- Teams & Staff
- Derby 101
- Jr. Derby
The Texas Rollergirls are the originators of Flat Track Derby. We started the sport in Austin, Texas and it’s spread to hundreds of cities around the world. Our founders revised the old school rules, designed the track, and set the standard for what a Rollergirl can be in the new milliennium.
We have four home teams:
We have an all-star travel team called the Texecutioners, made up of members from all four home teams. This team competes in inter-league play and tournaments. The Texecutioners took the first national Flat Track Derby title at the 2006 Dust Devil Tournament in Tucson, Arizona in February, 2006.
We also have our Recreational League and Junior Derby. The Rec League is for retired, beginner, and any other skaters who just want a taste of the action without the tryouts, time-commitment, and competitiveness of the main league. The Junior Derby League teaches roller derby to kids ages 8-17 to prep them to hopefully play with the big league when they grow up and just have fun in the meantime.
One of the most obvious differences between old school roller derby and Texas Rollergirls Rock’n’Rollerderby is the playing surface—we ditched the banked track. In the old days, the stunts were choreographed to help insure the safety of the skaters and to add flair to the games. Our sport is played without a banked surface, without rails, and without a script.
Because we don’t get the inertia created by a banked track, Flat Track Derby skaters work harder to maneuver through the pack and score points. The extra effort pays off in tighter butts, stronger legs, and bragging rights.
>The best reason to go the Flat Track route is that it means girls can play the new sport of Flat Track Derby almost anywhere. All you need to get started is skates, safety gear, a smooth, flat space, and the willingness to go helmet-to-helmet with other skaters. Tennis courts, basketball courts, parking lots, and skating rinks can instantly become a Flat Track Derby venue. A banked track has several drawbacks: it’s expensive to buy and needs to be stored. In the old days, flipping an opponent over the rail was a popular trick. But those rails created a big ol’ barrier between the skaters and the audience.
With Flat Track, the only thing between the skaters and their fans is good and bad intentions. As Eight Track of the Texas Rollergirls Hotrod Honeys will tell you: “Why take out a railing when you can take out a crowd?”
Texas Rollergirls bouts are family-friendly. We offer free admission to munchkins 12 and under and keep the action PG-13. Texas Rollergirls are role models, and we take the importance of sports for young people very seriously. Bring the kids! It’ll be good for ‘em!
The official game length for inter-league play, as defined by WFTDA, consists of two 30-minute periods. For home games, individual leagues may change that up a bit. The Texas Rollergirls play double-headers—each pair of teams plays two 20-minute halves. We try to start around 6:30-7pm and finish by 9:30-10pm on regular bout nights.
The WFTDA was formed in 2005 to regulate the new sport of Flat Track Derby. It started as an online discussion group of Rollergirls who wanted to share ideas and support each other. Now it’s an official membership organization which sets the rules and standards for the game and facilitates networking and collaboration among members.
The WFTDA mission statement spells it out:
“The mission of the WFTDA is to promote and foster the sport of women’s flat-track roller derby by facilitating the development of athletic ability, sportswomanship, and goodwill among member leagues. The governing philosophy is, “by the skaters, for the skaters.” Women skaters are primary owners, managers, and operators of each member league and of the coalition. The operational tasks of the coalition are to set standards for rules, seasons, and safety, and to determine guidelines for the presentations of the national and international athletic competitions of member leagues. All member leagues have a voice in the decision-making process, and agree to comply with the governing body’s policies.”
Flat Track leagues pay annual dues as members of WFTDA to cover the costs of operating the coalition. There are some major requirements to be eligible for WFTDA membership (designed to keep out greedy promoters and insure the safety of our skaters):
The US and Canada are divided geographically into four regions: North Central, South Central, East, and West. Each fall, the top ten ranked teams from each region play in their own Regional qualifying tournament. The top three seeds from those Regional tournaments go on to compete for the national title at the Championships.
Most of the leagues play about once a month at home. Additionally, all year long Rollergirls travel around the U.S. of A., spreading the gospel of Flat Track Derby with tournaments, exhibitions, and other inter-league play. Official WFTDA tournaments happen in the fall, first on a regional basis, and then ultimately culminating in a Championship tournament for the top 12 teams.
That motto guides every decision made by the Texas Rollergirls, as well as the leadership of many other individual leagues and the WFTDA. As skaters, we control our fate: where we skate, when we skate, what we wear, and more. The days of a promoter who runs the show are over.
Many leagues have followed the Texas Rollergirls’ example of a direct democracy. Every skater in the league has a vote—on everything from financial decisions to charities we support, from where we play to when we practice. Majority rules and every voice is heard. That means that what Texas Rollergirls is now and what it becomes in the future is decided by the skaters.
We’re a rough-and-tumble bunch, but we’re united on a few basics:
Texas Rollergirls usually have tryouts once a year in the fall after our home season is over. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. We also have a Rec League for those who want to learn to skate and play roller derby in less competitive circumstances and Junior Derby for the kiddos ages 8-17. We have sessions all year round, so sign up to have some fun!
There is no ideal build for a Rollergirl—there’s a place for girls of all shapes and sizes in Flat Track Derby. The numero uno requirement for success is to be as fit as possible. That means developing stamina and building muscular strength—both for skating power and to prevent injuries.
Come on, girls. You know we say it all the time: Size doesn’t matter.
A small frame can be an advantage on the track—you only need a small opening to slip through, and you’re a smaller target for the blockers. Petite girls who work on their speed can excel as jammers—and some of the hardest hits can be delivered by small blockers who develop their muscle mass.
On the other hand, bigger girls can make formidable blockers and represent both a psychological and physical obstacle for other players. It’s just harder to get around a big girl!
A plus-size lady who trains for speed can also become an outstanding jammer, taking out her opponents while she scores points on them.
Previous sports experience isn’t a requirement—and in some leagues, rookies are still learning how to roller skate. While having a sports background may make you a star faster, you don’t have to be a lifelong jock to join, learn, or play Flat Track Derby.
We have multiple league and team practices every week that focus on endurance training (how many circles can one Rollergirl skate in her lifetime?), derby-specific drills, scrimmage games, and strength work. Most Rollergirls are so hooked on skating, we get out on our wheels as often as we can: bike paths, parking garages, open sessions at the rink, skateboard parks, city sidewalks, and our kitchen floors are all fair game.
Cross-training and weight lifting are important for injury prevention and because our bodies take such a beating, we rely on therapeutic TLC like stretching, massage, chiropractic visits, pilates, and yoga to keep us in top shape.
The Texas Rollergirls use a mix of Rollergirls, significant others and speed coaches to whip their butts into shape. The Texas Rollergirls coaches are also the nationally-ranked coaches for the Texas Speed Team: Sonny “The Boss” Felter and Debra “Quicksilver” Smotrilla.
Flat Track Rollergirls do not earn a salary or hourly wage for playing our sport. We buy our own equipment, gear, and uniforms. All that hair dye, tattoos, replacement pads, and zippy wheels adds up, too! Some of the costs of keeping us rolling is offset by sponsorships, but we’re still Do It Yourself, and glad to keep it that way.
We all play Flat Track Derby because we love it and our league is set-up as a non-profit organization. The bottom line is we just want to keep skating and promote the sport of roller derby throughout Austin and the world.
The Widowers are our dearhearts: the men and women who don’t play Flat Track Derby, but support the Rollergirls who do. Husbands, boyfriends, wives, girlfriends, family, and friends who listen to us talk Derby non-stop, volunteer their time or skills to help us put on our bouts, dry our tears, carry our gear, buy us beer, take our photos, and generally make us feel like they’re our #1 fans.
It takes about 100 people to put on a double-header bout like the Texas Rollergirls:
Flat Track Derby is first and foremost a sport. But if you’re at the top of your game, why not play with style, too? Our personas, uniforms, and over-the-top antics are just the whipped cream on top of a legitimate-sport sundae.
Are stilettos the work of the devil? Heck yeah, the fights are real!
We’re good friends at practice… But once the whistle blows, the competition is real and intense. Rollergirls are tough. Competitive. Hot-headed. Some might even say, mean.
No. Rollergirls are an extremely determined, competitive group and every team hits the track knowing that they could win or they could lose. Flat Track Derby is our hobby, but it’s also our sport—and it’s one we play with passion.
Sometimes. Flat Tack Derby is a full-contact sport. We wear safety gear — helmets, mouthguards, knee pads, elbow pads, and wrist guards — and we have insurance to help us out when accidents happen. And accidents do happen.
Hopefully not! One of the thrills of the Flat Track is that Rollergirls may sail into the audience, knocking over beers and getting up-close-and-personal. Common sense will tell you that if you’re sitting in the first row from the track, you’re running a risk of getting a lap full of Rollergirl. It might be a cute li’l jammer, or a big bruisin’ blocker.
We refer to ‘em as uniforms, not costumes. And isn’t the answer obvious? It’s fun—and it helps us get our heads into the game.
Like any other sport, donning our uniform is a sign of team unity and a constant reminder that we’re ready to play. But our approach takes it one step further: we can play up the flirtatious side of our personality and be girly while we kick ass.
fishnet burn (fish’ net bûrn) n. An abrasion, caused by the dynamic skidding of Rollergirl flesh against a rink surface, in which the affected Rollergirl suffers waffle-pattern abrasions, scabbing, and scarring. Usually occurs on buttocks and upper thigh.
The book Derby Girl was a fictional book written by Shauna Cross about the Texas Rollergirls and made into the movie “Whip It” starring Drew Barrymore, Ellen Page and Juliette Lewis. But her fictional book features real life Texas Rollergirls: Dinah-Mite, Tinkerhell, and Babe Ruthless. We are flattered, but of course wish they would have kept the movie realistic and on a flat track!
No; that reality show featured a banked track league. The Texas Rollergirls were offered the chance to participate in the show but turned it down. When we appear on TV, it will be kicking ass and taking names in a Flat Track Derby bout, not re-enacting melodramatic scenes for the camera. You can see Flat Track Derby games and tournaments on the websites such as www.derbynewsnetwork.com and www.mavtv.com.
Rollergirl is a book written by our own Melicious (Melissa Joulwan) that tells the story of the birth of the Texas Rollergirls and the growth of Flat Track Derby across the country. Part memoir, part how-to, it includes lots of badass Derby photos, the inside scoop on our sport, and information on how to develop a Rollergirl name and persona. Learn more at http://www.rollergirlthebook.com.
In the past, feminism has mostly focused on achieving equality for women by breaking into male-dominated areas. Third-wave feminism challenges and expands common definitions of gender and sexuality.
So… Rollergirls wear sexy uniforms and revel in their femininity. But we also train like athletes and revel in our toughness. We create personas that some might see as buying into the male stereotype of a sexy woman. Then we celebrate ourselves as stars and treat our roller sisters with love and respect.
Are we third-wave feminists? Sure. Are we going to beat you over the head with it? Nope! We’re too busy training and competing and living our lives as business owners, mothers, artists, dancers, administrators, writers, teachers, chefs, bartenders, waitresses, and students.
We tip our helmets to the women who came before us: the old school skaters who first showed us how it could be done, and the women of the Second Wave who fought for Title IX so that little girls everywhere grow up knowing they can run track, compete on the swim team, play a team sport, or start a roller derby revolution.