Roller derby finances: Comparing the top nonprofit leagues in WFTDA

How do the top teams in WFTDA stack up financially? After a couple weeks digging through the data, namely 2013 public tax documents that all nonprofits file, I have the answers for you. Make your bets now. Continue reading

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Roller derby recipe: Heat-molded skates

To yield two perfectly molded skates, you will need:

1 cookie sheet
2 brand-new (or new to you, or ill-fitting) roller skates
2 socks Continue reading

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Love is the most important part of roller derby — and it can make your team more competitive

It’s taken me a long time to learn this lesson: Love is the most important part of roller derby.

That’s not mushy flib-flab.

You know what makes people the best at what they do? They fucking love it. [More to this story below]

Photo by Judy Beedle Photography (more at )

Photo by Judy Beedle Photography (more at )

From Steve Levitt, economist from MIT and Harvard who now teaches at Chicago:

“Loving what you do is such a completely unfair advantage to anyone you are competing with who does it for a job. People who love it they go to bed at night thinking about the solutions. They wake up in the middle of the night, and they jot down ideas, they work weekends. It turns out that effort is a huge component of success in almost everything. We know that from practice and whatnot. And people who love things work and work and work at it. Because it’s not work — it’s fun.”

I know a league that went into last season with this in mind, starting with a brand new roster of less-experienced skaters, but they moved up 10 ranking spots that season anyway.

People who have fun at practice come to all the practices. Teammates who love each other support each other in their walls and help their struggling jammer friend even faster. Skaters who are friends off-the-track almost are always stronger than other pairs on the track because they know how each other thinks and communicates. Coaches who love their team and the sport think about new strategies, ways to improve and individual feedback while daydreaming at work. Newer skaters will see your team radiating love and want to be part of it and will work hard to get there.

Want to be more competitive? Want to boost league attendance? Cultivate a culture of love.

Hair braiding for a zebra packmate (teammate?) is love.

Hair braiding for a zebra packmate (teammate?) is love.

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How to transfer into a new league gracefully

I know a few things about how to transfer into a league …


#slut … also I have to change that number soon …

… yeah. What can I say? I don’t like sitting still for long.

It’s still scary every time.

Continue reading

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Roller derby drills are hard … all of them … always

Oh hey. I’ve had a lot of big changes in my life, but thanks for the encouraging comments and emails asking me to blog more/again. I want to. I plan to. As a way to ease back in, here’s what I recently posted to our own fresh meat’s page. I think it’s always, always true:

Roller derby drills are hard. All of them. Even things like stepping side to side, which could seem rudimentary. Plow stopping is also rudimentary, but our travel team (and top-ranked travel teams across the world) practice them every week. It’s important to find goals, fun and fulfillment from even basic drills because that’s a lot of what roller derby is – getting the “easy” stuff down (muscle memory) so we can do it flawlessly in combination with lots of other cool shit when we play the game.

Here’s some things you should consider before ever thinking, “this is boring” — and not just next week or next month, but four years from now :

  • Am I doing it in perfect form?
  • Can I do it faster in perfect form?
  • Could ANY of the veteran skaters do this drill better than I’m doing it right now? If they could, what would they do differently? (then try it).
  • How would (insert skater hero here) do this drill? (then try their unique style)
  • Can I do this backward?
  • Can I do this on one leg?
  • Can I do this backward on one leg?

If you can do the drill backward on one leg in perfect form better than any other skater, then you can be bored :)

p.s. stepping side-to-side on one leg in perfect form is flippin hard.

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Embrace winter, roller derby skater: You already know how to downhill ski

Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 2.45.33 PM

I want every roller derby skater to know this: You can ski. Down-a-mountain ski.

I took a snowboarding lesson once. It was a miserable experience that left my face, bum and ego bruised. It was extraordinarily similar to climbing up a small hill, tying my feet together and then tumbling down the hill. 30 times.

A year later, I took a ski lesson.

It was one of the most fun things I did all year. And it was so easy. “Why didn’t anyone tell me about this?!” I found myself saying on my fourth trip on the ski lift that day — by myself.

So I’m here to tell you: If you know how to plow stop, you know how to ski. (Maybe not expertly, but enough to get started.)

I arrived at my local mountain and signed up for a beginner’s group lesson (it was $50 including rental skis and a lift ticket), but I was the only beginner. I overheard one instructor say to the other that he was going to teach me how to plow stop and then he will send me over to the intermediate group.

“I think I might know how to do that,” I told the instructors.

They told me to show them, and sure enough, it’s the exact same move. Which, yeah, is obvious; a lot of leagues even call that stop the “snow plow.” But what I didn’t know is that is all you need to know to be able to navigate down the easy green trails. If you have a good hockey stop: even better.

Once my instructor brought me through some weaving cones and helped me learn to get on the lift, it became clear that to ski down a mountain, you just use your left plow stop, then your right plow stop, then your left …. repeat. If you go to fast … you plow stop. Some little kids don’t even weave using their left and right stops, they just plow straight down the mountain. Which sounds like a lot more work.

The words I heard most during my lesson were, “stand up straighter. Use your hips less.” … but! …

Now, of course, to get good at skiing, you’ll need more than a left, right and full plow, but as someone who has suffered through years of miserable winters — while watching my slope-loving friends beam at the blizzarding forecasts — I just wanted to tell you that even if you’ve never tried it before: you’re already really good at skiing.

Enjoy the snow.

Enjoy the snow.

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Which state has the most roller derby?

Darkest states have the most leagues per capita. Lightest have the least. By Hard Dash.

Darkest states have the most leagues per capita. Lightest have the least. By Hard Dash.

Congratulations, Alaska. You rock. Your tiny, tiny population (less than a million people) sustains four WFTDA leagues.

Recently I spent some quiet time with a spreadsheet, a glass of wine and some census data to figure out which states have the most roller derby (more on this below).

Without further ado, the top 10 states for roller derby are:

1. Alaska
2. Wyoming
3. Iowa
4. Colorado
5. Vermont
6. Washington
7. Oregon
8. New Hampshire
9. Maine
10. Hawaii

And the worst?

50. Arizona
49. Florida
48. Arkansas
47. Nevada
46. Georgia
45. Alabama
44. California
43. New Jersey
42. Texas
41. Michigan

The data is imperfect. For instance, my last league, Rose City, has something nuts like 300-600 skaters and my new league, Maine Roller Derby has 50 skaters. Yet they both count as one league for each of their states (and both states are great for derby). I don’t have info on how many skaters are in each league, or I’d do that for you.

The rankings are based on how many leagues each state has per capita (based on each state’s population). For that reason, the states with the highest populations (Florida, California, Texas) were ranked pretty low.

So what do you think? Is this pretty accurate? Not at all?

The full list:
1 Alaska
2 Wyoming
3 Iowa
4 Colorado
5 Vermont
6 Washington
7 Oregon
8 New Hampshire
9 Maine
10 Hawaii
11 North Dakota
12 Mississippi
13 Idaho
14 Wisconsin
15 Indiana
16 South Dakota
17 Missouri
18 Delaware
19 Nebraska
20 Oklahoma
21 Kansas
22 Utah
23 Montana*
24 New Mexico
25 Rhode Island
26 Kentucky
27 Virginia
28 South Carolina
29 Tennessee
30 Minnesota
31 Louisiana
32 North Carolina
33 Ohio
34 Massachusetts
35 New York
36 Connecticut
37 Pennsylvania
38 Illinois
39 West Virginia
40 Maryland
41 Michigan
42 Texas
43 New Jersey
44 California
45 Alabama
46 Georgia
47 Nevada
48 Arkansas
49 Florida
50 Arizona


*Montana doesn’t have a full-member WFTDA league. To make the data work, I wrote that it had one. In fact, you could argue Montana should be #50.

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