How to Set Up Your Own Roller Derby

Let the games begin! Roller derby, along with other sporting events are slowly returning as various countries and towns succeed in flattening the pandemic curve. Establishing a roller derby track either in an existing space, or creating a new venue is bound to be a crowd-pleaser of note. 

On a non-pro level, having your own roller derby track as the lockdown restrictions lift, is a great way to reconnect with family and friends. As businesses resume trading, a company roller derby event can serve as a perfect team-building exercise. 

General Roller Derby Must-Haves

First on the list (obviously) is the rink. The good news here is there are options to buy or hire from reputable companies such as Roller-Magic. Here’s what you need to know.

Roller Derby Rink

The beauty of using Roller-Magic is that it keeps the very specific specs in good hands. Size-wise, the rinks are smaller than one may think. According to Bitches Bruze in What Every Skater Should Know About Roller Derby’s Flat Track, “The track itself needs to be 88′ long and 53′ wide. Rules and regulations prescribe an outside crash zone of 10′, which necessitates an overall track space of 108′ x 73′. However, a boundary for the crash zone should be provided to separate players from observers. The crash zone could be as small as 5′ wide, making the minimum space required for a regulation track 98′ x 63′. A typical hockey rink at 200′ x 98′, technically allows enough space to have two tracks.”

 

Pros like Roller-Magic have all those stats covered and some. Providing an effective banked roller derby track, of course, does give skaters the edge for exiting corners to account for the centripetal force of turning on a flat surface. From parking lots to indoor sporting venues, you can safely leave the matter of setting up a rink to those who’ve done it many times before, all over the world.

Roller Derby Roles

There are plenty of positions that must be filled for a fabulous roller derby event, whether at home or the office or club or funfair. 

 

Referees – up to four referees (about age 19 and over, male or female) for the inside of the track and they need to be on skates. They ensure everyone is wearing the required safety gear and skater designations and are responsible for keeping a check on the count of players in a jam as well as who’s in the penalty box. Referees in roller derby events call penalties, award points and focus on safety. They determine who earns lead jammer status by blowing two short whistle blows and pointing to the Lead Jammer for the duration of the jam. Four short whistle blasts call off a jam. Here is what refs need to gear up for a roller derby:

 

  • Quad skates (not inline skates)
  • Knee and elbow pads
  • Wrist guards
  • Mouthguard (one that allows you to speak clearly, and use a whistle)
  • Multi-impact helmet
  • Whistle (lanyard and finger whistle suggested)
  • Ref shirt (black and white preferably)

 

NSO’s (Non-Skating Officials) –  help the refs out, keep the game running smoothly, keep track of the penalties and points called out by all the roller derby refs, track time in the penalty box and see that the jams get started on time.NSOs get to wear fun outfits too! Here are the NSO roles and how many you’ll need for your roller derby:

 

  • Score Catcher: 2
  • Penalty Tracker: 2
  • Jam Timer: 1
  • Outside White Board: 2
  • Inside White Board: 1
  • Wrangler: 1
  • Line Up Tracker: 2
  • Penalty Box Timer: 2
  • Penalty Box Manager: 1
  • Scoreboard Operator: 1

 

Spectators are also a large part of the roller derby as the big-time players excel in showmanship. Audience response gets things fired up and pushes the skaters to new heights.

Roller Derby Fun

Just to the extent necessary, dictated by whether children are playing, for example, no one will insist on the letter of the law. The goal of having your own roller derby is more fun-oriented than winning focussed. One’s own roller derby event, while adopting the fun aspect of dressing up and ascribing suitable pseudonyms to get into the spirit of the game, doesn’t have to be as rough as the pro games are. Children as young as 10 years old are cleared to play as long as they can skate, put on protective gear and learn the rules of engagement.

 

By all means, pick fun participant names or pop some in a hat if imaginations fail. 

  • Popular female roller derby names include:

Agatha Crushdie

JayK Rolling

Tess of the DerbyWheels

Pain Eyre

Malice in Woundherland

Harlot o’Scara

Block Beauty

Suzy Hotrod

 

  • Popular male names are:

Rudyard Cripling

Tackleberry Finn

Sherlock Bones

50 Shades of Mayhem

Killbo Baggins

Robin of Blocksley

Grim Scarytales

Maulin Brando

What Players Say About Roller Derby

Bear in mind that more and more folk are engaging in roller derby as a hobby. By day, they work as children’s book editors, physical therapists, store managers – you name it! Timothy Travaglini, aka Harm’s Way, says of roller derby as a sport, “In the end, I think people fall in love with the sport, and they just want to do this thing on wheels with contact.”

 

Roller derby enthusiast Paul Bozzo, 28, aka Paul Funyun confides, “I kind of kick myself for not having known about roller derby earlier in my time [in New York] because I … think about it as a guiding force in my life,” he said. “It’s given me a much better appreciation for people who work to have fun, who work to just build a community. The effort that people go to, to get people to come out and see their show, like their band is playing a show. This is my band.”

In short, roller derby is catching on like wildfire and as a group sport, beats punching out one’s frustrations on a punchbag anytime. Why not start by attending an event near you and feel the magic while you contemplate setting up your own roller derby before the year is out.

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