“A (bout) Rose by any other name”


It has been awhile since I have been able to write two posts in a row.

I have columns in “Blood and Thunder” magazine and “Leadjammer” magazine and both are out soon, and I do some writing for http://www.Brownpapertickets.com.

But I saw an item today that seems to be upsetting some people. In the new set of WFTDA rules apparently the word “bout” has been redlined, which doesn’t mean that you can’t call your games that, but maybe a sense of official approval has been removed.

One comment as a result of the examiner.com piece on this change was “why are they taking this WFTDA term away from us?”

OK, a couple of things….I have always avoided the term “bout” because it brings up the images of boxers or UFC or worse wrestling, and for a sport that is trying to differentiate itself from those kind of images, I don’t think that is good….and of course I have called them games all my life.

And exactly where did the term “bout” come from? When April Ritzenhaler and her cohorts were starting modern banked track skating in Austin in 2002 she had just come from boxing training and when someone asked what the events should be called, she suggested “bout”. And of course the Texas Rollergirls flat track split off from TXRD and WFTDA was created, so it really isn’t even a WFTDA term…..and even April calls them “games” now.

Call them what you want…..Please just make sure they are fast moving, hard playing and entertaining.

And by the way, if you want a brand new copy of “Roller Derby to Rollerjam”, the fun pictorial history of the game from 1935 to 2000, I have put the remaining out of print copies on http://www.amazon.com for $25 plus shipping. Other new copies on Amazon for this wonderful read range from $92 to $654.

And in this official lexicon of Roller Derby you will never find the word “bout”.

Springtime for Roller Derby


Much better than “Springtime for Hitler”.

Ghee Munnie, Dump Truck, Kara Razorslut Krasnoff, Jerry Seltzer, Val Capone

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.

Reidell Party

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.

And all of you 1000 leagues have April and her friends to thank for your game today.

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.