Running a roller derby league is not easy, and when that league faces a load of adversity all at once, it can be detrimental and destructive.
It happened to us starting mid 2016. We lost a beloved team member, Toni “Rockilishous”, due to an unimaginable accident. I had the fortune of meeting her twice before she passed away. Shortly after that, we also lost a key component to being able to play: our venue. As we scrambled to find solutions and discussed our options, one by one, members started to leave our league so they could continue to compete without falling into a drought with no end in sight.
This is when I became an active member of SDRD: Right when ALL of the unfortunate events started to snowball. I showed up to my first official practice as an eligible skater only to find my new teammates grabbing what belonged to the league and packing it up to store wherever they could after what felt like a bad breakup. We were moving out of our venue, and I was heart broken. I have worked SO hard and it has taken me a very long time, YEARS, to learn the skills needed to play roller derby, and now I wasn’t sure if I would have a team to play with.
By the time 2017 came around, attempts to find an actual venue became lost hope, and when we did find one, it seemed as though everyone had already left. One practice, I showed up to find only 3 of my teammates remained, as our league had dwindled to just us. We started to talk instead of skate about possibly seeing the end of SDRD’s life and decided, “HEY, you know what?! Let’s give this ONE LAST SHOT, put all of our energy into this and let’s make this happen!” SO we started gathering our ideas and putting them together.
Little by little, we started recruiting from our now sister league Renegade Rollergirls of San Diego. A couple of their skaters wanted more time to skate and started to join us for some basic practices and eventually we started counting more women at practice. Sure enough by mid 2017 we had a good 9-14 women consistently at practices. Slowly but surely we were growing! By now we were thinking, “Wow, maybe rebuilding this league IS possible!”. It definitely got our hopes up, that’s for sure!
Now in August of 2017 came the biggest decision in SDRD’s revival. “We have barely enough to have a team and our roster isn’t full. Do we continue to fight for this league?“ Us starting 4 had become 3, then we regained a different #4 that decided to return to us. We quickly started to edit our chalkboard and bring new ideas to the table as we ran into new issues and obstacles.
As the end of 2017 crept up, we finally started to get our finances and logistics in a groove and our new skater orientations hit smooth sailing as well. By December, we were only a few girls shy of 20 roster-eligible skaters! But by this time, all of the paperwork and brainstorming and staying up until 12am doing research had worn us original 4 down and we were quickly becoming burned out. Luckily, we got a small break for the winter holidays and focused on hoping all of the hard work we had done all year would pay off. We had done finances, researched multiple possible permanent venues, started to order jerseys, gather equipment for new skaters to barrow, etc. all year, and all we could do now is cross our fingers.
WE RUNG IN THE NEW YEAR! We were somewhat refreshed, enough to get the ball rolling again, anyways. But when we returned to our normal practice schedule, something AMAZING and BEAUTIFUL happened! Us original 4 noticed that we had quickly become outnumbered, and not by fresh skaters! We noticed there is an actual TEAM out there on our track! Shortly after, an even bigger surprise happened! Not only did we gain a dedicated coach with year of experience, be we gained three! A week later, our team assessments started so we could create a foundation to build our teams off of. Not only did everyone give 110% at try-outs, but NOT A SINGLE SKATER FAILED! Our new coaching staff appeared to be impressed by the skill level these hardworking women were skating at for being a renewed league! We don’t LOOK like a brand new league, we don’t SKATE like a brand new league…and we definitely are not FUNCTIONING like a brand new league!
We are playing UNITED like a real roller derby league should be!
Sure, we still have a lot of hard work to do, more strategies to learn, and game experience to gain; however, now that Us Original 4 handed off so many of our responsibilities to so many other strong women that have joined our league in the past year, we can focus on guiding the league into the right direction!
Now, for SDRD’s 10th year of derby, we are going to have a LEGENDARY 2018 season!
Mitten Kitten, Bullseye BombHer, and Jeneral BustHer:
You all have carried more than your fair share of responsibilities, and I could not have become a stronger person without all of you to guide me and for allowing me to be a part of this league and it’s revival! Thank you for trusting me to take on a huge task and become a part of something so much bigger than myself! I could not imagine playing with anyone else and it has been an absolute honor to finally be included in a league after years of not fitting in elsewhere. I am truly grateful to have all of you continue to work hard to keep this league on the road to success!
To all of our new members: Without you all, we would not be here. You all have busted your butts and have taken on such major roles within our league, and we have full faith in you all to make this your own!
I love you all so much, and I thank you for pouring your hearts and souls into SAN DIEGO ROLLER DERBY!
HIT HARD. SKATE FAST. TURN LEFT.