Wednesday, December 22, 2010

My Roller Derby Christmas List

Dear Santa Claus,

     First of all, I'm well aware of which of your lists my name is on.  Sorry about that but in my defense, when you combine 2-for-1 beers, a broken bathroom and a nearby easily accessible church confessional booth, nothing good is going to come of this situation. That said, I'm hoping that my sincere remorse and the 100 hours of community service will sway you to go ahead and bring me everything on my roller derby Christmas list that you'll find enumerated below.  Thanks and I look forward to starting 2011 on the "Nice" list and plan to earnestly attempt to stay on it for more than 16 hours this time.

     Love, Derby Helper


For Christmas, I want:

  1. ...a league to finally form somewhere in Africa so we'll have roller derby being played on 6 continents.
  2. ...someone to invent a temporary masonite floor that is as portable and easy to deploy as those cheesegrater sport courts.
  3. ...every league on earth to graduate from skating rinks and find an arena-style place to play that has padded seats and sells beer.  (And doesn't have a broken bathroom.)
  4. ...a way to have ropelight  track borders that cause no hazards for the skaters because that looks really, really cool.
  5. ...WFTDA leagues in Australia and New Zealand, plus more of them in Europe. Then, for Australia/New Zealand and Europe to each become a WFTDA region that has its own tournament and automatically sends their top one or two teams to the championship tournament.
  6. ...banked track roller derby somewhere other than American southwest so that Royal City can play someone other than themselves.
  7. ..."stand around in a line" roller derby to return to the flaming sewers of hell from whence it came.
  8. ...less blowouts at regionals & the championship tournament and more heartattack-inducing moments like the last jam of the Oly-Rocky Mountain final.
  9. have junior roller derby explode the way that womens roller derby has, because I know that kids everywhere will jump at the opportunity the way they did here, and because it is one of the funnest and most gratifying thing I have ever gotten involved with.  Plus I want to see what the game will look like when the first crop of adult skaters hits that started when they were 10 years old.
  10. ...a pony.  Seriously dude, you've been shafting me on that request for decades now.  What's the deal? I have a yard now you know.

Oh and one last thing Santa.  Please fulfill all the roller derby Christmas wishes that my friends put down below in the comment section.  Thanks dude, you're awesome!


Friday, December 17, 2010

What I learned from Derby Earth

When I got the idea to create a geocoded database of every roller derby league on earth, I was so excited about what it would be like when it was done that I sort of mentally filtered out all the tedious, mind-numbing work that would be required to make it happen. Fortunately, I wasn't ashamed to beg for help from the derby community and equally fortunately, some of them had enough pity within their souls to chip in. As I chugged through the web researching my portion of the list and consolidating all the volunteer submissions with my own work into one database, I made a variety of observations that I would now like to share with you. Enjoy!

Usually roller derby spreads bit by bit but occasionally it makes giant leaps into uncharted territory, leaving one lonely league standing far off all by its lonesome self. For example, located smack in the middle of the Australia you'll find Malice Springs Roller Derby.
Or as I like to call them, Australia's belly button.

Almost all of the population of Australia is crammed into a ring that hugs the shoreline. The location of Malice Springs at dead center of the contenent puts them 784 miles (1,270km) from their nearest potential competitor. Imagine if you were the London Rollergirls and the closest place you could go to play a game was just southwest of Stockholm Sweden or if you were the Windy City Rollers in Chicago and your closest team was Assassination City in Dallas. Looking at Australia in Derby Earth makes you think that Malice Springs just farted and all the other leagues ran for air. My guess is they'll pretty much have to fundraise their butts off just to be able to play one road game a year. An honorable mention in this category goes to Pacific Roller Derby in Hawaii who has a couple of leagues nearby but has to fly 2,400 miles to be able to play a WFTDA sanctioned bout.

Uncomfortable Proximity
Hawaii makes another appearance on this list in the form of two leagues that seem to be in a perpetual staredown. Zoom in on Kapaa, Hawaii and you'll see the following scene:

Wicked Wahine Derby Association and The Garden Island Renegade Rollerz practice at locations that are within line of sight of each other. Whenever I see this, I like to imagine that they are mortal enemies who always schedule practice on the same evenings at the exact same time, glaring across the road at each other as they get out of their cars and making that two-fingered "I'm watching YOU!" gesture before joining their respective team's practice. I also like to envision them occasionally sneaking over to the other league's parking lot to let the air out of each other's tires. If this is completely untrue, please don't ever tell me.

  • Northernmost - The title for northernmost league known (as of this posting date) goes to Luleå Roller Derby from Luleå, Sweden who dot the globe at 65°35" north, beating out the Fairbanks Rollergirls by a mere 50 miles. At that latitude, I really hope they play on ice skates.
  • Southernmost - This one is still not confirmed. The unofficial winner is Dead End Derby of Christchurch, New Zealand who have the southernmost confirmed location at 43°31". We don't have a confirmed address for Otautahi Roller Derby who are also in Christchurch so at any moment, they could possibly step forth and wrest away the crown by providing us with an address. Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion.
  • Furthest Apart - The UWCSEA Roller Girls, a junior league located in Singapore, is a mind-boggling 11,990 miles or 19,295 km away from Roller Derby Bogotá in Bogotá, Colombia. That is within 1% of the longest distance that 2 places on earth can be from each other. UWCSEA only beat out the Chili Padi Derby Girls of Singapore by a paltry 3 miles so if both leagues stay right where they are, plate tectonics should make this title change hands in a few hundred-thousand years or so.
Internet Agony
New leagues that don't have much money or high-level web savvy at their command tend to use free resources like blogging sites or social networks to get themselves on the internet. In the course of confirming all the information in the Derby Earth database, I have been to very nearly every single one of these pages and having done so, I would like to take this opportunity to scream from the rooftops:

MySpace su-u-u-ucks!!!

Seriously, make it stop. Try FaceBook. Blogger. Tumblr. Wordpress. Friendster. LiveJournal. Weebly. Google Sites. Please please please host yourself on something that will not vomit into my eyeballs like the average MySpace custom theme. And for for the love of FSM, don't make it impossible for people who are interested in you to find information about you! If your roller derby web page does not tell people where and when you practice/play roller derby or how to contact you about roller derby, you fail at using the internet to promote roller derby. Helpful tip to all of you out there in the Derbyverse - if your league's placemark on Derby Earth doesn't zoom right down to the actual building you play in, it means we couldn't find you which means that your web presence is not helping your fans and potential recruits find you either.

There are roller derby leagues in...
  • 5 continents
  • All 50 U.S. states
  • All regions of the United Kingdom
  • Altitudes from barely 10 feet above sea level (several) to approximately 7260 feet (The Naughty Pines Derby Dames)
  • 10 different languages

A big shout-out to the volunteers who researched and submitted all the league placemark information because without them, it would have been finished somewhere around January 2013.
Slay West - CNY Roller Derby
Skatee Frakoff - Dundee Destroyers
Brutali-Tease - Queen City Roller Girls
Lethal Dose - Alachua County Rollers
Crotch Rock-It - Pearl River Roller Derby
Coach T - Nashville Junior Roller Derby

Did you find anything interesting in Derby Earth that you want to share? Post it in the comments below!


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Welcome to Derby Earth

After triple-digit hours on my part and innumerable hours put in by volunteers, Derby Earth is up and running. Later this week I'll post something about the process and the interesting quirks I've discovered out there in the derbyverse. Thanks volunteers, it wouldn't have been ready before 2012 without your help!

Monday, November 15, 2010

2010 Championships - Cliff Notes edition

Alright derby lovers, I had planned a couple of post-championship wrap-up posts for last week, followed by the launch of Derby Earth bright and early this morning. The problem is, a series of events have had me traveling non-stop through the northern and eastern US and will soon have me trolling my way across the midwest. I have had to cancel some fun stuff I had started like replaying the 2010 WFTDA Championship tournament bracket if the best uniform always won the game (spoiler alert: Oly came in dead last) as well my on and off track observations on the whole event. So instead of completely missing out, here are my highly abbreviated championship observations, all in 10 words or less:
  • Rocky Mountain played like beasts, deserved to win
  • UIC Pavilion - best derby venue I've been in yet
  • Seeing so many leagues attending to watch made me happy
  • I learned not to tweet/facebook while all drunked up
  • DNN does a great job at tournaments, give them money
  • I was too busy to meet everyone I wanted to
  • 3 days of derby is not too much derby
  • If fandom was a tournament, Nashville fans would win championship
  • If fan costumes were a tournament, Bay Area wins
  • Thank goodness for unseasonably warm weather
  • Chicago mass transit was efficient and surprisingly clean
  • I need more sleep than I did in my 20's
  • Everyone at the tourney was happy to be there
  • I can't wait 'til next year
Alright, that will have to do it for now.  No more posts until I announce that Derby Earth is open for business!


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Roll Call

UIC Pavilion in Chicago, early November 2010. A place filled with the extremes of the 21st century human soul. A giant gathering that brims with high hopes, booming music, smiling faces, sparkly jammer panty booths, drunken internet rants, heartwrenching losses and ecstatic victories. But what single defining moment really captured the essence of this event in the most profound way?

Meh, I don't know either so instead here are pictures of a variety of skaters and fans from leagues around the world who came to watch the WFTDA Championship and who didn't think I was too creepy to let take their picture. Enjoy!

The Lansing Derby Vixens

The Greenville and Arizona Derby Dames

Montreal Roller Derby

Rollergirls of Southern Indiana

Mason Dixon Roller Vixens

The Chicago Outfit

Uh... This chick.

The Texas Rollergirls free babysitting service

The Peoria Push

Quad City Rollers

Black 'n Bluegrass Roller Girls

LaFayette Brawlin' Dolls

Illinois Valley Vixens

Burning River Roller Girls

Harm City Homicide

Ft. Wayne Derby Girls

Roc City Rollerderby

Most of Indiana
(Circle City, Race City, Bleeding Heartland, ROSI)

Nashville Junior Roller Derby

Cape Fear Rollergirls

Texas Rollergirls

Omaha Rollergirls

Old Capital City Rollergirls

Fox City Foxz

Skee Town Skirtz

Calgary Roller Derby Association

Des Moines Derby Dames

Ohio Roller Girls

Detroit Derby Girls

Winnipeg Roller Derby League

Cape Girardeau Roller Girls

Gate City Roller Girls

London Rollergirls

Bradentucky Bombers

Soy City Rollers

Hellions of Troy

Vette City Vixens

My Dreamgirl (batteries not included)

Grand Raggidy Roller Girls

Big Easy Rollergirls

Toronto Roller Derby

Naptown Roller Girls

Harbor City Roller Dames

Gotham Girls Roller Derby

Oklahoma City Roller Derby

Soy City Rollers

Rage City Rollerderby

City of Fists Rollergirls

People whose opinion I respect

...and Lansing Derby Vixens again, probably because vodka is awesome

Glass City Rollers

South Bend Roller Girls

The Rockford Rage

Paper Valley Roller Girls

Tri-City Roller Girls

Ithaca Sufferjets

Twin Cities Junior Roller Derby

Arch Rival Roller Girls

Utica Clubbers

Cincinnati Rollergirls

Mississippi Valley Mayhem

Delevan Dolls Derby

Flint City Derby Girls

North Star Roller Girls (Hi Stalkypants!)

Minnesota Rollergirls

Dutchland Rollers

Bruisin' Burgs Rollergirls

My new derby crush

Flat Track Furies

Rose City Rollers

Killamazoo Derby Darlins

There are plenty more who have come all this way to watch the championship but sadly in many cases I have been unable to break off and talk to them because I was wa-a-ay too close to the front of the beer line.  Enjoy the final everyone!