healthy goals. And if you can believe it, that is just the beginning! Enjoy this issue, and as always, roll on with your bad self!

billy no skates leeds roller derby kadma sixx reinas rojas cover photo masonite burn 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.

Phoenix aka Stacey Casebolt

Castle Rock ‘N’ Rollers


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

Scarlett O’Harder Scarlett O’Harder is a double threat skater with seven years experience and is just settling into her new league, Sheffield Steel Roller Girls. In her time in roller derby, she has coached, competed as both a skater and Captain, and ran a plethora of committee based roles to keep her league going. A real straight talker, you can always rely on her for an honest-if sometimes a little brutal answer!

Bobus Maximus

Jason Ruffell

Bobus has been involved in roller derby for over six years, and while not particularly athletic or ambitious, Bobus has a goal: to do all the things. Lucky enough to have many opportunities to try out different roles while with Sheffield Steel Rollergirls, and their brother team, The Inhuman League. So, while sometimes a skater, Bobus is primarily a volunteer. Also a third-year PhD student, currently writing a thesis on men’s roller derby, masculinity, and identity. The potential for inclusivity is one of the main reasons Bobus stays involved in the sport, and thinks it is important that we continue to work toward greater diversity and inclusion as our sport develops.

Steve Messerer

Betty Ford Galaxy Krista Williams aka Betty Ford Galaxy #12 steps, has been skating and coaching roller derby for over 13 years. She has been a huge advocate for junior roller derby and long derby careers. And she loves GLITTER!!! Betty is a founding member of the Rat City Rollergirls, current skater for the Rainier Roller Girls, founder of the Seattle Derby Brats, and founder of the Littles.

David Ortiz/Phantom Photographics

Smash Tank

Billy No Skates Billy is an announcer and writer affiliated with Leeds Roller Derby and has been involved in derby for about six years. Billy has travelled all over the world with Leeds and also Rainy City Roller Derby. Billy has been working with photographer Jason Ruffell for about three years. Jason Ruffell

Smash Tank is an independent skater living in Daytona Beach, Florida. She is a speaker, author, yoga and group fitness instructor, passionate professional cook, and a nutritional advisor. Roller derby and skating, combined with strength training, yoga, and balanced nutrition has empowered Smash to lose over 100 pounds of excess body fat and maintain a healthy lifestyle. She runs the online communities Skate Every Damn Day and the Army of 100 on Facebook. Links to both groups, as well as great resources for fitness, nutrition, and mindfulness can be found on her website

Suzy Hotrod

Swede Hurt

Gotham Girls Roller Derby New York, NY

Stockholm Roller Derby Stockholm, Sweden

dear blocker and jammer, I am a fresh meat coach and I need advice on how to get the skaters to commit and have fun. Most girls join and expect to play immediately, then are disappointed that it takes so long to get to play. -COACH FUN

dear cf, Unfortunately, committing AND having fun are sometimes not mutually exclusive for some skaters. Aaaaaaah. For many, commitment is the hardest challenge. Time, mental, and financial commitments are massive in roller derby. It’s the least “fun” thing but the reward of the commitment and hard work is indeed where the real fun comes, TEAM SPORTS! But it’s not just team sports, it’s running an entire non profit organization while trying to enjoy your team sport. Make sure to set clear expectations on what your league’s commitments are. Don’t scare people off, but be honest about how much it really takes to do derby. Attract the right people. Unfortunately for some skaters “having fun” becomes an excuse term given to those in authority because it becomes a blanket term used for selfishly wanting all the best parts of derby without any of the hard work that no one wants to do behind the scenes. The worst thing to hear is, “Ugh, I just want to have fun playing derby.” A lot about derby isn’t “fun.” Doing committee work, doing land drills, being a bench player who does the same amount of practice hours but gets less play time: no fun, right? This is a recreational sport, but it’s still a sport, meaning it’s competitive. Set clear expectations from the start. No one plays immediately. Give new skaters feedback on scheduled predetermined dates during their first season so skaters know where they stand on game time. Lay the ground rules of competitive sports from day one. Play time is not equal. There are many ways to win a game, but winning a game is our daily goal. Building a strong team, building individual athletes and skill sets for the future are our long term goals. “Fun” in sports comes from the “not fun” hard work, but hard work is fun! Building a team that has fun together is getting them to sweat together and commit together. The games are the icing on the cake, but the whole experience of getting to the game is what you need to cultivate and celebrate, especially for those that won’t see a lot of play time quickly. Communicate, communicate, communicate as much as possible about what it takes to get play time. Cultivate a positive hard work ethic environment where commitment = fun.


Spring 2017 |

dear cf, Retaining fresh meat skaters seems to be something that a lot of leagues are struggling with. With the level of derby raising each year, the time it takes from the first practice until the first game day becomes longer and longer. I know I am not helping right now, but the level of derby is raising and with that the skillset needed to bout. Real talk, I think giving the new skaters REALISTIC expectations from the beginning is a good start. And explaining that you do recognize their hard work, but to build muscle memory and learn the rules takes time. If you haven’t ever roller skated before, just learning to roller skate takes awhile, and being able to roller skate does not equal playing roller derby. Encourage them to go outdoor skating if that is possible. It is a great way of working on skills and having fun at the same time. Having new skaters start at the same time in a newbie program is a great way to build a group of skaters that are accountable to each other and progress and push each other. Have newbies NSO during scrimmages and then when they are getting closer to passing minimum skills have them scrimmage each other while being guided by some more experienced skaters. This gives them a feel for what bouts are like. Maybe even set up an exhibition scrimmage when they pass minimums skills where they can invite their friends and family. If the newbie group isn’t big enough, mix it up with some more seasoned skaters that usually don’t get much playtime. Have different coaches from the league come in and coach and tell stories about when they began. Get them involved in the league work and make them feel welcome in the league. In Stockholm we have a mentors program, so every newbie gets assigned an active skater to be their “mentor.” This is a person they can come to for support, questions or just for grabbing a beer. Every mentor/newbie relationship is different.

dear blocker and jammer, Any advice on skating and dating? Teammates, Skater/Official, Skater/Coach, etc? How do you maintain a good relationship without letting derby interfere? -SKATER DATER

dear sd, People meet people in their social circles. People meet at work and at school, and when you spend as much time at derby as all of us do, inevitably you’ll cross paths with someone that you will be interested in. Derby is a major chunk of our lives and something we’re very passionate about so it’s very possible to meet someone like-minded to date. Well all that sounds lovely, but the horror show reality is the social effect to the rest of the derby environment around the two people when they connect or... DISCONNECT. Yes, most negative sentiments about derby dating come from the post breakup and the “who dates who NEXT” drama. Dating in derby is rarely not a league wide piece of news unfortunately. Getting privacy is difficult. We’re very closely connected and people will talk, but you have a right to your privacy. We’ve all seen it all go great and we’ve all seen it go horribly wrong and lived through the league-wide aftermath, but it’s just another day in derby. Keep it separate when you’re at derby. Be professional. Derby is a recreational activity but the more we treat it like a productive business environment the more we can accomplish in less time. No favoritism and on the opposite end of the spectrum, no being extra critical of your partner. Please don’t bicker with someone you’re dating. Just be normal! Derby shouldn’t interfere with your relationship if it was the thing that brought you together. Celebrate it rather than hiding it, but just keep it professional. Be mature and thoughtful in your decisions to date someone within derby. If things end or end badly, you will have to see that person everywhere constantly in your special place of derby (the place you go to escape all the realities that you need a break from!) Take the decisions to date seriously because derby is very special to you. Sharing derby with someone special is double special, but be mature about it and understanding the social impact of the decision to date within derby carries.

dear sd, After almost nine seasons in roller derby I think I’ve seen it all: breakups tearing teams apart, exes getting into fist fights at RollerCon, make out sessions at afterparties, and all that jazz. I have personally dated a few skaters. I guess I decided to go for jammers, so I could hit them really hard when/if we broke up (just kidding)... I must say that all my relationships have ended in friendship, maybe a forced friendship right after the break up, but I guess our love for roller derby was stronger than the urge to take out any kind of revenge. Relationships can for sure become an issue for a couple of reasons in roller derby. You might wake up one day and realize that the only thing you have in common is roller derby and that might be an issue if one of you decide to retire or one gets injured. Another issue that can arise is if one of you progress faster than the other, or if you are in the position where you have to pass over your partner in a roster decision or vice versa. Disagreements in derby happen, and having a disagreement with a partner can get pretty intense. BUT if you decide to date someone in roller derby, especially in your own league, I think there is one simple rule to follow: don’t be a douche! Be prepared for things to come up and solve them in a mature way. If you cheat, don’t do it with another teammate, that for sure does not end well. If you break up, keep the fights and hurt feelings outside roller derby. Keep snide remarks and all that kind of behavior to yourselves. And for the love of a higher power, IF you do decide to date someone else in the league keep the PDA to the minimum, especially in front of your ex. I mean you guys are probably super hot and adorable when you make out, but even the most levelheaded recent ex might take offense, and some people in general don’t really want to watch heavy petting during practice. Also please don’t make a point of trash talking your ex everytime he/she is not at practice, it is just not classy. Grab your best bud and do that at the bar while singing karaoke. But I don’t want to be negative, I know many couples that have met via derby and are super happy and have been together for years. It is super fun and rewarding to have something to share and be excited about, and honestly, who has time for dating when you have roller derby? If you love skating and roller derby, you suddenly have someone that understands the time commitment and is just as excited as you. I do recommend you have date nights outside of derby, and we all know how much fun it is to talk about derby, but please try to talk about something else. It just makes your relationship a little more interesting. It doesn’t hurt to NOT share ALL the best friends. We all need to have someone whose shoulder we can cry on when we get into a fight with our lovely partner. Dating someone in roller derby can be amazing and super fun, I recommend it, with all the above caveats.

need advice? email | Spring 2017


supporting your volunteers B O B U S M A X I M U S, S H E F F I E L D S T E E L R O L L E R G I R L S

Skaters often ask how to support and show appreciation for volunteers, and while many individuals and leagues are getting it right, there is always room for improvement. The leagues with larger, more stable officiating crews, in-house announcers, and photographers, work hard to make them an integral part of the league. Volunteers want to feel welcomed, supported, and included – like the league cares about their needs. This is more about attitude than anything else, but there are steps you can take to create this kind of environment in your league. If you think official and volunteer development is as important as skater development, then read on. encourage failure As a skater, failure is encouraged as part of the learning process. Why can’t it be the same for volunteers? All too often, officials are expected to be perfect from the start; skaters grumble if a penalty is missed, and there are complaints if an NSO makes a mistake with the paperwork. When you train with officials, allow them to mess up. Respect this is part of their learning process. A good announcer can have a big impact on the atmosphere of a game, and on how involved and informed the audience is, but this too requires knowledge and skills that must be learned and developed. Even those born with the gift of the gab need time to learn about the sport, and the specific requirements of roller derby announcing. Have you ever had a photographer cover your bout, but then not share the photographs with you, or share photographs that were a little blurry, and poor quality? This sport is difficult to photograph, and it takes time to become great. Be patient and allow your photographers the time and space to develop their skills. practice is for everyone During practice, have clear expectations and proper provisions for officials. Practice sessions are where your officials build confidence. Think about having officials train each other. Many leagues run dedicated ref and NSO practice, and it’s also useful to have combined practice so refs and NSOs can learn how to work together effectively.


Spring 2017 |

Don’t just throw your NSOs in on game day and expect them to know what to do. Think about whether you can provide funding, and definitely provide space at practices for your officials. Can you go one step further, and synthesize skater and official training so that everyone is working together? How about welcoming announcers to practice sessions and giving them the opportunity to try new things in a low-risk environment? Encourage photographers to attend the occasional scrimmage – especially useful if you hold games at your training venue. Not only will this help announcers and photographers develop their skills, it gives you the chance to get to know each other. communication is key Leading up to game day, include your volunteers in the organization of the event. Let them know when and where you are playing and involve them in travel plans for away games, maybe even offer subsidized travel. Provide a detailed document of information about the leagues and skaters playing for the announcers, and make sure they have it in advance of the game. Provide the photographers with information about the venue and any restrictions. Provide water for everyone as a minimum – don’t forget about your announcers. With a high turnover, due to retirement and burnout, and increasing numbers of games, there is always a high demand for officials. It can be high pressure and high workload, and negative attitudes towards officials could

Preflash Gordon

impact on your ability to recruit officials for your games. In short, make sure that doesn’t happen; encourage teammates to be supportive, don’t expect perfection, and don’t heckle officials. Be aware that officials might not make every practice, especially if they have worked lots of games. Helping out officials in other leagues, networking and working with others contributes to the bigger picture of growing roller derby. Your officials do more than you know. appreciate and celebrate Saying thank you on game day is great, but don’t forget to thank volunteers for behind the scenes work too. Nurture them, support them to build an effective team, and encourage them to gain experience. Celebrating the ones you have may be an effective way to recruit new people. If your volunteers get accepted into a big tournament, shout about it. Let everyone know how proud you are to have such Claire Brand talented people working with you. Encourage officials and announcers to work towards certification when they’re ready, and make sure to always thank your photographers for those pictures you’re liking and sharing on Facebook. Maybe encourage them to share their work more widely too.

we can be so much more Remember that roller derby is still an amateur sport. Officials, photographers, and announcers are giving you their free time. Be wary of expecting too much for free. Think about what you can offer your volunteers. Recognition is important, but what else can roller derby give to them? What has derby given you? Confidence, improved skills, maybe derby has opened doors to new opportunities. How can you help it do the same for your volunteers? When volunteers tell you they work hard, instead of countering with, “we work hard too”, just listen. Roller derby is not a competition to see which group is hardest done by. I think it’s well past time to retire the saying “by the skaters, for the skaters.” We are so much more than that. There’s another common saying in roller derby: ‘Don’t be a dick.’ Instead of worrying about what not to be, how about actively being a force for good? My final piece of advice: talk to your volunteers. Get to know them as people. Find out what they need to feel involved and valued. It might be as simple as fetching them coffee while they work, or as long term as supporting them through a certification process. Ask. And then listen.H | Spring 2017


opening access to roller derby D O W N T O N S TA B B E Y

One of the beautiful things about roller derby is its rich history. It exists in a liminal space; a subculture built upon grassroots that only gets better with age. It exists, in large part, due to the relationships cultivated within, shaped and molded by a shared experience of growth, passion, and empowerment. It fits into this transitional space because it can’t exist anywhere else. Derby brings people together who might never have shared space anywhere else. It exists, in other words, in order to show the world how to help bridge social and cultural gaps through shared experiences and connections not found in other places. The world needs derby. My experience with derby intersects with my experience as a librarian. (Shout out to all the librarianderbyists!) I am passionate about what I do. At my core, I believe in sharing information. Information, if taken within its context, is powerful and valuable. We never know when something might be important, and we never know what someone might find informative. We also may not know the why or even who uses it, but we hope it serves their needs. Imagine if roller derby didn’t have access to shared information. What if the passionate few who began the resurgence of derby hadn’t formed?

What if we didn’t have WFTDA? What if those who chose to establish the sport hadn’t thought to share it anywhere else? Would it be what it is today? My hope is that all leagues, large and small, sanctioned or not, flat track or banked, are archiving their information. I’m not just talking about the posters, either. I’m talking about the paperwork that represents the grueling hours of work a committee put in. I’m talking about the listservs, facebook chats, yahoo groups online, the in between derby spaces where people make decisions every day about how their league operates. I’m talking about the seemingly mundane plays and practice schedules that your league just does because, well, just because. Do you have access to all the media coverage your league has ever gotten? What about all the rosters you’ve ever had, where are all those located? What about event schedules, volunteer and NSO logs, who reffed the game, old rulebooks, trinkets and notes from derby conferences? Etc., etc. Where did that information come from? How did this become your league’s way of doing things? Sharing is something we do really well as a culture, but I believe it could be even better. At the time of this writing, a quick google search for

“roller derby” yields a little more than 8,000,000 results. The Internet Archive yields 319, and the Digital Public Library of America only has 24! There is something wrong with this picture. I know there has to be more than that. A google search for skateboarding yields more the 61,000,000 results and 777 in the Internet Archive. What if we opened up our information to the world? Can we inspire people in places that don’t have as many resources to start their own leagues? Can we make change with this ever increasingly frustrating ball of goo called the internet, just by adding our piece to it? If we open access to our culture, we start to show the world who we really are and what we are capable of. I can imagine a grad student peeing their pants over the wealth of information leagues could add to their research about nonprofits. Or women-led sports organizations. Or the rise of MRDA. Or, maybe that information will be accessed by someone inspired to join derby, or start their own league, and begin the challenge of making themselves better. Period. How amazing is that? I’m not asking you to learn different metadata schemas in order to structure your information for the open web. We all have enough work to do to keep leagues going. The

If we open access to our culture, we start to show the world who we really are and what we are capable of.


Spring 2017 |

tom klubens

tom klubens

struggle is real. There are, however, many options if you’re not already taking advantage of them:

● Contact your local archivist and/or historian. They would probably be delighted to receive your old, dusty, paper files. You probably won’t even have to do anything. (Who am I kidding, right?)

● Ask your league to contribute their memories to your archive. Maybe they have pictures they’d like to share. This could be a great opportunity to invite alumni of the sport to an event, which also helps remind everyone how

vast and ever changing the sport is. Celebrating those who have helped make your league what it is today is a good way to get and keep people involved. Cherish that.

● Share and share alike. I’m not asking you to share plays, or strategies, or whatever. But, we can always learn from each other. Whether that’s the best way to get a league started, or the process it took for getting your local community involved in fundraising. There are so many people who want to skate that live in remote locations, but don’t know the first thing about getting

organized. Sound familiar? You probably had a little help getting it done, too. Think of yourself and your experience. What would you have liked to know about starting a league that might help someone else? In the end, it’s not even about allowing others to be a part of your organizational experience. It’s about the preservation of our history. Everyone involved in roller derby should be proud of what they do every day. Go tell your story. If we don’t save it for future generations, who will?H | Spring 2017


creating healthy habits S M A S H TA N K

likely something we do as a team. We go to practices, bouts, This article was inspired by skaters, and the content shared recruitment events, and team business activities because the here is a direct result of skater input. The intention is to inform, empower, and inspire roller derby athletes to develop, team must do these things to stay afloat. Though derby is fun, it can be VERY stressful. maintain, and continually optimize healthy habits. This also covers the drama component! Derby is great, but Several hundred skaters voluntarily completed a survey there’s also a mix of many dynamic personalities and varied I put on my website ( and shared their input regarding their food awareness, triggers for opinions! No wonder we get stressed about derby – there are eating naughty foods (stuff that they knew wasn’t the best for very few things that stress us more than the things and their overall health, yet they struggled to practice moderation people we LOVE! Quite often when working with athletes and clients, people with these foods), and what they’d like to eliminate from their share with me that they know what they should be doing, lives – nutritionally and in life as a whole. they know how to eat, and they really want to stay on point... Many folks expressed that they’d like to reduce or yet they just can’t “stick to it.” I see this in every community I eliminate sugar, caffeine, and high glycemic foods. We all work with – athletes, working professionals, know the culprits – candies, highly processed entrepreneurs, students, and so on. Quite and fast foods, sugary coffee concoctions and If we want to be often, people will share reasons why they energy drinks. Yet, for some reason, despite successful, first struggle. Often, they’ll blame issues outside being driven athletes, determined to do our best on the track, we can’t seem to stop we come up with of themselves, blame others, blame their jobs, enablers/partners, and so on. eating these types of foods. a compelling The most successful people own their part Why is that? reason WHY in every situation, and come up with an There’s the trick right there – the why. action plan to create lasting change. It starts We all know what we should eat – fresh, we want to simple, builds gradually to form sustainable high-quality fruits and vegetables, whole reach our goals. habits, and continues to evolve. We grain complex carbohydrates and/or legumes experience ups and downs in our lives, and (like sweet potatoes), and lean proteins that the same holds true for our food and workout habits. are as close to grass-fed and/or organic as possible. We have amazing intellects and can rationalize our way So, why do we eat crappy foods instead of foods we into anything. However, there’s something deeper and more KNOW will benefit us immensely? Why do we go for the compelling that drives behaviors – emotions. We act mainly instant gratification instead of proper fuel for our bodies? based on how we feel. We KNOW what we should be doing The reasons are as vast and varied as our excuses. The and eating, and yet we don’t do it because of how we feel. survey results pointed to three main factors: Low energy, How do we go about changing that? stress, and drama. If we want to be successful, first we come up with Certainly, our lives are complicated. We all have jobs, a compelling reason WHY we want to reach our goals. families, and obligations that preceed our derby Our WHY will get us past any emotional blocks and drive commitments. As much as we’d like to forgo things that are us to make wise decisions. Our WHY resonates deep with seemingly optional (for instance, getting enough sleep), us, and will motivate us to take smart actions that will lead there’s always a catch when we try to work around or substitute things that are imperative for our overall well-being us to our goal. in mind, body, and spirit. A best practice for staying on target for a goal is to write We stress because we don’t make enough time for it down, post it in a spot that we will see it regularly (several ourselves. Sure, while there’s still skating in our lives, it’s very spots works best – the refrigerator, the bathroom mirror, in


Spring 2017 |

If we want to see it happen for ourselves, we should SEE ourselves MAKING it happen.

the car, on the closet door). Say the goal aloud, and to allow ourselves to feel how we want to feel when we reach that goal. These are empirically proven methods for success. This is beyond woo-woo “think about it and you’ll get it” hoo-ha; this is a REAL success-generating habit that will create results. If we want to see it happen for ourselves, we should SEE ourselves MAKING it happen. A general suggestion for creating lasting healthy habits is to exercise 120 minutes per week, and to eat whole foods (plants, lean proteins, seeds, nuts and such). While this is common knowledge, sometimes we can’t help but pull up to the drive-through window or call for delivery. Sometimes we want to get up and work out, but the damn couch is so comfortable and getting dressed is too hard and way too much adulting for the day. That’s okay. We all go through it. However, if we want to get results, we must make it happen. The first step for that is to see it happen. I was nearly 300 pounds for almost 20 years. The first time I put on skates as an adult, I got injured and was off skates for six months. Once I healed from that first injury, I broke my leg three months later. Yet, I kept going, and through all that, I managed to lose over 100 pounds in two and a half years. I won’t say some crap like, “if I can do it, you can do it!” because I don’t know you personally (yet). However, I do know what it takes to be successful in many areas – I

work with skaters around the globe to be the best that we can ALL be. It’s my pleasure and honor to serve the skating community, and I wish you all the success and prosperity that this life has to offer! If I may be of service to you or your league, feel free to reach out to me at | Spring 2017


live fit M I D G E M AY H E M , D E N V E R R O L L E R D E R B Y

When you hear the term “fit” or a person described as “fit,” what comes to mind? Do you imagine a body builder with every muscle and every vein popping out, their arms unable to drop fully to their sides because they are just that ripped? Do you imagine a celebrity or fashion model wearing skin tight revealing clothing? Do you imagine a fitness instructor on a magazine placed conveniently next to a giant chocolate cake with some words describing how you can lose weight and still eat cake? If you search “fitness” on Google images (yes, I am biased), your results will feel endless. The first few rows of results consists of a person(s) holding a weight, or a pose, or a pose with a weight all to show off their muscles. There’s a lady who seems to be punching the air and smiling while right next to her are a group of women smiling while moving into a forward lunge. And just above them is a man with no shirt on curling a large amount of weight with every upper body muscle bulging as he looks down at his bicep... or perhaps he’s asleep. We will never know. Scrolling down some more, there are quite a few running pictures but definitely a lot more women smiling. One woman is planking, another in mid-crunch, while yet another is punching the air with the tiniest dumbbell you have ever seen. Scroll down some more and there’s a picture of a woman walking in camouflage athletic wear, next to a man that seems to have just clapped his chalk covered hands. Just below them is a woman in a bra holding giant dumbbells, and her abs are so incredible you’d think you


Spring 2017 |

were looking at a picture of the muscle groups! Of course just next to her is a woman smiling to no end as she stretches while the woman just above her is smiling and seems to only have skin covering her bones. My point is, we all have different ideas and concepts of what it means to “be fit”, to “look fit.” We gravitate towards (perhaps even fixate on) that which we want to see come to fruition in our life. Unfortunately, the term “fit” carries with it a lot of misconceptions, and if we’re not careful, we might be striving for an unattainable goal. I am no fitness expert. My background in athletics is a jumping rope club for a couple years when I was around the age of 11. And now roller derby for the last six years. Sure, I was fairly active growing up: I biked around town, I rode my longboard up and down the street, I ran around my parents’ driveway with a basketball trying to imitate the movie Pistol Pete (I’m 5 foot, 2 inches and the tallest in my family, by the way). But I had no real concept of what “fitness” meant outside of the youth pastor at the church who was a bodybuilder and my friend Jessy who

occasionally ran a few miles here and there. All that to say, take this advice with a grain of salt. figure out your goals First and foremost, stop comparing your body to that of another. While there may be some similar characteristics or features, no two bodies are the same. Likewise, a 6-foot tall person wearing 110 pounds is not fit, they are sick. It’s one thing to look for inspiration or pictures to help keep your goal at the forefront of your mind. It’s completely different, however, when you’re using those pictures to compare your body to, especially if there is negative self-talk. If that pertains to you, I encourage you to rip those pictures up. Or mail them to me and I’ll rip them up for you. Ain’t nobody got time for that. change your eating habits and stick to it You’ve seen those commercials about diet pills, right? “Take one pill a day, eat whatever you want, and lose weight!” NO! What? If you have these pills, throw them out! Seriously, throw them out right now. Done? Ok.

What you put into your body is what you’re going to get out of it. I am not the first person to say that because it’s true. If your diet primarily consists of eating things that have more than 10 ingredients, and half of those you don’t know how to pronounce, you are not eating food. I could write a completely separate article on food, but the bottom line is feed your body what it needs: protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Vegetables are carbohydrates. Natural fat is not bad for you. Wine does not fall into any of these categories. If you’re looking to change your diet, you have to stick to it for at least 30 days to start seeing and feeling results. A few years ago I decided to stop eating both gluten and dairy for three months. As a result, I have found I no longer eat to the point of feeling overly full. I also researched different foods and found my love for sweet potatoes (sweet potato fries are now my favorite). Which leads me into my next point. do your research The internet is an endless pool of knowledge which, honestly, can be overwhelming at times. But as long as you have an end goal, you will always have a starting position. If you want to lose weight or build muscle, research full body weights routines and how your body turns food into muscle. If you want to learn how to do a lift properly, watch a handful of videos on YouTube while you’re at the gym and try it out for yourself. There is so much information readily available at your fingertips. And if you don’t know what to start with, sign up for a class at a gym, and ask people who are trained. “Fit” is not something you are; “fit” is something you choose every single day. It is a lifestyle that, if you stick with, you won’t ever look back on with regret. Unless you choose to never eat a cookie again because that would be ridiculous.H

Dave Wood Photography | Spring 2017


Raw Noodle-less Manicotti C AT H O L I C C R U E L G I R L , R O C K Y M O U N TA I N R O L L E R G I R L S


noodles 4 large zucchini marinara 1 large red bell pepper 3 ⁄4 cup cherry tomatoes 1 ⁄4 cup sundried tomatoes 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 ⁄4 teaspoon salt 1 ⁄8 teaspoon dried oregano 1 ⁄8 teaspoon dried thyme 1 ⁄4 cup fresh basil cashew ricotta 2 cups cashews, soak for a minimum of 2 hours Juice of 2 lemons 1 teaspoon white miso 1 1 ⁄4- ⁄2 cups water 8 sun dried tomatoes, chopped 1 ⁄2 cup fresh basil, chopped


Spring 2017 |

To make the noodles, slice the zucchini lengthwise into long, wide strips. To make the marinara, blend all ingredients in a high speed blender until smooth. To make the cashew ricotta, process the cashews in a food processor until well ground. Add lemon juice, salt and miso. Scrape down sides and continue to process while drizzling water into the mixture until a ricotta consistency is achieved. Stir in sun dried tomatoes and basil. To assemble, lay a zucchini noodle on a flat surface. Leaving an inch above the bottom of the noodle, spread 2 tablespoons of the ricotta. Fold the bottom edge over and roll up. Repeat until with remaining zucchini. Place seam side down on a serving dish and top with marinara.

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

COLOR JAM ROLLER DERBY COLORING BOOK A coloring book for the most colorful sport

game day coaching don’t lose the game before it starts S T E V E VA N T O L " P R O F E S S O R " , P I E D M O N T R I O T R O L L E R D E R B Y

It’s game day. You’ve worked hard at practice and hopefully scouted your opponent to create your game plan. All that hard work and preparation can be for nothing, though, if you do not have the right coaches in place on game day. As with other sports, coaches are typically the last to get praise and the first to get blame and, in general, are barely noticed. I only say this because coaches need to be there to make the team better, not for personal accolades. I am a loud coach, yelling to the skaters who are on the I’m going into my seventh year of coaching and have track. To be clear, though, I am not yelling AT skaters but learned a lot about myself as a coach. One thing I stress is yelling TO them during a jam. Not only am I hoping to let my the importance of coaches’ interactions with each other and team know what I see, but also hoping to frustrate the other skaters. It is VERY important that coaches stay calm, cool, team when I yell out what they are trying to accomplish. and collected when working with each other and with the Communication to my team when off the track is calm, cool, skaters. If the two coaches are not working well together, and collected (most of the time... I’m not perfect). I do not that negative energy WILL flow through to the team and it berate my team or insult them for a bad play. WILL affect play. Like most, I’ve been on both When there is a coaching opportunity, I make sides of a lopsided game. I will say that in When selecting sure to say something immediately so we some of the worst losses I’ve been part of, a bench coach, can correct any problems. If I see a pattern, I didn’t have good chemistry with the bench you don’t want a play, or a skater with certain tendencies coach, and that negativity flowed through to I make sure to point that out to the team. the team and threw us off our game. When to just go with It’s also important that I communicate to my choosing your game coaches, be sure to pick whoever will do it. bench coach when there is a penalty. I will people who have good chemistry with each let them know they have a blocker, pivot, other and the skaters. or jammer going to the box. I will also let them know when There are typically two main coaching positions during people get out of the box so they can quickly adjust the a game, a track coach and a bench coach. The bench coach next lineup. Strong communication will help avoid lineup should manage getting the skaters ready for the next jam. confusion, which is very important. You want your team This will include handing out the helmet covers and sitting setting up for the next jam, not yelling “one more!” because someone due to a teammate being in the penalty box. The the coaches weren’t ready. track coach should be talking to the skaters mid jam and as When selecting a bench coach, you don’t want to just they are coming onto and off the track, along with notifying go with whoever will do it. They are a very important part of the bench coach on penalties that occur. There are differing opinions on how to be a track coach. the team and should not be overlooked. The worst part of Some coaches are loud and scream the entire time while being the bench coach is that you typically will not watch the some are quiet and passive. I try to find a happy medium. game. The bench coach needs to take control of the lineups


Spring 2017 |

Phil Lackey

I believe that ALL skaters should bench coach at some point. It will give you a better appreciation for the job, and you should hopefully have more patience during a game.

with confidence. It’s important that they are a great communicator. It is important to be loud enough that the skaters hear them and to not be afraid to calmly tell someone to sit down if they aren’t listening. Once they are sitting, have in mind who will sit if there is a penalty on the track. Whether you are following lineups or creating it as you go, it’s important that you are sitting the next group once the current group is headed to the track. Be sure to let the track coach know if someone needs to stay out there for the next jam. There are times (it’s happened to me as well) where a bench coach will get stuck and not sure who to

send out. If you have time outs to use, tell your bench coach that you need a time out! It’s much better to use a time out and get everyone calm and on the same page vs. playing short or with the wrong group. I believe that ALL skaters should bench coach at some point. It will give you a better appreciation for the job, and you should hopefully have more patience during a game. Coaching a game is a complete roller coaster of emotions and can be very rewarding. If you do a good job of preparing and knowing what motivates your team, you will be an asset and hopefully everyone will have fun!H | Spring 2017


mental toughness L I N D S AY G Y P I N, D E N V E R R O L L E R D O L L S

stop the first time you try isn’t helping you learn to do it. September 2015. Tucson, Arizona. I’m skating around during Treat yourself like you would treat a sweet little puppy, open warm-up, by myself, just before my team, the Rocky and be kind. Mountain Rollergirls, play the Victorian Roller Derby League Practice positive self talk and reward yourself for (VRDL) at D1 WFTDA Playoffs. Out roll 13 women in unison, successes, no matter how small. Against VRDL, I should all taller than me. Huh. Alright. They don’t scare me. (They have applauded myself for hitting VRDL’s wall with all my totally do.) They’re only ranked second in the world. My first force rather than chastising myself for not slicing through jam, I slam into a cube of VRDL skaters as hard as I can. their insanely strong defense. I should have focused on I’ve been working out. Plus I’m Phantom Menace. Nobody the open track in front of Bicepsual, can stop me. I end up on the floor, clutching not her guns. my stomach, looking at the clock. There is Practice positive In our culture, pride is viewed as sinful. 28:30 remaining on the game clock for We chastise people for being “cocky” and Period 1. It’s going to be a long fifty eight self talk and arrogant. Yet... to be the best, you have to and a half minutes. reward yourself believe you are the best. I constantly I fight to stay in the game, and I mostly for successes, verbalize my successes. It is an essential succeed. During the second period, I push part of jamming successfully. Muhammad VRDL’s wall all the way out until I’ve only got no matter Ali tenaciously believed in himself.“I am one blocker to beat. There’s no way one how small. the greatest. I said that even before I knew blocker can hold me, I’m Phantom Menace! I was. I figured that if I said it enough, I It’s just me versus Bicepsual. I dig in and would convince the world that I really was the greatest.” Tell push. Almost there. Stay on target... I can’t do it. I’m going yourself what you can do. Be intentional. Be specific. And if nowhere. This chick’s massive biceps are blocking my line you don’t land that apex jump like you told yourself you of sight. I sigh in frustration, and my shoulders sink, just would, reward yourself for fearlessly initiating the apex jump, as Bicepsual lands an epic hit. I pick myself up and see and bask in the knowledge that you nailed step one. the expanse of track I’ve just lost by giving up on myself. September 2016. Columbia, South Carolina. I am stuck I relegate myself to being stuck behind VRDL’s defense, at turn three behind Rose City’s blockers, and I have been and there I remain the rest of the game. here for an eternity. I consciously decided to shift my focus In this scenario, my roller derby skills are not what from getting past the wall to simply pushing Rose forward, prevented success. I failed because I told myself I couldn’t extending the area Denver’s blockers have to play defense. do it. Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re I focus on what I can do to aid my team’s success, not on probably right. In her “Puppy Talk” podcast, Bonnie D. Stroir the fact that I’m stuck. I look up to assess the success of compares negative self talk to kicking a puppy. “If you this strategy, and see my teammate, Tracy Akers, bridging. wouldn’t say or do it to a puppy, you shouldn’t say or do She says “just push them to me, Menace.” Armed with the it to yourself” (Bonnie D. Stroir). Berating a puppy for not mastering how to sit the first time you ask him to would knowledge that Akers believes in me, I push Rose’s blockers hinder the puppy’s ability to learn the new skill, not enhance to her. Akers makes the most epic offensive hit, and instead it. Similarly, berating yourself for not mastering how to plow of simply pushing the wall forward to assist defense, I break be the best, you have to believe you are the best.


Spring 2017 |

free from the wall, scoring points for Denver Roller Derby. While there are many facets to mental toughness, they tend to manifest similarly in athletes across the spectrum of sports and throughout history. My teammate Sweet Mary Pain told me “jamming is 80% mental.” Baseball Legend Yogi Berra said “90% of the game is half mental.” I have been actively working on mental strength for years, and just like I continue to practice roller derby strategy and skating skills, I will continue to train mentally. A plethora of resources are available to work out your brain and strengthen your mental game. Here are some of my favorite tools: Book: The Champion’s Mind: How Great Athletes Think, Train, and Thrive by Jim Afremow In this book, sports psychologist Jim Afremow provides specific mental training exercises to strengthen mental game. He includes quotations and anecdotes from sports legends, famous authors (William Shakespeare), successful business people, etc. This is hands down my favorite

resource for training mental toughness. The specific exercises are invaluable. Journal: My Bout Book: A Roller Derby Logbook by Entelechy Design & Dolichan Books My Bout Book is a roller-derby specific journal that tracks your goals and performance from game to game and also includes pages for generic journaling. I pair My Bout Book with the exercises in The Champion’s Mind so that my goals, progress, and mental workouts are all tracked in one place. The best part? My Bout Book is skater owned and operated, so investing in one supports the derby community. Podcast: “Puppy Talk” by Bonnie D. Stroir Blog Post: “A Walk in the Mountains” by Kamikaze Kitten Kamikaze Kitten is a retired skater from the London Rollergirls. In this beautiful retirement post, she compares playing roller derby to climbing a mountain. Everyone is on their own journey. Her words are exceptionally relevant if you’re struggling with skill-related jealousy.H

masonite burn | Spring 2017


DRILL drill: the game’s behind you

purpose: Help your jammer score by bringing the pack to her (aka – slow down the pack speed to the pace of a trickle so that your jammer has less distance to skate when lapping the pack). If it is more challenging for your lead jammer to catch up to the pack than it is for her to get through the pack, your team is probably not scoring as many points as it could when you gain lead jammer status or when your team has a power jam in your favor.

In derby, when we say, “get a goat”, we mean trap at least one opposing blocker and pull her away from her team by slowing her down. One reason a team would want to get a goat (if skating under the WFTDA rule set) is so they can then qualify as the pack. When you control the pack you essentially have control of the jam. Below you will find a combination of two drills: “The Game’s Behind You” and “Time Ticking Away”, a timed drill that encourages intensity and urgency. TTA can be used in so many ways and in combination with many different drills. Basically take a concept and time the amount of time that it takes to put it into effect or to carry it out. For example, if you’re practicing gaining lead jammer status, only give the jammer 30 seconds to achieve lead jammer. Once your jammers are able to gain LJS in 30 seconds, shave off 5 seconds and only give them 25 seconds. Keep shaving off time so that finally they can get lead in 5 seconds. Get 5 v. 5 on the track at one time and follow the variations listed below. This drill is set up as if you were doing regular jams in a scrimmage. Version 1 – “The Game’s Behind You” – set it up like a power jam or determine before you start which jammer is going to get lead (for the first go, just have one jammer get out of the pack on the initial pass so that you simplify the focus). The team that has the power jam or lead jammer must grab one of their opposing blockers ASAP and start to contain her, slow her down, goat her, etc. The first blocker to start grabbing a goat needs to yell either, “I’ve got one!” or “The game’s behind you!” to her teammates to let them know that they are going to start getting a goat. Once they get a goat and their jammer laps the pack, reset and repeat with the next set of skaters. Have each team take turns getting lead and grabbing goats. Feel free to use an expression that better suits your team. If “get a goat!” means nothing but “she’s trapped!” makes it happen with in seconds, use that wording instead. Version 2 – “The Game’s Behind You” + “Time Ticking Away” – the same as Version 1, but this time give the blockers a limited amount of time to grab a goat. At first give them 30 seconds once their jammer has left the pack, then 25 seconds, 20 seconds, 15, 10, 5. If you are on 30 seconds and they are unable to grab a goat in that time, end the drill and go to the next group. Make sure teams keep communicating with one another by shouting, “We’ve got one!”, “The game’s behind you!” or what ever other expression is just right for your team. Version 3 – “The Games’s Behind You” – similar to Version 1, but now the jammers have to get through the pack normally so it’s not predetermined. Which ever jammer gets out first, her team then needs to get a goat ASAP. If both jammers get out at once restart the drill with the same group. (If your team is more advanced you can have jammers go into jammer on jammer defense or better yet, which ever jammer gets lead have her try to suck her opposing jammer back into the pack. Version 4 – “The Game’s Behind You” + “Kill Their Jammer!” – similar to Version 3, but with a combination of “Time Ticking Away.” The team whose jammer gets out first has to A) get a goat and B) keep the opposing jammer from leaving the pack. At first the team only has to hold onto their opposing jammer for 5 seconds, then 10, then 15, 20, 25 and 30. If you are on the 15 second interval and the blockers let their opposing jammer out at 10 seconds, the jam is called off immediately and you start a new jam. Version 5 – “The Game’s Behind You” + “Kill Their Jammer!” – you need two stopwatches for this version. This is a combination of Version 3 and 4. Split blockers on the track into two groups: A and B. Two from each team are in each group so you will have a total of 4 As and 4 Bs on the track at one time. jammers are still vying to get out of the pack first. As soon as a jammer gets lead, her two blocker As need to get a goat and her two blocker Bs need to keep their opposing jammer in the pack. Blockers A and B are both being timed and competing to see who can carry out their objectives longer. After the jam is over point out how much longer either A or B was able to carry out their objective. Discuss how their success impacted the jam. This could help you decide future lineups based on their success. Additional notes: If you can, do all the variations of this drill at the same practice. If modifying the drills will better suit the needs of your team, modify away! The above scenarios are simply one reason for when grabbing a goat could be a good strategy for your team. There are so many more what-ifs, buts, ands, alsos, etc. involved in this concept. drill courtesy of


Spring 2017 |


J-Blocking: This block is aggressive, in your face and hard hitting. This was the block of choice for the Blond Bomber, Joan Weston. If you get a chance, take a look at some of her game footage online. I took more than a few roller derby lessons with Joan in the ‘60s. The J-block was Joan’s bread and butter and no one was better at the J-block than Joan Weston. The J-block can be performed from the inside (right) or outside (left) track position but requires a lot of skill to develop hitting power from both sides, (especially your weak side). I am visiting the SIS-Q Rollerz of Medford, Oregon for this blocking technique.

#42 Roller Fett, #24 Eager Beaver, #555 Jumpon Jen, #15 Paulie Wanna Smack-Her, #24-7 Lil Sass, #38 Rosie Redrum, #57 Sauce, #1337 Gore, Rip 10 Tide, Coach Gordon Seavers

How’s it done? Like all blocking techniques, foot work and body position (balance) are key. If you find yourself in uncomfortable position your blocks will not be executed well! The stance: On your bar stool, knees bent, back straight and skates set about a shoulders width apart. From this position you are ready for contact from any direction on the track. The blocker must constantly make small adjustments with their body and skates to maintain good blocking balance.


Spring 2017 |

Let’s isolate the correct part of the body to hit with, the shoulder blades. Hitting zone is your shoulder blades. One way to feel these hitting zones is to stand against a wall and rotate your torso and shoulders blades into the wall while maintaining your bent knee position (so you do not hit your opponent above the shoulders) and remember control your elbows. Hitting zone drill. Another way to isolate the J-block hitting zone is to have a skater follow you as you unwind your torso and shoulder blades against their hands. Alternate so you get the feel from both your left and right side. Hold your blocking posture and stance, you are hitting with your shoulder blade right or left depending on which side you attack from. Great care must be taken with this block not to hit your opponent above the shoulders with any part of your body as you rotate into their chest (sternum). To do this you must maintain your bent knee posture. Hold the bent knees throughout the blocking sequence. You are measuring your opponent’s height when you set your knee bend prior to the J-block execution. Get your helmet at or below their shoulders!

Step in front and between your opponents skates, (Put out the vag light). Load up your torso by turning away (loading) your torso and shoulders simultaneously. Secure your elbow! It is easy to let the elbow fly. To avoid this take your left arm and hold your elbow or hand as you unload the block into your opponent’s sternum with your right foot touching the floor as you step over.

Blue blocker is loaded and ready to fire. She has her elbow secure and her helmet even with the shoulders the black blocker. Foot work is key to making a good J-block. Again the approach and those last couple of small steps put you in a balanced hitting position (put out the vag light). Foot work will also help you avoid telegraphing your block as you move in for the hit. Remember rolling into a block without getting

your feet involved in the setup process is slow and makes it easy for your opponent to see you coming. Foot work will get you in and out of your J-block quickly while maintaining the element of surprise. (Revisit the hip check blocking article or the WFTDA skills definitions for the foot work techniques like the shuffle, crossover, and grapevine).

The old school J-block is an awesome weapon and if thrown correctly it is a legal block. When I first started teaching this block the skater feedback was poor, to say the least. But after skaters took a few rear shoulder strap blasts from bigger skaters during bouts they soon realized that this is a good counter block against the rear shoulder strap block. This technique will make shoulder blockers think twice about blind siding you with a shoulder block in the rear bra strap area because they are wide open and off balance for the J-block as they load up their shoulder block and start leaning in toward you. Note the black blocker’s upper body position as she gets more off balance. As the shoulder blocker leans in she is more and more open to the J-block. The main issue with this block is the taller the skater using the J-Block technique the higher the required skill level. The taller skaters must be concerned at all times with the possibility of a High Block. The shorter skaters attacking a taller skater can just let the J-block fly as long as their helmet is at the shoulder level of the taller skaters, this block is the great equalizer for shorter skaters. | Spring 2017


This block works well when you are a bit shorter than your opponent. The shorter skater can unload her knee bend as well and put even more power into the block. In fact this is called the Power Block when the whole body is unloaded on your opponent. I hope you enjoyed this article about some of the tools and techniques you need to get yourself to the next derby level. Good luck to ya and keep the shiny side up!H


Spring 2017 | | Spring 2017


sisu aero nextgen mouthguard F I O N A G R A P P L E , R O C K Y M O U N TA I N R O L L E R G I R L S

Mouthguards. The non-glamourous, non-noticeable, hardly-give-them-athought piece of protective equipment that is one of the MOST important things a derby skater needs. For this article I chose to review SISU’s newest style of mouthguard – the Aero NextGen. SISU has been around for years and is one of the most common guards used by skaters. Preferred for their low-profile, easy to mold option, they come in a variety of colors. While they already had the thinnest mouthguards available they’ve outdone themselves with the Aero NextGen. I’ve used these mouthguards for years, ever since they first were introduced to the roller derby world.


Spring 2017 |

I remember the first time I saw them – I was really surprised that something that thin could truly protect my teeth from a hard impact. The first time I tried one and was able to take a drink of water with the mouthguard still in and didn’t drool everywhere? Sold! The first thing I noticed was this mouthguard was even thinner than the original, coming in at 1.6 millimeters thickness. The original SISU guard is 2.4 millimeters. While the original is still quite thin the difference between the two is pretty pronounced. The molding process is super easy. You simply heat up water on the stove or in the microwave to 140 degrees

and submerge the guard for 30-60 seconds or until pliable. Holding it flat you line your top teeth up with the handy little markings on the bite pad of the guard and gently fold it straight up. Once it’s formed to your teeth you create a bit of suction for a close fit and let it sit in your mouth 3-5 minutes. Done! If it’s not to your liking you simply remove, reheat and repeat until happy with the fit. The SISU guards can be remolded over and over, up to 20 times. What I noticed immediately is due to the thinness of the mouthguard it’s extremely comfortable. It’s very smooth, with no rough edges to irritate your gums or lips. Because it’s so thin you can’t even tell you have a mouthguard in. Drinking

and speaking were no problem at all, and midway through scrimmage I had forgotten completely that it was even in my mouth! The guard is super easy to clean, and has stayed shiny and white with an occasional toothbrush cleaning. It comes with a sturdy plastic case that keeps it clean and dry between practices. The Aero NextGen is safety rated for all sports. It comes with a one year, $35,000 dental warranty. It is BPA, Latex, PVC and Phthalate free and made in the USA. There are 11 colors to choose from, from Snow White to Tangerine Orange. (I chose Snow White because I’m vain and want my teeth to look sparkling white

in derby pics.) SISU uses a technology called “Diffusix”. This technology makes the Aero NextGen 30%

stronger than a traditional mouthguard. From their website: “Diffusix™ technology works with unique impact-absorbing perforations

and special “crumple zones” which direct the impact forces away from your teeth. When a SISU mouthguard is properly fitted, these energyabsorbing zones direct forces away from your teeth, reducing the risk of dental injury.” In all, I absolutely love SISU’s newest addition. Having been a fan of the original mouthguards for years I honestly didn’t think they could improve upon the design but they did! I’m very happy to know my pearly whites are well-protected, and it looks good too! If you would like to order your own, find them here:

introducing the WFTDA roller derby world summit T H E W O M E N ' S F L AT T R A C K D E R B Y A S S O C I AT I O N

The Women’s Flat Track Derby Association has been hosting its Annual Meetings longer than it’s even been the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association. The inaugural meeting took place in Chicago in July 2005, back when there were just 20 leagues uniting to lay the framework for the WFTDA, which was then calling itself the United Leagues Coalition. After more than 11 years of growth and evolution – and, yes, rebranding – the Annual Meetings remain a touchstone for the business. Leaders of the WFTDA and Member League representatives come together at the meetings again and again to reflect on the previous year’s actions and outline goals for the future.

As the meetings have adapted over the past decade to address the challenges facing a fast-growing sport, the WFTDA has found that a single three-day event once a year is just not enough time to cover everything on the to-do list. To tackle this – and much, much more – this year, the WFTDA is introducing the Roller Derby World Summit (RDWS) April 21-23, 2017 in Manchester, U.K.. “After 10 years of hosting The WFTDA Annual Meeting in person with membership, we realized that there was a very logical divide to the priorities for these events – splitting resources and networking into the new Roller Derby World Summit, and the engagement and advocacy into a more accessible format for members around the world with the online Annual Meeting,” says the Operations, Finance, and HR Manager for the


Spring 2017 |

WFTDA, Lesley Wachsmann, who is spearheading these two initiatives. The WFTDA is not canceling its Annual Meetings – it is hosting the RDWS in addition to the Annual Meetings, which will be held as a series of online sessions the weekend of May 20, 2017 so that all Member Leagues can attend live remotely. The two events will be covering different aspects of the sport, the business, and membership. The RDWS is also establishing a lot of brand new opportunities for the WFTDA community. Here are some of the exciting things happening this year: WFTDA membership scholarship In an effort to ensure that the event’s general track is available to WFTDA Member Leagues with financial barriers, the WFTDA created its firstever WFTDA Membership Scholarship. The total scholarship amount is $4000

USD, which is being divided amongst the recipients to help cover their travel costs to the RDWS. The five winning leagues are C-Max Roller Derby from Johannesburg, South Africa, Harpies Roller Derby from Milano, Italy, Northern Brisbane Rollers from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, Roller Derby Madrid from Madrid, Spain, and Sailor City Rollers from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Read more about them at international event Continuing the theme of accessibility for our international Member Leagues, this event will be hosted each year in different locations around the globe. Additionally, all general track registration has been released free to WFTDA Member Leagues, with each registered league receiving two general track admissions to the event.

the inaugural announcers clinic Along with the general track, the WFTDA is including two additional tracks at the RDWS: the WFTDA Officiating Clinic and the very first Announcer Clinic. (These tracks will also have access to networking and social events.) The Announcer Clinic will focus on building skills to participate at a tournament level and cultivating professional broadcast standards for announcers at every level. To purchase tickets and read more about the clinic and its instructors, visit

a more accessible annual meeting This year, all Member Leagues will be able to live and remotely attend the Annual Meeting. Lesley Wachsmann explains, “With an online platform that’s free for viewers around the world, the WFTDA will better enable its member leagues to engage in WFTDA business and discussions without the barrier of travel costs and scheduling.”

keynote speakers One of the objectives in dividing the Annual Meetings into two separate events is to allow the WFTDA to cover decisive business items while also strengthening Member League business acumen. The WFTDA is broadening its educational resources this year with expert keynote speakers – bookmark for keynote speaker announcements! The RDWS will also feature important panels, discussions, and education sessions for the WFTDA community.H

Talk to your WFTDA Reps about registering your league for the Roller Derby World Summit, April 21-23, 2017 in Manchester, U.K. and visit for more information! | Spring 2017



So you want to skate, but you’ve been told you are too young, time and time again? Well, with the introduction of junior derby to the world, now you can. Junior derby takes kids of all sizes and ages, from about seven to seventeen. (After that, you graduate to the big leagues.) However, there are some different rules you need to know before diving in, such as: skaters below Level Three aren’t allowed direct hits. You’ll have to make contact with another skater before you push them out of the way. Also, no skating in a Level Three jam if you’re a Level Two. However, Level Threes can skate in Level Two jams whenever they’re needed. And the most important rule of all: no matter how old or young, experienced or inexperienced a skater is, everyone is a derby person from the minute they put on their skates and step out on the track.


Spring 2017 |

One of the biggest differences is the way the skaters are grouped. You’ve got Level One, whose skaters are just starting out. To be Level One, you have to skate seven laps in two minutes, which works out to about seventeen and a half laps in five minutes. The next level up is Level Two, whose skaters have had more practice, and learned more skills. To achieve Level Two, you have to skate nine laps in two minutes, and that works out to twenty-two and a half in five. Last but not least is Level Three, whose skaters are the most skilled. For Level Three, you have to skate thirteen in

two, which works out to a blistering thirty-two and a half laps in five. This means that the skaters who start derby in the junior leagues will be crazy fast by the time they get to the big leagues, meaning that in twenty years, all we’ll see is blurs on the track at bouts. The way my league trains with so many ages of skaters is to split us in to two groups – the more advanced skaters, so high Level Two to Level Three skaters in one group, and the lower Level Twos and Level Ones in the other group. This works because the older skaters are able to train and develop their skills, and learn more difficult ones. For example: backwards crossovers. Meanwhile, the younger group are busy learning front-ways crossovers. Another reason this is so useful is for practicing bouting. During training, the Level Threes are often called on for demonstrations, especially when our coaches are explaining the pack. We do come together pretty often though, to play games, and help each other out. We also warm up together, and at the end of every session, we all crowd in the middle, stick our hands in, and shout our league chant: SSJR, SSJR, SSJR, huah! Bouting is an interesting one with junior skaters. This is due to the fact that you have varying levels of ability, and this is why each level matters. In my league, and pretty widely across the U.K., Level Ones don’t bout. This is

because they often don’t have a huge amount of experience in derby, and are still learning the basics. The jams last the same amount of time, but the skaters who skate in each jam are determined by what level you are. The configuration of jams differs from one bout to the next: sometimes it’s Level Two, Level Two, Level Three, and so on, and sometimes it alternates Two, Three, Two, Three. It usually depends on the skaters in that specific bout. Like I said before, Threes are allowed to bout a Level Two jam, but Twos are not allowed to bout a Level Three jam. This does sometimes lead to frantic change-overs in the penalty box. I think one of the best things about being able to finally bout is that if you spent a lot of time in the derby community as a kid, waiting for the day you turned eighteen so you could run out the door and join your local derby league. This moves that day way up to the young age of seven-at least, in my league. It’s also an amazing sport for kids who never thought they could be sporty (like me), it’s a brilliant way to do just that. Because of the introduction of junior derby to the U.K., a lot more kids are getting involved with it, and a lot more adults are because of their children. It also means members of the derby community with kids can now let their little ones bout, instead of telling them they have to wait. Junior derby is an opportunity to share more and more derby culture, and to invite the next generation of skaters in.H | Spring 2017



Offense – defense – out of play – run back – clockwise – insubordination!!! On and on, pages of rules, volumes of strategy, it can be too much for anyone, especially a five-year-old. Which brings us to... FLAG ROLLER DERBY!!! I first introduced flag roller derby about eight or nine years ago to the Tootsy Rollers of the Seattle Derby Brats, of which I am the founder. (#narcissist) At the time the minimum age was six. It was a great introduction to the sport for the very small kids. It put the game into an easy concept for them to grasp and play while also learning how to skate. In about one season they about grew out of flag roller derby, the minimum age range for SDB was raised to eight and flag derby was scraped. A few years ago I left the Seattle Derby Brats to focus on some real life things like going back to school and home repairs. (#adulting) There was something that tugged at my heart and I missed coaching and I often thought about that flag roller derby. There are quite a few junior leagues around the Seattle area and most of those start at age eight. So there are all these wee little ones who have to wait to turn eight to play. WOW, I remember when you used to have to wait to be 21 to play, that was a LONG time ago in the


Spring 2017 |

derby world. (#barleague) One day after reading Carol Dweck’s book MINDSET (#amazing) which I recommend you all read by the way, I decided that I needed to get back to coaching kids because I LOVED it. Since now there were so many age eight and over leagues I decided to bring something new to the Seattle area and the LITTLES were formed. The LITTLES are a coed Flag Roller Derby group ages 4-7. Most of the skaters who started did not know how to skate but they skated their first jams by the second practice. Little ones who can’t skate very well can even hold the hand of a teammate who is better and play that way. It is about having fun and teaching them to roller skate while playing the BEST SPORT IN THE WORLD!!! They will have their first public bout in just two months from starting. To make the sport as easy for them as possible I took bits of many rules sets, old and new, to make the Flag Derby Rules. I call them a group because they are one group that we will split into two teams for bouts and practice but they are not

really two teams. It is not set up the same as other junior leagues with a team based structure. We do not take attendance. There is a $5 drop in fee. There are no dues. (#keepitsimple) Extra money collected beyond the rink fee at this time goes to helmet covers, belts, flags and eventually a 501C3. Practice is only one hour and a half. The kids have 15 minutes to get gear on, we spend one hour on the floor and then they have another 15 minutes to take their gear off AND GET OUT! There is one head coach (me #narcissist) and then 4-5 skating coach helpers. Luckily there are five moms who skate on local leagues who know derby and skating and kids and they are there anyways so they help out. I would NOT try to coach 20+ kids by yourself. It isn’t fair to the kids. They need a lot of one on one attention while learning. The first few practices are the very basic of

skating skills and making sure the kids’ gear is all fitting right and skates are set right (many kids skates come with the bearings all the way tight so the wheels don’t roll .) Then practices are set up as 30 minutes of skill games and 30 minutes of scrimmage. Here are some suggestions for skill based games. DUCK DUCK GOOSE – pretty basic games – the kids learn to get up and change speed SIMON SAYS (we play “Betty Says” because #narcissist) – in this game have them do things like get all the way on the group, pop up, walk on toe stops, turn around etc. This gets them to do all the basic skills without having to THINK about doing them. RELAY RACES – we have them go grab a cone and bring it back or kick a plastic milk jug across a line and back. Having them do another action while moving helps them to focus on the action and less about skating but it actually helps them learn to skate better. | Spring 2017

FOLLOW THE LEADER – just let one kid randomly skate around and have everyone follow them, let them take turns, and the leader can’t lose anyone, good for awareness and agility. PACE LINE PASS – have them pass a ball or a stuffed animal (FOR FUNZIES! ) up and back down a pace line. This gets them to think about the ball or animal and less about the skating and they learn to move naturally on the skates. There are so many fun games to play, these are just a few. You can even invent your own games! THE BASICS BLOCKERS: SKATE TOGETHER AND GRAB A FLAG JAMMERS: SKATE REAL FAST SO THEY CAN’T GRAB YOUR FLAGS. There are no Pivots. The jammer wears a belt with six flags attached by Velcro. THE BASIC RULES Game Play: • Blockers start up on the “pivot” line that we call the “blocker” line. • Jammers start behind the jam line. • Blockers go on first whistle. • Jammers go on second whistle AFTER all the blockers


Spring 2017 |

have gone past the line and are moving. (#oldskool) • The LEAD JAMMER is the jammer in front and can call off a jam early. There is no need for first pass to establish lead jammer, points are scored on the first pass. • A jam lasts two minutes if no jammer calls it off. • The next jam starts when all the players are on the track and ready. (It is like herding cats and sometimes it takes longer than 30 seconds to get the next group on the track.) • Players must stay in the pack which is 20 feet ahead or 20 feet behind. If they skate out of the pack they are just told to get back in it. No penalties called.

Points • Points are scored by both blockers and jammers. • Points can be scored on the first and every pass. • Jammers get point for every time they lap the pack. • Blocker get point for every flag they grab off a jammer. They can grab more than one flag – if they can. • If a jammer loses all their flags, they should still skate to try and get lap points.

now. We only play each other so there is not a need to have to coordinate our rules with another team but if it ever comes up it would be totally easy to do. When they get older and move to a more structured league they will have some basics of the sport and skating skills. There is no need to get them ready for Team USA when they are five.

Penalties • There is no “penalty box”. If a skater is called on a penalty the coach/ref feels is bad enough or repeated several times the skater returns to their bench for the rest of the jam. Each jam starts with a full pack. • The penalty is interpreted by the refs/coach/coach helpers. Little teeny kids fall and run into each other a lot by accident so it is different than calling adults. You have to give them a little leeway. Penalties include • Major back blocks • Intentional Hitting/blocking (with hands or body) • Tripping on purpose • Cutting and not resetting (if the kid cuts, we tell them to reset and where – usually the back) One thing to know about FLAG DERBY is that you can really make your own rules. Many of our kids are literally just learning to skate (#bambi) and this is what works for us

Flag roller derby can also be adapted for adults who want a non-contact sort of a game. For either new skaters or retired bodies who want to still skate and have fun but without the bruises. (#wussy) (#justjoking) The main thing to remember about Flag Roller Derby is to make it fun for the kids. They are the future of our sport. When you start them at four years old they will have plenty of time for the real rules later. H | Spring 2017

recruitment drive? it’s time to consider your welcome pack SCARLETT O’HARDER, SHEFFIELD STEEL ROLLER GIRLS

One of the first impressions you will make on a fledgling skater is with the communication you provide at the start of their derby career. Many newbies will be afraid to ask all of the relevant questions at the start for fear of appearing foolish and, in a lot of cases, may not even know the right questions to ask. For those areas with multiple leagues nearby, you may even be entertaining new skaters who have not yet chosen their forever home so getting your welcome pack right is incredibly important. But what to include? The volume of advice to new folks can be staggering so making sure you give enough information at the start, without the risk of drowning them. This is a fine line to tread. Here is a handy guide of things to include in your welcome pack that will get you started. There may be more you wish to add but this should be a great foundation. a brief history of the team A lot of welcome packs tend to include an overview of the sport but the chances are, if they’ve got this far, they know a little bit about it – enough to get going anyway. Plus, your welcome pack is to reflect your league, not something that has been kicking around for ages. Tell them how long the team has been together, some highlights and if possible a mission statement that stands for the type of league you are. Leave the


Spring 2017 |

research on the sport for them to do in their own time. Make sure you include photos, and, if you team shot is uber serious, then try and include a fun one of you all together on game day as well. There are two sides to every team and you want to reflect this in your promo. a list of required kit and recommendations Starting out in derby is expensive and while we know there are some superb starter kits, we also know the contents are not always fit for derby. Those little knee cap pads that are literally just solid plastic might be cheap and cheerful but they’re dangerous too. So, as well as the list of items they need to have, give a brief overview of what type of things they should be looking for and maybe even some trusted brands that your team prefers. Be sure to name – check any sponsors you have if they help with your kit costs!

the structure of your committee – with headshots! This is so important and so often overlooked. Joining a new league – particularly the larger ones – is incredibly daunting and in the first year or so, these new skaters are going to need a lot of hand-holding. If they’re not sure whom they can go to with a problem, then they may not ever even bring it up. Providing a list of people,

Joining a new league – particularly the larger ones – is incredibly daunting and in the first year or so, these new skaters are going to need a lot of hand-holding.

David Roth

...your welcome pack is to reflect your league, not something that has been kicking around for ages. along with photos, will let people know instantly who can help and will also break through any perceived cliques. Plus, if you want to encourage a culture of volunteering (and let’s face it, which league doesn’t need it?), then it’s really important that newer folks know what areas they can get involved in. code of conduct – including social media policy! To avoid any hiccups down the line, it’s imperative that you outline what

is expected of your skaters. From the start, this should include every aspect of their time from minimum skills testing through attendance and team selection, subs and bank details, skater behaviors both on and off the track, and generally anything else that is enforced or expected. It’s very hard to deal with an issue if there is nothing official in place. With that in mind, you should also include a copy of your disciplinary procedure so that if they ever find themselves in that position, the information is readily available.’s imperative that you outline what is expected of your skaters.

contact details It sounds obvious but these are not always available with leagues relying on Facebook groups to communicate everything. If you have multiple mailboxes for different aspects of committee life then publish them all. Ensure all your committee heads are listed here too. Finally... you know what’s really nice? A little piece of merch to formally integrate your new member. This doesn’t have to be much but a badge, patch, or sticker will help make them feel part of league much more quickly than having to wait for the first batch of uniforms to be printed. Now off you go, get recruiting!H | Spring 2017


officials across the pond B I L LY N O S K AT E S, L E E D S R O L L E R D E R B Y PHOTOS BY JASON RUFFELL

As a European involved in a worldwide sport, I have written in the past about what it takes to get a team from Europe to play in the U.S. in order to progress through the WFTDA rankings. But roller derby is not just for players, or even just for skaters. For example, last year I travelled to three international tournaments – two as an announcer and one as a writer. For me, announcing and writing combined my love of roller derby with my love of getting in places for free. But it is important to note that the great game of roller derby couldn’t exist without the help of the NSOs, refs, and although it sounds like a stretch to some people, announcers, writers, and photographers as well. While skaters tend to be fairly well looked after at tournaments, taking care of your NSOs and announcers is occasionally an afterthought, and press often get left out altogether from any arrangements that are in place for officials. Quality of provision varies hugely from place to place and is sometimes non-existent. But the passion, commitment, and cost is the same for those of us on the edges of the sport as it is for skaters, and when you’re travelling internationally, that cost can be high. I spoke to some of my colleagues about why they do what they do. I’ve spoken to Talk Derby To Me’s NSO of the year, Emily of the State of Oldham’s Rainy City Roller Derby, Biertrix, internationally well-known announcer, and photographer Jason Ruffell of Roller Derby on Film. I asked them how they got started in roller derby. Similarly to me, Emily of the State got into her NSO role through her partner (Menace of Rainy City Roller Derby). Emily explains, “Menace started skating in 2013 and after about six months, I was asking ‘where has my girlfriend gone?!’ So she allowed me to come to scrim. I went along and someone sat me in the penalty box with a stopwatch and said ‘time this,’ and I did – even thought I didn’t really know what I was timing. That led to me NSOing for the league and just picked it up from there. So what got me into the sport was Menace, but since then I’ve done my own things and become an NSO in my own right.”


Spring 2017 |

Biertrix says, “Following injury and subsequent retirement from play, I still wanted to be involved in the league and roller derby but knew anything with taxing math quizzes wasn’t really for me. I’d spent four years telling other people about this awesome sport that I played, and unlike some of the announcers I saw at local games – I was actually interested in communicating the sport and not talking about the ‘girls’ on track and how well I knew them.” Emily replies, “NSOing is a great way of getting a really good view of the action! I guess I’m also a little bit of a geek and I didn’t really realize this about myself until I got into derby, but – I really like spreadsheets and rules and stats and things! My favorite role is scorekeeping because you’re focusing on the jammer, you’re focusing on all of the action. You have to get it right – the score has to be right, so it’s a really important role and although it’s stressful, it’s a really enjoyable stress.” Jason had a friend who had mentioned roller derby and became interested in the sport through her. Out of curiosity he dropped the local team a line and turned up to a scrimmage. He dropped the photos off and got invited back to do head shots, and has been photographing roller derby ever since. Jason says, “Shooting roller derby was a real challenge, every time I went along I learned something new. It wasn’t until my third or fourth bout that I actually got a picture I was happy with. But mostly what kept me going in the early days was the camaraderie, after the games there would be an afterparty or some kind of get-together. You got to meet more people and make friends and contacts that would lead to more events. In those days the scene was quite small and everyone knew everyone – now it seems that more teams are travelling but for less time. The social aspect of it has changed enormously over the years.” | Spring 2017


All that travel can be an expensive business. Biertrix says, “My trips are self-funded, am I rich? Nope! I do make a lot of sacrifices to travel as much as I do, I try to plan in advance, I travel on the cheapest tickets I can, and eat a lot of super noodles during the week to free up the cash. I was also lucky to have the support of my league for D1 playoffs this year, I received a little bit of money from them as they held a vintage clothes sale for me.” Emily says, “I did count up how much I spent on travel in the past year and I was really quite shocked when I totaled it up. I have never received any stipend or travel costs or anything for travelling, it all comes out of my own funds.” Emily also adds, “Wherever you travel with roller derby the community will always try to help out as much as they can. Other officials would always try to put you up. And it is my hobby and I usually try to take a little holiday at the same time so I would never begrudge roller derby for the cost of travel.” Biertrix adds, “This is my hobby and I get to have some amazing experiences and create some memories doing it. Work is pretty understanding, though I do have to be careful in how much time I take off. Travelling without my family can sometimes be a bit lonely, but I’m lucky to have tournament


Spring 2017 |

buddies who travel to the same tournaments I do and keep me sane.” Jason also points out, “People who train together two or three times a week can easily get together and make arrangements to split the cost of travel or accommodation. So it can end up being more expensive for those of us out of that loop.” My travel also comes out of my own funds, and I am not particularly rich either – it’s just that all the money that would otherwise be spent on holidaying somewhere exotic and possibly sunny, is instead spent on spending several days indoors in a sweaty sports hall or arena amid the odor of pads, never seeing the light of day. Between the four of us, we have travelled tens of thousands of miles in the past year – Malmö, Sweden; Ghent, Belgium; Antwerp, Belgium; Eugene, Oregon; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Loveland, Colorado; Columbia, South Carolina. That’s a lot of air miles, not to mention a lot of combined hours in the confines of a sports arena, effectively working for free. I spoke to Jason about this. “It would be nice to be able to get a free tea or coffee,” he says. “Sometimes the venues are freezing and your movement is

restricted, sometimes for hours at a time. It would be nice to be able to get a hot drink to warm up. Even the little things make a big difference – people checking in with you, offering food or a hot drink goes a really long way in terms of goodwill, but photographers often get overlooked.” I have to agree. Jason’s experience is a significant contrast to the reception that skaters and officials receive – press aren’t afforded the same degree of hospitality that’s extended to officials. “Often the events take place where there is limited food available to buy, or where you’re totally unfamiliar with the area and don’t speak the language,” he says. “Eating healthy can be really difficult when you’re at a tournament.” I asked them, is it worth it? Biertrix has no hesitation answering this one: “Yes! It’s one of the best things I have ever done. I think the greatest thing about travelling to announce is you get this snapshot of different cultures, cities, and leagues over a long weekend. It can be really energizing to see how excited a team gets or inspiring when you watch your own league achieve the goals they set.” Emily feels the same. “I’ve been to Malmo, Big O, which was the first time I NSOd in the States; Finland; I’ve been to Belgium a couple of times for SKOD and Skates of Glory and all around the UK, including to Newcastle for the MEC

(Men’s European Cup). The most foreign and most strange of these was the Big O, because I didn’t know anybody there. It was a great experience but I also realized then that it was really the people that I loved and I look forward so much to meeting up with them at games and tournaments. “I wanted to travel initially so that I could go with Rainy City when they travel, and I needed to get my certification in order to NSO at some of the bigger tournaments. Now I want to travel for the experience and fun of it. Some people put themselves on the line for me to get that certification, and I’ll be forever grateful to them.” Jason has a different perspective. “I used to do it because I met up with friends, challenged myself and had a good laugh. That’s no longer the case. People forget about you. You can turn up, work for hours on end and go home without speaking to anyone. Things have changed so much it’s a difficult question – is it still worth it? I’m not sure about that. “But every time you get a really good picture, it makes it worth it. You’re always after that killer shot – and when you get it, and see the reaction to it, yes, it’s worth it. It makes you feel good.”H | Spring 2017


how to tell your team you are leaving B E T T Y F O R D G A L A X Y, R A I N I E R R O L L E R G I R L S PHOTOS BY STEVE MESSERER

You have thought about it for weeks, made pro/con lists, talked with your most trusted confidants and made all kinds of plans. You are ready to retire from roller derby. Perhaps you have the nine-month injury, another injury that is going to take you away from roller derby, you want to expand your roller derby horizons or you have just had it with your league and you want to move. Whatever the reason, you are ready to move on. The million-dollar question is: “When, Where and How do you tell your team???” I have never retired from skating but I have moved leagues four times. I have seen hundreds of my teammates retire. Over the years I have found that there is a right way and a wrong way to tell (or not tell) your team you are leaving. I have not always been perfect about how I left a league. I have tried to be honest and not burn bridges, but it can be hard. As George Washington once said, “It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.”


Spring 2017 |

As in any relationship, honesty is the best policy. You are not doing anyone a favor if you leave and sugar-coat the truth. You are not doing them favors by keeping the truth from them. Trying to protect the feelings of your team is most likely a cowardly way of avoiding telling the team the real reason why you are leaving. Yes, it can be hard to let people know you are going, especially when you are not sure if you are going. I once had a teammate try out for another local league. She was still coming to practices, working committees and taking part in votes as if she was staying. We found out she was leaving because we got an email from the WFTDA regarding her transfer. She had tried out, gotten accepted, filled out paperwork and was joining another team but had not officially left. She later said that she didn’t want to make a big deal of it if she wasn’t accepted on the new league. This did not make most of us feel better, it hurt. While I know it was not her intent to cause harm, this situation brings up the tenets of being on

a team. Be there for your teammates. Be honest with them. It was hard to learn from an email, that was not even from the skater, that she was leaving. At the same time, we had a skater who came to the team and said she was looking for something different and she wanted to be on a league where she had the opportunity for WFTDA tournament play. She spoke to us from the heart at a league practice during the announcements. We encouraged her as she tried out and celebrated with her when she was accepted to the other league. Many of us went to her first bout with the new league and cheered her on. We still invite her to our open scrimmages and she has even benched coached at a bout for us.

The difference between the two here is the HOW and WHEN they told us. Of course we didn’t want to see either go but everyone has their own roller derby journey. Trust your teammates enough to celebrate and support you in your journey. Keep in mind, the roller derby community is small and you do not want to burn bridges as you go forward on your journey. There may be a day you want to come back and you want those bridges still there. Then there are situations where you have just had enough. Sometimes a tyrant takes hold of a league or there might be a situation where bullying gets out of control. While I would love to believe that there are not roller derby dictators and bullies, there are. In these situations, I feel that you still need to be honest with the league. Perhaps in an open letter to the league you can give the reasons for leaving and even suggest a solution for others in the league who are feeling the same way. Do not post your letter to the public or air your dirty laundry on social media. It isn’t worth it. It will not change anything and in the end will only make the person who aired the laundry look bad. This might not seem fair but is what tends to happen. In this situation do what makes you feel safe. Do not approach a bully or dictator in a manner that could cause you harm. Think about the team you are leaving. Do not make the “good bye” about you. Do not expect people to cry or freak out and then be upset when they do not. Give them time to process the news. Make sure to pick a time and place that doesn’t affect a game. When you decide to go think about the people on your team. Telling your teammates of your eminent departure during a pre-bout pep talk is unkind and off-putting, they will need time to process this information. Take the time to tell your teammates that you are planning to leave a couple of weeks before your last bout. This gives you the time to make all of your good-byes and hand off your committee work properly. Afterwards you get to have an amazing last game. You don't want to put a cloud over your team in the weeks leading up to the end of the season or an important game. Telling the team after a bout when you are all together could be a good time but you do not want to throw salt in an open wound. This depends on the outcome of the bout. One of my former teams was always a bridesmaid, and never the bride when it came to the league champs. One year we really thought we had it and the bout came | Spring 2017


down to the last jam. We were devastated when we lost. It was in the locker room when one of the team’s favorite people and best blockers let us know she would not be coming back. Though it was nice that she told us while we were together, many of us were visibly upset and her announcement only added to the disappointment. She could have made the announcement while there are no heightened emotions running around so the team could process without the added stress of losing a bout. When you are ready to go do not sugar-coat your leaving. We are adults. If you want to go, be honest. If the sugar is real, stick around and volunteer. But do not fake sadness if you are not emotional. Please don't tell us you'll visit and not follow through. Just rip the band aid off and go. It makes you look bad to make promises you do not keep. If you can, make the announcement before the last day you plan on showing up. This is not always possible but it is good to be able to give the team time to process and gives you time to pass on your team commitments and committee work to another skater. This is especially true if you are an HR or a WFTDA rep, you will need to teach the next person what to do. Try to not leave the team high and dry when it comes to your team duties.


Spring 2017 |

Sometimes you are on a league that is so dysfunctional that telling them ahead of time can make the team treat you differently. If this happens make sure to talk to your team about it. Let them know how you feel. Recently I was contacted by a skater whose partner is in the military. They were being relocated so she told her team and began to transfer her committee work. Some people on the team started to treat her as if she was already off the team and left her out of things on purpose. This is just not cool. If your teammate for whatever reason has chosen to leave, told you with plenty of time and is working to make it a smooth transition, do not be a jerk and treat them poorly. You may be sad or upset, or even angry that they are leaving, but you do not have the right to treat them poorly. Especially in the case of someone who has to move. Not cool. Here are some general guidelines: texting or email: Face to face is best. Texting or email is reserved for situations where you cannot physically be there or when you do not feel safe. If you chose to text or email it may burn bridges. Of course in a “bully” or “tyrant” situation, there may be no bridge left to burn. social media: Do not tell the world before you tell the team and tagging them in a post does not count. This is

a cowardly jerk move. Expect to be treated as such. just stop showing up: This is the worst. Telling people can be hard but ghosting your derby team is heartless. Sure there might be extreme cases where this is warranted and if that is the case you are probably not a jerk but this is the worst way to leave a team and should be avoided if at all possible. after party: This could be the most appropriate time. Everyone is having fun and will have time to talk to you if they need to. There can be hugs and high fives and rounds of celebratory shots. before a bout: Why would you ever do this? Why not tell them their dog died and they are being fired while you are at it. Do not mess with team mojo before a bout. after a bout: If you are not coming back, judge the situation. If the team is already down, don’t kick them. Choose another time. practice: This can be a good time. Try not to take too long. Perhaps your league has an announcements time at practice or you can gather them and let them know you have something to talk about. Person to person in a familiar place is a nice way to let them know. team meeting: Having everyone together and time to talk about it could be a nice way to tell your team. It gives them time to ask questions and give hugs. At our end of season team meetings, we always ask who is planning on coming back. If you know you are not coming back or are thinking of moving on, this is a good time to tell the team.

When you are ready to go do not sugar-coat your leaving. We are adults. If you want to go, be honest. a phone call is uncomfortable to receive and a text is just fine. Know your audience. private forum or facebook group: If your team has a private place to make posts this could be an option for those who are uncomfortable with public speaking. Perhaps list your plans and reasons on the forum and let the team know how you feel about. “I love you guys, tonight is my last practice, let’s get tacos!” The reason you are leaving may call for different tactics. The main thing to remember is to do it with respect. Do not burn bridges. Understand that people might be sad or upset by the news so let them feel their feelings. Think about what you want to say before you tell them. If you have a confidant on the team or another team, ask their opinion on what you should say and when. Roller derby is not like other sports or a job. It is a community. It is a lifestyle. It is a family. You want to make sure your family is taken care of. For those on the receiving end of the news make sure you respect the journey of your friend, one day it will be you who is leaving and you will see how hard it was for them.H

phone call: If you cannot meet in person or there are one or two special teammates who cannot make it to the practice or meeting you are telling the team at, a phone call is a nice way to show them you care and value their feelings and opinions. I would not call everyone on the team but for those you can’t meet face to face a phone call or a coffee date would be nice. For some of the “younger folks” | Spring 2017



Founded in July 2013 by Bruja Canibal and Kadma Sixx, Reinas Rojas is the first Roller Derby team in Cancún and in all the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico. Our name has its origin in the Mayan’s royal women’s burial with red cinnabar, which painted their bones red, especially for the Red Queen of Palenque and her famous tomb. Both founders knew about the sport from different sources. Bruja watched ‘Whip It’ and fell in love with it. Kadma knew about it from a TV show but had no idea how big it was in Mexico already. They met precisely because Bruja already thought of starting a team, and Kadma was looking for one. Although Bruja had visited a neighbor team, Boas Terror and even played with Xtabay against them, none of them had really the experience to train a team. So they watched and watched Youtube tutorials mostly and tried their best to learn the basic skills in order to be able to teach them to the other girls. At our first practices there were only four of us, sometimes even only two, but we practiced anyway. We practiced small things like balance, stopping, and simple footwork. During our first months we had Huacho, Boas’ coach, direct a practice and he gave us our first contact experience on skates. It was much more difficult than we expected, but it was also really fun and encouraging. Another situation we came across in the beginning, was the lack of places to skate. In the beginning we used public basketball courts at parks downtown, we got all kind of reactions from people passing by with interest in our quad skates, derby and future bouts, people playing other sports not respecting our space and sometimes even throwing balls at us on purpose, to the always annoying


Spring 2017 |

catcalling. That’s why our current venue is almost sacred to us. Then two years ago we attended a Tattoo Convention to recruit new members and caught the owner’s attention. When we were offered the opportunity to rent an empty warehouse that used to be a supermarket for our practices, we didn’t even think twice about it. We know we are lucky to have a roofed space, where we can fit up to four derby tracks. Not many teams in Mexico can say that. Roller Derby has grown amazingly in Mexico in the past three years. There are over 30 leagues all over the country, but mostly in Central and North Mexico. In the Southeast area there are only three active teams, including us. Some times when recruiting, people come and practice for a while, but stop coming when they realize we don’t have bouts as often as other sports do, or that it’s expensive to travel so we can compete with other leagues. This only encourages us to push the limits and the growth of the sport in our area, so more people know about it, more teams are founded, and we can raise the bar for competition. Cancun is a small touristy town. One might think it would be hard to find skaters. A lot of people move in and out of the city all the time. A lot of people don’t stay for long. That also means we have people from all over the country, and even from abroad. I would say the ‘natural selection’ of the team has been a great contribution for our development: the best people always stay. Since we live in the Caribbean, we get interesting visits and make friends all the time. The first

visitor was one who we consider our Derby Godmother, Holly Ween. Holly is the founder of Northern Arizona Roller Derby. She visited us for the first time in 2013 when she came for a friend’s wedding. There were only five of us and not everyone was comfortable on skates just yet. She was really patient with us and offered to help in anything she could. We stayed in touch and the next year she trained us and was our bench coach for our first official bout against Xtabay Roller Derby, from Campeche. After Holly, we got visitors like Stabba (Dublin Roller Derby), Bye Kitty (Colombia), Tinkerbelther (Australia), Tio Danny (Team Puerto Rico), Quadzilla, and of course Mexican skaters from Mexico City, Queretaro and Morelia amongst others. In October 2015 we had the honor to host an international bootcamp with Jackie Daniels that had skaters from Mexico, the U.S., and Canada. Each visitor, experienced or not, teaches us something different, making our trainings richer and better each time. We are thankful that these visits put Cancun and the team on the roller derby map. 2016 has been the team’s strongest year yet. Like every year, a few people come and go, but this time we maintained a solid roster overall. We had skaters who started from scratch and now are the fastest/strongest in the team. Some people who had left came back, and we got ourselves a coach. Coach Warhell, who managed to build a new functioning structure to our practices, has made them better, more efficient, and more effective. We also attended Playoffs as spectators and some as Referees or NSOs.

For 2017 we have more goals to smash. For starters, this past January we changed our logo to one that reflected the team’s name origin. The first one was created with ideas from the skaters active at the moment, but it had nothing to do with the Mayan culture, so we decided to go for a makeover this year. We replaced the English crown with a royal red skull. This change comes of course with a new uniform and new social network look, but is not only aesthetic. Reinas Rojas are getting ready to take on teams we haven’t faced before. Our goal is to earn the experience and knowledge to keep growing. This year we will have bouts and tournaments paving the way to build Quintana Roo’s Roller Derby League to have our first participation at Playoffs, and hopefully, Nationals. If you ever find yourself in the Mayan Riviera, don’t hesitate to send us a message, our doors are always open.H | Spring 2017



Spring 2017 |

1. Blocker on left is missing number from armband. 2. Center blocker’s bandana has changed color. 3. Center blocker is missing X from cheek. 4. Jammer is missing logo on side of shirt. 5. Blocker on right’s wheels have changed color. 6. Blocker in back’s helmet has changed color. 7. Blocker on left’s toe stop changed color.

masonite burn,


Profile for fiveonfivemedia

fiveonfive | issue 35 | Spring 2017  

fiveonfive | issue 35 | Spring 2017