What a Difference a Year Makes! Roller Derby as a sport made HUGE progress in 2015. Read on for the highlights….
ESPN Streams the 2015 International WFTDA Championships!
For the first time in history, ESPN covered roller derby after signing a deal with WFTDA. This was a huge moment for derby skaters and fans everywhere! The Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (or WFTDA) held their International Championships as they do every year, but this time it streamed on ESPN3, making the event accessible to millions of household viewers. Flat track roller derby games had never before aired live on a national network prior to this event.
Roller derby competitions have been organized by WFTDA for over a decade, but never aired on a sports network outside their own online stream. This year, WFTDA was able to shine! The derby association continues to bring the highest level of competition to the entire globe, and international roller derby players and teams, needless to say, were extremely excited to team up with ESPN to broadcast the highly-anticipated Championship games in early November 2015.
Rose City Rollers Beat Gotham Girls Roller Derby in 2015 WFTDA Championships
The WFTDA international roller derby championships have been dominated by New York City’s Gotham Girls Roller Derby in recent years. Dominating five consecutive championships, they were seemingly impossible to beat. This year we saw a new winner, the Rose City Rollers from Portland, Oregon, who beat the Gotham Girls in the final bout of the games. This is the second year the two teams have played against each other, and, not that we’re hating, but it was pretty epic that the Gotham Girls were finally dethroned after such an impressive run.
Rose City won with a final score of 206 to 195. They had a lead at the beginning of the game, and took on Gotham Girls’ well-known Nicole “Bonnie Thunders” Williams (with a total of 10 lead changes before the final minute – and a tie!) but still took the win from the toughest team to beat.
Rose City skaters say their success came from thinking and playing creatively, adapting to the Gotham Girls’ plays and strategy. They focused on breaking up Gotham Girls’ tight defense, giving a special shout out to their blockers who helped to nail the win.
Congratulations to all teams who made it to this year’s international championships!
New Brand Mota Skates Hits the Derby Scene
Mota Skates hit the map in 2015 and exploded this year! The “for skaters by skaters” vision of Doug and Julie Glass, who own and operate the brand and hold 19 skating World Titles combined, is to manufacture unique premium skate components that deliver the best quality and service for all skaters.
You may recognize this duo as the previous and original founders and developers of the Atom, Bionic, and Luigino skate brands that debuted in 2002. The couple decided to start fresh with new ideas and a new line, which rolled out in June 2015, and now we have the AWESOME new Mota Skates products available for skaters to improve performance!
Mota Skates operates on the fact that quad skates were pretty much seen as outdated once inline skates came on the scene. Now that roller derby is so popular, quad skate innovation just wasn’t keeping up with derby skaters. The Mota mission is to provide proprietary improvements and technologies, including heat molded Smart-Fit boots, so that skaters can be at the top of their game. So far, they’ve brought some awesome quads to market! Can’t wait to see what Mota is up to this year!
WFTDA Launches a Junior Flat Track Derby Association (JFTDA)
In September 2015, WFTDA announced their decision to unite junior derby leagues all around the world. JFTDA’s vision is to use WFTDA’s same mission and values to build the future of roller derby through the youth. We couldn’t think of a better place to start!
With junior leagues popping up all over the world, this was a huge step toward uniting roller derby skaters from all walks of life. Junior skaters playing through to adult WFTDA participation will continue to shape the future of the sport. Members also have tremendous opportunities for support and guidance in their sport, as JFTDA members will also receive training, mentorship, coaching, and competitive play opportunities through the association!
WFTDA Adds Member & Apprentice Leagues in 2015
In late June 2015, WFTDA granted full membership status to 7 additional roller derby leagues. And in late September, 15 more member leagues were added from Europe, Canada, and the United States! After the applicants completed the required “WFTDA Apprentice Program,” they now enjoy the full benefit of WFTDA membership, including competing in sanctioned games, an invitation to attend the WFTDA Annual Meeting, and eligibility for rankings.
In addition to the new fully integrated leagues, WFTDA also accepted approximately 60 leagues to complete their Apprentice Program! These teams are from all over the world – from Prescott, Arizona to Limerick, Ireland.
As of September’s new member announcement, WFTDA had a total of 329 member leagues in addition to 84 apprentice leagues. This is another demonstration of roller derby not only taking over the skating world, but also the larger wide world of sports!
WFTDA Adopts New Rules, Clarifies Existing Rules & Publishes in 3 Additional Languages – Plus Updates Their Mobile App!
WFTDA made real progress in 2015, not only with gaining new members and airing the international championships on ESPN, but with rules, rule clarification, publishing in more languages, and taking advantage of technology in the form of their Mobile App that pushes rules out to derby players anywhere, anytime!
Update to Pre-Game Equipment Check
Along with Risk Management and Insurance, WFTDA moved forward with the removal of the “Pre-Bout Protocol” document from their website, meaning that officials no longer need to conduct equipment checks before WFTDA-sanctioned games. This update does not change the need for proper safety gear, as officials still must conduct visual checks to make sure all derby skaters are in compliance with equipment.
Position Blocking With the Head (Clarification)
WFTDA’s Risk Management Committee established a clarification to the rule regarding positional blocking with the head. The latest interpretation provides examples and situations when in roller derby a Misconduct Penalty may be given for positional blocking with the head. This was determined under the premise that the head is both an illegal blocking zone as well as an illegal target zone, such that using your head will cause an opposing skater to lose advantage, and is now considered unsporting behavior. News of the rule clarification was posted on WFTDA’s website, as well as published online at “Rules Central.”
Mobile App Helps Derby Players Stay up to Speed with WFTDA Rules
Now, new WFTDA rules and any existing rule clarifications or updates are now available on the WFTDA Rules mobile app! This is a great step forward for WFTDA, allowing roller derby players to review and keep up with any updates to WFTDA rules on the go by downloading the app. The app is available on iOS and Android phones and other mobile devices. Officiating documents, instant updates, and a Q&A section are also available. Super handy!
WFTDA also released the official versions of the Rules of Flat Track Roller Derby in three additional languages in an attempt to reach their growing number of global members. The rules are now published in English, Spanish, French and German!
Which languages will be added next? Add your guess to the comments!
2015 was a standout year for Roller Derby, and we can’t wait to see what’s to come in the future! With a new derby-dedicated skate brand, Mota Skates, many up-and-coming innovations and news from WFTDA and their success due to the great success and popularity of derby around the world, and much more, how much could derby grow by 2016?!