2015 CDD Year in Review

January 20th, 2016 | 1 comment

It may seem a little late for a “Year in Review” type post, but as today is the first day of Charlottesville Derby Dames’ 2016 season, I think it is an appropriate time to reflect on last year while  looking forward to the upcoming season. 2015 was a great year for the Dames! Both teams, the All Stars and the Belmont Bruisers, had winning seasons and while they each lost some games, those were catalysts for working harder, adjusting strategies, and overall improving our game.

 

The All Stars started the season ranked #73 and ended ranked #34. They ended the season with a 12-6 record. 4 of those games were at CDD’s first ever post-season tournament, the 2015 D1 Playoffs in Jacksonville, FL. CDD went in as the 10 seed and, after winning their first game, finished as the #8 seed. The Belmont Bruisers also had a winning year going 7-3, with many of their opponents being the WFTDA charter team for their leagues.

 

While roller derby requires hard work and practices on the track, that is only part of the effort that goes into making us a successful league. In 2015 we had an estimated 109 meetings lasting for around 144 hours. To contrast that, there were about 364 practices totalling 936 hours. (That doesn’t include our Junior Derby program either! Those young Dames have just begun their derby journey, and thus far have had 22 practices for 44 hours, with 4 meetings totaling 6 hours. I’m so excited for them in this fresh stage of derby love!)

 

In 2015, 75 people tried Fresh Meat at CDD, and so far we have gained 12 new members from that number. We have one of the smaller population centers for leagues with a D1 WFTDA team, but we are still adding new members every year! (With Open Recruitment periods in February, May, August, and November, 2016 could be the year that you join!)

 

With the games already scheduled for both the All Stars and the Belmont Bruisers, it is shaping up to be another exciting season of roller derby for CDD! As always, 2016 will hold so many practices, scrimmages, FUNdraisers, volunteering opportunities, and of course social opportunities (both parties and meetings), and we are looking forward to every minute of it! Check out our schedule of events to make plans to come watch some great derby, support your local roller derby league at one of our awesome FUNdraisers, or to get more details about Fresh Meat Open Recruitment!

 

Oh, one last thing! Wherever you go and whatever you do, remember my most important rule: if you aren’t having fun, then you aren’t doing it right.

 

Derby love,

Maid Carrion and the Charlottesville Derby Dames

2015CDDLeaguephoto

Community Matters

June 30th, 2015 | 0 comments

One of my favorite things about roller derby is the way that it brings people together. As a member of the Charlottesville Derby Dames, I have met and formed strong, lasting friendships with people that I never would have met if I had stayed in my usual routine. Derby is a community full of strong, spunky, fun people, which is precisely the type of person that I love to spend time with.

This is one of the reasons that I love roller derby tournaments. They bring people together from a variety of teams and really showcase the vibrant community that derby has formed. Every tournament I’ve been to has been a beautiful show of sportsmanship, athleticism, and community that reminds me why I stuck with derby.

That’s why I am thrilled that on July 25th, the Charlottesville Derby Dames are once again hosting their annual Virginia is for Shovers tournament for the fifth year in a row. The tournament draws players from all up and down the East Coast, and has grown each year that we’ve put it on. This year, the event will consist of:

  • An invitational involving: Charlottesville Derby Dames, Rocktown Rollers, Dominion Derby Girls, Team Maryland and more.
  • Mix-up (female and co-ed) scrimmages open to all leagues and individual skaters played by the current WFTDA ruleset.
  • Entertainment and activities for skaters and their entourage at the event venue.

We are also thrilled to be able to use Harrisonburg’s Rockingham County Fairgrounds for this event, which will give us more space than we’ve ever had before!

Last year, the day was full of action, cheering, and laughter. The final bout of the day

Penn AS vs CDD AS

The Pennsylvania All-Stars and the Charlottesville All-Stars bond after an intense game at Shovers 2014.

featured the CDD All-Stars taking on the Pennsylvania All-Stars. The action was fast, the strategies were smart, and the skaters were all very focused. It was definitely one of the top 5 most enjoyable bouts I’ve ever seen. Both sides of skaters were in good spirits, but fought tooth and nail for every point that they scored. My heartbeat is speeding up just thinking about it!

I can’t wait to see more bouts this year, because I’m sure that each one will be played with the good sportsmanship, passion, and fire that I saw last year. Be sure to mark your calendars, skaters and fans alike! You won’t want to miss this one! Be sure to check in with www.vaisforshovers.com for the latest schedule and team updates!

Get your spectator passes online now! http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/1381480

Charlottesville Junior Roller Derby Summer Program

April 21st, 2015 | 0 comments

jrderbyforealzrecolor

Hello, I am Stonewallup. I coordinated and ran the Junior Roller Derby program through Charlottesville Parks and Recreation, was the Head Coach of the Charlottesville Derby Dames (CDD) for three years, and I skate for the CDD All-Stars. Over the past year, I have had the privilege of training up-and-coming Junior skaters, from as young as 7 up to skaters who graduated out of our program as they left for college, through the Charlottesville Parks and Recreation Junior Derby class. Due to the restrictions of the Parks and Rec program, we were not able to do contact. We were able to skate, work on agility, fall safely, positionally block, wall, and begin to learn the rules of roller derby. This summer we are teaming up with the Charlottesville Derby Dames to offer a Junior Roller Derby program to bring roller derby to the wider community of Charlottesville and surrounding area. Moving forward in our new space with CDD, we will be able to begin to work on techniques such as hip and shoulder checks, how not to hit people in the head, back, or below the knees and advanced blocking techniques, such as hip checks.

I am looking forward to helping to coach this new, energetic collaboration with the Charlottesville Derby Dames, the little team that started in 2007 and launched themselves to now be ranked 61st out of 228 international leagues. CDD has more than 40 active bouting skaters and a host of volunteer support. I have confidence that the Junior Derby league, with CDD’s sponsorship and guidance, will see just as much energy, enthusiasm, organization, and enjoyment as the adult league. I’m looking forward to encouraging the juniors to learn to take up leadership positions within the league to build their confidence, organization, and social skills, and to help them to feel ownership over what I want them to see as Their league. Just as the adult league takes players who range from having never skated a day in their lives (yours truly was once one of those sadly skateless newbies) to soccer/track/hockey/rugby/insert-sport-here superstars, and, with patience, humor, and a lot of hard work, transform them into confident, agile derby superheros, so too will the Charlottesville Juniors take anyone who is willing to learn, regardless of dearth or sufficiency of prior experience or skill, and create a team that will happily and assertively take the track against regional (and some day, international) derby teams who don’t even know what’s about to hit them.

For more information, please visit http://www.charlottesvillederbydames.com/get-involved/junior-roller-derby/, sign up today here: http://bit.ly/1wlfp7a or email us at contact@charlottesvillederbydames.com if you have any questions!

Dames and Juniors unite!

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A very special THANK YOU post!

January 13th, 2015 | 0 comments

As we get ready for the 2015 season, the Charlottesville Derby Dames would like to extend a sincere and grateful thank you to all supporters, sponsors, donors, and fans that helped in the 2014 season! We hope we can count on your support again this season!

With your help, the league has continued to grow this past year, with:

  • 8 home bouts Main Street Arena and Augusta Expoland
  • 9 Belmont Bruiser bouts
  • 8 local charities supported as bout beneficiaries
  • 10 WFTDA sanctioned bouts
  • 12 CDD All Star bouts
  • 15 new league memberships
  • 36 WFTDA rankings increased by our charter team
  • 64 new community members trying out the Fresh Meat program for the first time
  • 2,554 points scored against CDD
  • 2,822 approximate miles traveled to and from bouts
  • 5,249 points scored by the league

We have grown from a small handful of skaters learning the basics of derby through trial and error to our current league and 501(c)(3) corporation of more than 80 skaters, officials, and volunteers.  While we battle hard on the track, we do it as a team, and our team includes you! We couldn’t have gotten this far without our fans, our sponsors, and the loved ones who have supported us.

Interested in becoming a part of Charlottesville’s roller derby machine? There are several different sponsorship packets through which you may peruse and find the right level of involvement for your organization. Whether that’s through a Star Pass or Flaming Wheels package with league merchandise and plenty of great promotional opportunities or a Living the Dream package which includes your logo on banners, all sorts of goodies, passes, merch and even league support at business events!

Maybe your level of support means attending bouts at Main St Arena, Augusta Expoland or beyond! Maybe you are that one super-enthusiastic fan who brings that sign with that witty phrase that makes us all laugh, who screams like a wild beast when your favorite Dame is announced, and who completely loses it when she makes that one crucial hit of utter destruction and demise. Or maybe your support means reading this blog right now! Checking in with our Facebook page, fanning from the safety of your own home.

Whoever you are, thank you.

We cannot do this without all of you! Our New Year’s resolutions are to continue to fight for our fans by representing greater Charlottesville as we climb the rankings and bust butts across the derby universe. We are honored to make a very important shout out to the following league and skater sponsors, who help to make this awesome sport an accessible and thriving nonprofit, serving Charlottesville and beyond!

THANK YOU TO OUR 2014 SPONSORS!!

Blue Moon Diner
The Whiskey Jar
Allstate Insurance
Splendora’s Gelato
Shenandoah Joe
Jacque Landry & Fred Greenewalt of South St. Brewery
Beer Run
Revolutionary Soup
Tammy Wilt, Mortgage Officer
Hazel Beauty Bar
Stacey Strawn, Blue Moon Galleries
Guadalajara on East Market Street
Rooter Man
Flora Artisanal Cheese
Larry Whitlock, State Farm
Horbaly Orthodontics
Peacock Auto Services

Roller Derby on the Screen

November 20th, 2014 | 2 comments

No, I will get up on my roller derby high-horse and say that Whip It is a bad movie. I will not say that the violence is too glorified, nor that the campy showmanship is too much, nor that the gratuitous bum-shots are inaccurate and distasteful. I will say that for a movie-going, show-watching, non-derbying civilian, the presence of derby on the movie/TV screen is lacking.

Of course, any fictional depiction is exactly that: fictional. However, a derby movie or show could stand to more often be dramatized and exaggerated in ways that would draw curious, non-derby-ers into the sport in a more down-to-earth way, instead of marginalizing viewers simply as awe-struck spectators. For example, I imagine it difficult for the average person to picture one’s self in a sport that ignores egregious penalties such as horribly intentional blows to the face, in favor of seeing a belly-shirted girl thrown to the ground in serious pain. In derby, “We are not strippers on skates” and we are also not WWE Smackdown. Though we love to strike awe into the hearts of our beloved fans, the presence of derby in the movies and TV has historically and currently proved a poor reflection of what we do. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

CSI New York - Jamalot 2005

CSI New York – Jamalot 2005

And so I present to you, the menu of items with which, even if exaggerated in true Hollywood style, someone out there might create the Remember the Titans or Million Dollar Baby of roller derby.

Phenomenally Awesome and Sisterly Relationships between Teams

During a bout, there is no mercy. Even, and especially, when scrimmaging among your own team. But hard hits make you strong and we do it to make each other better. CSI Miami, CSI New York, Bones, all feature the relationship between teams as the fuel for murder. Whip It comes close with the team bonding and the after party and their positive, playful rivalry. But, come watch a CDD bout and you’ll see an incredible hit that sends someone flying, followed by a hand up and pat on the butt.

CDD All Stars vs. Carolina Roller Girls 10/15/14 Photo Cred: Dan “Jugglenaut” Purdy

CDD All Stars vs. Carolina Roller Girls 10/15/14
Photo Cred: Dan “Jugglenaut” Purdy

You’ll see both teams form a protective wall around a downed player to give her privacy from the crow if someone is down or injured.

Psych is the only crime show to feature derby girls as a criminal team instead of sloppy, catty murderesses. (Spoiler alert: they’re thieves. Hey, equipment is expensive, I feel that.) However Psych misses the ball on a few other items on our list.

Variety of Characters

On the Derby Dames alone we have a full spectrum of characters, from our types of nicknames and uniform variation, to our playing styles, to our shapes and sizes. This variety gives us a range of strengths and a degree of unpredictability. The media tends to show teams as the cookie-cutter “derby-girl,” i.e. a general body type and physical make-up, and minimal variation in gameplay. No one stands out for any given movement or play, mostly because there are no visible plays. Watch one CDD bout, and you will see dynamic, intentional derby in action.

Pack Work and Game Play

Clip from Psyche

Clip from Psyche

This is a pack

CDD All Stars, Photo Cred: Dan “Jugglenaut” Purdy

On-screen derby demonstrates no visible strategy, no lateral movements, no speed control, no pack work, no active blocking in general. The interaction and 3-dimensional play between blockers and jammers is the true beauty of roller derby. CSI Miami’s episode does a pretty good job about accurate game play, but much of the action that occurs on screen is more reminiscent of 1970s derby which mostly consisted of jammers racing to get in front of a straight, single-file, pace-line that had minimal contact with one another, aside from glaringly fake penalties. Which brings us to . . .

Actual penalties!

The penalty system in roller derby is so complex that it is still being developed and tweaked to this day. But that is no reason to overlook the glaring penalties, particularly high blocks that appear all over the TV. In this scene, number 111 was just punched in the face by an opposing player, but received the penalty herself for punching a red, and was then sent to this . . . penalty box? In the middle of the track, and shaped like a carousel/gazebo? What the heck is that thing?

CSI New York

CSI New York

A punch to the face is not only a high block, but will probably lead to ejection from a bout. The hits you see in Whip It, etc. lack control and intention. They happen because the girls want to beat each other up, and not once does it appear that they are helping their jammer to get through a tight opposing wall. Not to mention in Whip It and others: where are the lines on the track?! This could definitely explain the ref’s inability to call penalties.

Whip It

Whip It

COOL- CDD Belmont Bruisers vs. Hard Knox Brawlers 07.2012

Petit Zombie legally blocking opposing jammer. Photo by Dan “Jugglenaut” Purdy

 

Finally and most importantly:

Contributions to society

Dames in the 2013 Charlottesville Holiday Parade

Dames in the 2013 Charlottesville Holiday Parade

Committee meetings, fundraisers, beneficiaries and community volunteer work keep our team stable and strong. It would be nice to glorify our 501c3 status and contributions to our community in a movie or show, as opposed to glorifying this:

Poster for the short-lived “Roller Derby the Musical,” portraying completely unnecessary awkwardness

Poster for the short-lived “Roller Derby the Musical,” portraying completely unnecessary awkwardness

There are plenty of great documentaries spanning from the late 1940’s to today that will give you an experience of the sport and culture of roller derby that is both intimate and comprehensive. There are stories that follow our history in the late 40’s to the 70’s, evolving from a group race into [basically] WWE on wheels. There are films that explore the dynamic among and within current teams as they work their way up the WFTDA rankings, and deal with the logistical challenges that we face, running semi-professional, non-profit organizations, and as the rules and standards of roller derby continue to develop and grow and play.

So, watch on my friends! Enjoy the available films and shows for pure entertainment value, and maybe one day you will see a tear-jerking, knee-slapping, gut-wrenching, soul-satisfying derby film but for now, I will end on this note:

Badsquish

with inspiration from:
Rae Elise the Kraken
Crashiopeia

Ummmm . . . so what the heck is a “Jam”??

October 27th, 2014 | 0 comments

Maybe you’ve been to a bout or two, perhaps you have a co-worker who’s a Dame, or better yet, maybe you yourself have just become a member of the league, yet you still find that you can hardly understand what in the world everyone at practice is saying during the scrimmage drill! Well, my friends, have no fear! We’ve got you covered. Here is a not-so-comprehensive, but oh-so-very-helpful explanation of some derby terms or phrases that may have you scratching your head.

So here it goes! When one makes the super awesome decision to begin their derby journey, you come in as “Fresh Meat.” This is a skater who’s learning basic skating techniques such as safe skating, proper stance, and proper ways to fall and recover quickly, as well as getting a general idea of how derby is played. After you’ve got the basics nailed down and you begin to feel more comfortable and stable as a skater, you’ll likely take the test to become a Level 1 skater. By this time, a lot of thought has probably gone into picking a proper “derby name.” A derby name is a name that the person feels best represents the persona or character that best represents their derby self. It is often a combination of puns, character traits, or even something just plain intimidating (i.e. Nacho Baby or Bashin Robbin). These unique names identify you as a skater on the track and allow you to cultivate a persona that you feel best represents your “derby you.”
So now you’ve been to a few practices. You’ve built a rapport with a few of your fellow teammates. Perhaps you feel comfortable enough now to take the plunge and find yourself a lovely “Derby Wife.” That’s right; if ya want a derby wife, put a ring on it! This term is actually gender-neutral. This is the person who you’ve gotten closest to, who helps you through the rough times, tells you when your pads are smelly and is willing to ride with you to the hospital if you get banged up during a bout, practice, or after party.
A Bout is a derby matched played between two opposing teams. Bouts are broken up into two 30-minute periods. Those 30-minute periods are broken up into “Jams.” Oh, the excitement of a well-executed jam! Jams are the “meat and potatoes” of the bout. A jam can last up to two minutes. That’s right: two minutes of action-packed, nail-biting, feet-stomping derby-rific goodness. Each team sends out one jammer and four blockers at the beginning of each jam. The blockers work together in both an offensive and defensive manner. On the one hand, a blocker wants to hold back the opposing team’s jammer, and on the other, they’d like to clear out the other blockers in order to make an open pathway for their jammer to get through. Since the jammer is the only one who can score points for the team or call off the jam before the opposing jammer begins to score points (if she is the “Lead Jammer”), its very important for the players to have good communication and intuitiveness with each other.
This is where the “Mama Hen” or the “Jammer Helper” becomes very important. The mama hen is a blocker who takes on the position of reminding the other blockers of proper positioning during game play, and also echos plays or strategies that the Bench Coach may have discussed prior to and during the bout. The jammer helper is the person who the jammer is relying on to assist them in making holes or clearing paths within the opposing wall of blockers so that they may pass.
Roller Derby can be very fast-paced and confusing to those new to the game. Thank goodness for the NSOs (Non Skating Officials) who keep track of the score, penalties, and official clocks. They, along with the referees, keep the game play as fair and safe as possible. Without them a bout would probably more resemble roller derby matches from the 70’s where you were lucky to get out alive!
If these basics have you nodding your head, excited to learn more, you can also check out some of our more advanced terms in Gretel von Metal’s Roller Derby A-B-Cs post from last June! To see these terms live and in-play (and then shout to your nearest friend “Look, the jammer is calling off the jam,” thereby impressing them with your extensive knowledge of derby terms), come on out to our last bout of 2014 on November 15th at Augusta Expoland!

Change your life: Try Roller Derby!

August 13th, 2014 | 2 comments

Advice, Random thoughts and encouragement from Lamp and B

When I attended my first Fresh Meat practice, I hadn’t been on skates in about 15 years. I was pretty much scared out of my mind, not knowing if the other newbies would actually be former professional figure skaters or marathon runners or unicyclists or anything that would accentuate my absolute lack of athletic skill. Thankfully, I was going with my friend and fellow grad student, B (pro tip #1: bring a friend — it makes starting out a lot less scary), who, though more athletic than I [B here: Lamp means I visited a gym once or twice], hadn’t worn skates since they looked like Legos and were made by Fisher-Price.

When we got to the gym, what we found instead was myriad women, young and old…er, most of whom were as rusty as we were. Our first first lesson started with the most elementary of basics, like how to not put your helmet on backwards, how to prevent yourself from rolling into the bleachers upon standing upright on eight wheels, and how to breathe through your mouth when rifling through the wonderfully free-to-use yet decidedly un-fresh Fresh Meat gear (pro tip #2: if you think you’re gonna stick with derby for even a little bit, it’s a great idea to invest in an intro pad kit. They’re inexpensive and don’t smell like the sweat of a thousand butt-kicking derby girls).

Within just a few Fresh Meat practices (thanks to so many uber-patient and helpful derby veterans), we were zipping around the track, learning about pack work, practicing agility drills, and falling to the floor safely (if only moderately gracefully). We learned so much, so quickly; every Sunday we’d marvel at our own progress (“Dude, I didn’t fall today!”) and that of our soon-to-be teammates (“Sick T-stop!”), and together we’d all celebrate that evening’s work with well-earned nachos (pro tip #3: you always deserve nachos after practice). Our time as Fresh Meat got us addicted to the Derby Life. We’ve recently celebrated our Derby-versary (one year since our first Fresh Meat practice!) and don’t plan on quitting any time soon.

It’s hard to think of a good reason not to try derby. So, if you’re thinking about trying a practice out but are on the fence, here is a sampling of some of the benefits of joining:

FRIENDSHIPS: Maybe you’ve noticed, but making new friends when you’re an adult is hard. Unless you’re in college, you’re probably not around a new, dynamically changing group of people on a regular basis. The Dames are just that — an all-inclusive bunch of everything. They’re probably cooler than your co-workers, and they’re friendly, funny, and smart on top of that.

REPLACE YOUR FAMILY: Well, okay, not literally. But in derby culture, we have derby sisters. Generally, this is when a more advanced skater asks a newer skater to be their little sister. With this come all the benefits of siblinghood — someone to get advice from, to call when you need help (whether it’s related to derby or not), someone to generally have your back — all without the drama of, you know, actually being related to someone! There are also derby wives (and mistresses, too!) who provide all the spice that comes from having a committed derby bestie by your side, at practice and away. Did you never get your dream proposal? Now’s your chance!

COOL FACTOR: Do you know how many people, after telling them we do roller derby, have said, “Wow, that’s super lame. You must be a big ol’ pansy. Give me your lunch money!”? Aside from the fact that that would just be a weird thing to say, the answer is NO ONE. NO ONE EVER. The most common response, perhaps after, “What’s roller derby?,” is, “WOW! THAT IS SO COOL! YOU MUST BE SUPER TOUGH!!!” (unless they are someone who is familiar enough with us to know that we’re actually big ol’ pansies). Point being, if you tell someone you do roller derby, you pretty much automatically gain, like, a thousand cool points, even if you still look like a newborn fawn every time you put on skates. And eventually, if you stick with it long enough, you will reach a point where you start to agree with them.

MUSCLES: We are both one of those people who happens to be genetically predisposed to have chunky thighs. We could do cardio eight hours a day and eat nothing but salads and our thighs would still flap wildly when the breeze hits them. This is a fact that we’ve managed to accept, even embrace. But that hasn’t stopped us from noticing the emergence of some SWEET muscles, muscles in places we didn’t even know we had muscles. We can feel our legs getting stronger, whether it’s by our newfound adeptness at bounding up stairs or the ease with which we can hover over gas station toilets. It is a rewarding and hard-earned kind of strength.

LEVELING UP: In most people’s lives, the only time they get to experience the singular satisfaction of leveling up is in a video game. In derby, however, you get the opportunity to fulfill that glorious, primal desire. Every month in Fresh Meat practice, there is a test on the skills you’ve been working on. If you pass, you become a LEVEL ONE SKATER, which, besides feeling like an epic accomplishment, gives you the privilege of attending Level One practices. What’s the difference? Well, for one, they’re harder — you will be working on advanced skills and more derby-relevant techniques, as well as learning the rules of the game. Perhaps more tantalizing, at Level One practices you can actually HIT each other! And what better way to let out the stress of a long work day than by hip checking your friends?

NON-BOUTING: Whether you’re just starting or you’ve been a member for a while, there are varied opportunities for all skill levels. In other words, if a year into it you’re starting to think you don’t want to bout but still want to be a Derby Dame, you can continue going to practices, and there are plenty of roles you can fill as a non-bouting member. You can volunteer at bouts, become a non-skating official, be a trainer, and participate in our committees. The Dames are more than just athletes — we also volunteer widely in the community.

BOUTING: With time, you can advance to a much-vaunted Level Two skater. Along with this comes access to even more challenging practices, as well as the opportunity to join a team and participate in a bout. By then, you will have picked your own name, number, and persona, gotten your personalized jersey, and decided what you want your battle socks/tights to look like. Your first bout will be a terrifying, adrenaline-filled experience, and one you will never forget.

————

Being a Derby Dame is fulfilling on so many levels — you grow strong and confident, you gain friends, you aid the Charlottesville community. If you have a free Sunday evening this month, you owe it yourself to try a free Fresh Meat practice. It could change your life.

Lamp and B

Space: The Final Derby Dames Frontier

June 6th, 2014 | 0 comments

10,000 square feet is a lot of space. Picture the gym in your elementary school: most likely that is not big enough. How about a tennis court or an indoor soccer field? Nope and nope. Think about your high school or college gym, especially if there were multiple basketball courts. It’s possible that’s big enough. One of the first questions people ask about our team is, “Where do you practice?” And the answer is… I can’t tell you. Actually, it’s a warehouse, but it’s not open to the public and it’s about to be demolished. And sometimes we suck water off the floor with a shop vac after it rains. We’ve had some creative solutions over the years.

Our space history

Our very first practice was at the National Guard Armory in November 2007. We have skated in a variety of places—some of them not quite the right size or not completely safe. We have skated a paved local trail or run steps at UVA instead of skating on a track. Once we had a larger space that was generously shared by The Event Company, we started to improve into the serious, competitive team we are today. They worked around us and stored carpets in the center of the track. We put corks on the nails in the outside wall and blocked the sharp steel shelving with couches. It was a skinny track with no ref lane, so we learned derby, but we had much farther to go.

When we found our current warehouse for an amazing deal, our skills went up another notch as a team, but our days there are numbered. Some outdoor track options could be a possibility in the near future, but an indoor space would be ideal because of concerns about weather and time slots. We email and call places every day, and we appreciate leads that people can share. It’s a long process, but we have hope: derby players are a determined bunch.

What do we need, exactly?

  • Size and dimensions: space with limited columns to accommodate a track that is about 100 feet long by about 75 feet wide (about 10,000 square feet total). The dimensions are often a challenge, because a very long, narrow space won’t work. Space for spectators is ideal but not essential—a smaller space (even 7,500 in the right dimensions) could work for practices but not games.
  • Long-term lease options (6 mos+) with at least a 60-day notice to vacate
  • Affordability (we’re an all-volunteer, non-profit organization)

Are you picturing the banked track from long-ago derby on Saturday mornings or even the movie Whip-It? Good news! Some teams still do skate on a banked track, but we are a part of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) and we skate on a flat track. Teams skate on lots of floor surfaces—concrete, plastic sport court, rubber, wood—we can make different situations work, but what matters most is that it’s smooth and flat. Brushed concrete is rough on our gear, and bumps add some challenge, but our current track has some small bumps and we make it work.

While our very own space would be amazing, the good news is that we are flexible, and sharing space would definitely work. We aim for at least 12 hours of practice time weekly for the league, but with a very large space, two of our teams could practice simultaneously. Often our practices are in evening or weekend hours, which means that we should share with a company that needs the space during business hours. Our league is made up of seasoned All-Stars, a B-team called the Belmont Bruisers, brand new “Fresh Meat” skaters, and refs and volunteers who help our bouts and practices go smoothly. We know of leagues that skate in high school or community college gyms, National Guard armories, skating rinks, warehouses, and multi-sport sportsplexes.

 

Displaying track.gif

Roller Derby Track

What might be holding you back?

Misunderstanding about what derby is: It’s not an act—it is a real sport. We don’t throw elbows or fists (those would earn penalties). There are over 1200 teams in the world today; millions of people are involved in the sport now. Come watch our double header bout against Charlotte on Saturday, June 7th or against Hard Knox on Saturday July 12th, and see for yourself.

Worry about surfaces: Some facilities fear that our wheels or pads will scratch the floor. Rest assured that we have not had this problem and will gladly work with places in case we need to add cloth to our pads for an added level of protection.

Lack of funds: Maybe you or your company just doesn’t have the funds to invest in a space. We feel your pain! But together we are stronger. We are creative thinkers and problem solvers and want to work together with you and your organization to find a solution (Reading this in a hurry? Scroll to “Where Can I Learn More?”).

Fears about liability: As I write this I can see my crutches and the air cast on my ankle, which I broke a few weeks ago. Injuries happen occasionally. However, we require every single skater to wear safety equipment, have individual insurance coverage, and sign a liability form. We take this VERY seriously. We have several members of the team who are trained in first aid and CPR who can provide immediate attention if necessary.

Why should you help?

Help us represent Charlottesville on a national stage: Did you know that Charlottesville is currently ranked 94 of 234 WFTDA member leagues? As a point of comparison, the top 150 teams are ranked, and in 2012, our team was not yet ranked. We are ranked 48th on Flat Track Stats, which is generally considered a better predictive tool. We are on an exciting upswing (http://flattrackstats.com/teams/8140/ rankings/wftda); we compete successfully with teams from much larger cities; we will go far with the right space.

Support an all-volunteer organization: Officers. Coaches. Committee heads. Trainers. Volunteers. Skaters. Refs. None of these people are paid. We pay dues, and we have very limited funds. We travel to places like Cape Fear, NC, and the Philadelphia area to play teams at our current level. We work to help the community as well, by partnering with local charities to help them raise funds at each of our bouts.

Have fun: Have you been to a bout or seen us at an event? We not only know how to skate, we know how to have fun. Roller derby attracts strong, interesting, talented, dedicated people. More on this in a moment…

Reach our fans: So many amazing fans. So many programs in their hands and space on the wall for your ads to reach them right in the eyeballs (or ears, if mentioned by our lovely announcers). A sportsplex in Greensboro was funded by the city in part because of the revenue that hosting tournaments and games (roller derby among them) brings to the town.

Where can I learn more?

I thought you might ask that, and guess what? We are having a party. A networking party. Thursday, July 17, 6-7 PM, at Main Street Arena. If you own a space, are considering being a part of an effort (financial or time) to fund a space, or are part of an organization that would like to share a space with similar dimensions, then we want to meet you. We will have appetizers and the Main Street Arena bar will be open! Come out after work and bring your ideas. Stay to watch our practice after the meeting. We will see you there! Email us at space@charlottesvillederbydames.com if you are interested in attending!

Post by: Honey Nut Fury-Os

Derby, Dedication, and Me: The Quitter

April 29th, 2014 | 3 comments

Derby, Dedication, and Me: The Quitter by Swift Jesstice

In a life not so many years ago, I was a quitter. I did relatively well in school. I took easy classes and did only what I had to in order to graduate and get into community college. They let ANYONE into community college. Because of this, I filled my time with the things I wanted to do instead of the things I should’ve been doing. The things I should’ve been doing were much harder.

I was the type of person who took the easy way out. Throughout my life I had always given up as soon as things had gotten any harder than I thought that I could handle. Every time I took the proverbial path of least resistance.

A few years ago, that all changed. Among other things, I moved to Virginia from the Midwest, took on the role of single mom, and got my first real job. I have done nothing harder than being a single mom to my little boy. It instilled in me the confidence that I needed. If I could do THAT, I could do anything.

Swift and her son at a bout.

Swift and her son at a bout.

In the fall of 2012 my sister was visiting from South Carolina. We were bored, it was Saturday, and my mom was willing to watch our kids. We googled “what to do in Charlottesville this weekend.” It turns out fate was watching me that day. We saw that there was a roller derby bout in town. Neither one of us had ever really been exposed to derby, but it was something to do and looked like it could be fun. Plus they served beer, and we didn’t have our kids.

I fell in love. The Dames looked amazing, the crowd was excited, and these ladies were giving it their all on the track. They weren’t quitters. I wanted to do it too.

I started working out−just at home, with a Hip Hop Abs video, jumping around at 5:15 in the morning and sounding like I was going to hyperventilate at any moment. My son was 6 months old when I saw the Dames the first time, and I was in no shape to be participating in any activity that had your heart rate up for hours at a time.

I went to Fresh Meat open recruitment in February of 2013. One of the reasons I am writing this is because I’m reflecting on the last year. I passed Fresh Meat after a couple of tries and became a level 1. MONTHS later, and after 2 more tries, I became a level 2. I am now part of the Belmont Bruisers.

I am on a team!

Okay, I’m going to level with you. I am on a team, but I am by far (very, very far) not the best one. Not even close to the best one.

I am not graceful or coordinated. I have never been an athlete. I’ve never been on any kind of workout regiment or gone to the gym. I fall down A LOT, and I’m not always where I should be.

I get frustrated. I get discouraged. I want to quit.

But I don’t.

I get back up and brush it off (literally, the floor is dirty. I know, because I have spent some time there). I go to practice. Even on days where I can think of a thousand excuses why I shouldn’t go to practice; I go. None of the excuses are good ones. There all cop outs for why I’m not good enough or I should give in.

So I get back up and keep trying. I try hard. I give it everything I have. The most amazing thing has happened since I took on this attitude. I have a sense of accomplishment, not because I’m good, but because I’m getting better. I’m getting better because I’m showing up. Sometimes in derby, such as in life, the hardest part is showing up and falling on your face. I have done that. But when you get up, dust yourself off and keep going, you feel empowered.

I am by far my hardest critic. If it wasn’t for the amazing support and not-so-subtle shove I get from my teammates, I don’t know if I would have already stopped showing up. I know everyone wants to win in life, but in a Derby family everyone wants YOU to win and vice-versa.

I want this. I’ll keep showing up and giving it my all, because I want this.

I AM NOT A QUITTER.

Photo by Dan 'Jugglenaut' Purdy

Photo by Dan ‘Jugglenaut’ Purdy

Lucky Charms: Not Just a Cereal

April 14th, 2014 | 0 comments

Lucky Charms: Not Just a Cereal

Serena Williams refuses to change her socks during a tennis winning streak. Swimmer Dana Vollmer keeps elephant accessories close at hand, and wore her elephant earrings throughout the 2012 Olympics. Tiger Woods believes red to be his lucky color, and often wears a red polo to keep his luck up. Athletes have some strong superstitions, especially when it comes to luck, and the Dames are no exception! Many Dames have at least one good luck charm that they simply can’t bout without. We asked a few ladies what they need to have along when they lace up on bout day. Here are their responses:

Nerd rocking her purple and pink "nerd" socks!

Nerd rocking her purple and pink “nerd” socks!

Revenga d’Nerd: “I always wear a pair of my NERD socks on bout day.”

alMighty CrISIS: “I always have something from each of my family members that have passed away….I wear my Moms wedding band, I keep a picture of my Dad in my bag, I try to wear my Brother’s Billy Idol shirt either that day or during warm ups, and I try to wear my Sister’s scarf or at least have it with me in my bag. I know, I know, a lot of lucky charms, but I just like to know that a piece of them is with me as they would be astounded at the fact that I am playing derby. I have tried to leave the house without one of these items and I’m not even sure that they bring me luck, I just feel better when they are with me.”

The Belmont Bruisers warm up before the Feb 2014 Rocktown bout.

The Belmont Bruisers warm up before the Feb 2014 Rocktown bout.

Slam Gamgee: “My teammates are my good luck charm! I know that on a logical level, it’s obvious that I couldn’t perform without my teammates, but it is also my teammates that pump me up, quell my nerves, and help me feel ready to bout!”

Crashiopeia: “I always have the necklace my derby wife gave to me.”

Badsquish: “My socks. I can’t skate, period, without wearing one of several pairs of the exact same brand and type of sock. They have slight compression around the ankle, and I am convinced that, without them, my ankles bones would fall to pieces.”

Boom wears her rainbow socks every bout!

Boom wears her rainbow socks every bout!

BOOM! ShakeTheRoom: “I always wear my rainbow knee socks. I’ve had them since my second bout. I also wear them because my mom can pick me out from the sea of helmets and black and teal.”

Maid Carrion: “Spearmint chewing gum. Weird right? I get nervous before a bout and for some reason a fresh stick of Wrigleys calms me down.”

Petit Zombie: “My stuffed sheep named Jean Oog.”

Nacho Baby: “It’s more of a ritual than an item: before every bout, I listen to Iron Butterfly’s ‘In a gadda da vida’ the album version… all 17 minutes and 5 seconds of it.”

VoldeMorgan: “My Slytherin socks!”

Stone Wallup looking fierce with her wolf bandana.

Stone Wallup looking fierce with her wolf bandana.

Stone Wallup: “While I wouldn’t necessarily say it brings me luck, I feel quite naked when I skate without my wolf’s mouth bandana and my rainbow cheek stripe! The bandana was given to me by Flo Flightengale, who since transferred to Charm City, because she saw it and remembered that I skate with a bandana. I got the idea from a teammate in South Bend, (Candiland Massacre) who wore it because she kept getting penalties for cussing out the refs. Both of these items make me feel stronger, fiercer, and more protected, as well as reminding me of all the teammates and friends who are cheering me on, whether they are physically present or not.”

As each dame is unique, so is her lucky charm! Our beacons of luck give us courage, confidence, and the reassurance we need to perform to the best of our ability. And did you know that studies have shown a clear link between performance and lucky charms? Perhaps it’s not all superstition! Either way, you can catch your favorite Dame (and her lucky charm) at our season opener Supernova Smash doubleheader on April 19!