Western Canada has seen a tremendous amount of progress for the sport of roller derby over the last 12 months. One of the largest gains for leagues across the Prairie Provinces has been a noticeable increase in the amount of teams seeking out, and achieving, affiliation with the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA). With the Winnipeg Roller Derby League (WRDL) and St. Albert Heavenly Rollers (STAHR) announcing their status as WFTDA Apprentice Leagues last October, the CRDA was understandably eager to share that they had officially become full-fledged members of the WFTDA on December 23rd, 2013. If one thing was abundantly clear from my conversation with Tania Martinez, aka Mamasita, the Calgary Roller Derby Association’s (CRDA) Interleague Liaison, it’s that there is no big secret to becoming WFTDA affiliated. All it takes is patience, organization, dedication and a little leg work to get the requirements you need. So, if you’re waiting for some big sign to indicate that your league is ready to make the jump, wait no longer! The WFTDA application process is not something to be feared or anxious about! It is something designed to help you prepare your league to interact with a much larger, more diverse and competitive sporting community once you have completed the necessary steps.
Like many other leagues, the CRDA has faced their fair share of challenges over the years. They actually began as the Sandstone City Roller Girls (SCRG) in 2006, but a number of issues lead to that league disbanding after approximately 12-months of operation. Having learned from the errors made by the SCRG, Mamasita, Scarla Maim, Rollover Jean and Roxy Acetylene (who now skates with Chinook City Roller Derby and is co-owner of Nerd Roller Skates) were among four of the original members who then founded the CRDA in 2007 so that derby would persevere in the city of Calgary. At this time, the only other roller derby leagues in Alberta were Edmonton’s Oil City Derby Girls and the newly formed E-Ville Roller Derby. The CRDA worked closely with these two organizations to pave the way for even more teams across the province.
Initially, the CRDA focused on interleague play between their house teams but once an All-Star travel team was established, which originally went by the name of the Hellion Rebellion (now known simply as the CRDA All-Stars), the league began to shift their focus to the big picture of provincial growth. Come 2011, they made the decision to stop interleague play and shifted to having their house teams compete against other regional competitors in order to foster unity and progress for their members and the rest of Alberta.
The CRDA All-Stars team will now play their first ever WFTDA sanctioned bouts at the Wild West Showdown in Bremerton, Washington on February 28th to March 2nd, 2014.
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KEVLAR: This is a huge step for the CRDA, how is everyone feeling about being a full member WFTDA league?
MAMASITA: It IS a huge step and we are pretty much over the moon excited. I think it still feels a little bit surreal but I’m sure after we play our first few sanctioned games at Wild West Showdown in February, it will all feel a little bit more real. We are all super excited to be raising our level of play by playing WFTDA sanctioned games and raising the entire leagues level of competitiveness. We are also excited to help other teams get started in that direction as well. It’s an honour to have been the first league in the prairies to get WFTDA apprenticeship and now our full membership, but we really want to encourage other leagues to GO FOR IT. If we can do it, so can you! It’s only going to make derby up in these parts even better.
KEVLAR: 2013 was a VERY big year for roller derby in Alberta with nationals held in Edmonton, another hugely successful Flat Track Fever tournament in Calgary, the Glenmore Reservoir Dogs becoming MRDA affiliated, the CRDA becoming a full WFTDA member league, STAHR becoming a WFTDA Apprentice League and numerous other accomplishments by teams and individuals around the province. How does it feel being a part of all of this growth and what are your personal thoughts on the overall evolution of this sport?
MAMASITA: It’s incredible to see how much the sport has grown and evolved in my 7 years of roller derby. With CRDA having been one of the first leagues in western Canada we’ve seen teams like the Red Deer Belladonnas grow and become power houses in Alberta and it has been humbling and also inspiring. I love that there’s always a new team out there to watch out for, or a team that has worked their butts off to make a comeback. Alberta has some amazing talent and some really awesome people coordinating events and tournaments. It rather blows my mind that we have all accomplished so much and I’m looking forward to more WFTDA play in Alberta. It’s going to bring a whole new level of awesome to the sport around here.
KEVLAR: What opportunities does the CRDA now have available to them with being a WFTDA League?
MAMASITA: Probably the most important thing is that as a full member league we get to vote on possible rule changes and have an impact on our sport. We get to help shape the future of roller derby!
We get to compete at a higher level, which will increase the overall competitiveness and skill of our entire league, and once we play some sanctioned games we get to work our way up those WFTDA rankings and be ranked internationally. We hope to eventually make it to Div 2 playoffs and then who knows what else. Only time will tell. Having a big goal to work towards is very exciting!
We also get access to the private WFTDA forums, which give us a ton of information on things like sponsorship, event planning, and training from some of the top leagues in the world.
There are a million benefits. I could go on forever!
KEVLAR: What was the most difficult part of the process to become a WFTDA League?
MAMASITA: There is a lot of legwork involved, a lot of paperwork and small details and getting everyone on the same page, but it is 150% worth it. If you have a dedicated group of people who really want it, it’s not so bad.
KEVLAR: What advice would you offer to those leagues currently undergoing the process, or planning to start it?
MAMASITA: Be humble! We’ve all worked really hard to get Canadian derby to where it is and we have a lot to be proud of, but these women that started WFTDA have put in several more years than we have and they’ve laid out this foundation for the sport that we love. Do the work to get in, and be humble once you get there. Just enjoy the whole process. It is worth it once you get that beautiful pink WFTDA patch, I promise!
KEVLAR: With 2014 slowly getting underway, what is the CRDA planning to focus on most over the coming season?
MAMASITA: League unity, competitiveness and of course, making a splash on the WFTDA scene. We want to make our Canadian derby sisters and brothers proud, and I think we will.
We have a big bootcamp we are hosting in May with some amazing coaches so that is a big focus right now and I can’t really discuss our other plans just yet but 2014/2015 promises to be pretty epic!
KEVLAR: One question I have been frequently asked about from leagues that are thinking about applying to become WFTDA affiliated is at what point in their existence as a league/team are they ready for such a step? So, what factors were in place that indicated to the CRDA that it was at the point, as a league, that it was organized and established enough to seek out WFTDA affiliation?
MAMASITA: Being a WFTDA league has been our dream since we started the league in 2007 but to be honest we felt the same way as those other leagues and had the same questions. Are we ready? How do we know? There’s no magic formula to figure this out. Every league is different but if you all get on the same page and decide to go WFTDA, everything just falls into place.
We are one of the oldest leagues around here but it wasn’t until we had 2 amazing transfer skaters come in from the Tri City Roller Girls that we realized we ARE ready. They came into our league and lit the fire under our butts to get it done. Sin-e-star and BareLeigh Legal showed us that we already had everything in place. Great skaters, community involvement, the desire to be better and play at a higher level, great officials, etc. Like I said before, if we can do this, so can you! We were so trilled to see that STAHR and Winnipeg are now apprentice leagues and hope to see other leagues going for it too. All of the top leagues in Canada are WFTDA leagues, so that right there says a lot. Don’t sell yourselves short, just go for it.
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Stay up to date on the CRDA’s 2014 season, learning opportunities and other special events by following their Facebook page! The CRDA will be hosting Another Kick Ass Boot Camp this upcoming May 17th featuring Onda Sligh of the Oly Rollers and Team USA 2014, Lilly Lightning of the Seattle Derby Brats and Demanda Riot form WFTDA’s Bay Area Derby Girls as guest instructors. They are also hosting a small Fresh Meat and Referee Boot Camp on January 19th that is open to all individuals 18+ years of age who are wishing to join the CRDA in 2014. It caries a $10 drop in fee and you are asked to come in full gear. If you cannot get your gear together you are still encouraged to watch the event for just $5!
Also keep an eye out over the coming months for an interview with Kriss Myass #1116, a member of the CRDA All-Stars who was selected for Team Canada Roller Derby, as part of my Meet Team Canada 2014 series.
To learn more about becoming a WFTDA Member League, visit their How to Join WFTDA page.
WFTDA or Bust!