Friday, April 30, 2010

Derby Trek: The Next Generation

Look at this group of happy little girls chumming around with each other. When you see this, what is the first thing that runs through your mind?

Well if you're anything like me, the dialogue in your head goes something like this:
Awww, look how cute they are.  You know what would be awesome?  If we taught them how to kick each other's butts for 60 minutes straight.
If you had the exact same thought that I did then congratulations, you're ready to do like me and help start a girl's junior roller derby league!  Yup, that's right, I've made a huge change in my place in the geography of roller derby by jumping from WFTDA league referee to junior roller derby league coach/co-founder.  "But wait a minute," you say to yourself.  "Those girls are WAY too cute and fragile to be interested in a rough sport like roller derby!"  Well maybe it would help if a showed you the uncropped version of that picture:

To clarify, they're in a church front lawn at a junior roller derby garage sale/fundraiser and they're wearing a mixture of pads and rollerskates because they're so excited about roller derby starting up for girls their age that they can't contain their excitement.  Attendance for a preliminary meeting at a local rec center before there was any real organization was so good that all seats were full and people were standing around the outside walls of the room.  Girls who have never had the least bit of interest in playing organized sports and have never been on a team of any sort are bubbling with anticipation of our upcoming first practice.  And this story is not a fluke.  Junior leagues are starting to pop up in North America and the Australian continent as fast as adult leagues were in the early years of flat-track derby and more are forming every day.

While I haven't done any sort of scientific study, I feel pretty confident that I can tell you exactly why this is catching on so quickly.  If a girl plays basketball, she is playing "girls basketball".  If she joins a soccer league, she is playing "girl's soccer".  Until a bunch of fed-up women in Austin, TX first taped the shape of a roller derby track on a skating rink floor, there was no sport where women led the way and men were a conditional sort of second citizen.  But in the world of modern roller derby, that is all changed.  Women dominate this sport by a staggering margin.  If we see a mention of a new roller derby league, we assume it's a women's league unless there is something in the name that specifies that it is a men's league.  A vibrant and growing WFTDA hosts 4 regional tournaments and a national championship for women, while men scrape to find enough players and to book other teams to play.  Unlike every other sport I can think of, women killed the beast, butchered it and are feasting on the choicest cuts while men crouch under the table with sad eyes hoping a few scraps fall their way.  Women unquestionably own roller derby, the girls of today see it and they want in right here and now.

Sometimes good things are born from sad ones.  My wife and I started spearheading the formation of junior roller derby in our town because she ruptured a disc in her back (not a derby injury btw), had surgery and was told she could never play roller derby again.  While this was very disappointing for us at the time, it turns out to have been a blessing for almost 40 kids who are now fired up and ready to get fantastic exercise, make new friends, get coaching by a knowledgeable roller derby veteran and have loads of fun that wouldn't have been available to them otherwise.

I wrote all of that to get to this:  If you participated in roller derby, have retired, still love derby and live in a town with no junior roller derby league, grab the steering wheel, yell "YEEEHAW" and push the pedal to the floor.  Use Facebook, Craigslist, MySpace and the like to start collecting interest, get the support of your local adult league, make some calls to find a practice space, file your 501c-3 paperwork and then sit back with a sense of fulfillment as the adorable little girls of your community learn how to give each other hematomas.  Take it from my wife and me, you'll end up being as excited about it as the skaters.

Want to take the plunge and start junior roller derby in your community?  Email asking for help and we'll send you all the documentation, forms, registration packets etc. that we are using.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Oh Blogger Where Art Thou?

It's callout day on Derby Helper and the offender getting called out is none other than yours truly. A Pittsburgh area resident hit us with this little gem on Facebook today:

so when will you be helping us w Derby?

That was the politest, most nonchalant way that I've ever been called a lazybutt. A quick look at our recent blog history will show you that there has been a marked downturn in the frequency of posts lately. It has been two weeks since anything was posted, and meaningful content had been scarce even before the silly "Doing It Wrong" pictures. (FYI there's more of those on the way, bwahahaha!) Well derby-lovers of the world, don't worry. I have plenty more valuable roller derby information to share with all of you.

There's only one reason why I have failed to spend all my available computer time authoring a living, breathing guide to the hidden secrets of the derby universe:
His name is Stabbyguy and he has a +2 Axe of Sexyliciousness

OK, actually there are 2 reasons.  The second reason is a far better excuse because it is a genuine contribution to the growth of roller derby in America and hopefully beyond as time goes on.  I'll have the cheery, encouraging details for you in the next few days but right now I'm already late for a guild meeting so I'll get back to you once we finish slaughtering the chaotic evil bugbears of Cerulean Hills.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Wheel Advice From Wheel People

A skater from the beautiful land of Sweden has posed the following question to us:

Hey! I'd like som wheel input, gona get some new ones and just can't make up my mind.. Have heartless chasers and stalkers now, mostly skating on concrete and wood, they work fine but want to try something different since these are the only ones I've had. I've done a lot of reading so I'd just like some tips from and thought I might find it here. :)

Many thanks,

Now despite Derby Helper's world renown as a source of infallible expertise who never has our opinions smacked down in the comments, I thought this would be a unique opportunity to collect and share some outside opinions. As roller derby has spread across the earth like a wildfire (or H1N1, take your pick), the skaters of the world have racked up a lot of experience with different wheels on different surfaces. So I'm going let all of you take what you've learned and share it with Lucky and the the rest of the roller derby world. I'll give my one recommendation and then I will take any suggestions that any of you put in the comments below or in Facebook comments and paste them into the body of this article with mine. (If you don't want your name included, let me know and I'll omit it.) Let's make this into a wheel/surface recommendation database!

  • Weird Al - I skated on a slippery concrete surface and had constant trouble until I installed a set of Flat Outrageous made by Radar. I love my Flat Outs so much I want to marry 'em and have little round blue babies with 'em.
  • MDL - Wonton Hammer, Mid Iowa Rollers - I have Suregrip Sugar pushers and Atom G-Rods. We skate on painted concrete that can be slick as well as wood and I have to say after replacing my old all 8 blue Witch Doc setup I'm cornering faster and getting more bang for my buck out of my crossovers. 
  • 5 Scar Jeneral - Radar Zodiacs (black) with Mojo's for pushers.  Great for slick surfaces....horrible on wood floors
  • OliveTurmOyl - Heartless and Flat Outrageous.
  • Lippy Wrongstockings, Tri-City Roller Girls - Atom Stingers. Super Love. I'm a lightweight (124lbs) jammer and these are awesome on our super slick concrete without compromising speed.
  • Jimmy Rage, NY Shock Exchange / Long Island Roller Rebels - I skate on all sorts of surfaces on a weekly basis: well-used sportcourt, coated wood and well-maintained rollerhockey surface (tile). I had used Atom Trackers for months and they weren't bad however they still squealed around corners if I really skated out, especially on the sportcourt. They wore out fast but that's due to skating so often.Recently I got a set of flatouts and after a few weeks of using them I have nothing but love for them. On all three surfaces they stick no matter how fast I'm going. It does take a bit more effort to keep going but that only shows during insane endurance drills, short bursts of jamming shows little difference. Note I'm a kinda small guy, ~135 lbs.
Submit your recommendation in the comments below and I'll add it here.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Visual Aid 2

Friday, April 2, 2010

Visual Aid