Women’s Flat Track Roller Derby Magazine
also available in print – contact us to purchase a copy
• Athletic Trainers: A Good Addition to Your Team
• Derby and Drinking
• Common Gear Questions and Misconceptions
• Derby Burnout
• Junior Derby Training and Conditioning
• How to Be A Good Guest League
• Plus more, including Sk8 the State Multiple Sclerosis Fundraiser, Toe Stop Review, The Evolution of the WFTDA Tournaments, How Photographers Choose What They Publish
John Maddening, Minnesota Rollergirls
In the last issue, we talked about how to be a good host league. Well, you can’t hang out at your house forever. It’s time to stretch your wings and fly!
finding leagues to play
facebook is your friend You’re in luck! When Minnesota (and the rest of the original leagues) started, Facebook was an Ivy League-only thing. Now, you’re likely to have tons of friends on your Facebook page who are in other leagues across the country... and world. Strike up friendships with folks who play elsewhere, and you’ve made your first steps! It makes it much easier when your Board presents you with dates you have to fill if you can open a chat window with your good friend a half a continent away.
tournaments are better
Whether it’s the Big 5, ECDX, Midwest Brewhaha, Rollercon, or any other, tournaments are great places to network. Even if your team isn’t on the track, simply wearing your home league’s t-shirt can lead to high fives, exclamations of “I can’t believe there’s a league THERE!”, and most importantly, invitations to play. Everyone has an open date they’re trying to fill, and they won’t think of you unless you get out there and let people know you’re interested.
be prepared to say no
One thing to be watchful of is trying to please everyone. You have a team, a coach, and a budget that all need different things. Just because another league has invited you doesn’t mean you have to go. The rough economy hits everyone, including derby teams. If your team doesn’t have the money to get twenty people to a town with expensive air service that’s too far to drive to, there’s nothing shameful about saying, “that’s not in our budget right now.” Odds are, the other team’s interleague coordinator has had to deal with the exact same thing. In addition, you don’t get any better by playing teams much worse than you are. Try to use your time to play the better teams, and your team will learn more. You can even check out the rankings on DNN, Flat Track Stats, or Derbytron to see where observers rank your team in relation to others, and schedule accordingly. Of course, predictions have been known to be wrong... from time to time.
To get the most out of a trip, see if you can get a “hangover bout” in the next day before you leave. Often, the league who hosted you on Saturday night would be happy to invite you and another nearby team to play in their practice facility or another venue for a second sanctioned game. These bouts are often (but not always) between teams with more space between them, rankings-wise. It allows the smaller team to get in some well-needed playing time against higher-level squads, and it helps extend your budget.
how do we get there?
Flying is the fastest, but generally the most expensive way to get to another city for a bout. And if it’s farther than 500 miles or so from your home base, it’s usually the only option. Check with airlines about group reservations. Remember, if you’re flying, you have to budget rental cars or public transit on top of those airline tickets.
When we travel within the five-state area, we’ll either rent cars or use our own. This can be dangerous if one car breaks down on the side of the road with four hours left to go, but it is the cheapest way to do it. We have a business discount with a major national car rental company, which knocks about 10% off the rental. It doesn’t sound like much, but when you’re renting five cars or three minivans, it sure does help.
One of the coolest things ever was when the Naptown Roller Girls Tornado Sirens rolled up to team breakfast in a giant tour bus. Sure it took 10-11 hours to make the trip, but they did it overnight so most of them could sleep on the road. Naptown even has a superfan who is a licensed bus driver, and they saved even more money by not using the bus company’s driver, but by paying for his meals and hotel room for the trip! Above all, get there early! Make sure you budget your time for any delays, breakdowns, or bathroom breaks. Nobody wants to leave another league in the lurch because you didn’t plan for problems.
bring your fans
Nothing can be more intimidating than having 4,000 people boo you when you’re introduced. People love their home teams, and they want to see the invaders defeated. However, one of the most effective counters is bringing your fans along to cheer for you! Of course, you can’t afford to pay for someone else’s flight, hotel room, etc., but there are probably a good number of fans who live and die for your team and would love to join you on the road. The Minnesota RollerGirls are lucky enough to have a pair of sisters – Jeanne and Christine, the MNRG Superfans – who not only have front-row season tickets at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium, but also travel along to nearly every away game and tournament! There are also well-known folks such as The Belligerent Nashville Rollergirls Fans, Big Tom from the Texas Rollergirls, and of course Bane-Ana from Charm City! Fantastic fans like this make it feel a bit like home in a strange town after a thrilling victory... or an agonizing defeat. Let your fans know (in email updates, Facebook postings, etc.) about your upcoming trips, and tell them you’d love to have them join you! The vast majority of hosting leagues offer a small number of comp tickets for family and friends who make the trek, and you never know when you’ll run into an expatriate from your home town who wants to cheer for you.
I’m always surprised when visiting teams don’t bring merch to sell at away bouts. Packing an extra bag of t-shirts, stickers, and patches doesn’t cost much extra, and can more than pay for itself. Fans, and other skaters, love collecting t-shirts from around the world, and for you, it brings in some much-needed cash to help pay for the trip. Just twenty T-shirts at $15 each is $300 more than you had before! Even in 2012, certain carriers (like Southwest, or Delta if you have their credit card) don’t charge for checked bags, so there’s really no excuse to not bring a little something to sell.
do something non derby related!
(Wo)man cannot live on derby alone! For a Saturday night bout, MNRG generally arrives on Friday afternoon. We have time to decompress, and have a team dinner if we choose. Saturday morning, we’ll meet in the hotel lobby and break into groups to go out and about. Some skaters love shopping, others museums or tours. Nobody is paid to play, so you might as well have fun while you’re traveling.
treat your hosts well
It’s like going to a party. Your hosts are opening up their home to you, so thank them for their hospitality, follow their rules, and keep your skates off their furniture! You want them to remember your league fondly, and want to play you again!