Utah’s ultimate derby girl overcoming her toughest bout | The Salt Lake Tribune

Utah’s ultimate derby girl overcoming her toughest bout | The Salt Lake Tribune.  CLICK ON LINK

This Derby girl is fighting a terrible battle, and only those who are supporting her are keeping her alive…..please read this wonderful story from today’s Salt Lake Tribune and if you can, donate just a little.

Let’s make certain we can look each other in the eye at Rollercon.  Maybe one less beer…..

Just remember how you changed Lori Milkeris’ life and so many others.

Don’t you think she is worth helping?  To contribute:  www.gofundme.com   “healing Scarlicious”………$5 would be great.

What to do at Rollercon besides skating (which I don’t do)

The first Rollercon I attended was in 2006, and I don’t remember exactly why I went.

I think it was because Loretta “little Iodine” told me about it, and I had met the Windy City Rollers and my first Derby wife Val Capone the year before.

And Judi Flowers sent along 300 pair of her flower slippers that had been featured on Oprah and Sex and the City and we gave them out…..anyone still have them?

Judi and Jerry:

Photo: IMG_7904

Loretta and I were so honored to be introduced and get to say hello to everyone at the big opening dinner (gone the way of the dodo bird).

July 30 to August 4 at the Riviera in Las Vagas will be either my fifth or sixth.  Ivanna and Trish and all the people who put together this amazing event are wonderful…..at least to me it has become the centerpiece of modern Roller Derby, even more than the championships……over 5000 from all over the world (will there be anyone there from the leagues in China, Russia, Korea, South Africa, Egypt, Israel, etc?) because this is Roller Derby Mecca.  The best skating instruction, the best functions, seminars, trade show etc.  It is really Roller Derby University, where it is not as much what you learn, but who you meet, hang with, and make even more bonding relationships.

First league being formed in Russia:  in line skates for now!

Photo: Our traning of 5 June. We usually have around 10 people, there are several who are coming every time, but also we get some new guys every training, what's good. It is sunny in St.Petersburg. and we are enjoying it on the Palace Square (in front of the Hermitage, yep)

I have never been a skater (unless you count my time on the banked track in a match race with a sponsor (I had sense enough to lose) or when I skated with the Singer midgets (their actual name) when they were in Hollywood filming “The Wizard of Oz”…….I hope that doesn’t date me).

But boy, this is my Disneyland, Space Shuttle, Super Bowl all wrapped in one.

And Brown Paper Tickets, the only ticketing company with a full Derby Division with Derby people, has me doing sales and outreach for them.  This not just for profit, fair trade company had me start with them last September.   And if you can imagine the logistics of doing every admission function for Rollercon, you can see what a snap they would be to handle your league (lowest service fee, no cost to you, magnificent customer service….www.brownpapertickets.com).

And what will I be doing?

Well, I have 7500 facebook friends and tens of thousands who follow my blog and twitter, so I get to see many of them this one time of year.  And we take pictures and I sign the various places they want to be signed (yes, it is true, I did).  And I will hang in the Brown Paper Tickets booth with Sten and Michelle and the many others they will bring just to make sure all problems in Las Vegas are handled.

And Judi Flowers and I will be at the Roll Models/gamegear booth in the main hall (#24, at the corner right in front) where Judi will introduce the Derby fashion forward SeltzerBrand/Gamegear designs by Lucy D which are sublimated (what till you find out what that means) and unlike anything else in Derby.  the designs last as long as the fabric, regardless of washings etc.  There will be a limited amount on sale as well as books autographed by the Commissioner and photo ops, etc.

And if you are even thinking about getting team uniforms, please check out Roll Models, unless you don’t want professional looking, long wearing, sublimated designs.

Bob Noxious of Roller Derby fame and Brown Paper tickets and I will be heading a seminar on Saturday at noon in #114.  If you are super-successful in attracting fans or not successful, you will want to be there to be part of the discussion…..there is so much about promotion, marketing, ticketing that is not obvious, and we will get into all of that….and oh yes, I promoted over 3000 Roller Derby games, Willie and Waylon, and much more.

And here is an oddity:  The Roller Derby Skate Company, started by my father and uncle Oscar Seltzer 70 years ago will be making its first appearance at Rollercon, in the west hall where Brown Paper Tickets booth is.  I have no ownership; cousin Ed (a nuclear physicist who attended Cal Tech!) owns it, and has made it one of the most successful roller, ice, skateboard, hockey companies in the world.  I guess he figured it was time to visit his namesake.  I am certain he has gone for a certain niche, and you really should stop by and see the products in the booth.  We required all of our skaters to wear them back in the day.

The voluptuous Val Capone at our Derby Wedding.

Jerry Seltzer

It appears that about 200 members of the vibrant Derby over 40 group will be on hand.  We will have a little gathering on Friday night, and hope you can attend my (third) Derby wedding to the breathtaking Donna “thehotflash” Kay at the top of the Riv and then stay for the pants off/dance off party (I guess that is appropriate on a wedding night).

Oh Donna, (sigh)

Donna 'thehotflash' Kay

And of course Dumptruck officiiated at the Lori and Jerry nuptials.

Photo: After ceremony

If you don’t know about Donna, please check out her facebook page.   Maybe the most amazing woman around.

I can’t remember your derby name and real name (I check the labels in my shirts to make certain they are mine), so just come up and hug me, tell me who you are and let’s take a photo.

Gawd, I love Rollercon.

Roller Derby today

In June it will be three years since I stumbled onto WordPress and wrote a short paragraph just for the hell of it.

Since then I have somehow written 281 posts and to date have had 223,418 views.

Some posts were trivial, some were not thought out enough, and a few really had a meaningful affect.  I am really proud of  “I Like Women” which is my most widely read and shared post, about Lori Milkeris and the terrible disease of domestic violence;  and there are others.  I think I will finally try to convince Keith Coppage to make sense of them, and put the compilation out as an E-book.

You continuing readers know that although Roller Derby was a significant part of my life (15 years, 3000 games), it was not (and is not) all.  I consider myself a social activist and critic.

The critic part got me in trouble with some of you.

Assuming that I knew what Roller Derby is and should be, instead of getting a better understanding of what flat track Derby today is, I seemingly attacked what I saw.

Image by JR3 from stock.xhng.com.

Image by JR3 from stock.xhng.com.

Well of course the skaters could not initially be those skilled athletes I had known in the game; they had created a game that could be skated easily and had to be molded to the skaters who were playing.

Our skaters were paid professionals, who trained for an average of a year before being rostered, and although the game had many elements of sports entertainment, the players were wonderful athletes who did amazing things on a continual basis that were expected of them; the teams had a maximum of 8 men and 8 women (usually 7 each), and we scheduled up to 6 games per week. And believe it or not, many games (“The Open Game”) were 100% competitive as my father tried to legitimize it in the mid 50’s but had tremendous resistance from TV and the fans.  (Don’t show one game on television and then present another).

I stated initially that I was looking upon the game as a fan and a promoter and felt there were too many slow downs, times out, officials, you name it.

Understand, I have a right to my opinions, but no right to expound them as gospel…….and one of the major ruling bodies was not pleased and showed it.  I am sorry about that, but we all make our own choices.

So let’s look at the differences in the various games, then and today.

Roller Derby evolved from the initial marathon in 1935 through modifications by Leo Seltzer, Damon Runyon, staff, managers and skaters to what was pretty standard by the early 40’s.  The next big change occurred in the late 50s  –  early 60s, with the formalizing of skaters roles determined by the helmets they wore; each team had a pivot skater, two blockers and two jammers.  A jam would start with the pack was “intact”, i.e. the two pivots at the front, the four blockers behind them, and then the four jammers.  Of course it was on the banked track.

The referees (2 non-skating, three for playoffs) blew the whistles and the sixty-second jam would start.  The blockers could not be more than twenty feet in front of or behind the pack at anytime; the pivots could chase the jammers (and actually become a scoring player) after the jammers left the pack.  At the end of the play the players would switch helmets (and positions), and the referees would organize the pack as soon as possible.  Stopping was not allowed and penalized, as was skating backwards and blocking.

If a player was penalized, the helmet was not.  So no jam started without at least one jammer from each team.  A maximum of three players on a team could be penalized at one time; others would go in as the initial penalty time (1 minute; major 2 minutes) expired for any penalized skater.

Obviously there were no power jams, and scoring (because of the jammers chasing each other) was low; from the teens up to the low 30’s.

So you can see the differences.  Now modern Derby is just 10 years old and unlike ending up with a unified rule set, there are many different ones.  And what I really think is great, is that every league can find one that they are most happy with.  I have seen a number of the different games, and while you may think others are not as good as yours, they are all derivatives of the original sport.

And there are definite differences of what various skaters are looking for (and for god’s skate, I am not being judgmental but hopefully factual!).  Some want to skate for the fun of it, maybe for the fitness, and in some cases, the after parties are what it is all about.

Others are seeking a more difficult and condition requiring contests:  some are panicking at WFTDA’s new minimum skills (which are better for you all), others welcome the changes, and look at USARS, MADE, Old School, etc as possibilities.

Then of course the wildness of Renegades, and those two very wonderful self-contained pods, TXRD and LA Derby Dolls, both banked track.  They are different in game styles, but similar in what I consider a great approach to Derby:  tolerant and friends with all rule sets and styles of play; allowing other skaters in, and being tremendously supportive of the community participation and good works that are somehow instinctive in all of Derby.

TXRD skates a competitive game, but has added many elements of sports entertainment that make it fun for skaters and fans.  I love April and what she and the others have accomplished.  It is Roller Derby (as are you all) but I don’t like all the elements, but it sure works in Austin.

The Derby Dolls I pretty well covered a few posts ago.  That and elements of  USARS are to my liking.  Do not misinterpret that I am disdaining flat track.  Again, it is Roller Derby, enthralling when skated by conditioned athletes who understand the game, and it has many fans who will continue to support it.  Because of the minimum conditions required to play it (think of the CaiRollers struggling in Egypt), it can be played on any flat surface.  And I will see my Sonoma County Roller Derby this Saturday in Santa Rosa as they skate for the first time in their new venue.

The Derby Dolls and their companion leagues now have a game more suited to what the banked track allows:  60 second jams, great understanding of what the pack does, no lengthy time outs, constant pack movement, almost no time between jams, power jams not really that apparent.

And even though the game was very one-sided, virtually all the fans stayed till the end;  the jammers were outstanding and remarkably agile, but the skaters in the pack never stood up, kept in blocking positions,  and didn’t allow jammers pass them without setting up pack plays and being very effective.  The score was one-sided, the jams were amazing, and kept the fans in the stands.

And I felt was a far more effective presentation than a jammer who has no opposing jammer and a two minute jam endlessly passing seemingly ineffective blockers.  Maybe points should be more meaningful.  And remember, the game is supposed to have offense and defense at the same time.

We know how great Gotham and Oly are on any track….and other leagues are showing exponential growth and, yes, professional competitive Roller Derby will come.  Many will want to play, others are very satisfied with what is out there for them right now.

The one thing I ask of  you all now – as media coverage and finally the public understanding of what is going on expands – is that you all acknowledge  that fact that there are 1450 leagues in 41 countries all  part of one family.  Start showing tolerance for all other leagues and skaters, take down the barriers and just become world-wide ambassadors for Roller Derby.

Get angry at the Commissioner if you want, but never at the Game.

And I will see you all at Rollercon…..they have credentialed me!

thoughts on the start of the 12th year of Modern Roller Derby

The first actual game was in June 2002 by TXRD.  And because April Ritzenhaler (La Muerta) had just come out of boxing training, the name they gave to these matches was “bout”.

I first became aware of the growing sport in 2005, when I met Val (sigh) Capone and the members of the fledgling Windy City Rollers at the 70th anniversary celebration of my father’s creation.

After that I was hooked.

Like all sons of gods I really wanted to see the game recreated in the original image, but I have learned that what you are doing – in the various rule sets – has made it your own, and I accept that.  I don’t think it is a big secret that I like a fast skilled game (preferably on a banked track) and it certainly is trending that way.

But what this post is really about is who I have met and interacted with along the way, and the effect that it has had on me.  Please don’t get upset if I don’t mention or acknowledge you; I always write this whole thing by memory as that is just the way I write.  So feel free to comment or yell at me.

First of all, remember my original role with Derby:  the owner-promoter from 1960 to 1973 who employed (all) of the very talented men and women in the International Roller Derby League.  And we were hugely successful in terms of attendance, television ratings etc.

But today is different, and in this environment we are all equal (am I being presumptuous in including me in that statement?).  So many of you have become great friends and what you do both on and off the track has brought happiness to me and many others.  The Bay Area Derby Girls making me feel such a part of what they were doing and even acknowledging me in their program; the WFTDA allowing me to say a few words before the nationals in Portland and the other courtesies shown me.

Both the Denver Roller Dolls and RMRG who made my trip to their city so memorable (and the indomitable P J Shields who coolly staged the greatest Colorado rescue of the century) when lst Bank Center became the Dolls home; Rose Columbo and Tom and all the others who brought me to Philly to see OSDA on a banked track (still there!), and how the original game with men and women could work today, and Ms Evanstone of the Philly Roller Girls who let me help them find a new venue.

And how all of you responded, raising tens of thousands of dollars from around the world to pay for surgeries and care for Lori Milkeris whose skating career ended when she was so brutally beaten, almost to death (see I Like Women post on my blog), and that Rhea responded immediately to start “Derby against Domestic Violence” on facebook to bring help to those in abusive situations; over 2000 belong today and you should also (and don’t forget about “Blockers, not bullies”).

And Donna”thehotflash”Kay who although with medical problems that would crush others (especially at age 56)  just keeps trucking and wants to help all in Roller Derby get a sense of value about themselves and their behavior; and because of her there is now “Derby over 40” on facebook, with an amazing array of women (and men) who are still skating -almost 1500 members-and talking about it and giving advice to each, a number in their 60s and a few 70-year olds!

I should devote a whole page to at least two very influential organizations that really helped and crystallized the growth and acceptance of Derby around the world (1418 leagues, 41 countries).  First Hurt Reynolds and his wife and all the others at http://www.derbynewsnetwork.com who certainly have not made a fortune out of their efforts to bring dozens of games each month, not only from the US but from Canada, UK, Australia and I don’t know how they do it.  And they have shown WFTDA and USARS  and whatever they can to help the game grow.  As a friend, I ask you to support them.

OK, now let’s talk about Ivanna and Trish and all who have made Rollercon the centerpoint for Derby.  The concept of bringing 5000 people together to live, skate, learn, seminar, party, get married (I’ve done it twice, and will once again this July) is such a logistical nightmare to me that it boggles the mind.  Realize, I put on over 3000 Roller Derby games in the US, Canada, and Mexico; booked concerts for the Dick Clark review, Willie, Waylon, the Highwaymen, Merle Haggard, the Smothers Brothers, etc and booked and presented trade shows; and knowing what I know, you have no concept of what is involved in putting this extravaganza on in both the US, Australia , and soon in Europe.

Rollercon is really the University of Roller Derby; it brings all of you together, and not only do you learn about skating from the best, but you meet and learn from each other (the best part!), regardless of style of skating, rulesets, etc.  And they keep adding tracks (I believe 5 last year) and remember, if you have to wait to skate, that is just the way it is…..you can only squeeze so much toothpaste out of a tube.  Please make the commitment to go to Rollercon if you haven’t already….it will make you jump start your ability (with Quadzilla (my friend from Rollerjam days), Bonnie, Suzy and all the others with years of knowledge and ability who are teaching you, and make you appreciate the game even more.  More importantly, say hello to the Commissioner who will also be leading a seminar.

Image by RAWKU5 from stock.xchng.com

Image by RAWKU5 from stock.xchng.com

Others who leap out at me:  Jessica Wendling, amazing woman from Alabama; Ten Gauge Rachel Rage; Fernando Leguero, the professional soccer star from Mexico who is bringing so much to Windy City and our game; all of the women from my home team, Resurrection Roller Girls; the wonderful women of Gotham, Oly, LA Derby Dolls who have brought the national attention to our game; April, of course; Swede Hurt; Erin “Lucy D” Dynamite who has brought her great artistry and design to our game.  Victorian Roller Derby, Far North Roller Derby, Sonoma County Roller Derby, London Roller Derby, Toronto and Montreal, Tel Aviv, Sacred City, LA Derby Dolls and their new and more exciting version of banked track Derby,  and on and on.  And of course, Far North Roller Derby in Alaska who are leaving a ticket and a Commissioner’s chair at every game!

And Roller Derby has several shrines:  The National Roller Derby Hall of Fame in New York (covering earlier Derby), the Roller Derby collection at the University of Texas in Austin: and Seltzer Park, located in Seaside Oregon right on the Pacific Ocean.

AJ from Vancouver who is going to succeed in getting Derby on TV; Cliff Butler, who can train you like no one else except for John Hall; Larissa leaven; my beautiful Pia Mess, Misty Greer; Atomatrix; Suzy, of course; Raw Heidi;  Bar Elder; Brandy Rettig, Lara (hot wheels) Irons, the wonderful and brave women of CaiRoller Derby, daring to bring the game to Egypt.  I have to stop and I apologize to all of the friends I am pissing off; just send me comments.

And USARS for honoring my family by naming their Championship trophy “The Seltzer Cup”

I have to acknowledge Donalei Erie especially, and the other photographers (except for one) who are so good and professional at what they do that you should acknowledge them and support them because they are doing it for the love of the game.

Many great writers following the game:  my favorite “Windyman”.  And of course Matt Faure.

And the magazines that are so professional:  Blood and Thunder, Lead Jammer UK (had to list those first, since I have columns), Five on Five, Hit and Miss, and the others out there also on line.

And the announcers; without their skill and sense of fun the game is much less (and remember, no other sport (I hope) has Dumptruck!)

of course the NSOs and officials, and PR and all other volunteers and those who make the sport work.

And those outside who work with Derby:  first of all Scott Riegelman and the great people at Riedell.  Not only do they have a great product but their sponsorships at Rollercon and elsewhere are their symbol of giving back.  And I know Scott does a lot more that you don’t know about in supporting skating.

The people at Atom wheels who have been particularly kind to me (and the owner gave us his wife -that sounds terrible- Atomatrix), and they also have a great shoe product now.

And Doug Martin of Roll Models (www.competeteamoutfitters.com) who wants to bring the professional uniforms he provides to other major sports to Roller Derby – designed by Derby women -and has quietly served almost 100 leagues so far.

And to Drew Barrymore who unknowlingly brought the sport to so many people who were not aware of the modern game.

And to Robin Bond, David Wruck and Ron Patrick who made the glorious “Derby Baby” with their own funds.  Please book it on a large screen in your city if you haven’t already, and certainly get the dvd.

And of course, Brown Paper Tickets (www.brownpapertickets.com).  I know, I joined them after almost 40 years of being a pioneer in computerized ticketing, but this is why:  they provide the best service to you at no cost; a 99 cent  service charge to your fans (plus minimal credit card fee); they have a dedicated person, Bob Noxious, who will work with you on helping your league, regardless if you are a customer or not.  They will help you with promotion and advice, help you to find a venue, provide paperless ticketing if you want! (imagine being able to tell the audience at a game that they can go to their cell phones and order tickets for the next game!), do season ticketing.  And 24 hour client service for you.

William Jordan and Steve Butcher are to be commended in creating a ticket service that is not just a huge profit center with service charges and imbuing this spirit throughout their whole worldwide organization.  And Sten Iverson will answer any of your quesstions at client services.

They don’t care how many tickets you sell on the system, so put your league on, let the fans know that you are with one of the largest, most accessible ticket providers in the world….they can order by phone (for just 99 cents), talk to operators in English, Spanish and French,and can service your league anywhere in the world. And the President and CEO are determined to keep this a buyer friendly, fair trade company.  They donate 5% of the service charge to community and charity organizations.  And they serve far more leagues than any other service.

Now you understand why I am with them, although I do not handle Roller Derby.

Every day more and more people are learning about what you are doing.  As Bonnie D. Stroir says, it has gone from people asking about Roller Derby to do you skate with them.  The game is here to stay; now you have to realize that you must continue the good community works and all skate like the big girls do (although Junior Roller Derby will change the game radically in 5 to 7 years).  The world will finally realize just how major a sport this is; some of you don’t want that, but the great part about the way the game has grown is that is for you to choose.