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!



  1. <3 I love looking at Derby Earth and wish I could have helped more. Kudos to you for sticking with the project!

    - Lethal Dose

  2. Great write up! And thanks for Derby Earth :) I love it, well done for the massive amount of work it must have been

    [agree, myspace is a POS]

  3. First- this is fantastic. Really great way to find and represent leagues. I don't envy you for what you've had to put into it (I do similar work by day), but I appreciate it! What's the plan for upkeep? Can league's submit their info?

    Second- MySpace is probably among the chief reasons I don't go looking for new leagues on the internet. If I google your league and a myspace page is the first that comes, forget it. I've often considered starting a derby web hosting/development service just to help leagues get their own independent website...

    Thanks for your efforts!

  4. hey Speed Bump, anyone can submit new league info or corrections by going to and filling out the online form. Info is confirmed before adding to the database.

  5. Christchurch isn't the southernmost one or won't be for long. I know Dundedin (!/pages/DD-Dunedin-Derby/177474442279729?v=info) is starting a roller derby team. Whether they've practiced yet is another question.

  6. Southern most derby league is Sinvercargill Savages
    based in Invercargill, they are at the bottom of New Zealands South Island. There facebook page is

  7. Pacific Roller Derby's All-stars traveled about 3,000 miles last weekend to play Fairbanks Roller Girls, then Anchorage' Rage City. It happens ;). In the winter time no doubt!

  8. I'm bummed FBXRG is no longer the farthest north league. I guess we'll just have to get Luleå to come up and have a battle of the latitudes!

  9. I photograph bouts and promo for Northern Brisbane Rollers in Australia and hadn't heard of the Malice Springs Roller Derby League at all before seeing this page. Derby Earth is the coolest page I have seen all day. =)

  10. I've been making a personal list & google map for Australian leagues for the past 3 years, my last count is 52 leagues. Happy to say every state & territory in Aus now has a derby league Whaaahoooo!!!

    If you are interested in finding out more about leagues in Australia you can join the Australian Roller Derby Forum

    and also check out Derby Down Under

  11. I play for Malice Springs, YAY! ;)

  12. malice are happy to host anyone that wants to head this way.

    planning for our fist bout in June!!!

  13. Great job on Derby Earth! I'd love to incorporate it into the Worldwide Roster. I had a map originally but it just got too big for me to handle on my own :)

    Roller Derby Worldwide