Breaking News: All meet to work together to assure future of Roller Derby


I never thought it would happen, and I don’t know how they managed to keep it quiet…..there were so many involved.

It was at the Palmer House in Chicago Saturday and Sunday.

There were the heads of WFTDA, USARS, MADE, MRDA, JRDA (including Claire Ashcroft from the UK!), and a rep from Renegade Derby. And reps from Roller Derby in Australia, Canada, UK, Brazil, Mexico, Sweden and I am not sure where else. And of course April Ritzenhaler from TXRD and Demolicious from LADD.

Val wasn’t there, but I saw Juanna Rumbel; Jane Hammer and Demanda Riot; Suzy; Lara Irons (Hot Wheels); Sandi Mustang Johnson (the troublemaker): Elle Hoar (who has put together a regional league in Canada); Tony Muse; Justice Feelgood Marshall; Szerdi Nagy(South Africa); Angie Kls from France; Elektra Q Tion; Ivanna S Pankin; Brandy Rettig; Teresa TC Miller; Carly Marie; from original Derby: Loretta Behrens, Judy Arnold, Cliff Butler, John Hall, all of whom have worked in training modern Derby skaters (I guess Buddy Atkinson, Jr couldn’t make it); Debbie Rice, Mark Weber, and Quadzilla from Rollerjam and today, and more….sorry I can’t list you all.

and the purpose of the conference (believe it or not!): to all work together to present a combined front in 2015 so that the Game would work for all; leagues big and small, the fans, and of course, the skaters.

On hand to serve as chairwoman and chairperson: Mia Hamm and Andy Dolich. Mia of course brought women athletes to the forefront with her abilities in the Olympics (and did a lot for sports bras also). Andy, the former marketing and operating head for the Oakland Athletics, Golden State Warriors, and consultant to the 49ers now heads his own sports firm and has always recognized the potential of Roller Derby. And Marsha Jordan from ABC TV Chicago and other members of the press were there, including Robin Graves, Vic “Moxie”, Five on Five, and Hit and Miss, and Rollin’ News.

Also there as observers and possible contributors, Windyman, Bob Noxious, Judi Flowers,Erin “Lucy dynamite” Loggia, Donna “The Hot Flash” Kay, ┬áBill Yates, Frank Deford and others.

there was a general session on Saturday morning, defining the areas to be covered: rules, operating standards, marketing, officiating, and more. Then there were breakout sessions: Rules to try to combine the best (from the skaters and fans view) rules to make the game more accessible: should jams be 1 minute, 90 seconds, 2 minutes long? Should all skaters be permitted to block at all times? how could the rules be simplified for less penalties, should there be a limit on scoring an any play? Should there be different levels of rules depending on the quality of the leagues? As you can see, a very difficult agenda.

One group was dealing with the problem of supersaturation in market areas: could leagues be combined? should there be mini leagues in geographical areas to increase fan interest? and of course more.

Another was focused on marketing, ticket sales, and merchandising, with Bob Noxious and Judi Flowers and Andy Dolich lending their expertise.

There was a wonderful dinner in the Empire Room Saturday night, sponsored of course by Scott Riegelman of Riedell…..and everyone got along so well…there appeared to be great progress. There were to be two more breakout sessions on Sunday, and then the final gathering Sunday afternoon to try to present and vote on actual procedures to be put in place.

I was seated between Hot Wheels and Szerdi Nagy; suddently I couldn’t hear anything because of the incessant barking.

And that damn Bishop woke me up….

The Horrific Roller Derby bus crash which why #1 was never worn again in Roller Derby


Salem, IL Bus Crashes Into Bridge, Mar 1937 | GenDisasters … Genealogy in Tragedy, Disasters, Fires, Floods.

Please click on the link above…..after this crash, in which all personnel eventually died except for the bus driver, it was decided the #1 would never be worn again in Roller Derby as a tribute to the fallen skaters.

Sandi Mustang Johnson…..she set off a Derby explosive


About 4 years back I started expressing some feelings about how the game was becoming not fan friendly.

And the head of an organization came down on me in quite a strong manner; and I don’t want to relive the experience which was widely misinterpreted, but I just said what the hell, let’s get on with it.

Of course I have strong feelings about Derby; the game was created by my father; I shepherded it through its most popular period and was so happy to see the revival in 2003, so if this is what everybody wants, so let it be.

Then yesterday Sandi posted on her home page a 500 word or so statement of her feelings, why she has left the game after 10 years, and that set off a firestorm that I never expected. There have been over 100 shares, thousands of views, and so many great comments. I urge you right now to go to her page and read it or to my page where she kindly let me repost it or to any of the others who have also done the same.

I don’t even want to try to compress what she said, because she did it so wonderfully and with such feeling. Why have crowds for her home league (Knoxville) decreased so much? Why wherever she went to skate she was seeing empty buildings? what can be done to reverse it. And then the comments have piled in….please read them.

I have expressed concerns over the current ruleset not being fan friendly, and this was stated over and over by those out there, but with the caveat hey we skaters like the game, leave us alone! And it is apparent that there is no once simple fix to whatever the problem is.

If you are skating for yourself and friends and family, then just don’t worry about charging admission and possibly boring the audience, but if you want to charge admission, then you must admit that you are an entertainment, which is difficult…….but don’t construe that to mean not a real competition…..look how successful TXRD and the LA Derby Dolls are.

And if you don’t get money from the games and merchandise and concessions, then obviously you have to get it from your players and not be able to sustain travel expenses or other perks.

And so much more came out: too many leagues in limited areas; not enough attention paid to game presentation and being fan friendly; each game is often meaningless because it is played for “rankings” rather than competition; smaller leagues are ignored; the travel teams become so important that other skaters feel like they are not getting their money’s worth and on and on. And skaters want to skate and not play a stop action game. not my words.

Everyone wants to own Roller Derby……that concept ended 40 years ago. Wouldn’t it be great if there could be a super conference of the heads of the different rulesets, educated observers like WindyMan and others and just work out a concept of a game for the skaters and fans that is entertaining, and address all the other issues.

Baron Wolman is one of the greatest photographers for entertainment and sporting events that we have ever seen (his stuff is in Hard Rock cafes, museums, and galleries throughout the world). And he has seen Roller Derby in its various forms for 40 years expressed a comment: if the game could become professional again, and get national coverage, it would so help the amateur teams and create interest and they would flourish.

Of course I agree with that, but with the present situation and decreasing attendance in most areas, no one is interested right now.

Can we broaden this whole discussion and do something about it? Selfishly, not too sure how much time I have left.

Introducing Roller Derby wife #4


Carly Marie – Cover Photos.

So many great things about Roller Derby: one of the most fun – yet very real – the “tradition” of Derby wives.

I didn’t skate in Derby but have been fortunate enough to have “married” three very wonderful and inspirational women.

Each has very special place in the Game.

#1 The legendary Val Capone. She skated for the Windy City Rollers for 10 years, currently skates for the Chicago Red Hots. She supports, announces, coaches, and is chief cook and bottle washer for all things Derby….she goes anywhere in the world to support the game and its participants. She introduced me to modern Derby in 2005, we were married in 2011.

#2 Lori Milkers (Limb’r Timb’r). An innocent victim of horrible domestic abuse and beating that almost killed her. She has recovered, recently received her Master’s degree at virtually the same time her daughter was receiving her BA. Her courage has been an inspiration to Derbyites worldwide. She still has three more restorative surgeries ahead; she won’t be able to attend Rollercon this year. She was a reason that Derby against domestic violence was formed, now with over 2600 members. Our ceremony was in 2012.

#3 Donna “thehotflash” Kay. She returned to skating at 52, trained and formed no-drama leagues in Seattle and consulted elsewhere. beat breast cancer two years ago (two mastectomies) and came back to skating. She was instrumental in the formation of Derby over 40, now with over 4200 members worldwide. Our nuptials were last year.

So I have asked, and she has accepted: Domin8tricks to become Derby wife #4.

She is reflective of what many of you have had to overcome to join this worldwide venture; she has really done it to the extreme.

Because of family abandonment she took to the streets at a very young age, facing a terrible and virtually life ending existence for three years. She went from 230 pounds to a little over 80, and in a recovery room in the emergency ward of a hospital made the decision to live. She has changed her life with the assistance of her boyfriend and loving grandparents.

She is young and recently passed her skills tests with the Soonami Slammers in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, Canada.

She is now in extreme fitness training (for competition) and is so devoted to Derby that she journeyed to Los Angeles to skate one afternoon on the LA Derby Dolls banked track and to Chicago to meet with Val, Fernando, and Deanna of the Chicago Red Hots.

She is an amazing determined young woman, and a credit to the game she is just entering. You may meet her at the Brown Paper Tickets booth on Thursday morning or at our ceremony (with 500 other couples) Saturday night, July 26th, at the top of the Riv. And to see her photo, click on the link at the top of the page.

And I can’t say that I won’t do it again next year……so many wonderful women out there.