Archive for May, 2012

It’s hard running a roller derby league. It’s hard training freshmeat how to skate (think baby giraffes with the legs everywhere). It’s hard organizing a large group of women into some semblance of a working operation. But really, in spite of all our knowledge going into it, and the months upon months of preparation, it’s hard to plan a bout.

Just to look at all the pieces, here’s the regular to do list for each bout (and no, this doesn’t include everything): get the venue, get insurance, sanction the venue,  get another team to play you, get their insurance, make a bout poster, print the bout poster, make a Facebook event, get refs, get NSOs, book an after party, make a program, get merch ordered, get sponsors, print the program, get vendors, get a security crew, get a production crew, get a DJ (but only if you get a music license), hire EMTs, get someone to perform the national anthem, get an announcer, make team baskets… And be well prepared to be running around like a chicken with your head cut off come bout day, because there’s no way it’s ever going to run smoothly.

When you have a new league, it’s a guarantee that not everyone knows what they’re doing. Honestly, not everyone knows what they’re doing in any league, and that’s an important thing to remember. WoRD is lucky, because a lot of us are going into our third season of bout preparation. But that’s a lot of responsibility to fall on just a few shoulders, so we all have to work our hardest to both support and delegate.

In short, it’s a lot of work.  Especially when you add two new logs to the mix:

WoRD’s new logo

Warheads logo

In the (less than a) week leading up to our bout, things are getting stressful. If everything goes accordingly, we’ll have all of our NSO equipment. We have officials coming in from several neighboring leagues to lend a helping hand/whistle. Last night I had a dream that we’d somehow been evicted from our warehouse and the lingering thought I had when I awoke was, “how are going to get our helmet panties now?”

If, as a visitor to another league’s bout or a spectator with no inside knowledge of derby, these struggles never crossed your mind- then that league is doing it right. If you ever wondered why a league needs so many people outside the ones with the skates strapped to their feet, this is why. If you’re excited to see if WoRD can pull it all off (spoiler alert, we can and we will) come check us out on Saturday. We can’t wait to show you how good we are– oh and our teams can play well too.



WoRD’s new fresh meat class starts on June 6 and we’ve been getting a lot of questions about what to expect so we’ve decided to freshen up one of our old posts for your perusal.

1. Do a lot of people get hurt? Roller derby is a contact sport. People do get hurt, yes. We get bumps, bruises, sprains, and sometimes we get broken.

2. Do I need to know how to skate already? No! We’ll teach you what you need to know. BUT, the more you practice the better you get. So even if you can barely stand, you’re going to have to get out to some roller rinks to practice.

3. Can I help out without having to skate? Please do! You help out at bouts and events and make sure things run smoothly. You can be what’s called an NSO (non-skating official) where you keep score or track player penalties. There really is a place for everyone.

4. Do I need skates to start? We have a limited amount of skates that we can loan you. If you’re unsure whether you’re going to like skating at all but want to try, you should definitely contact us to see if we have your size. You can get cheapo skates at your local sporting goods store, and those can take you through at least the fresh meat program. If you really love it, you’re going to want to head up to Bruised Boutique and get yourself a pair of derby skates.

5. Where do I get equipment? We highly recommend Bruised Boutique. The women who work there are very knowledgeable and can really walk you through what the best gear is for your level of skating. Here’s what you’re going to need:

  • skates

  • elbow pads

  • knee pads

  • wrist guards

  • a helmet

  • a mouth guard.

6. What is the schedule? Fresh meat will have practice on Wednesday 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. and on Sunday 5:00 to 8:00.

7. What is the time commitment? In addition the the practice schedule, we require you to volunteer 5 hours a month. WoRD is a non-profit, volunteer-run league and we can only survive if we all help out! You are also going to want to practice at other times at local rinks, too.

8. What if i don’t like it? That’s simply not possible.

9. What are the rules? Because I learn things a lot better by watching them, I also suck at explaining. This is my favorite video describing the very basics of roller derby. From that video you can get pulled into a YouTube vortex of all things roller derby. That’s actually kind of fun and hopefully will get you even more excited about joining us.

10. Where do we practice? WoRD has its own practice space at 34 Suffolk Street in Worcester.

11. Are there men practicing too? WoRD is a women’s only league. We probably will have some guest coaches that will be men, though!

12. What are the ages required? You must be 21 to actually play roller derby, but you can ref at 18.

13. What are the roller derby girls like? Awesome, funny, quirky, intense, artistic… well, I could keep going about how wonderful we are, but read on!

14. Do we have a chance to meet you first and come watch a practice? Yes! Mark your calendars.  We are having a meet and greet on May 17 and May 20th. We want you to come and get to know us!

15. How long do people skate before they understand the game? One of the best ways to understand the game is to watch the game. As fresh meat you will be helping with WoRD scrimmages. This will familiarize you with the rules. You can also catch games on line at Derby News Network. And you should definitely go to other games in the area.  WoRD will be having field trips to those games because we have friends that play for other leagues and we want to watch them!

16. What is the fresh meat program like? You will learn the various skills needed to be able to play the game. We will teach you to skate, fall safely, take and give hits, whips, assists… okay, see? I’m getting ahead of myself. We start slow and build upon your skills as we go. The program will be 14 weeks and will bring you up to a scrimmaging level.

17. Is this staged or a real sport? It’s very real.  Some of the videos that you have seen from the 1960s and 1970s were most likely staged, so take them all with a grain of salt.  We are not like the WWF. We don’t punch people or trip them or grab their hair.

So that’s what I got!  And if you have more questions you can either save them up for the meet-and-greet or follow us on Facebook or check out our website.

Oh, and regarding question 8. If you don’t like it we’re certainly not going to force you to play! But if you love being around us you are welcome to stay as either an NSO or a ref.

Can’t wait to meet you!

I’ve thought for years that there’s a creepy theme that runs through some of America’s best-loved novels:  If you love something not only is it going to die, YOU are going to have to kill it.

(Warning, literary spoilers abound in the next paragraph)

I was pretty much scarred for life in 7th grade after reading the horrible passage where Jody shoots Flag in The Yearling. Just when I felt like I was getting over it, my 10th grade English teacher subjected me to George killing Lennie in Of Mice and Men. Then there’s The Chief– he smothers McMurphy in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. Don’t get me started on Old Yeller. You can see where I’m going here.

Such is the case, apparently, with derby. We all know that we’ll lose a few fresh meat along the way. Maybe it’s not for them. Maybe they realize that derby’s more than just wearing fishnets and they quit. Some make it to contact, decide they just can’t stand getting knocked around and then they quit. We expect this. What’s harder to accept  (at least for me) is when you have someone who clearly loves skating, loves learning, loves playing roller derby but then Life happens and something has to be sacrificed and it’s roller derby that’s staring down the barrel of a shotgun.

For the most part, this isn’t something I have to deal with. In the novel of life I’m the single, wacky best friend. I’ve never been married and my daughter’s an adult now. Other than the reproachful glances from my pug when I head out to practice, I can pretty much do what I want. But I definitely do understand that sometimes it feels like we can’t fit it all in. Or maybe we’ve been given an ultimatum by our significant other, “Your roller skates or me.”  I understand it. I just don’t like it. I feel a little bit like an eight-year-old stomping around yelling, “It’s not fair! It’s not fair!”

It’s not fair.

It’s not fair that a mom has to give up what she loves to fit everything in. It’s not fair that work changed your hours and now you can’t make it to practice. It’s not fair that you don’t have a supportive spouse who understands how important it is for you to finally, finally do something for yourself. I wish it didn’t have to be this way. I don’t like it. In fact, I REJECT it. I reject it not just for myself, but for anyone else who feels like they have to kill what they love. And in my mind, which is pretty much like this 24/7, you can have a happy ending.

My inner Disney princess strongly believes that you don’t have resort to such drastic measures. I think what you love can stay alive– that you can sing and dance with your woodland creature pals and live happily ever after. And if there’s no such thing as happily ever after (yes, there is), then there’s certainly such a thing as compromise. Don’t give up on doing something for yourself. Maybe you’ll learn more slowly if you only come to practice once every two weeks. Maybe you can’t bout because you’ve missed too many practices. But you’ll be there doing what you enjoy. And all your fairy friends will be there, too. So okay, maybe your woodland buddies aren’t Thumper and Flower but instead the bat that flew through practice last month, or the mouse that’s been nibbling on our gym bags. That’s compromise, though, so we’ll just have to accept that.

Yes, something may have to give, but I don’t think anything has to die. And in the meantime, Bronco has an idea to make a playroom at the warehouse. After all, a dream is a wish your heart makes.