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.

Modern Roller Derby not limited to the game.


I am not certain if Derby today is a microcosm of society or a different world of its own.

I am what would be called at fraternities and sororities,  a legacy.

My father invented the game, I promoted it, so I have some kind of association with the 2000 leagues and the people in them.

There are some who feel I really don’t have any,  but we are ignoring them for today.

so I have the unofficial title of The Commissioner, and when I show up at most games, tournaments, I am greeted warmly because to many I represent the history of one of America’s 3 sports, created by an American.  And I feel that I try to live up to the respect shown.

I have been part of the creation and/or development of sites that are helping many who need help; I am so delighted to be with Brown Paper Tickets, a company that is more interested in creating interest and developing clients than mere profit.

And they have supported the American Red Cross/Brown Paper Tickets/Roller Derby blood drives that we hope to expand across the country (see us at Rollercon); no profit there except saving hundreds of lives, and the leagues have responded so wonderfully.

I also when I can try to mentor those who contact me when appropriate.  I have so many close friends in so many parts of the world that I am in touch with on a regular basis  (my own time, not BPT’s).  Some have to do with skating, a lot doesn’t.

I kind of hate it when my role with them is ended; they can move on with their lives, but it is inevitable.

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And this is what modern Derby has given to me:  the very human touch of being part of something at far beyond the time one would expect.

I hope to see you at Rollercon, or the World Cup in Dallas, or wherever we meet.  I probably have more Derby love than anyone has a right to expect.

Do I hate Roller Derby?


I do not, but I must plead mea culpa.

I am opinionated.

It won’t get any better as I add one more year to my collection tomorrow.

I find it easy to criticize when probably I should really be more supportive of the attributes of what has happened in the last ten years.

Almost 2000 leagues in the world, including women, men, and juniors.

Somebody must be doing something right.

I have this vision of what the game should be; oddly enough, everyone does not agree with me.

Although many of you feel I want to “take back” the game to what it was 40 years ago, that is untrue.

There are things about the rankings method, the stoppage on the track, the blocking backwards, the blowouts that really bother me; but if that is what the nature of the game has become, so be it.

I am not any kind of official or affiliated with any rule set (although some believe I am). I just want to see attendance grow, not decline; more teams of equal ability competing, and anything that enhances Roller Derby.

There is no way any of us can wave a magic wand and bring it into being. And when I see the BAD girls play fast paced games with their four equally balanced teams, I see what the game is. And it is not unique to that league.

I would like to see rule modifications that bring it to the original intent of offense and defense always at the same time; I love the chase of one jammer after another.

But you out there play the game, and if this is what you want and the fans support it by attending, then just stay with it. And at Rollercon I hope I can help you market your games.

I still have the first modern Derby tee shirt I ever received, a Hotrod Honey given to me at Rollercon in 2006. And there are so many great athletes playing the game today: from Bonnie and Suzy to Tony and Bloody and V-Diva and Demanda and Quadzilla and on and on.

I won’t say I won’t make comments, but it is easy to criticize. I know what you go through just to be able to skate the game you love.

I want to move forward with you.

So he helped with the creation of modern Roller Derby but didn’t know it: Frank Deford


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Frank has been a friend for longer than either of us want to think about. And he laughingly said “You will always be the Commissioner.”

I related elsewhere how we met in Oakland and he ended up writing the longest piece ever for a single issue of Sports Illustrated to date about the Roller Derby The March 1969 article was read by 10 million people, a different 10 million than the 15 million that watched our games every week on television across America and Canada. He created a whole new base of understanding about our strange game.

Had he been a fan of Roller Derby when he wrote it? No, he was fascinated with the concept of “barnstorming”, the one nighters we did across America for 4 months of the year; the people who were in it, behind it, who came to watch and why. And Roller Derby was a working class sport, without the high salaries and ticket prices that folks even then were complaining about. And service charges were not outrageous then, but still higher than the 99 cents that Brown Paper tickets charges on all tickets.

And after I had spent time cautioning the skaters about what they said to Frank (as he put it) “they opened their guts” and he got everything he wanted to write for the article and the book….and one prominent male skater made a pass at him, which he was kind enough not to mention to me until years later…..not a great tolerance by society for gay athletes at that time. And he seemed to have captured a pretty accurate image of me in that era.

Frank wasn’t a skater outside of occasional sojourns to a skating rink. He played basketball in high school and in college until his coach told him he wrote better about the game than playing it. And he developed as a writer and today writes about a lot more than sports, delivers an occasional piece for Sports Illustrated, has a weekly commentary on Wednesdays for NPR radio, and does occasional features on HBO Real Sports…..this time of year he and Carol are in Key West where he is working on his 19th book.

Out of the article came “Five Strides on the Banked Track”, the seminal book on Derby that is in such demand that it disappears from libraries and sells on Amazon for as much as $650. Little Brown did an initial small printing, and the book disappeared (including my copy).

So after all these years after the demise of the original Roller Derby, after Rollerjam came and went, modern Roller Derby is here. And Frank is thrilled. He has watched games on the internet and is amazed that a successful game can be played on a flat track and that, different from the original enterprise, it has become a movement, a therapy, for those engaged.

Shortly after Joan Weston’s tragic death from a debilitating disease, Frank was asked to write her obituary for the New York Times magazine, and he wrote such a beautiful tribute that the genesis for Rollerjam developed for the two producers in Tennessee. That the game ultimately failed was really a fault of the attraction they ultimately presented: a writer-created banked track story of good and evil with cages, helicopters, you name it. But the skaters were wonderful; a number are in Roller Derby, and three of the men were important parts of the World Cup Champion USA team.

http://i.cdn.turner.com/si/2010/writers/frank_deford/05/19/roller.derby.revival/Joan_Weston.jpg (Please click link to see Frank’s article on Joan Weston and the return of Modern Roller Derby)

It was just a few years after Rollerjam ended, with the memory of a skating game in people’s minds, that April and her crew brought in modern Roller Derby. I mentioned this connection to Frank and he was very pleased.

“If anything I wrote helped to results in the reincarnation of Roller Derby in the 21st century, then I am happy. I loved meeting and traveling with the Derby skaters of the earlier generation, and there seems to be such a bonding and almost a therapeutic connection in today’s game that most don’t realize.

And for even more of a connection, Timothy Travaglini, an MRDA skater and member, has been instrumental in having this classic book available to today’s Derbyites, followers, and all. He is with Open road media who has just issued on line a kindle (through amazon.com) and e-book version. Please click on the link at the top of the page.

And they asked the Commissioner to write a foreward.