Much better than “Springtime for Hitler”.
But this really refers to an amazing woman I met at Rollercon who is so important to all Rollergirls…that is my tease and we will get to that. And because of her and the committee of women who hung out at bars in Austin as of today there are 1002 amateur leagues in 36 countries!
The event was such a blur of people and events, all good. Val and I and Judi Flowers hosted our seminar at the top of the Riv, where just about 17 hours later Val and I were joined in Derby Bliss…..if you haven’t seen the photo on my facebook page with the two of us, Razorslut (?) and a virtually naked Dumptruck and his bride (?), then you really are not in the in group.
Anyway, we kind of focused on one area in our session: what to do to when you are a new or small league and don’t have a lot of resources to get the word out to your community. (Stay tuned, the springtime reference lies ahead somewhere). To give a short summary, Val gave her league’s experiences in Chicago which is basically get every one out on the street (they don’t do it, they don’t skate) to give out handbills, posters, make contacts, etc. It is tough for many to project themselves, but it is really necessary. She pushes the personality factor that I think is often ignored: fans often come to see “stars” rather than just a collection of players….I agree, everything helps.
And you make contacts to radio and TV stations and all publications (you have teams in uniforms; programming always has time to fill, it might as well be you.) Send a clear and consistent message: if you have a good story to get media coverage (“Mary is a successful gynecologist and a hell of a blocker”) use that. The mere stats of here are the teams, the time, the place, the ticket information are completely necessary, but are never your hook to the story.
How did your league get started? What are the sacrifices etc? What makes a good story? The main thing, get off your asses and personally get the word out.
Mildred Fierce had a great PR session and I know that helped a lot. Santa Cruz does an amazing job. Look up their current video: All the women looking great in their uniforms, shown individually with their names; come out and see Jane Jones – someone the audience can identify with. Our principle in getting people to come to see Roller Derby in the day was empathy: you are seeing people skating who are not 7 feet tall nor weigh 350 pounds, but they are just like you and you can be out there, so identify. And if you are trying to get new skaters let them know that not all players are athletes or even skated before.
We wanted to cover a lot more, but did not have the time. Again, have your PR people join the growing group of many others at Roller Derby PR on facebook…..you have to request to join.
OK, what month is representative of spring? April of course.
April Ritzenhaler is a beautiful blonde woman with a radiant smile. She and Judi hit it off immediately. In Austin she is a wonderful massage specialist, yoga and other instructor, and so much more and she has a real job too. And she is married to a policeman.
Anyway, when Dan had this idea of presenting a Roller Derby one time in Austin, utilizing patrons from a number of bars in that town, she was on the scene…..nobody even knew what a Roller Derby was. The figured it would be circus-like, on skates, with a dancing bear (?). Well they were raising funds and lo and behold, goodbye Dan and the funds. So they thought, what the heck, let’s do it anyway. So April and the others did a little research and came up with rules; April and two of the other women had just finished boxing sessions (ask her why), and since they didn’t know what to call it, they called it a bout (AHA). And they thought boxing would help a lot, so at each bout they would stop the skating and have a phony fight with two woman (they were trained to not hurt each other). And, aha again, the TXRD game is skated on a BANKED track and with basically the old rules….now the phony fights have stopped, but real fights are allowed.
Just think about it: Whip It, which created so much interest for all of you features a game on the banked track that is similar to TXRD, so all games are Roller Derby and let’s all play together! Leo Seltzer was the founder of Roller Derby in 1935. And April and her committee are the founders of current Roller Derby (official date, June 2002).
More on Rollercn in later posts.