February 6, 2013
Founded in 2006, the Jacksonville RollerGirls have worked hard to build a team that balances competitive game play with community involvement. Whether it involves the formation of their own junior league or their annual toy drive, the Jacksonville RollerGirls have gone the distance to change the image of roller derby in their conservative and sprawling hometown. 2012 was a breakout year for the team as they made their first appearance at the South Central Region Playoffs, an achievement driven by determination, emotional “connection,” and a lot of heart! Read more about the Jacksonville RollerGirls and all that they do to promote roller derby in their community.
What city are you based in? Jacksonville, Florida
How does your season run?
The home team competitive season runs from February through November, and the all-star season runs from February until WFTDA Playoffs.
How many skaters/teams do you have?
There are approximately 60 active skaters between our four teams.
How is your league structured (home teams, travel team, management)?
At the beginning of each season, and midway through the season, tryouts are conducted to evaluate which team the girls will skate on. The all-star WFTDA Charter team is the New Jax City Rollers; the B travel team is the River City Rat Pack; and there are two home teams: Duval Derby Dames and First Coast Fatales.
Coaches and captains are elected at the beginning of each season. The all-star travel team has two coaches, and there are three coaches that cover duties for our B travel team and home teams.
The Board of Directors is made up of the President, Vice President, and Secretary; and there are also many committee heads (events, sponsorship, charity, bout set-up, etc.) that keep the league running smoothly.
We understand that your junior league, the Duval Roller Dolls, has just completed its first season. How did the Jacksonville Rollergirls decide to get involved in junior derby? What is the relationship between your junior league and your adult league?
Knowing that the juniors are the future of roller derby, we had discussed creating a junior league for many years. What finally allowed it to happen, though, was the interest from current skaters who had children that wanted to play. Those “Skater Moms” became the first junior league coaches, and have since then recruited more coaches from the adult league to assist them. Jacksonville skaters take on a mentor role to the junior skaters by making them their “little sisters” and attending their designated practices. Jacksonville's refs and NSOs are amazing and always show up to help at the junior practices and mentor the male junior league members that are learning to ref.
How has the Jacksonville community responded to the addition of a junior league? How has your fan base changed since the introduction of the Duval Roller Dolls?
The local newspaper was very interested in the junior league and covered their first bout in the weekend newspaper. The kids typically come to each game, and as a result Jacksonville Rollergirls have a much more family-friendly atmosphere.
Who are the Jacksonville RollerGirls’ biggest rival? And have you had any outstanding, memorable moments against them when you bouted?
Jacksonville has had a friendly rivalry with the Tallahassee Rollergirls for quite some time. Over the years it’s been great to watch them, and all of the Florida teams, gain more recognition. Bouts with Tally always draw a big crowd, and the fans love watching the passion from both teams during these bouts.
Do you have any sister leagues you’d like to give a shout out to?
Team Florida! Tampa Roller Derby and Tallahassee Rollergirls who were also at the South Central Region Playoffs!! Florida had a noticeably large cheering section.
What are the individual challenges of your city?
The size of Jacksonville, hands down. It is the largest city, land-wise, in the United States; so most of the girls travel quite a distance for practices. The size also makes it hard to reach out to the community. We have to spread our wings wide to reach the entire town. Another challenge is that Jacksonville is quite conservative in areas, so we constantly have to fight against negative stereotypes of roller derby.
What are your biggest training challenges?
Finding a space to call our own. Ample practice time is so crucial, so having a dedicated practice space could really propel Jacksonville forward. We are currently trying to find an affordable warehouse to have dedicated practice space.
What kind of training/bouting facilities do you have?
We split our practices between a roller rink with a wood floor and a sportsplex with a very slick sports court. Bouts alternate between the local university’s basketball arena, a skating rink, and a sportsplex.
How many days a week do you practice? How are your practices divided/organized among the league teams?
There are four practices per week: the all-star team has a closed practice once a week, one practice that all bout-ready skaters can attend, and there are two practices for all league skaters. The all-star skaters also get an additional practice with Jacksonville’s brother league, the Magic City Misfits, and all skaters are welcome to attend the two junior practices per week.
Who are the “behind the scenes” skaters who make your league run?
It takes a village, people. Our board of directors: particularly our league President, Anita Hardone, and the past Vice President, Deviant Behavior, and past Secretary, 12 Gauge have served the league for years and helped Jacksonville get where we are today. The Vice President-elect, Oh Em Gee, and the Secretary-elect, Kimbustible, plan on leading Jacksonville into the very bright future, and they are doing a phenomenal job. Also the refs, NSOs, WFTDA representatives, committee heads, and team captains are the people that keep us operating throughout the season. We are really very lucky to have such dedicated and hard working skaters and league members.
Who are some of your star on-track skaters and why?
This is a tough question to answer because so many of the girls are stars in their own way. However, there are a few skaters that have some sparkly attributes that people tend to talk about. Nuke (#19) is always an explosive player on the track, and she normally gets a lot of attention from her opponents before and after the bout. You can hear people yell loud and deep, “Nuuuukkkkee!” as she powers by. Meow Mix Yo Face Up (#9) was voted 2012 Fan Favorite with her expressive game play, and the fans always enjoy her track antics. Miley Virus (#20) was originally a transplant from Dallas and is well known for her years in competitive speed skating, which announcers always mention. Jacksonville also has some newer transfer skaters that stand out: Laya Landmine (#8), who was the 2012 Rookie of the Year, is known for her aggression on the track; and the most recent transfer skater Jamsterella (#111) who played on the USA World Cup team and clearly came out of the womb on skates. Crash Register, Buckie Rebel, Kat Von Skratchereyezout, and Deviant Behavior are all veteran skaters who have been a crucial and consistent part of the league as well.
Your 2012 season was packed with a lot of tournament play – from Franky Panky to Midwest Brewhaha to the Clover Cup to South Central Region Playoffs. Wow! How did your pre-Playoffs tournament play prepare you for Playoffs?
Clover Cup 2012 in Dallas was Jacksonville's first tournament. We trained hard, but were inexperienced in tournament play, and we returned to Florida with new goals and a better set of expectations. By the next tournament we were more prepared, both physically and mentally, for a grueling weekend of play, and we maintained that strength throughout the rest of the season.
What are the three most important things the Jacksonville RollerGirls do to prepare for a tournament?
1. Physical training, on and off skates. Everything from basic footwork exercises and strategy exercises to cardio workouts. 2. We spend a great deal of time learning to connect emotionally as a team and support each other, because trust is such an important part of teamwork. 3. We practice being prepared for literally ANYTHING on the track. One unexpected shift in strategy, or an unanticipated penalty can ruin a good streak, so it’s important to plan for those kinds of things.
Congratulations to your travel team, the New Jax City Rollers, for making it to the 2012 South Central Region Playoffs! As first time participants, what were some of the lessons you learned from the experience? How will you use those lessons in your 2013 season? Knowing is half the battle. The first time at playoffs is all about learning, and that can only benefit you. We will use our experience to make us better teammates, smarter players, and to improve as a team overall.
As a result of making it to South Central Region Playoffs in 2012, Jacksonville RollerGirls’ are a Division 1 team for 2013. Congratulations! What are some of the opportunities and challenges you look forward to in your 7th season?
We want to trust more in our individual skills, and pull together as a solid and steady team when the pressure is on. We’re striving to keep our composure and skate the way we have been trained to do.
What next big bout(s) are the Jacksonville RollerGirls looking forward to and why?
Jacksonville skates against the DC Rollergirls on February 9th at home. We have never skated against them, and after their tremendous showing at the East Region Playoffs we feel honored to skate against them. We also skate against one of our former powerhouse teammates, Sharon Beavers, with the Blue Ridge Rollergirls on March 9th. Last season our victory was by just two points, so this year will no-doubt be a great matchup.
We understand that the Jacksonville RollerGirls host an annual toy drive – “Naughty versus Nice” – to support the Christmas “Toys for Tots.” Please tell us more about this event. How many toys have you collected since you started?
Over the years we’ve collected hundreds and hundreds of toys. It is such a fun event and the fans love bringing a toy to get free admission. The Marine Corps Army Reserve comes out and collects the gifts during the bout. We play two bouts: a home team bout and an all-star bout. The home team skaters are split up and skate against each other, and then we take our all-star team and brother league, Magic City Misfits, and break them into two teams. For each bout there are two teams: Team Naughty versus Team Nice. We change our derby names to something festive like St. Nukalis, Flux Nevidad, Mrs. Claws, and Elf You. It’s fun, festive, and the skaters and fans alike love it.
What other community or charity-focused events do the Jacksonville RollerGirls participate in? How do you choose your community partners and/or events?
We’ve had long-standing relationships with some charities for some time. Other charities ask us to participate, and others events are created because one of our skaters has taken a particular interest in the charity. This past year we participated in events for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Susan G. Komen, Children’s Miracle Network, and attended multiple events at a local homeless shelter. We love meeting people in our community and supporting organizations that want to help those in need.
Do you have any big fundraisers coming up?
We have some smaller events like a rummage sale and Valentine’s Day fundraiser, and we are hosting a two-bout mash up tournament in Lake City, Florida on February 17th.
We love all of the personalized “thank you” messages to fans and sponsors on your league Facebook page! How did you decide to post thank yous in this way? What has the response been?
We batted around a few different ideas about how to thank people who donated to our travel fund, but Meow Mix actually came up with this simple idea. We wrote thank you messages and photographed us holding the signs, but then our skaters upped the ante and started getting super creative. Skaters took pictures of their kids, junior league skaters, and even pets with them thanking the people that donated to our travel team fund! You could tell that extra effort showed people how grateful we were for their support.
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