Posts Tagged ‘MRDA’

Points Per Jam: Roller Derby’s Default Difficulty

It should be difficult for a roller derby team to score points. So why does it often seem so easy for them to be scored instead?

Derby scoring has seemingly been getting easier and easier over the last several years, with point totals climbing higher and higher. This year’s rules updates appear to have addressed this trend, sure. But even taking games played in 2014, it is still not abnormal for many of them to end with a combined total score of 300, 400, 500, 600 (!), or even more than 700 (!!!) points.

Press me for 5 points. And again. And again…

Press me for 200 points.

Whether point totals of such magnitude were reached in a close game or a blowout, if it is possible for two teams to together score that often in a 60-minute game, any individual pass for a point, let alone the non-scoring initial passes, must be relatively easy to accomplish.

If it were really that difficult to get points, there wouldn’t be so many of them scored in the first place!

Very high-scoring games still happen quite a lot in the WFTDA and MRDA, especially during mismatches. Scoreboard-spinners can also show up in other derby variants, like in USARS, MADE, or the RDCL.

However, games where the scoreboard hits perilously high totals are less frequent in non-WFTDA forms of roller derby, and of a lesser magnitude when they do happen. This is in part because scoring points is appreciably harder to do, on the average, in these versions of the game.

As a result, these games can often be much more competitive.

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Another Derby Extra: The RollerCon Seminar


Didn’t go to RollerCon this year? Or maybe you were there, and you couldn’t make it to Another Derby: The Seminar.

Well, that is egg on your face. Those who went saw something special, as evidenced by these actual testimonials:

• “That was a fucking AWESOME seminar, thank you!”

• “At least there are people thinking about the big picture. Thanks for continuing to care, WindyMan.”

• “Simply amazing – people who weren’t there don’t know what they missed.

• “Thank you for doing this!”

Regrets? Fret not. Now everyone can get in on the best kept secret in roller derby: Roller derby itself.

Find out the hows and whys of the game, from the pack, to the pivot, to power jams. Discover what all roller derby rule sets, past and present, have in common. Then see how this knowledge can be applied to the modern game in a way that benefits everyone. (WFTDA, I’m looking at you!) Even if you know derby—or rather, if you think you know derby—get ready to love the game you love in another brand-new way.

The 75-minute seminar has been enhanced with full diagrams and video overlays, so you’ll know exactly what’s happening through every concept and video as it’s happening.

Check it out below:

Thanks for watching, and thanks for spreading the knowledge. Knowledge is power!

Roller Derby 2013 Preview: The End of the Beginning

Happy new year, roller derby—it’s going to be a doozy.

That’s because 2013 will see a number of changes, additions, milestones, and opportunities across all five of the major roller derby organizations. On the track, off the track, in the rules, or in the pocketbook; everyone’s doing something of major significance this year, and many of these things could have long-lasting effects on the game.

Taken on the whole, it gives the impression that modern roller derby itself, soon to be 13 years young, is starting to get ready to move on to the next stage of growth…almost like a pre-teen not too far away from starting puberty. Since roller derby doesn’t have any parents to give them “The Talk” (thank goodness!), it will collectively have to figure out what that stage is going to look like and how it will effect to the greater health of the game. Even if that stage may ultimately be a few years off, we’re definitely starting to wind down the modern game’s childhood days.

If 2013 is to be the end of modern roller derby’s beginning, let’s take a pre-emptive trip down memory lane and see what major events and important news items derby needs to keep an eye on from the WFTDA, the MRDA, the RDCL, USARS, and even MADE. From new rules, new organizational structures, new opportunities, and even a $20,000 banked track tournament—this is not going to be a year that roller derby will ever want to forget.


wftda-logoOf all the changes in the WFTDA happening this year, the one that will have the biggest impact is the new 2013 WFTDA roller derby rules, which officially went into effect on January 1. As the de facto flat track roller derby ruleset, a significant number of leagues, including all those under WFTDA sanction, obviously, will be playing by the new rules in games from this point forward.

In addition to updating the text of the rules, the WFTDA has updated its rules revision process, too. After taking a lot of heat from many regarding what resulted from the update cycle of its 2010 rules, the WFTDA has already indicated that rules updates will be coming in at higher frequencies than in the past, stating that there may even be an update later in 2013. It’s also taking feedback of issues directly via a rules issues reporting database to help speed things along, which is great.

The number of derby events played using WFTDA rules is mind-boggling, and 2013 is likely to see that number increase. But if there’s ever been a bellwether for where teams are at—and how the rules are holding up—heading into playoff season, it’s the East Coast Derby Extravaganza (June 28-30). Traditionally the last major event before playoff rankings are locked-in for the fall tournament season, this year’s iteration may become even more significant considering… Continue reading

MRDA Championships 2012 Diary: Not Your Mother’s Roller Derby

Earlier this month, the Men’s Roller Derby Association held its second championship tournament in St. Louis. The event featured the top eight men’s derby teams in the country.

If you were fortunate enough to see it happen live on DNN, you witnessed something special indeed. There was speed. There was power. There was drama. Crowds (and announcers) were going ballistic. When it was all said and done, “Gateway to the Best” lived up to its name, and Your Mom Men’s Derby took home the 2012 title.

There is much to say about MRDA Championships 2012 and the state of men’s roller derby, so let me jump right into it.

Supercharged Competition

The argument could have been made that all the teams coming in with a top 5 seed—Your Mom, St. Louis, New York, Magic City, and Puget Sound—had at least an outside shot of winning the title, which is saying something considering a men’s roller derby championship has only been around for three years.

This showed in the contests between these teams during the 2012 tournament. Except for games featuring Dallas, which has had to deal with a weakened roster, the largest margin of victory between the top teams was about 100 points. Most were much closer than that. But even in the games the outcomes were in never doubt, their fiercely competitive nature made almost all of them must-see-TV.

“Fierce” is indeed the best word to describe the action. If you like hits, there were fierce hits. If you like fast jammers, there were some fiercely fast jammers. If you like scrum starts, there were fierce scrum starts too, though they tended to break up rather quickly due to the fierce jamming  at the front of the pack—which must be said, was greatly aided by front walls quickly stringing out to maintain pack proximity.

Some teams were much better at working together than others. I must say, the teamplay of St. Louis—when it happened—was marvelous. Magic City’s teamwork is also getting much better, although they need to stay out of the penalty box to best use the pick plays and screens they love to set up. Your Mom, the new champs, have come together very quickly with a deadly combination of (mostly) clean skating and and immensely talented pool of jammers to call on.

When it comes together, men’s derby played at its highest level feels like a supercharged version of the roller derby we’re accustomed to seeing in the WFTDA. Encouragingly, it appears as if it will only get better. If you consider the amount of progress teams have been making between the major MRDA events (Spring Roll and Champs) over the last few years, it’s almost scary to imagine the amount of potential the men’s game has.

However, for that potential to be realized, a few loose ends need to be tied up.

The Laces Were Out

Many, many memorable things happened throughout the weekend. However, the ones that I remember the most vividly happened in jams where skate laces were working themselves loose from the boots of player. Just a few jams, mind you. But I bring up this seemingly minor occurrence not because I’m a wacko obsessed with laces, but because the common thread between what happened in these jams framed things for me in a way I hadn’t seen before.

The first lace failure was simultaneously hilarious and incredible to witness.

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The Evolution is Complete

Spring Roll was this past weekend, which has become a showcase regular-season event for the Men’s Roller Derby Association. This year, 13 teams played 20 MRDA-sanctioned games over two days to effectively determine league rankings for the 2012 MRDA Championships, to be held this October in St. Louis.

Many men’s teams were seeing their first meaningful action of the year, including newer leagues like the Sioux City Kornstalkers, Portland Men’s Roller Derby, the Rock City Riot of North Dakota, and the up-and-coming Your MOM Men’s Roller Derby of Iowa.

There was a lot of great derby during the weekend. Though there were blowouts, there were also upsets, including a big one: Your MOM dominated the 2011 MRDA Champion New York Shock Exchange, soundly beating them in Saturday’s main event, 199-148, on their way to an undefeated weekend. The hosting Ft. Wayne Derby Girls also capped off Saturday’s action with a great (though lacking of defense) WFTDA sanctioned bout, taking a 215-185 victory over Killamazoo.

The Mother’s Day games on Sunday also contained some gems. The Central Mass Maelstrom held off a remarkable comeback by Rock City, barely hanging on to a 1-point victory after some intense final minutes of gameplay.

The Magic City Misfits, who also went undefeated, put up 617 points on a short-benched but hard-working Kornstalkers team, demonstrating to the derby world that the teamwork they were lacking last year has arrived in full force this year.

Finally, the marquee matchup of Spring Roll was the highly-anticipated rematch of last year’s St. Louis Gatekeepers vs. the New York Shock Exchange. The first 30 minutes of the bout went beyond everyone’s expectations—and quite frankly, even my own—and at just a two point game coming into the second half, it had the makings of an absolute all-time classic.

With all the great stuff that was happening during Spring Roll weekend, what happened in the first half was seriously a great way to put a cap on it:

…except that the ugly, ugly side of roller derby reared its ugly-ass head during the second half of the game, culminating in a last jam that highlighted how far the “evolution” of roller derby strategy has come.

Because when a team essentially cheats to win a game they had no right to win, and there is clear video evidence to confirm this, the game can go no further.

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WRDN Gamecast: Men’s Derby from Battle for the Coast

This past weekend, 10 women’s roller derby teams hit the beach to play at Battle for the Coast, a two-day flat track tournament in Ventura, Calif. The winners were–get this–the L.A. Derby Dolls, defeating a surprising Ventura County Derby Darlins host team by a score of 134-83. San Diego Derby Dolls were 3rd, over the Sac City Rollers.

Day two of the event featured a full-length men’s exhibition game between a pair of mash-up all-star teams from the Pacific Northwest and the Southwest. The Northwest won in a thriller, 150-148.

There was no live streaming of this event, so no one outside of the tournament got to see these great games live. Happily, I brought my camera and decided to at least get something on film. The plan was to film both the men’s game and the ladies’ final so everyone could see the great action.

Well, one out of two ain’t bad.

Unfortunately, my camera’s single battery only got through the men’s game, leaving me unable to record the thrilling L.A.-Ventura final. (Bummer.) But if I had to pick one to get, it’d be the men’s all-star mash-up. There isn’t enough men’s derby out there to see, so I’m glad I was able to at least grab it for everyone.

The game featured men’s players such as Speed Dealer, Ryrod, Radillac, Adam Collider, Billy Motion, Collin Ambulance, Rave N’ BustHer, and Pitchit. It was fast (except for That One Jam), hard-hitting, and the crowd seemed to like it quite a bit.

You’re probably going to want to watch it. You can see the game at the new WRDN Gamecast page there at the top, or you can just click here to go to the Gamecast page.

I’d love to bring everyone more derby video, so consider this first game a test run. I hope to improve upon things in the future, but for now we’ll start things off with a good, fast (except for That One Jam) game of men’s derby and take it from there.

Thanks, and enjoy!

Victory Through No Pack of Effort (v2.0)

This article was originally posted on November 6, 2011. It has been reworked for ease of reading and clarity, and updated with new examples and a more direct conclusion. It’s like a Blu-ray special edition!

During the the Windy City/Naptown game at the 2011 WFTDA North Central playoffs, there was a sequence of events that, as a sports fan and a roller derby fan, that I truly appreciated.

Behind on the scoreboard during the second half, Windy City sent Jackie Daniels out to jam. Jackie got a fiver on her first scoring pass, but as Windy City bench coach and DNN editor Justice Feelgood Marshall recounted, when she went for her second run at the pack…

…she tries to go around a nearly stopped Sarge[ntina of Windy City] to the right, just as Sarge moves to the right. Sarge is what the military would classify as a hard target. Physics happen and Jackie goes from like 60 to 0 in an instant, hitting the floor on her back super hard. Everybody in the room goes “OOOOH” at the same time. As any derby player knows, the collisions you don’t expect — the ones you’re not braced for — are the ones that fuck you up.

So Jackie’s on the ground. Doesn’t move for a couple seconds but it feels like ten. Her jam ref is standing over her and looks like he’s about to call the jam on injury. Sarge is also obviously concerned. I’m sure Jackie’s got to be relatively seriously hurt, because otherwise she’d call it off, right?

But no. Jackie slowly rolls over, slowly gets up, and keeps fucking going. Amazingly. She is really interested in that scoring pass. She’s slower than she was before and obviously in some pain, but she’s also Jackie. She gets the 4 points and calls it off at 9-0.

When Jackie gets back to the bench, our lineup manager Angel Dustt and I immediately check to see if she’s ok. She’s gasping and holding her chest and can hardly talk; she sits down heavily in the back row of seats and unbuckles her chin strap.

Angel says something to her right then, something along the lines of “Nice jam” or “Are you trying to kill yourself?” I do remember exactly what Jackie says back to her in between ragged breaths: “I wanna win. I wanna win.”

The final score of that game?

Windy City 128, Naptown 117.

Due to the extraordinary effort of Jackie Daniels, that 9-0 jam was damn near the difference between Windy City winning and losing the game. The team ultimately achieved victory through no lack of effort on their part.

A case like this is a reminder that team sports rely on individuals to do their jobs to the best of their abilities. From start to finish, an individual’s best effort is needed to help the team succeed. However, just like a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, an individual not putting in their best effort, or effectively quitting on the play, can be disaster for the well-being of an entire team.

Had Jackie not dug deep to keep going, she could have left those points on the table. She could have also been given three jams off for a medical stoppage, preventing Windy City from using her in their normal jammer rotation and opening up the possibility of losing out on even more points in future jams through unfavorable jammer match-ups.

It just goes to show that effort in sports is rewarded. If you work harder than your opponent (assuming your opponent is of similar skill and ability), or at the very least give it your all 100% of the time, good things will happen to you and your team. Even when it looks impossible, you never know what can happen if you never give up.

As the saying goes, winners never quit, and quitters never win.

However, the current state of modern roller derby, both flat track (WFTDA) and banked track (RDCL), quitters can win.

The rules make it that way.

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