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.

thoughts on the start of the 12th year of Modern Roller Derby


The first actual game was in June 2002 by TXRD.  And because April Ritzenhaler (La Muerta) had just come out of boxing training, the name they gave to these matches was “bout”.

I first became aware of the growing sport in 2005, when I met Val (sigh) Capone and the members of the fledgling Windy City Rollers at the 70th anniversary celebration of my father’s creation.

After that I was hooked.

Like all sons of gods I really wanted to see the game recreated in the original image, but I have learned that what you are doing – in the various rule sets – has made it your own, and I accept that.  I don’t think it is a big secret that I like a fast skilled game (preferably on a banked track) and it certainly is trending that way.

But what this post is really about is who I have met and interacted with along the way, and the effect that it has had on me.  Please don’t get upset if I don’t mention or acknowledge you; I always write this whole thing by memory as that is just the way I write.  So feel free to comment or yell at me.

First of all, remember my original role with Derby:  the owner-promoter from 1960 to 1973 who employed (all) of the very talented men and women in the International Roller Derby League.  And we were hugely successful in terms of attendance, television ratings etc.

But today is different, and in this environment we are all equal (am I being presumptuous in including me in that statement?).  So many of you have become great friends and what you do both on and off the track has brought happiness to me and many others.  The Bay Area Derby Girls making me feel such a part of what they were doing and even acknowledging me in their program; the WFTDA allowing me to say a few words before the nationals in Portland and the other courtesies shown me.

Both the Denver Roller Dolls and RMRG who made my trip to their city so memorable (and the indomitable P J Shields who coolly staged the greatest Colorado rescue of the century) when lst Bank Center became the Dolls home; Rose Columbo and Tom and all the others who brought me to Philly to see OSDA on a banked track (still there!), and how the original game with men and women could work today, and Ms Evanstone of the Philly Roller Girls who let me help them find a new venue.

And how all of you responded, raising tens of thousands of dollars from around the world to pay for surgeries and care for Lori Milkeris whose skating career ended when she was so brutally beaten, almost to death (see I Like Women post on my blog), and that Rhea responded immediately to start “Derby against Domestic Violence” on facebook to bring help to those in abusive situations; over 2000 belong today and you should also (and don’t forget about “Blockers, not bullies”).

And Donna”thehotflash”Kay who although with medical problems that would crush others (especially at age 56)  just keeps trucking and wants to help all in Roller Derby get a sense of value about themselves and their behavior; and because of her there is now “Derby over 40” on facebook, with an amazing array of women (and men) who are still skating -almost 1500 members-and talking about it and giving advice to each, a number in their 60s and a few 70-year olds!

I should devote a whole page to at least two very influential organizations that really helped and crystallized the growth and acceptance of Derby around the world (1418 leagues, 41 countries).  First Hurt Reynolds and his wife and all the others at http://www.derbynewsnetwork.com who certainly have not made a fortune out of their efforts to bring dozens of games each month, not only from the US but from Canada, UK, Australia and I don’t know how they do it.  And they have shown WFTDA and USARS  and whatever they can to help the game grow.  As a friend, I ask you to support them.

OK, now let’s talk about Ivanna and Trish and all who have made Rollercon the centerpoint for Derby.  The concept of bringing 5000 people together to live, skate, learn, seminar, party, get married (I’ve done it twice, and will once again this July) is such a logistical nightmare to me that it boggles the mind.  Realize, I put on over 3000 Roller Derby games in the US, Canada, and Mexico; booked concerts for the Dick Clark review, Willie, Waylon, the Highwaymen, Merle Haggard, the Smothers Brothers, etc and booked and presented trade shows; and knowing what I know, you have no concept of what is involved in putting this extravaganza on in both the US, Australia , and soon in Europe.

Rollercon is really the University of Roller Derby; it brings all of you together, and not only do you learn about skating from the best, but you meet and learn from each other (the best part!), regardless of style of skating, rulesets, etc.  And they keep adding tracks (I believe 5 last year) and remember, if you have to wait to skate, that is just the way it is…..you can only squeeze so much toothpaste out of a tube.  Please make the commitment to go to Rollercon if you haven’t already….it will make you jump start your ability (with Quadzilla (my friend from Rollerjam days), Bonnie, Suzy and all the others with years of knowledge and ability who are teaching you, and make you appreciate the game even more.  More importantly, say hello to the Commissioner who will also be leading a seminar.

Image by RAWKU5 from stock.xchng.com

Image by RAWKU5 from stock.xchng.com

Others who leap out at me:  Jessica Wendling, amazing woman from Alabama; Ten Gauge Rachel Rage; Fernando Leguero, the professional soccer star from Mexico who is bringing so much to Windy City and our game; all of the women from my home team, Resurrection Roller Girls; the wonderful women of Gotham, Oly, LA Derby Dolls who have brought the national attention to our game; April, of course; Swede Hurt; Erin “Lucy D” Dynamite who has brought her great artistry and design to our game.  Victorian Roller Derby, Far North Roller Derby, Sonoma County Roller Derby, London Roller Derby, Toronto and Montreal, Tel Aviv, Sacred City, LA Derby Dolls and their new and more exciting version of banked track Derby,  and on and on.  And of course, Far North Roller Derby in Alaska who are leaving a ticket and a Commissioner’s chair at every game!

And Roller Derby has several shrines:  The National Roller Derby Hall of Fame in New York (covering earlier Derby), the Roller Derby collection at the University of Texas in Austin: and Seltzer Park, located in Seaside Oregon right on the Pacific Ocean.

AJ from Vancouver who is going to succeed in getting Derby on TV; Cliff Butler, who can train you like no one else except for John Hall; Larissa leaven; my beautiful Pia Mess, Misty Greer; Atomatrix; Suzy, of course; Raw Heidi;  Bar Elder; Brandy Rettig, Lara (hot wheels) Irons, the wonderful and brave women of CaiRoller Derby, daring to bring the game to Egypt.  I have to stop and I apologize to all of the friends I am pissing off; just send me comments.

And USARS for honoring my family by naming their Championship trophy “The Seltzer Cup”

I have to acknowledge Donalei Erie especially, and the other photographers (except for one) who are so good and professional at what they do that you should acknowledge them and support them because they are doing it for the love of the game.

Many great writers following the game:  my favorite “Windyman”.  And of course Matt Faure.

And the magazines that are so professional:  Blood and Thunder, Lead Jammer UK (had to list those first, since I have columns), Five on Five, Hit and Miss, and the others out there also on line.

And the announcers; without their skill and sense of fun the game is much less (and remember, no other sport (I hope) has Dumptruck!)

of course the NSOs and officials, and PR and all other volunteers and those who make the sport work.

And those outside who work with Derby:  first of all Scott Riegelman and the great people at Riedell.  Not only do they have a great product but their sponsorships at Rollercon and elsewhere are their symbol of giving back.  And I know Scott does a lot more that you don’t know about in supporting skating.

The people at Atom wheels who have been particularly kind to me (and the owner gave us his wife -that sounds terrible- Atomatrix), and they also have a great shoe product now.

And Doug Martin of Roll Models (www.competeteamoutfitters.com) who wants to bring the professional uniforms he provides to other major sports to Roller Derby – designed by Derby women -and has quietly served almost 100 leagues so far.

And to Drew Barrymore who unknowlingly brought the sport to so many people who were not aware of the modern game.

And to Robin Bond, David Wruck and Ron Patrick who made the glorious “Derby Baby” with their own funds.  Please book it on a large screen in your city if you haven’t already, and certainly get the dvd.

And of course, Brown Paper Tickets (www.brownpapertickets.com).  I know, I joined them after almost 40 years of being a pioneer in computerized ticketing, but this is why:  they provide the best service to you at no cost; a 99 cent  service charge to your fans (plus minimal credit card fee); they have a dedicated person, Bob Noxious, who will work with you on helping your league, regardless if you are a customer or not.  They will help you with promotion and advice, help you to find a venue, provide paperless ticketing if you want! (imagine being able to tell the audience at a game that they can go to their cell phones and order tickets for the next game!), do season ticketing.  And 24 hour client service for you.

William Jordan and Steve Butcher are to be commended in creating a ticket service that is not just a huge profit center with service charges and imbuing this spirit throughout their whole worldwide organization.  And Sten Iverson will answer any of your quesstions at client services.

They don’t care how many tickets you sell on the system, so put your league on, let the fans know that you are with one of the largest, most accessible ticket providers in the world….they can order by phone (for just 99 cents), talk to operators in English, Spanish and French,and can service your league anywhere in the world. And the President and CEO are determined to keep this a buyer friendly, fair trade company.  They donate 5% of the service charge to community and charity organizations.  And they serve far more leagues than any other service.

Now you understand why I am with them, although I do not handle Roller Derby.

Every day more and more people are learning about what you are doing.  As Bonnie D. Stroir says, it has gone from people asking about Roller Derby to do you skate with them.  The game is here to stay; now you have to realize that you must continue the good community works and all skate like the big girls do (although Junior Roller Derby will change the game radically in 5 to 7 years).  The world will finally realize just how major a sport this is; some of you don’t want that, but the great part about the way the game has grown is that is for you to choose.

ok, just my opinion


This will be my last post before Rollercon, and certainly my last comments on the state of Derby today.

First what I find frustrating:  in so many of the games I watch on DNN or WFTDA.tv I find more and more teams utilizing the slow down strategy to try and equalize the match.  By virtually stopping the pack several things are happening:  often a relative inaction by both teams in starting the jam, and when it does start because the pack is “locked”, the jammer catches them in 25 or so seconds, making a 2-minute jam ridiculously long.

You, the skaters, control the game and the rules.  Just a few changes would help and maybe even check the off-balancing effect of the power jam.  The officials should signal the pack to keep moving or a penalty would be given; the jam time shortened to one minute; and if a jammer is sent to the box in a jam, the team is allowed to field a jammer on the subsequent jam, with a blocker position serving the remainder of the penalty.

Roller Derby is about action, speed, and the chase.  I personally don’t think any jam should start without a jammer on each team.  Don’t allow this game to become one of inaction.  There is far too much intrinsic excitement.

I know I am talking about the WFTDA game; USARS has made some significant changes, and MADE with 40 leagues and OSDA are skating basically the original rules, but I really hope that the different games could be brought closer together…..I have heard complaints that WFTDA teams are discouraged from participating in other skating leagues and often great animosity is shown between the different leagues under different rules.  This certainly will not help the sport move forward, and it seems crazy to me that different leagues in the same areas do not compete against each other.

But that is just my opinion.

Now for the positive.  As time goes by, many of the original skaters are still going strong, bringing their basic knowledge of how the game should be strategized and played to others.  I see less and less of players not understanding what their function is.  The fan base in many areas has grown significantly, and you see so much acceptance and pride in so many communities of what their league means to them.

A recent list in Buzz-feed had Roller Derby listed among the 10 most difficult sports requiring the most skill to play.  You have really established a foothold and admiration for what you are doing and have accomplished.  And remember, when you are compared to other sports they are mostly professional or very well funded.  I am amazed that the growth continues, and as you know, I am just blown away by the love of the game and each other you portray, often with hardships that few outside the game realize.

As I head for my fifth Rollercon, I am more excited than at the first.  I am participating in so many different things:  my seminar on 4 PM on Saturday;  my announcing of the over 40s game at 2 PM on Saturday with Derby wife Val Capone; my Derby wedding with the wonderful Lori Milkers (“I like women” post on this blog), and for the first time, a booth.

Come visit us in the GoMerch/Seltzer brand booth with Judi Flowers and Jim Weymouth of www.seltzerbrand.com, Dan Cooper of GoMerch, and Lori Milkeris who will be selling her end violence bracelets for her continuing medical expenses.  And I just might autograph a “Roller Derby to Rollerjam” book for you.  and the blessed  Laura Blastfemi Kelly has sent some of her delilghtful “Kiss” stickers.

And of course, being a promoter, one more thing:  a free raffle to win books, bag tags, rock and roll shirts from Go Merch, autographed “Roller Derby to Rollerjam” books, and an original Midwest Pioneer jersey (like the one I wear on my facebook page), from 40 years ago.  Priceless.

And Judi has candy for you.

From reaction to action…..


It was wonderful how the world of Derby reacted to the terrible event that almost destroyed Lori Milkeris life.

They responded by the thousands from all over the world,  giving help, support, fund-raising and staying a support group all along for this victim of a horrible beating that came close to killing her.  For the few who don’t know the story, please see my post “I like Women” and go to Lori Aid 2011 on Facebook.

Lori has gone through months of surgery, rehabilitation and mental anguish.  She has children to support and a life to live:  working toward her Masters degree in social work and just getting her life together.

This week she returned to her classes.  She is still haunted but is mostly very positive about life; she couldn’t wait to get back to skating.

And who administered this beating?  someone she loved and to whom she had entrusted herself and her family.

Unfortunately this type of abuse is all too common.  And  many of the Roller Derby leagues currently support women’s shelters.  Lori and I have never spoken, although we exchange messages on Facebook, and a few days ago we kind of concurred on a program.

Photo by Katherine Evans from stock.xchng.com.

What if there were an organization, kind of Roller Derby’s MADD, or Susan B. Komen that was aimed at focusing on abuse.  And although she didn’t suggest it, it would be named after Lori.

And all Roller Derby Leagues worldwide (as of today, 1030) had the opportunity to be part of it.  Keep it loose, but have it set up so that all organizations (WFTDA, MADE, OSDA, WORD, etc) endorse it and create  a basic outline for each league to get instructions on how to recognize when it is happening, help each other, and outreach to the community.

And speaking crassly, what a great PR program to further educate the public that Roller Derby today is not about fighting, hair pulling but a real empowerment of those who skate it.

Now that is as far as we went.  Who out there is willing to step in and help organize.  The irony is that Lori would actually be a very active participant, using her own experience and what she is training for to be “chairman”.  And we need those of you who are trained in the field of psychology, psychiatry, medicine, counseling, teaching or just life  to be on the “board”.

All right, Lori’s girls (and boys).  Time to step up to the plate.