I assumed that I would be writing about something besides Roller Derby, but I just returned from Philadelphia and want to get this posted while it is still fresh.
First of all, God Bless Rose Colombo; she is so dedicated to Roller Derby that she has worked a number of years with WFTDA teams in Texas, and she has used her own money to get a banked track to the OSDA warehouse training center in Philadelphia. (By the way, what OSDA is doing is skating the original Roller Derby rules on flat track and banked track…..maybe they should change the name to Original Roller Derby association so people know they are playing only a legitimate game. To some old school means the old style exhibitions). Rose asked me to come to Philly to see what they are doing, sent me a ticket, got me a hotel, and I went last Friday and returned Monday…..and I am glad I did.
On Saturday, I was able to see the amateurs skate and I hate to say it, but there is nothing like the noise that rolling skates make on the banked track. It made me shiver…..and I met the dedicated board of the OSDAPRO, including Commissioner Ken Sikes, and old-time fan who used his own personal resources to get the league started (I believe there are 4 or 5 OSDA leagues in the Jersey, NY, PA regions skating this game) and only wants to see the banked track game he loves return. Also on hand, my facebook friends Joe Nardone, Steve Grossman, Demeo and more who also were original fans, dating back to the 60′s. I saw the amateurs skate (they have both a flat track and banked track in the training center). I got to speak to those on hand explaining a bit about the game and its development. There was also a question and answer session, and I was asked if I preferred the banked track game to what the WFTDA is doing, and I answered that flat track is here to stay, and this group would not be doing what they are doing if it weren’t for the revival of the game. More on this aspect later, as it has a lot to do for me with the future.
On Sunday those in the OSDAPRO class skate. 4 solid hours of the best training I have seen by Roller Derby great Judy Sowinski and Skip Schoen. I will try to get a video later to post on facebook so you can get an idea of the strenuous and exciting things these skaters can do because of the way they are being trained…..these sessions are free to anyone who can pass Judi’s workshop and want to skate pro. People came from as far away as 50 miles north of New York City (a 3 and 1/2 hour drive each way!) to work their asses off.
Saturday night I had dinner with representatives of the Philly Roller Girls. It was wonderful and maybe I will be doing some work for them also. They also gave me a copy of the July Philadelphia magazine and the pictorial feature on their league: I certainly wasn’t expecting it, but is beautiful!
Whether you are WFTDA or under any other rules, if you really want to get into the game properly, I suggest you contact OSDAPRO about letting Judy work with you……it will certainly improve you which will improve Roller Derby as all of our ultimate goal.
And Karlos Ray, Cliff Butler, and “Blade” Gallagher and the Sugar Town Roller Girls in Oxnard California just about have their banked track completed and will be engaging in a similar program for men and women under their auspices the NRDA – National Roller Derby Association…..I hope soon we can see a banked track game between them and the OSDA under the original rules. Again, any skater within 150 miles of Oxnard will benefit unbelievably by the type of training you will receive.
Now let’s get to the bigger question of the different organizations, rules, etc of the various Roller Derby Leagues. When I am asked who I think will survive or triumph, I say I believe all. There are those who believe their game is best and that is great, but I would love to see an exchange of friendship and working arrangements between all leagues and styles of skating. There is always so much to be gained by cooperation, and even allowing games between the various leagues would help all. For information, go to oldschoolderbyassociation.com.
I also found out in Philadelphia that my continued help and interest in the game is perceived by some as with an ulterior motive: I want to take control of all Roller Derby again or have some hidden agenda.
My altruism is based on my love of the game and that YOU brought it back….I will help you if you want. You may even hire me to help promote or book your league, but that is not why I am in the game. It is so that a unique American game that my father invented way back in 1935 will only grow and prosper.
And enough of you believe it so that I was officially awarded the Derby name of The Commissioner this week. God Bless you all.
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