It's that time of month again when we hear from Fierce Valley's latest skater to make an entry in the diary. This month, it's Camelon Diaz, PR Rep, coach and experienced blocker, up to the stand...
What first attracted you to Roller Derby?
Who are your derby heroes?
Derby names are an important aspect of the sport, especially when you're starting out. How did you choose your name, and how does it reflect your personality on track?
I spent a long time thinking about derby names, coming up with lots of film-related names and changing my mind every week about which I would use, before my friend Angus suggested Camelon Diaz. It probably makes no sense unless you're familiar with the Falkirk area, but Camelon is where I'm from, and the name just made me laugh. I'm not entirely sure what it says about my personality on track, but I guess Camelon does have a reputation as being a bit tough...
What was your biggest initial difficulty?
Lots of skaters find it hard not to spread the word about their new sport. How have you been spreading the word?
I just don't stop talking about derby! I'm sure that my family, friends and work colleagues must be sick of hearing me talk about it. I'm part of the FVRG PR committee, so it's almost my job to talk about it constantly and help to spread the word. We've built some really good links within the local community and it's always fun to get involved with local events.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learnt/ done this month?
What were the most difficult and the best things?
What's new for the Fierce Valley this month?
For skaters in the North American continent, the East Coast Derby eXtravaganza has been an essential fixture since its founding in 2007. Despite initial hiccups (scheduling their first event in the winter led to ice-related chaos, causing the move to the current June 28th to 30th slot), ECDX is now one of the biggest derby meetups in the USA, outgrowing its initial purpose of providing a yearly meetup merely for leagues on the Eastern seaboard.
This year, however, for the first time in ECDX's 7 year history, two of the teams competing in front of thousands of spectators will be from outside the USA and Canada.Because, this year, Glasgow Roller Derby's Irn Bruisers and Auld Reekie Roller Girls' Twisted Thistles are bringing Scottish derby to the East Coast.
If ECDX is such an awesome event (winning Best Regular Season event in the DNN reader awards three years running), then why is it that no European leagues have attended before? The same reason, of course, that London Rollergirls has so many sponsors nowadays: the cost of flying up to 20 excited rollergirls, and supporters, across the Atlantic ocean, is a more than significant outlay for even the biggest European leagues.
As a result, both GRD and ARRG are embarking upon an extensive round of fundraising to pay for their travel and boarding, allowing them to represent not just Scotland but also the UK and Europe in Philadelphia.
Apart from augmenting the money made at their regular bouts from raffles and cakes (and face painting in the case of GRD), both leagues have been running a series of derby and non-derby events. For Glasgow, upcoming events include DJ nights at The Flying Duck on May 24th, and at Nice n Sleazy's on the 31st of that month; a gala day and a speed dating evening with dates not yet finalised.
Auld Reekie have also been hard at work raising money for their trip, long before their plans were made public. As fundraising chair Skinner Alive notes, “We were in touch with the ECDX organisers just after the summer of last year so our journey to ECDX was always in our 2013 plans, and as such we have been fundraising like mad over these past 8 months.”
ARRG’s first ever hosted bootcamp, School of ARRG Knocks, was one of the first events that the league run to raise ECDX funds, and was so popular that a second bootcamp (subtitled “Even ARRGer!”; perhaps "Skate Free and Die ARRG" was taken?) is already planned.ARRG are also running quizzes and music events across Edinburgh, in venues such as The Tron, ElboW, Brassmonkey, Leith Cricket Club and The Breakfast Club, hosting bands such as Shields Up, Trails, Taking Chase, Curators, Bonehouse and Albaroma. Skinner noted that both the hosts' and the bands' support is particularly valued, with the bands often providing their services for free.
As well as continuing to advertise such events, ARRG is also gearing up for a very special event: their 5th birthday party, which Skinner promises will be an event not to be missed.
Both leagues have even been driven to sell their possessions to help raise funds. One of the first things that Auld Reekie’s fundraising team (Skinner, Princess Die, Maulibu Barbie and Captain Havoc) did on learning they’d be going to ECDX was to stick all of the league’s old kit at a car boot sale for a starting fund, which “was a great easy money maker, and truly amazing what you can turn into cash with very little effort”.
GRD are also raising money in other ways, with an auction of time and items in planning. This will be hosted by GRD themselves, although the precise format is not available at this time.
Finally, both leagues are also producing new merchandise. In Edinburgh, skilled graphic designer, and star ARRG jammer, Admiral Attackbar has developed a range of limited edition clothing with the “Party ARRG” brand. “We decided that we really wanted to give something back to our supporters for helping us out so rather than just donating money, fans can buy themselves a sweet limited edition tshirt instead and know that the proceeds are going to help us get to ECDX,” said Admiral. Asked about the origin of the punny slogans, she revealed that their something that’s been bubbling under for a while: “When we hosted School of ARRG Knocks we were coming up with puns all over the place and Party ARRG arose at some point with regards to the after party. I was really trying to capture the spirit of the league in the new merch designs whilst still keeping things clean, simple and effective."Meanwhile, in Glasgow, GRD are sourcing recipes for a planned cookbook, with a vegetarian and vegan slant, which they are hoping will be successful enough on its initial run to raise funds.
More prosaically, both leagues will be offering their bag packing skills in the shopping centres of their respective cities, so if you want your purchases packed by a roller derby skater, do watch out in the next few months!Of course, it isn't just skaters who are raising money for their trip. Dave McAleavy, possibly Scotland's most well-known derby photographer is running an exhibition in derby-owned Cafe Phoenix to raise money for the GRD’s cause. “Glasgow Roller Derby have had a great couple of years,” said Dave, “and heading to ECDX to take on the world [...] the proceeds from sales will be going to their travel fund.”
If you want to know how important this is to both leagues, all you have to do is to talk to the skaters, all of whom are now considering their next few months in the context of ECDX.
Speaking for Glasgow Roller Derby, new Bruiser Mona Rampage was luckily enough to graduate to the A-team just in time to join the ECDX crew, and is understandably excited. “Getting selected to be a Bruiser was a massive accomplishment for me”, she said: “I failed my minimums 3 times so was always behind everyone else in my intake skill wise; watching them getting selected for the top 20, NSOing bouts they were playing in, and bench managing their team’s games. To finally go from being on the sidelines to being on the A-team was huge for me. I can't even express how happy I was to be selected. I feel like I really earned my spot though, which makes it so much sweeter! As for ECDX, I am really trying to up my game for the tournament as it will be the hardest thing I have ever done, not to mention the hardest thing the Bruisers have ever done.”
Auld Reekie’s Alma Geddon has been on their A-team, the Twisted Thistles, for a while, but that hasn’t tempered the excitement of ECDX for her.Both Mona and Alma were especially excited not just to be facing some fantastic American derby opponents, but each to be doing so alongside their counterparts on the other side of the country. “It's massive for Scottish and UK derby and I'm glad we can share the experience with them. We are really lucky that we get on so well with all of the ARRG girls and I'm excited to hang out with them by the pool, cheer them on in their sanctioned outs and I'm sure they will do the same for us" enthused Mona.
Alma was equally pleased to be seeing Glasgow's skaters at ECDX. “It's fantastic that both ARRG & GRD will be a part of ECDX this summer. In 2011 the Scottish national team competing at the first Roller Derby World Cup in Toronto consisted mainly of skaters from these two leagues. In the bout against Team USA, Team Scotland may only have scored the now infamous 'one point', however, I think it's true to say our Scottish pride & tenacity has already left quite an impression on a number of the American skaters. As one of the Team Scotland skaters I know I learned a lot from my World Cup experience & have grown as a skater as a result. The other lovely byproduct of the World Cup is that the two leagues have grown much closer & more supportive of each other than ever before, there was a whole lot of Scottish love at Track Queens tournament last November in Berlin. I'm looking forward to ARRG & GRD showcasing how far we've all come & how hard we've all been working!"That said, if it was all about simply hanging out with each other, there’d be no need to fly to Philadelphia to do it. Mona Rampage was all about the challenge, “really excited to play Columbia as they are the highest ranking team we will be coming up against. I really hope we give them a hard game! I'm going to try my hardest in any case!” While Team Scotland veteran Alma Geddon has perhaps a few more contacts, and is looking forward to catching up as much as making new friends “Three days of superb derby action to enjoy watching & playing, not to mention rubbing shoulders with some derby heroes/crushes, meeting up with old friends & making new friends …. I stumbled across a roller derby spectating team called Hot Pants Cold Beer, they sound like a great fun bunch of folks.”
Whether those folks can keep up with the cream of Scottish Roller Derby is another matter entirely, and one we look forward to testing on June 28th!
All of Auld Reekie Roller Girls' events are advertised on Facebook & Twitter (@AuldReekieRG), as well as the ARRG website. The limited edition ARRG merchandise can be bought at: http://auldreekierollergirls.bigcartel.com/ before April 15th, and then at all of the ARRG bouts until the 18th of May. You can also donate directly to ARRG via their website.
Similarly, Glasgow Roller Derby’s events are also publicised on Facebook and Twitter (@WeAreGRD), and on their website, which also includes a funding thermometer. As with ARRG, you can donate directly to them via their website.
To celebrate the recent birthday of The Jakey Bites - Scotland's first Men's Roller Derby team - we caught up with team skater, Duff McKeggar, to hear about their year so far and their plans for the future. The Jakeys will play their first headline bout at home this coming weekend, so this is a perfect opportunity to learn more about the team before heading along to Grangemouth to show them your support!
In just over a year, The Jakeys have gone from being a "ragtag collection of male referees" from the existing female leagues, to a dedicated team of 22 skaters who travel all over the UK to compete. They've come a long way since heir first training session in a cold airport hanger in Perth in January 2012!
When the news of a men's roller derby team in Scotland broke out, enthusiastic male skaters emerged from the derby community to join the 9 refs - a mixture of husbands of female skates, friends of skaters, or those who had watched a bout a thought "I want to try that!".
The newly-formed team didn't waste any time in lining up their first bout, despite having barely enough skaters to fill the roster and only recently having passed their minimum skills test. So on 21st April 2012, The Jakey Bites traveled to Newcastle to take on their men's team: Tyne & Fear. With their bright orange t-shirts, a Rab C. Nesbitt team logo, and a bus-load of supporters, The Jakeys made quite a first impression! The team never won their first bout but that didn't matter - this was their exploration into the unknown territory of Men's Roller Derby and getting a glimpse of what the future could hold for them.
As well as the brightness of their uniforms that day, the team's merchandise for sale also raised a few eyebrows. Emblazoned across the back of the t-shirts were the words "Scottish All Stars". When I asked Duff McKeggar where this name came from, his answer was far less controversial than many had assumed! Duff explains, "It’s pretty much an in-joke. The Jakeys have always based ourselves on the featured team from the movie Rollerball (I must admit I've never seen it!) and apparently they are known as ‘The Houston All Stars’ so when we were designing our first t-shirt print run, Scottish All Stars was jokingly mentioned as a possible back print and it stuck!". Simple!
Coincidentally, there has been a lot of talk recently about standardizing National Team Selection on the UK Roller Derby Association (UKRDA) website, so we were keen to hear if The Jakey Bites had any plans to live up to their All Star title and become the official national team. I must admit, I was disappointed when Duff said the The Jakeys would never be officially recognised as the 'Team Scotland' of men's derby, but he did reassure us that - when the time comes - the roster will hopefully feature a large number of Jakeys.
But before we look too far into the future, let's look back at what The Jakey Bites have achieved in their first year. By far their most memorable moment was playing in their first public bout against Tyne and Fear after only a few months in existence, explains Duff. The Jakeys also organised and hosted the hugely successful Sur5al tournament in December last year - a knock-out competition of mixed teams of 5 skaters from teams all over Scotland.
On a personal note for Duff, he recalls his biggest achievement with The Jakey Bites: "I was delighted to play in the Tyne and Fear bout after only a month of skating which was made all the sweeter by getting the Best Jammer award! Playing in Scotland's first men's derby and co-ed bouts was also a great achievement".
After their first bout in April 2012, it was full steam ahead with The Jakeys playing 4 more bouts away from home; opening a double-header event for Glasgow Roller Derby in June; and joining force's with Dundee Roller Girls in the first co-ed bout in Scotland.
2013 already looks to be very busy for The Jakey Bites - and we're only in April! There is talk of a Men's European Roller Derby Tournament taking place later this year, and Duff hopes to see The Jakey Bites in the line-up to showcase the Scottish talent. If we know the The Jakeys, they should have a busy bouting calendar lined up, and hopefully more of these played at home. Duff also ranks their "elusive first win" as a huge priority for the coming year!
With so many more bouts in the pipeline, the question on everyone gent's lips is: "How do I become a Jakey Bite"? The answer is simple: Duff recommends that you contact the team via their Facebook Page to get more information about their training commitments. Even if you train with the team, your place still must be earned by a rigorous team selection process, with the final decision being with the Captain.
If the prospect of jumping right into a bouting team isn't quite what you're looking for - any one of the regional men's teams would be happy to sign you up and put you through your paces. Duff explains that The Jakeys "have fully embraced the new leagues and are happy to see men's derby in Scotland growing so quickly. As the Jakeys are more of a collective than a league we've never really had a consistent fresh meat program whereas now the local leagues all have first rate fresh meat programs so ongoing we have a wider pool of talent to choose from". Duff himself is one of the founder members of Capital City Roller Derby in Edinburgh, and many of his fellow Jakeys are involved with the new leagues in one way or another.
For now, Duff and his teammates are focusing all their efforts in organising and training for their first headline bout that will be played at home on Saturday 6th April. We're intrigued to see The Jakeys in action again, especially since Duff lets on that "anyone who hasn't seen us for a while will be very pleased with how far we have come in such a short time". He is looking forward to having a loyal home crowd behind them, and hoping that they will put on a good show!
The coming year promises to be very exciting for The Jakey Bites - and Men's Roller Derby in Scotland - and we can't wait!
The Jakey Bites play South Wales Silures on 6th April in Grangemouth. Tickets are available to buy online - visit the Facebook Event for more details so you don't miss out on the action!
While modern Roller Derby as a sport is spreading rapidly across the world, and turning up on TV and in newspapers with various degrees of accuracy, there are still parts of modern culture where our favourite sport has failed to penetrate. Most notably, there is only one Roller Derby game in existence, Jam City Rollergirls, which, while WFTDA-licenced, is also essentially a fusion of Mario Kart and Derby. Disappointingly, it's also limited to the Nintendo Wii, with no other platforms even being considered.
This month, however, hope has arrived with the appearance of the Power Jam: Roller Derby project on Kickstarter. (For those of you unaware of Kickstarter, it's the best known of the "crowd-funding" websites, where potential projects can ask for donations of funds (towards a set minimum target) from the general public. If the minimum target isn't met, then no-one is charged any money (and the project presumably either dies or goes looking for money elsewhere). In order to encourage donations, projects offer "rewards" for pledging funds at various levels - usually on a graduated scale from "We'll tweet you a thanks" for £5, up to grand invites to the opening party, or the ability to contribute to part of the project design, for £1000 or more.)
The Derby community is, in fact, no stranger to Kickstarter, thanks mainly to the Derby, Baby Distribution project, which saw basically everyone in derby worldwide donate money to help Robin Bond and Dave Wruck get their Derby documentary distributed around the world. (We, of course, all got sweet DVDs or Blu-rays of the film.) On a smaller scale, photographer Kyle Cassidy ran a Kickstarter to fund taking Lead Jammer's Moxie McMurder around the States while he photographed skaters for a book.
The Power Jam : Roller Derby project is something different, however. A collaboration between two Belfast-based companies, Iglu Media and BillyGoat Entertainment, the plan is to create a fully-featured Roller Derby management game, with both strategic and tactical elements. As with management games for other sports, you'll manage your league at one level, dealing with recruiting skaters through fresh meat, planning training sessions, hiring halls and promoting your bouts. At the bout level, the plans show a full featured tactical interface, allowing you to give orders to both your jammer and all blockers during each jam (the skaters will be smart enough to do sensible stuff if you don't order them around directly too, of course). The plan is to show the bouting action from a bird's-eye tactical view, zooming in closer for "glam cam" shots of particularly impressive blocks or other important moments.
Speaking for Iglu, Jonny Kane was keen to emphasise that the project was born of a genuine love of derby from the developers: "It was by having conversations over an extended period of time with Roller Derby players and fans that it occurred to us that those who play or take part as Refs or NSO's – no matter what your role – there is so much passion and dedication to the sport that goes beyond just the bout. This really appealed to us, the side of the sport that exists as soon as you scratch the service."
With media representation, the issue of veracity often comes up (we've all seen TV depictions of derby that were... less than accurate). In this too, Power Jam : Roller Derby is trying to do the right thing. One of the first things the developers did was to contact local league, Belfast Roller Derby, for assistance. BRD's Dempsey Hammer has been pleased with the level of interaction so far: "It's hard to quantify [how much time we've spent talking to Iglu] as we've been in regular contact over email and phone as well as the occasional meeting or mo-cap session. We've been kept updated about the various stages of the project, and we've asked questions when we've wanted to and visa versa, it has been a very positive relationship between us and the guys at both companies!"
Indeed, so concerned are Iglu and BillyGoat at getting the action just right that they're using the motion capture facility at Queen's University Belfast to capture BRD's skaters in action and translate them into the game models' moves. Despite a little trepidation at being the models for the in-game skaters' skills, BRD have been happy to help, and are so far happy with the results.
The astute of you may have noticed that we've gotten this far without any mention of which leagues are going to be featured in the game. That's, partly, where the Kickstarter comes in. In order to raise the £75000 needed to greenlight the game (a very parsimonious amount for modern games development), the developers are putting the final skater and league rosters in the game up for the funders to decide. While smaller donations will get you a copy of the finished game as soon as it's ready (£15 for digital, £45 for boxed), skaters or leagues with deeper pockets will get to contribute content to the game itself. Donating £60 will get you a boxed copy, and also allow you to add a skater name to the in-game roster. Donating £200 will garner a host of goodies (limited edition art, t-shirt, badges), the ability to add a skater name to the roster and, most importantly, Beta access to the game, allowing you to provide feedback to the developers and shape the final game. Donating £250 will let you add a league name to the roster of leagues, add 5 skater names to the skater roster and also give you beta access and five boxed copies (this is obviously a significant saving if you know 4 people who want a boxed copy), and £300 lets you not just add a skate name to the game but actually provide photographs from which the developers will recreate the skaters' likeness ingame (plus that beta access and a copy of the game itself). Finally, for those interested in outreach and promotion (those skateshops out there?), £2500 gets corporate branding added to the game, presumably tastefully done. All of the higher tier rewards are limited in quantity, and several of them are currently on limited-size discounts at present (once 15 leagues have been added to the game, the price for the next 15 will increase to £350, for example).
For leagues who are trying to decide where their money should go for the next year, £250 might seem like a lot of money just to get a name in a game, but Iglu's Jonny Kane was keen to emphasise the promotional benefits of being featured: "This game we expect to reach at least high hundreds of thousands of gamers on the mobile version of the game. This means a huge audience made aware of Roller Derby who would not normally be aware of the sport. This is an tremendous opportunity for leagues to be involved in the funding and development of a great game that will get their own league in front of hundreds of thousands of new fans." It's also worth pointing out that offering inclusion in the game as a high-tier funding reward is a standard practice in Kickstarters for video games, and usually for significantly more money (the Torment: Tides of Numenera Kickstarter, for example, has 41 people currently paying $1000 to have the name and description of a character added to their game).
Even if you feel you can't afford the high tier rewards, it's worth donating anything you can to the project in order to help it meet its goals. (I am assured that Belfast Roller Derby will continue to be involved in the game development, so missing out on Beta access won't mean that there's no Derby involvement). Remember, if Power Jam: Roller Derby doesn't reach its £75000 target by the 15th of April, then the developers won't get any money at all. This might not mean the end of the game, but it will certainly mean a different, and probably smaller, product. If the Roller Derby community believes that it deserves quality representation in the Video Game genre, then there's no argument for not contributing something to helping this happen.
- Power Jam : Roller Derby will be developed in Unity 3D for release on Windows, OSX, Linux, and mobile. It will also be multilingual, supporting English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Russian and Spanish. The digital release will be DRM-free.
All images in this article owned by Iglu Media and BillyGoat Entertainment.
The views expressed in this article are those of the contributor, and do not represent those of the Scottish Roller Derby Blog itself.
NRG's Whippin' Hinnies will take on FVRG' s Parma Violents in the first bout of the day, from 12:15 pm. Both teams are keen to hold onto their winning streak, but only one will be victorious!
Tickets can be bought online in advance for £6, or for £7.50 on the door.
Visit the 'Mad Smacks' Facebook Event for further details.
Edinburgh's first Men's Roller Derby team are recruiting! On Sunday 21st April, Capital City Roller Derby will hold their first Fresh Meat intake from 7pm - 9pm at The Crags Community Sports Centre, Edinburgh.
CCRD are looking for skaters aged 18 and over of any level (novice to expert) who are dedicated, enthusiastic and want to be part of their awesome team. They are also looking for potential referees or NSO's (Non-Skating Officials - both male or female) to register for their Fresh Meat program.
Equipment for this session can be loaned by existing members of CCRD, but they ask that you please register beforehand to avoid disappointment. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your contact details and a member of CCRD will confirm your place.
For further details, please see the CCRD's Fresh Meat Event on Facebook.
For the past 2 and a half years derby has been my life, I can honestly say I put my heart and soul into my skating and I’m sure most skaters can relate with this. 2012 saw an amazing year of bouting for me and my team mates and a real year of growth for me personally.
However the pinnacle of my skating career so far happened very recently, March 10th to be precise. On this date I was honored to have the opportunity to skate with Team Steve, a.k.a The best of the rest in Scotland. I was absolutely blown away to have been selected and to have the chance to skate with some of the legends of the Scottish roller derby scene.
In order to actually take this opportunity I had to make it to Birmingham first. So I and some of my fellow DRG team mates who had also made the team, embarked on a 6 hour journey to Birmingham, crammed into the back of a mini bus. Luckily we are used to being in close proximity with each other on a regular and often sweaty basis.
On a completely unrelated but amazing note we ended up in the same hotel as all the Crufts dogs that were competing at the Birmingham NEC that weekend! Seriously best hotel stay of my life. I’d like to think the competitive spirit and prowess of a group of dogs in trainers with rollers in their hair gave me a sense of confidence and drive for the bout ahead…………. (Yes, I just said that!)
After a wholly athletic breakfast of Croissants and pain au chocolate we made our way to The Futsal Arena to take on the Mighty Gael Force. It had not slipped our notice that this team consisted of two Gotham skaters, An LRG skater and some of our own amazing Glasgow girls……Intimidating to say the least. I mean Suzy Hotrod skates with Gotham right? And she’s like derby royalty!
Donning our Gold bottoms and Team Steve vests felt good, I always feel a little more confident when I have my kit on, the floor was ok if a little different but I felt quite good during the warm up. Skating beside Bunny McBones (Gotham) questions raced through my mind, have you met Bonny Thunders!? What does she smell like!? Have you been to her house!? However I reeled it in and before we knew it the first line up was on track!
I have to admit I felt a bit overwhelmed but as soon as I got on track I was ready. I’m sure a lot of skaters can relate with this, sometimes it really is like flicking a switch. Now I can’t remember much of the details, At DRG we like to call this ‘Jamnesia’. I do however remember Jamming, Scoring some points and being annihilated at least twice by an amazing Gael Force offense.
Both teams played well, It was quite a strategically minded bout, Steve went out with Defense at first but Gael Force’s offensive play meant we had to hit back with some offense of our own. There were powerjams for both sides and the packs were very fast.
Both Teams started close to the Jam line, adjusting to having the front and back line accordingly. Default strategy was very evident and seems to be making a marked come back since the introduction of the new rule set. Get to the Front; Get a goat, Inside Sausage and Outside Sausage were all in force on the day. We didn’t squeeze a peggasist in but there were some amazing Apex jumps on the day!
The final score saw Gael Force take victory 228 – 154. Feelings were good all around. The bout was completely different to skating in a league game. Different skaters were adjusting to different styles of play and it was all around a very fun bout to play. We wanted to win but there wasn't major pressure on us. It was a fantastic experience and I learned a lot from it. I jammed in public and everyone on my team was supportive and amazing! I think it has given me a bit of encouragement in that, even if you don’t think you are the best skater in the world, just try your best and no one can really ask any more of you than that.
It gave me some brilliant experience of exceptional offensive plays. In our home league we are a very defensive team and our currently working on our offense so it was really good to see it in play and also to have a chance to action it myself. I have a lot of things to take back to practice with me.
Team Steve really is a Derby Institution and I hope to be able to skate with them again someday, I really like wearing gold!
All Photographs taken by Steven Frew.