Rollercon 2015: banked track, 3 birthdays, ending Roller Derby Wars


I have really been remiss in posting here….but so much going on.

Going to my seventh Rollercon, certainly a highlight of the year. It is no secret I loved banked track Derby; after all my family started it, I grew up with it and it was the game when we became a national favorite, sneaking up on established sports with over 15 million watching on television weekly, and over 3,000,000 attending games yearly.

All Leo Seltzer wanted was his game to survive, become a nationally played sport, and be in the Olympics. When he died in 1978 he no longer even talked about it. His creation had disappeared.

And then you all came around…..starting from one league in Texas (that word is kind of misused; they actually had, and still do, 4 teams in TXRD), and transferred to flat track by one very creative league (Texas Rollergirls) till today when there are 1853 listed leagues in the world. (check out the amazing website by Sam Santos, http://www.derbylisting.com).

So that brings us to Rollercon, which has to be the mecca for everyone in the game to journey at least once…..over 5000 from virtually everywhere will cram the Westgate in Las Vegas July 22 till 26, all created by Ivanna S. Pankin and friends. (get down on your knees and give thanks). And check out the master schedule at Rollercon.com for whatever you want to do.

9 tracks this year for training and games and one banked track! And the most amazing games ever are scheduled…..most are created for the event, and you might learn a lot from that fact alone. Skaters regardless of rule set, age, or geography playing for fun. Have you lost the fun in the game? Is it less fun for spectators to pay and watch? That may be one of the most important considerations for your team, league, whatever.

Bob Noxious and I will go there in our marketing seminar Friday at 1:30 at Rollercon….not just advertising, promotion, ticketing, but making your games events…..and fun!

And there really are more than three birthdays, but the especially noticeable ones are Rollercon and WFTDA’s 10th year, and the 80th birthday of the game itself. We will celebrate it at the Brown Paper Ticket booth on Thursday the 23rd at 3:30 with cake and juice, and stars of the past: Judy Arnold, Frank Macedo, and Hiroshi Koizumi on hand, and some stars of today: the immortal Merby Dick Roche, who at 75 is in his fifth year with his team (league?). There will be some surprises on hand also.

The game is thriving, but in reality the world doesn’t know or fully accept it. Instead of fighting amongst the rule sets, why not all join in figuring a way to really broaden the base to the general public and make certain that what you are presenting can be appealing to a non-derby affiliated audience. Unfortunately, when you are charging admission, you are competing with other forms of entertainment, and to survive you have to keep the fans you have and grow the attendees. as I said, Bob and I will address that as part of the larger picture.

This is more than a game to the majority of you; you are not paid, you sacrifice your time and money. But the huge reward is a world that most do not know or understand, a kinship that extends far beyond the game, team or league. Somehow you must let the world see that.

And please come by the booth and give The Commissioner a hug. It is what keeps me going and coming back.

The World Cup, just indescribable.


First of all, I have no one photo that can encompass it…..if you go to my facebook page and others, you will get some concept of this astonishing event.

Picture a room the size of a dozen football fields….imagine three skating stadiums with grandstand seating each holding up to 2500 poeple…..imagine a wide mall of “shops” with every need a skater could have. imagine 100 yards of tables with representatives from the 30 countries selling their merchandise, and you still can’t really picture what Robin Graves and her support people engineered.

And thousands show up from everywhere, needing hotels, transportation and entertainment. And so many great volunteers, NSO’s, officials, referees, announcers, Dr Richard Fox and other medics and almost no hitches. No, not the Super Bowl: just the second Women’s World Cup.

You know I was a promoter for many years…..I could not have pulled this off.

And the event itself: teams from South Africa, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Japan West Indies, etc. whom you might have considered outclassed, but they all showed such amazing courage and class…..some of the games? Imagine the Seattle Seahawks playing the local middle school flag football team. But Puerto Rico who was demolished by the USA 800 plus (ouch) to 3 got a standing ovation and roar from the enormous crowd when they scored those three points and I met with them afterwards and they were crying and joyous and anxious to learn and get ahead.

Can you imagine walking in a casbah where everyone is intermingling and you hear so many languages and yet everyone is the same, if you understand me.

Discouraged? Szerdi Nagy from South Africa whose team had a very rough time (and they had to raise so much money and fly 24 hours to get to Dallas) cooly told me that how much her team had learned, how they took notes and would study the videos of the tournament, and were so happy to be there.

For all the multi-hundreds of poinr beatings that were in the tournament (not matter what you say, I still don’t like it), there were those amazing moments, especially when the lower-seeded teams played each other in the consolation games. And Argentina upsetting France, which no one expected….and of course the final four of Canada, Australia, England and USA provided great championshp competition……and the US beating England by just 100 points (still sounds weird to me…love to see shorter jam times), shows some in the world are getting closer.

So thankful for the Junior game….shows just how great the young talent is out there, and the all star game was so much fun.

And what really blew me away is that I could never walk ten feet without someone from all of the countries stopping me for a photo or discussion which shows the reach of social media….I was so honored that I am the symbol of my father’s creation in its present form. A lot of snaps on my home page.

You all know there are certain aspects of the game I am not crazy about, but so what. What I saw was a sport that in its intrinsic honesty and particpation is untouched by anything else out there, and the competitors are all sisters in the truest sense.

And even though I work for them, I have to credit Brown Paper Tickets (even though they did not handle this event) for the support in having Bob Noxious set up the marvelous announcing crew from around the world (note to a few from an old-time announcer, please never shout into the mic….modulate) and allowing me to be there.

Oh, and I have been invited to be on hand in some capacity for the men’s World Cup in Calgary. I hung with Peter Pan, another amazing asset to the sport.

I feel it is a shame that the large part of the world doesn’t know or understand what Roller Derby is……meanwhile the bumble bee, which science tells us shouldn’t be able to fly, just spreads its happy wings and buzzes along.

WFTDA, USARS, MADE, Renegade and particular the individuals pursuing this sport, I love you all…..you are the future.

Protected: Three Derby rulesets in one weekend! I better get going!


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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….