May 1, 2015
Located in sunny Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA, Duke City Roller Derby was founded in 2005 and is throwing a year-long celebration in honor of their 10th anniversary, including their most recent accomplishment of becoming a non-profit! Between heavy tournament play, outdoor skating, and working with their junior roller derby team, Duke City continues to exemplify the evolution and passion that the sport of roller derby and the WFTDA community represent. Learn more about Duke City and their plans for the next decade of derby.
Where are you located?
We are located in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We’re the first women’s flat track roller derby league in the state and are a founding member of the WFTDA. And yes, New Mexico is part of the United States.
How does your season run?
Practices start in January and run through to November. Like many leagues, we’re still working to find the sweet spot for an off-season.
What are the closest WFTDA leagues to you?
Crossroads City Derby in Las Cruces, New Mexico; El Paso Roller Derby in El Paso, Texas; Pikes Peak Derby Dames in Colorado Springs, Colorado; and Tucson Roller Derby in Tucson, Arizona.
How many skaters/teams do you have?
We have two travel teams and one junior team. We’re also working to bring back home teams later this year. In total, we have just over 70 skaters, juniors, officials and volunteers.
How is your league structured (home teams, travel team, management)?
You caught us in the middle of a major transition! This month, Duke City converts from an LLC to a nonprofit. We have a new mission statement and are restructuring both the teams and organizational chart. After 10 years functioning as a grassroots organization, we hope to establish business practices that will support our membership and work in the community for the next decade. Earlier in 2015, our membership voted to reinstate home teams. Our fans especially miss home teams including the Derby Intelligence Agency, Dooms Dames, Disco Brawlers, and of course, the HoBots. We’ll continue to compete with our charter team, the Muñecas Muertas, and our B team, the Juggernaughties.
Who is your biggest rival? And have you had any outstanding, memorable moments when you've played them?
We have many fond memories of several bouts with the Fabulous Sin City Rollergirls. The Sin City Neanderdolls were the first interleague team we ever played.
Do you have any sister leagues you’d like to give a shout out to?
Forever in our hearts are Tucson Roller Derby and their annual tournament, the Dust Devil. We remember when it was the original WFTDA Championships. We also have a great relationship with the Los Alamos Derby Dames. They are a fantastic organization and we are grateful for the many opportunities we have to collaborate with them.
What are the individual challenges of your city? Albuquerque is not very large, and the state is locally known as “the land of mañana.” It’s a great place to live, but you have to allow for “Albuquerque Standard Time,” meaning everyone is usually about 15 minutes late. The nearest WFTDA league is 4 hours away.
What are your biggest training challenges?
Our practice facility is outside. We struggle with weather during all the seasons, including Winter, Wind (Spring), and Rain (Summer), and continue to search for a long-term and indoor solution for practices.
How does being outside in the elements challenge your skaters? Next time you see us, check out our fantastic sun tan lines, complete with stripes from wrist and elbow pads. Gear-up always includes sunblock. A sizable number of our skaters live over fifty miles away from our practice site, which means we have to call-off practice for weather early enough before they all start their carpools. It’s not feasible to have practice in the rain, snow, or extreme wind. We try to find alternate ways to use the time when we would otherwise have practice including team bonding sessions, film-watching, or completing assorted homework assignments remotely. We’re experts at drying and cleaning the track with towels, brooms, and anything else we can get our hands on.
What kind of training/bouting facilities do you have?
Training and games are held at the Heights Community Center. It’s an outdoor basketball court, and has uneven concrete slabs. One area in particular is so bad, it’s known as the Crack of Death. That said, it is an improvement over some practice facilities we have utilized in the past. Midnight Rodeo was our first bout venue and practice facility, and those who remember skating there nostalgically refer to it as a death trap. Another outdoor facility, Wells Park, scarred many skaters with it's cheese grater-like surface.
How many days a week do you practice? How are your practices divided/organized among your teams/skaters?
We hold practices five days a week. Juniors practice on Monday and Wednesday. Our newest recruits practice on Monday. The Muñecas skate on Wednesday and Saturday, while the Juggernaughties meet on Thursdays. All-league practices occur on Tuesday and Saturday, the latter of which includes scrimmage.
Who are some “behind the scenes” skaters/members who really help your league run?
Doom Dee Doom is our Head of Training, and she has revamped how we teach and develop new skaters. We’re retaining more recruits in large part due to the leadership of her and our other trainers. Mitzi Massacre, who came to us from the Minnesota RollerGirls, took over the junior derby program and is doing a fantastic job with our Marionettes. Second-year Treasurer Magali Coetzee took over what was only a spreadsheet and a bank account, and has reorganized the finances and accounting processes internally. Muñecas Muertas captain Kell’s Inferno, previously of Hard Knox and Classic City, has held a number of leadership roles over the years, and is responsible for the league regaining and retaining our Class A status.
Who are some of your star skaters on the track, and why?
We have a fantastic core of skaters who have been with us since the beginning, including Death Ro, Doom Dee Doom, and Killer Queen. BAMPF! transferred to us from the Los Alamos Derby Dames and commutes two hours each way to practice. She recently picked up an overall MVP award at the Mythical Invitational hosted by the North Texas Derby Revolution in Denton, Texas.
What can you share about the growth of the Marionettes, your junior roller derby team?
Our juniors now train twice a week and include a lot of off-skates bodyweight exercises to support their development. The captains are invested in making it a competitive program. The current Team Parent Kei Tsuzuki is an administrative powerhouse.
We LOVE your special 10th anniversary logo! What are some of the other ways your league is celebrating ten years and rolling?
Thank you! It turned out spectacularly, and shirts with the logo are for sale on our website. Our Bout Coordinator Kap’n Krush plans to recreate our inaugural game, Big House Brawlers vs. Dead Man’s Curves. No word yet if there will be a penalty mistress.
As a founding league of WFTDA, what are some of the biggest changes you have seen in the sport? Where do you see derby going in the next decade of WFTDA?
Derby has changed in so many ways since our founding in 2005. We remember wearing pleated skirts and fishnets, lining up at the pivot line, and having three 20 minute periods. Some changes have been bittersweet for long-time skaters, but we all appreciate the steps that have been made to increase the sport’s legitimacy and athleticism, and hope to see that momentum continue over the next 10 years. It’s exciting to see roller derby and the WFTDA grow internationally. Some members still refer to Champs as “Nationals,” but we all embrace the continued growth of this sport we love.
Do you have any big bouts coming up that you're really looking forward to? Why?
Our Muñecas are headed to Mayday Mayhem up in Colorado this month. In June, we’ll host a doubleheader featuring our Marionettes, and a rankings-crucial game against the other WFTDA league in our state, Crossroads City Derby.
How does your league give back to the community?
Our members participate in regular service events in our community. So far this year, we’ve installed smoke detectors with the Red Cross, and provided event support for the Ronald McDonald House. We regularly donate a portion of admissions proceeds from games to local organizations.
Do you have any big fundraisers coming up?
Our annual Pancake Breakfast is planned for June.
Who are some of your favorite sponsors?
Free Radicals is our Founding Sponsor because the owner, Nan, founded the league! Caustic Threads is a skater-owned and operated business, and does all of our screen printing. And while he’s not officially a sponsor, Spencer Photography makes us look good on a regular basis.
Do you have a special message for your fans?
We’re grateful for your support these last ten years and are excited to continue this adventure with you for the next decade. And we hear you - the return of home teams is on the horizon!
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Real. Strong. Athletic. Revolutionary.