OMG, I now have a Derby wife and more.

Photo by bea29sm from

Well, I am exhausted……just got back from Rollercon;  we left Vegas this morning and drove home.

It was wonderful and crazy and so stimulating!  I will tell about it in bits and pieces, starting on Monday.  Yes I have a Derby wife and until you attend the Derby weddings at Rollercon with over 500 on hand, and you can imagine the wedding garb and lack thereof; and the presiding “minister” in a Elvis jumpsuit that doesn’t cover her stomach because she is 8 months pregnant and Dumptruck in his bikini shorts marrying the coach of the B.A.D. girls, and the Commish ……well that will have to wait as I am just too damn tired.

But Rollercon was amazing and the progress and difference even from last year to this year….well I just can’t short cut.

Join me again in a day or so.

And they should start posting the photos on my Facebook page in the next day or so….

It boggles the mind

I am writing this on July 22, 2011.  In one week Val Capone and I will be giving a seminar at Rollercon in Las Vegas on how to promote your league, a bit of history and a lot of advice…..between us we have almost 70 years of Roller Derby experience.

But at this moment my head is spinning.  Checking with  which keeps track of all the registered leagues in the world is like watching the moving numbers of our national debt on that board in NYC, well maybe not quite.  But yesterday there were 951 leagues, today there are 952….By the way, if you haven’t done so, go to the aforementioned site and go through a bunch of cities and countries and check out the teams’ sites.  The posters, the merch, the designs are amazing, reflecting the interpretation of this true American game throughout the globe.

And I am so excited about this year’s Rollercon; I know so many more of you through Facebook, my blog and our interchanges;  and most importantly, Val and I are tying the Derby knot.  I really want to meet and talk to as many of you that want to talk to me.  Also, I have great information on a new and easy way to sell tickets for your games; Judi Flowers will be on hand to put her design talents to good use for Roller Derby.   She has already been featured on Oprah, on Good Morning America, Vogue, Sex and the City, Will and Grace with her unique fashion statement, and she is dying to get your input.

And now, my website is available.  We are starting out with just a book, a video, and before and after skating footwear, but many more items will be available soon.  (There, that’s my commercial).  Be sure and scroll down on the home page to hear what Brandy Rettig has to say (unsolicited), and don’t tell me she is two-faced.

My one overriding desire is to find a way to not make Roller Derby such an expensive endeavor for the participants.  They have to pay dues, buy all their own equipment, contribute to the community, and road trips are not easy and much is out of pocket.  I know that in many leagues skaters can not get paid, but if there could be a way to alleviate these additional hardships, it would be meaningful.  And since there are promoters who are making money from these games, there must be some way of creating an equitable payment for reducing dues or whatever.

Collage elements from work by Billy Alexander and Steven Goodwin.

And now the World Cup!

It’s in Toronto December 1-4, with many additional skill and other events that weekend.  Bring your longjohns and whatever else.  There are 13 countries participating:  Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, England, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, Scotland, Sweden and of course, Team USA.  And two great coaches, Buster Cheatin and Bonnie D. Stroir, will put together which should be the most powerful squad.

As I write this, the final tryout for Team USA is in Florida.  A certain amount of seeded and other players have already qualified, but so many are fighting for the just 20 positions on this prestigious team.  And of course there is the cost and financial sacrifices that are made to do this, but what could be better than this once in a lifetime experience.

Now remember, we had less than 150 total participants in the Roller Derby of our day, and that was their only job in most cases.  And a skater joining us from Canada was a big deal.  Please just stop a minute and think about this thing from inner space that has 952 leagues worldwide in 35 countries with some 40,000 participants and hundreds of thousands watching them play monthly and THAT is a BFD!

Pat yourself on the back if you are any part of today’s Derby, and let everyone in your community know the above information and they are lucky to have you doing what you are doing.

And just peruse this:  what would Leo think if he were alive?

How could we ever forget?

I got a call on Wednesday from an old-time friend, Ron Leganger, whom I hadn’t spoken with in years.  When I answered the phone and he said “This is Ron Leganger”  I immediately asked if the films were going to be shown at his house tonight.  In high school, Ron was able to get “stag” (porn) films and about 100 of us would show up at his dwelling to watch……highly illegal then, no theaters, books, and certainly no television and……

Ron called me to let me know that on September 6th my high school graduating class was going to have our 62nd reunion…..I guess they didn’t want to wait till 65 cause god knows how many will be around.

I went to Niles Township High School in Skokie, Illinois, which served a bunch of communities in that suburban Chicago area.  We lived in Glenview at that time and had our choice of Niles, New Trier (very prestigious), and Maine Township.  My sister was going to Niles and my two best friends from grammar school (no middle school then), Fred Gatter and Al Haut were going to Niles, so it was easy for me.  The high school was seven miles from our house, so we could take the bus or drive, and since in Illinois you could get a license at 15, I went with my older sister.

At Niles I hung with five people who became my best friends:  Ed Archibald, Dean Whitton, Fred Gatter, Ralph Smith, Norrie Miller, and two other in our “gang” who I was not as close with, Bill Poehlmann and Grey Waters.

We became known as “The Gatter Gang” or the “Seltzer Syndicate”, but we were not an evil gang (of course there was one of those at Niles).

Friday night would be our night to hang out and cause a bit of  trouble….no dates allowed.   Innocent stuff, some of us on each side of a road pulling on an imaginary rope when cars would come so they would have to skid to a stop; drag racing, and raising havoc in quiet neighborhoods.  We went to the Indianapolis 500 together, slept in a cornfield, and at 4 in the morning drove into the infield (I think it was $10 a car) to watch the powerful Novis and other sleek machines race; the cars did not all look like each other at that time.

And of course at least once a month we had to go to the Coliseum to see the Roller Derby, and we had a great time.  We were all good students, in the top 10% of the class.  After graduation, I headed out to Palo Alto to go to Stanford, Fred and Dean went to Northwestern Engineering, Ralph to the Coast Guard Academy, Ed went to the Illinois Institute of Technology,  and I am not sure where the others went.  After a year at Stanford I transferred to business school at Northwestern and graduated from there (after a two year stint in the army).  I was close with Fred and Dean and actually roomed with the latter.

We all eventually got married, went into professions (I must confess I was the only one to go into Roller Derby) and stayed in touch.  We were spread throughout the country from the East Coast to the Midwest to the South to the West, but starting with the tenth reunion I was at all of them up to 50.  I think at the 25th I came with Marsha Jordan who was in her early twenties and gorgeous (she still is) and was able to make all the girls jealous who wouldn’t go out with me in high school because I was a year younger, 5′ 4″ (I grew until  21), 90 pounds, and with thick glasses, although always a charmer.  Eventually Judi started going with me to the reunions and my friends and their wives became her friends.  The last one we attended was in 1999

When Roller Derby was on tour in the sixties, I had the privilege of staging a benefit game at our high school gym (then known as the Performing Arts Center), raising money for the school, and they gave me a letter sweater.  I had received a small letter for playing jayvee football, although I rarely got into a game.

The last graduating class was in 1980, and eventually the school was torn down.  If you saw “Risky Business” with Tom Cruise, you saw my school.  Today there is a community college on the site.

Over the years life transitioned.  Dean, Fred, and Bill  all lived in Hilton Head, SC.  Ed stayed in the Chicago area, Ralph obtained a law degree and practiced in New Orleans, although he was flooded out by Katrina.  He is rebuilding.

So the day after I spoke with Ron I called Ed who I hadn’t spoken with in way too long.  It was like no time had been lost.  His wife, Mary Helen, had died of cancer, and over the years he and a group of others met to plan the reunions, and some time after Dana’s husband had died, she and Ed had gotten married.  Ed told me that Dana had died six months previously;  they had a great eight years, and every month they celebrated their anniversary.  “She died on our hundredth anniversary.”  Both Dean and Fred’s wives had passed; Dean was now in Tennessee with his daughter, and Fred had just died.

So it was not a happy call, except for most importantly re-establishing with perhaps my closest friend.  I don’t think any other time of my life I established friendships as I did in high school.

I don’t think I can attend the 62.  It will be too sad for me.  But I am not losing track of Ed again.  There should be a regional tournament about that time.

How are they finding you?

I was on a very nice phone conversation this morning with a woman who is moving to Hawaii next month to be with her daughter and her partner as they are expecting their first child, and the woman cannot take her cat with her.  Well after I lost Larry and my two cats (Fanny and Lily) within a matter of months last year, I might be ready for a cat.

She lives in Richmond near Craneway Pavilion, and she mentioned that a friend had been bugging her to see Roller Derby there ,and she and 7 or 8 friends were going to put on heavy duty makeup, tight tee shirts and go this Saturday.  Lo and and behold, I will be there, sans makeup and tight tee shirt, so I will stop and see the cat on the way.

This made me think again about how do you get new people to attend your games, if that is what you want.  Our whole world seems rather incestuous, we reach people through websites, facebook, etc.  Now that is great and saves heavy advertising dollars, but I am always amazed at how few people really know what is going on with Roller Derby.

Since the game is not professional, there is usually little promotion that is standard practice for other events:  buying TV spots, radio, billboards, continuous press features on media about the individual players, etc.  Of course there are notable exceptions:  in Denver where the two leagues are tied in with two different promoting companies; in Seattle where a very professional marketing campaign and a very professional presentation of the events creates the ingredients necessary to draw excellent attendance.  And we all know that when you have a very large and enthusiastic crowd, the game is often better and everyone goes home happy (unless of course, there is a huge blowout with the home team on the wrong side).

Image by Keith Syvinski from

I am glad to see that steps are being taken to make Roller Derby more fan friendly; taking the people out of the infield is a good first step.  And some organizations are skating games that have fewer restrictions, but that alone won’t generate increases in attendance.  A good product, a focused and pleasing arena venue, and a good marketing campaign are needed.

Most of the league organizations were created for rules and other procedures and not to create a promotional organization.  The professional publications that are out now help, and certainly DNN is a wonderful tool to expose the game.  I have a feeling most of these media do not reach out of our community, and that needs to happen.

Of course promotion and marketing is what I have done all my life:  with Roller Derby, Ticketmaster, concert and other promotions.  Who out there is willing to work with me on creating an organization that would be available to all leagues to help teach promotion, promote for them, bring them to promoters and more?  And profits made would go back to the leagues themselves.

We have 940 leagues, 40,000 participants worldwide and claiming it is an underground sport is ridiculous.  Some will want to grow and get more revenue to help their members and others won’t.

Just heed the clarion call from someone who knows how to do it and let’s start now!  Contact me here, on facebook, or email me at  You have nothing to lose except empty seats.