July 2015 Featured League: Glasgow Roller Derby

July 1, 2015


Glasgow Roller Derby was founded in 2007 and became a full WFTDA league in 2012 after completing the Apprentice Program. Since then, the tough team from Scotland has been steadily climbing in the ranks, traveling across Europe and into the United States to seek ever increasingly tougher opponents. Learn more about how Glasgow Roller Derby recently made an impressive leap in the rankings and their plans for even more success in 2015!

July 2015 Featured League: Glasgow Roller Derby

Photo by Michael Wittig

Where are you located?
We are located in Glasgow, a small city in the west of Scotland.

How does your season run?
Our season normally runs from late January to early December. We have experimented with our season throughout the past two to three years to try and balance scheduling European games alongside U.S based tournaments. This year we made a conscious decision to begin a competitive season in late March which will peak towards September and October and shorten our Home Teams season to just the month of November.

Who is the closest WFTDA league to you?
Our closest WFTDA league is Auld Reekie Roller Girls in Edinburgh on the east coast of Scotland.

How many skaters do you have?
We have around 50 active members of the main league and 25 skaters in The Glasgow Roller Recruits.

How do you structure your league?
There are three competitive Travel Teams:

  • The Irn Bruisers (A Team and WFTDA Charter)
  • The maiden Grrders (B Team)
  • The Canie Gingers (C team)

We also have four Home Teams:

  • The T-rex The Bad Omens
  • The Death Stars
  • The Hells Belles

Our league leadership consists of a board of directors and a series of committees. Within these committees is the Training Committee who liaise with the team captains and oversee the coaching for the league.

July 2015 Featured League: Glasgow Roller Derby

Photo by Michael Wittig

For those not acquainted with Scottish culture, can you explain the punny name of your travel team the Irn Bruisers?
There is a very popular neon orange fizzy drink called Irn Bru in Scotland. It is a national delicacy.

Who is you Biggest rival? And have you had any outstanding, memorable moments when you have played them?
There is a friendly, local rivalry between ourselves and Auld Reekie in Edinburgh, but it is always an exciting, fun match-up when we meet. Throughout the past few years we have both embraced the competition and encouraged each other to scrimmage together on a more regular basis to learn from each other and progress our skill levels.

Do you have any sister league you’d like to give a shout out to?
We would like to give a shout out to Auld Reekie and all the other European leagues who have supported us each year to compete at a high level and push ourselves to be better year after year.

What are the individual challenges of your city?
Glasgow is a very multi-cultural, vibrant city, but it is deeply affected by poverty. The Commonwealth Games has recently been a real boost to funding sports within the city, but with this positive also comes the downside of loosing a key venue of ours to The Games’ infrastructure.

What are your biggest training challenges?
As many European teams may relate, as a league which is slightly more isolated from other Division 1 and Division 2 WFTDA leagues, sometimes the only games you can afford to travel to play in a season are the four WFTDA sanctioned games.However, this season we were lucky enough to be part of the British Roller Derby Championships tournament. Many of the games within this tournament were not sanctioned and this gave us a great opportunity to be more fluid with our rosters, giving all WFTDA charter skaters track time, opportunities to gel, and compete with the team.

What kind of bouting/training facilities do you have?
We currently train and bout in sports halls across the city. Whilst they are convenient and dry for the Glasgow weather, they are not really big enough for public bouts and we reach capacity quite quickly.

How many days a week do you practice? How are your practices divided/organised between your teams?
We have three main league practices a week and one extra Charter practice a week. On alternate weeks we also schedule an A and B team only session, and a “bout night” (regulation game environment) practice within those sessions. Our training session on a weekend includes drills followed by a longer scrimmage session. We also run a new skater program twice a week alongside our main league sessions, which teach new league members how to skate and play roller derby.

July 2015 Featured League: Glasgow Roller Derby

Photo by Michael Wittig

Who are some “behind the scenes" skaters/members who really help your league run?
The Directors and Interleague Liaison are integral to the running of the league, and they play a really important role. We also owe a lot to our small but enthusiastic officials crew, who do a great deal in helping not only officials within our own league, but officials across Scotland.

Who are some of your star skaters on track and why?
This season our WFTDA charter has been putting a real focus on training and skating as a unit. Our goal is to be a bigger unified force rather than a group of star skaters. We believe if we can morph our packs to move and play as one unit, we will be a much more difficult opponent to face.

Do you have any big bouts coming up that you’re really looking forward to?
We have a really big game this weekend (28th June). We are playing Auld Reekie Roller Girls in a re-match in their home venue in Edinburgh. In May we beat them as playing in The British Championship tournament and now we are returning to see if we can do the same again. This game is of even more significance though as it is our fourth and final sanctioned game before Playoffs seeding so we have trained hard tin order o maintain a Division One spot. [WFTDA.com Editor's Note: Glasgow did win that game, 185-119.]

You have been doing more and more travel as a league, including participating in ECDX in 2013 and Spring Roll in 2014. What are some of the challenges of traveling so far for competition and how does you league prepare physical as well as financially?
Any away game be it 50 miles away or 5,000 miles away requires a different mental preparation to a home game. For the very long distance games, as a team we got more used to adapting to different skating surfaces, different temperatures, and of course getting over jet lag, but it is hard work to achieve the same sense of relaxation you feel when playing at home.

One thing we have started to implement in our training in the lead up to away games is to schedule “stressful scrimmages.” This is where we invite other league members and volunteers to spectate with loud instruments and heckle us whilst playing. It is to prepare our minds and bodies for new, unknown environments, and helps us cope knowing it isn’t that bad in reality.

July 2015 Featured League: Glasgow Roller Derby

Photo by Michael Wittig

In terms of funding these trips, as a league we prepare for traveling away by fundraising through sponsorship, events, and crowdfunding. However, we have noticed as more teams want to travel to get competitive play, the crowdfunding market is quite over-saturated, and sponsorship is still unpredictable because of the economy. This has led us to self-fund large portions of both US trips we've taken, and resulted in making a decision to only travel in Europe in the lead up to Playoffs this season.

Your league has worked incredibly hard to fight your way up the rankings, jumping and impressive +40 spots recently! What efforts have you made as a league to excel so rapidly?
With the decision to only play in Europe, and play teams ranked quite close to us at the time, we knew we would have to do really well in these games to get a rankings boost from them. Therefore,within the WFTDA charter we have put a lot of time and effort into getting to know our team--who is best in what positions, who gels with who on track--and then from there drilling these sequences until we are a cohesive unit. The rest of league has supported the Charter’s journey in this 100%, and provide us with great competition week in, week out to train with.

What can you tell us about your first Sur5al event that took place in June?
It was a great event! several leagues from across Scotland competed in the tournament and it was open to both men's and women’s leagues. It was really great to see the Scottish roller derby community all in the same place, and we hope to schedule more Sur5al tournaments like that in the future.

How does your league give back to the community?
As a league, we try really hard to be active within the community. In the following months we will be organising a community litter pick and in the past we have been involved with Charity fun days. The majority of our training venues are City Council venues, and we hope by having a presence every week in these venues that this encourages members of the community to get involved in a sport which promotes a positive, strong, healthy environment.

Do you have any big fundraisers coming up?
We have a really exciting live band Karaoke event as well as community fundraising initiatives in the next months. We also hope to do another bootcamp in 2015, as the one held in Spring was so positively received.

Who are some of your favourite sponsors?
We receive wonderful sponsorship support from Pinto Mexican Kitchen, 5th Blocker Skates, and S1 Helmets.

Do you have a special message to your fans?
Thank you for your continued support throughout our growth as a league and sport.

Real. Strong. Athletic. Revolutionary.