420, Banana Slugs, blood, and great Derby


Santa Cruz in California is a place you have to go…..especially on Friday, August 29 (but if you can’t, there are alternatives, keep reading).

This is where much of mainland surfing began, years ago; and is about an hour south of where the world-famous Maverick competition is held.

It is also where 420 started – where people sit in an open space and smile and contemplate their navels.

The most casual campus of the University of California is here, and of course its teams are called the Banana Slugs, and their new athletic director Cliff Dochterman is a Roller Derby fan! (Invite him to your next game, Derby girls).

The town has great beaches and America’s best classic seaside amusement park…..it is 75 miles from San Francisco and just 32 miles from San Jose (the Bay Area’s largest city….bet you didn’t know that).

We used to play Derby there about once a month at the tiny Civic auditorium, and that is where the Santa Cruz Derby Girls skated, until the Kaiser Permanente Arena opened a few years back and now they consistently fill it with their great league play.

This league, which is ranked high among all leagues, has been at the forefront of so much in maintaining and growing Derby awareness in their community. They are part of almost all community projects and are featured consistently in local media (all of you should check what they have done and still do).

And two years ago they decided to work with the Red Cross with a blood drive, and they were so successful they become the model for the northern California blood drives with Brown Paper Tickets, the Red Cross, and the Roller Derby leagues. And last year the drives received enough donors to save 660 lives.

And this year the drive is under way with even more leagues (listed below), but on Friday, August 29, you can donate in Santa Cruz at Whole Foods, 911 Soquel, Capitola, from 8 am to 6 pm and of course the Santa Cruz Derby girls will be there, and many donating. As of this date, they have an amazing 52 registrations, and are hoping to break the Derby record of 60 sent a few weeks ago by Quad City in Livermore. What a great competition that saves lives!

Of course you want to go to the boardwalk, ride the classic rides, and take advantage of the beautiful weekend by the beach, and give blood….you may go to http://www.redcrossblood.org, enter “Derby” in the box and register for Santa Cruz or the other drives listed.

And hopefully this will become a national project next year with Brown Paper Tickets, Red Cross and all Derby leagues. Bob Noxious is checking on leagues, Val Capone (who else) has volunteered to be the Midwest project manager, and shortly we will let you know how to let us know your interest.

And here are the other Derby drives upcoming: Silicon Valley Roller Girls, Saturday, September 6, 9 am to 3 pm in San Jose; Faultline (ouch) Derby Girls, Saturday, September 20,10am to 3 pm, Hollister; Bay Area Derby Girls, Saturday, September 20, 10 am to 4 pm, San Francisco; Sonoma County Roller Derby, Saturday, September 20, Santa Rosa; Resurrection Derby girls – Saturday, October 18, 11 am to 4 PM, Cal Skate, Rohnert Park.

For exact locations: http://www.redcrossblood.org, “Derby”

Our goal is to save 1000 lives this year in Northern California….and am I donating? Of course, on September 20th.

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,  Bill 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….

please save: this year’s Roller Derby blood drive dates and locations:


Last year’s drives received enough blood donations to save up to 800 lives.  Three league have been added to this year’s Red Cross-Brown-Paper Tickets-Roller Derby Drives.  I was  glad to be a donor (age is no factor!).  Members of teams will be on hand.

To schedule your appointment or for more information, please log on to redcrossblood.org, enter the Sponsor Code: DERBY or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767)

Undead Bettys – Saturday, August 9, 10am – 4PM Location Red Cross Bus – Antioch Sports Center – 1211 Sunset Dr.-Antioch

Quad City Roller Girls – Friday , August 19 – 1pm-7pm, Location: Asbury United Methodist Church – 4743 East Avene. – Livermore

Peninsula Roller Girls – Saturday, August 23rd – 10am – 4pm Red Cross Bus – Redwood Roller Rink -1303 Main Street -Redwood City

Santa Cruz Derby Girls – Friday, August 29, 10am -4pm, Location Red Cross Bus – Whole Foods – 1710 41st Avenue – Capitola

Silicon Valley Roller Girls – Saturday, September 6 – 9am – 3pm Location: TBD, Red Cross Bus – San Jose

Faultline Derby Girls – Saurday, September 20 – 10am – 3pm. Location – Red Cross Bus – 580 Tres Pinos Rd – Hollister

Bay Area Derby Girls – Saturday, September 20 – 11 am-4pm Location Zion Lutheran Church – 495 9th Ave – San Francisco

Sonoma County Roller Derby – Saturday, September 20 – 10am-3pm, Location Red Cross Bus – 1351 Maple Ave, Santa Rosa

Resurrection Derby Girls – Saurday, October 18 -11am-5pm, Location: Red Cross Bus – Cal Skate – 6100 Commerce Blvd.  Rohnert Park.

Rollin’ Roulettes Roller Derby – Merced – date and location TBD

Thanks to Hanna Malak, Thomas Petty, and the Red Cross people and those with Brown Paper Tickets and the great women of the Roller Derby Leagues for making this happen….and at Rollercon Brown Paper Tickets and Red Cross will work with you to create drives with your own league in your own community!

 

are you ready to shoot the Derby messenger?


The good news: with this post I have officially passed 300,000 readers of my blog since I first starting posting it.

The disturbing news? This subject will stir up the pot again.

Last weekend my first modern derby league had their season ending championship. It doesn’t really matter who won, what matters to me is that the 9500-seat UIC Pavilion looked quite empty.

OK, so if you bought the best ticket, $35, you paid a $6.50 (!!!!) service fee to Ticketmaster, but you could save money by buying tickets in advance from any WCR player, so that is a small part of the issue. And there were general admission tickets for $15 plus service charge; $10 if you bought in advance from a player.

A friend of mine who lives in Glenview, my old home town northwest of Chicago was there. “It was boring”, he said. Ouch. “Players just scored points in bunches with little or no opposition.”

How can Roller Derby, the hard-hitting, fast paced game on skates be boring? I will not relate what the game has become since 2010 where the slow game became more or less the official strategy…..skaters may love it, fans (outside of friends and family) don’t. And the question is, if they come one time will they come back?

Hey, if I were a jammer I would love it if I could score 100 points a game; but the game is about a team of 5 players who work together to keep the other team from scoring and get your own jammer out and help her score. Why do players stop, go backwards, and just stand aside? And why are many, if not most jams with just one skater, getting (to me) very cheap points by just skating around endlessly. And has the 30-second penalty rule really changed the game? I don’t think so. I am waiting for WindyMan to present the statistics. And now many players are upset that by allowing clockwise skating, chest and other injuries will occur.

OK, on my facebook page is twelve minutes of women skating from 55 years ago. Probably not what many of you expect, and how many in today’s game are in this kind of condition. if you have time, check it out.

The game is for the skaters…..rule changes in WFTDA take a long time to be adjusted, and if you are a skater benefiting from the rules, and you vote on them….isn’t it obvious what will not happen.

I was discouraged when I saw the USARS championship two years ago in Fresno. The game appeared to be untidy, pack strung out, only OLY a very good team; players unsure of how to use the pivot position. Then a few weeks ago I saw the Chicago Red Hots play the Pennsylvania all stars, two teams of primarily WFTDA skaters from the Windy City Rollers, Rockford, Philly, Steel City and more and the USARS rules really worked……rarely more than a few points on a scoring play, great pack action and the speed of all the players was wonderful…..the game could be considered a blow out, 91-31, but the pack action and play kept the fans enthralled, and few if any left.

I would love to see great players who are capable and want to skate all styles of play forming teams in California, Texas, New York, etc to play all rule sets; the PA All Stars play WFTDA, MADE, OSDA, and now USARS. I know that not all can play this fast game (One of the players from Indiana told me in Cicero that in 20 minutes she skates more and harder than in her home league games), but why not present the best of you to the fans and hopefully they won’t say the game is boring. And the more players learn and play other types of Derby, eventually a game should evolve with the best of all rulesets (in a perfect world).

Yes, many places – LA Derby Dolls, Gotham, BAD, skate a faster more crowd exciting game under the WFTDA rules…..but certainly not all…..if attendance was skyrocketing everywhere then you certainly don’t need to pay attention. The problem is probably more than just the ruleset.

But I think many of you had better look at what is going on and try to address it. At least start talking about what may make your league better.