unsung heroes and not sung enough about heroes


Nature abhors a vacuum.

Photo from stock.xchng.com by Ove Tøpfer.

And when they have occurred in Roller Derby unselfish people jump in to fill them.

We all know this game is a disease; when it grabs you it just won’t let you go.  In no way am I aware of all of you who give your time and effort and sweat and blood for no other reason that it is what you want to do, without looking for excessive reward.

And the first thing that comes to my mind is what the Seales have brought to the table.  How many of you think you are entitled to watch great Roller Derby from Boston, Chicago, London, Australia and the countless American cities that Derby News Network brings to you every week on DNN?  They and their ill-paid compatriots have done more to let people see what is going on than anyone.  I was in television production and distribution back in the day, but this whole idea of carrying everything on their backs and making connections so that you and I can sit at our computer or iphone and watch the top teams in the world play is something we certainly take for granted, without giving much thought to how Dumptruck, Val, Tara and the technical people often jump in their cars and drive thousands of miles so you won’t be disappointed.

And we all learn from these telecasts:  how the game should be played and what should not be part of Roller Derby.  They help all to understand the strategy, the speed, the conditioning that are necessary, and the game becomes the same wherever it is played.

And the Seales are not making a fortune and have sacrificed so much to make this happen.  In their case, Derby Love is almost not enough.  When you get a chance, go to their website, see what they have to offer and even help with their fundraising if you can.  To have this kind of TV coverage is not a right, but a privilege.  God Bless all connected with DNN.

There is an enigmatic soul in Virginia who goes by the name of cat of nine tails.   If you try to friend her (as I did) you will end up with a new friend in Australia who is a dominatrix and an erotic performer…..well friends are friends.

As basically a marketer I find that www.derbyroster.com is an invaluable site.   You find how many amateur leagues there are in the world (as of this moment, 977) and an encyclopedic cross section of indices that let’s you see every league’s websites, how many different governing bodies, men’s leagues, flat track, banked track, etc, etc.  I ask all to look at this site often and utilize it.  You are in Bumfrick, Albania, and you want the media to pay attention?  Hell, we are part of the fasted growing sport in the world so don’t ignore us…..just go to www.derbyroster.com and see how big our brethren are in London, New York, South Africa, Israel, Brazil France, Germany, Australia, etc.  And I have spoken to this lady who does all of this, and if she wants to be known, she will be.  We have our own Google because of her.    Please send her a message on that site and let her know how much you love what she is doing.

There are dozens more to be appreciated, and I hope to hear from all of you who are publishing, taking photos, putting yourselves into producing fun and serious items for your sisters and brothers, but I have to address the people behind Rollercon.

How can you create something that incorporates both West Point and Disneyland?  Why start Rollercon of course.   Ivanna and all the others who have given so many hours to create this monstrosity of an event, with 27 pages of skating instructions, ref training, announcer bellowing, and seminars on everything that could possibly be of interest to anyone associated with Roller Derby is a herculean task.  And adding the hosting facility, the meals, the parties and the dynamics of coordination for 5 days of activities that go from early morning to late at night is mind boggling.  And each year it gets done and this year was the best!  Thousands of people doing what they came to do at a very reasonable price.  So are these people going to rest until next year?  No, they have already started for next year and,  just for fun, are adding London and Australia as new venues.

So of course if you haven’t done so, let the Rollerconites know what you think.  In just a few years it has grown from a grass-roots event to a very finished product, and that doesn’t just happen.

Kudos to the Seales, the mystery woman, and to the people behind Rollercon.  If this is what being underground means, then there is nothing wrong with it.

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Rollercon


RollerCon 2011

This still will not be a long post, but it is something I want to write before the feeling drifts off.

Judi Flowers was at her first Rollercon.  And I know that it changed her life.  I did not know Judi when I was promoting the game, and she has kind of picked it up by osmosis.  And she has seen some of the games in this area.  But at Rollercon the aura just overwhelmed her as it does everyone who attends…..and now she is busy starting to design and participate in the culture.  On the drive home she told me that she is just trying to digest this “invasion of her senses.”

Ivanna and her crew have created what to me is something that grabs the whole essence of Roller Derby:  I don’t care  what league or ruling body you belong to, we are packing into a very few days something that will stay with you, whether you skate, referee, or participate in any way in the game we all love.  You will get instructions, guidance, seminars, and dance your ass off partying.

I feel a sense of redundancy when I say I love you all, I love what Roller Derby has become to you and what you have brought to it, and the way you honor me and my family.

What has truly bothered me is the different ruling bodies who have brought sense and order to the crazy way this has all evolved since 2002 have probably unwittingly created restrictions that keep you all from participating and competing with each other the way you do at Rollercon.

As Reagan said to Gorbachov, “tear down the wall”.  goddamnit, it is Roller Derby.  Leagues or teams of equal ability should play others of the same level without worrying about if it is sanctioned or not.  The more you play those closest to you geographically and skill level, the  more you will improve.  And  you might learn something about the others’ rules that you feel should be incorporated in your game.

California has more leagues than anyone.  There should be a California championship tourney, and the teams do not have to be of the present makeup, but maybe by county or city.  I know that this is a concept that Donna Hot Flash is working on, and it could certainly apply to other states and regions.

Why do you all get to skate with and against each other at Rollercon but not elsewhere.

If you really want to honor me, Loretta, Frankie, Ann, Joan,Judy Sowinsky, and all of the great skaters of the past, figure out a way to make this happen without damaging your present alliance.

Keep watching here for more of Rollercon from the Commissioner’s point of view.

And Ivanna and crew, you are amazing…..thanks to all the wonderful volunteers it went off without a hitch; it was the most complex, complete “convention” I have ever attended.  If you did not learn to skate better, ref better, learn at seminars, become a better announcer or any other category that is necessary for your league, it certainly wasn’t Rollercon’s fault…..the parties and functions were amazing.

If I can, I will be back next year.  And please post those photos.

OMG, I now have a Derby wife and more.


Photo by bea29sm from stock.xchng.com.

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 www.derbyroster.com  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 www.rollerderbycommish.com 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 stock.xchng.com 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?