August 4, 2011
The Jet City Rollergirls have experienced a “roller coaster” season in 2011, and have worked hard to remain consistently competitive in one of the U.S.’s most derby-heavy regions, the Pacific Northwest. Not only do they bring their athletic ability to the track, but their “Community Cares” committee also brings their philanthropic ability to their local community. Learn more about Everett, Washington’s Jet City Rollergirls here…
How does your season run?
Our last season began in February and went through May. It was all intraleague play between our four home teams; culminating in a championship bout and a grudge match. However, we are switching back to a format that brings in a visiting team each bout, which allows each home team to have a “bye.” We still end the season with a championship bout and a grudge match. We find this structure is more interesting for the skaters and the fans. It also raises the level of play within our league because we get more exposure to other leagues’ skills and strategies. Throughout the season, our travel teams will also be playing.
Are you close to any other WFTDA leagues?
Within about an hour’s drive/boat ride we’ve got Bellingham Roller Betties, Dockyard Derby Dames, Rat City Rollergirls, Oly Rollers, and Slaughter County Roller Vixens.
We also have two travel teams: the Bombers, our A team, and the B52s, our B team.
How is your league structured (home teams, travel team, management)?
We have four home teams, two travel teams (an A team and a B team), and a training/fresh meat team, the Jet Cadets. We have a board of directors that is comprised of two representatives from each home team. Officers are elected to the board: president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, and ex officio. We also have multiple committees that help the league operate. External affairs committee handles all outward-facing aspects of the league (promotional appearances, marketing, branding, general league advertising, sponsorship, etc). Bout production committee handles all aspects related to organizing our bouts. Those are definitely the largest committees and take the most woman power. We also have a skater relations committee where skaters can take any grievances for moderation if there are any issues. A new skater committee administers our new skater training programs, which include a drop-in basic skills training as well as the fresh meat team. We also have multiple sub-committees that ensure the success of the league including: community cares, medical/insurance, rules and games, finance, HR, interleague, and hospitality. We’ve recently started an athletic development and coaching committee. In addition, we continue to explore ways to expand the league's visibility in the community and improve the function of the league by developing focus groups around youth outreach, travel team efficiencies, etc.
Your league is set up as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. What are the benefits and challenges of this status for Jet City as a league?
There are multiple benefits to being a nonprofit: Our 501(c)(3) status ensures that donations to our league are tax-deductible and some volunteers' time can be sponsored (paid) by their employers. Also being a nonprofit gives the league a lot of ownership and personal investment. All the skaters are members. Skaters vote for team reps and officers; some policies also go to the league for a vote. We work on creating and implementing our strategic plan together. We also submit quarterly financials to the league and post-bout revenue/expense reports. Finances are often the “elephant in the room” – leagues and other sporting teams get frustrated and suspicious when they don’t know where the money they raise is going or how it’s being spent. That is not an issue with Jet City. Our board minutes are sent out monthly. The league knows how we are doing financially and a budget is prepared annually. It creates a lot of transparency and trust.
However, being a nonprofit has its issues – the application process is rather rigorous and just because donations are tax-deductible doesn’t mean they come pouring in. The year the economy tanked, 2008, was a hard year to become a nonprofit.
The Jet City Rollergirls had their first official season in 2008 and became a full WFTDA member league in 2009. Can you please talk about how you were able to move toward WFTDA membership so quickly? Specifically, how were you able to organize for WFTDA membership from the start of the league, and were there specific skaters who helped to make this possible?
Our success had to do with an amazing board of directors, whose strong leadership helped us transition from an LLC to a nonprofit and become a WFTDA member all at the same time (board members at the time were: Molly Python, Arson Annie, Weed WackHer, Ivana Hercha, Connie Torturous, Vibe Raider, Angelica Della Morte, and Flirtation Device). In 2007 during our “exposition season,” a group of skaters went to RollerCon and attended an “All about WFTDA” roundtable where the WFTDA representative said that new leagues should take the time to become financially solvent and have at least one official season under their belts before applying to become WFTDA. So we took that message to heart. The rest of 2007 and 2008 were spent putting together a strong opening season as well as preparing the organization on many other levels. Molly Python was instrumental in gathering information and basically spearheading our efforts to join WFTDA. So while we were reorganizing to become a nonprofit, we also incorporated many of the changes we needed to make us WFTDA-ready. We had incredible buy-in and participation from everyone. It became a league-wide goal to become WFTDA. By the time we applied for membership, we had spent two years getting our ducks in a row. We were also able to fast track from Class B to Class A membership status in the minimum amount of time due to our diligence during that “probationary” period.
How many days a week do you practice?
Two times a week is average for the home team skater: one home team practice and one league practice, with a solo at least once a month. The home team practices are shared between two teams that split a two-hour time block. One team gets the inside (derby) track for an hour while the other team is on the outside doing more endurance type drills. Then we swap.
Our A travel team, the Bombers, practice once a week, and are always welcomed to our B52s’ practices, also once a week, on a separate night.
Who is the Jet City Rollergirls’ biggest rival? And have you had any outstanding, memorable moments against them when you bouted?
Sacred City Derby Girls! They were the first team the Bombers ever played in 2007, when our travel team had just formed. We’ve both learned a lot from each other over the years. It’s a great rivalry – we are currently 2-1 against Sacred…in their favor. Hopefully we will get the opportunity to play them again at the West Region Playoffs. We had a great game against them at last year’s tournament.
Do you have any sister leagues you’d like to give a shout out to?
Holla Rat City!!! They are a great bunch of gals! We scrimmage each other whenever we get a chance and we really appreciate them for that. We really have a lot of love and admiration for all the leagues in our area.
What are the individual challenges of your city?
Our region! We are lucky to have so many awesome leagues and skaters in the region – including five + WFTDA leagues, a banked track league, and some independent teams that just skate on occasion. This makes for well-educated fans and a large and supportive roller derby community. However, it also makes it hard as we are all competing for fans' time, money and attention – as well as recruiting and retaining skaters. It’s a double-edged sword: exciting and challenging.
Who are some of your favorite sponsors?
Everett Physical Therapy and Sports Performance Center, Everett Skate Deck, Dr. Lee from Edmonds Orthopedic Center, Sock Monster, Sporty's Beef and Brew (have hosted viewing parties on the big screen when the Bombers play away), Nikaski Brewery (yum!)
What are your biggest training challenges?
Time and our overall plan. Our league has a reputation for being a very family friendly league – so we attract a lot of skaters with families and it’s hard to ask people for an extra day or extra couple of hours when we already have so much on our plates. Also, our current league structure does not incorporate an “off season” which makes it hard to allow for injury recovery and a period of intense focus on cross training. Our training program is a work in progress. Our travel team training program includes Coach Kim’s Total Female Hockey training program and recently our sponsorship with Everett Physical Therapy has allowed us an opportunity to participate in derby-focused workouts created by a trainer who works closely with the Everett Silvertips (our local hockey team).
Who are the best "behind the scenes" skaters who make your league run?
There are so many! Maliboozer Barbie and Kim Ann Chee run our bout production committee, which takes a lot of work. Deadline and Dingo 8 My Baby run external affairs and are always looking out for new and exciting ways to promote the league. Our board of directors works hard to keep us on track with our strategic plans. Hangin’ Chad is our awesome head ref who ensures we are always training and maintaining a strong ref crew. Mama Said and Marge Says are long time community volunteers who run our bout days. And then there are great veterans like Ivana Hercha and Connie Torturous who have been around since the beginning and are all around go-to people for all kinds of issues.
Who are some of your star on-track skaters and why?
Precious N Metal is an intensely competitive skater who pushes herself and everyone – hard. She is an amazing jammer and formidable blocker. An announcer made a joke at the 2010 West Region Playoffs that everytime Trixxxie’s Trashin’ Em hits someone, “she’s killin’ babies”. She also works very hard and is very involved with her daughters’ junior derby. Snack Size is an up and coming skater who has had a pretty fantastic season. Marilyn Gun-Hoe is as comfortable on her skates as a fish is in water and is an incredible offensive blocker. There are many other skaters who shine on this league – we just don’t have enough room to list them all.
What kind of training/bouting facilities do you have?
We practice at an awesome old-school roller rink, complete with wood floors and kitchy décor. But it’s also a clean and well-maintained facility. We’re very lucky to have such a great relationship with the Everett Skate Deck! Everett Physical Therapy and Sports Performance Center offers derby-specific training for our skaters once a week. And then of course we have tons of trails, mountains, and bodies of water to provide a plethora of outdoor training opportunities.
We would love to know more about your league’s “Community Cares” committee. Can you please tell us about what this committee does, and what kind of impact JCR has had in your community?
Our community cares committee reaches out into the community and finds opportunities where Jet City Rollergirls, as a league, can make a difference in our community. We have multiple opportunities year round to do this: Every year, a local organization is chosen to be our "Charity of the Bout" for each home game. These organizations are given a table to distribute information, an ad in our bout program, frequent "plugs" from our announcers and the proceeds of a 50/50 raffle held during the bout. We participate all year long in the city of Everett's "Adopt A Street" program. We also hold an annual Santa Skate during which we collect gift cards for victims of domestic violence and canned food for a local food bank. We have also supported the MS Walk and volunteered for local charity auctions. We regularly donate tickets and merch to organizations.
For the past four years JCR has held a successful annual Skate-A-Thon fundraiser. Can you explain the origins of this fundraiser, and how it works?
This idea was brought back from RollerCon – however it’s the preferred fundraiser because that is how roller derby truly started! Dance-a-thons, skate-a-thons, and other “a-thons” were great ways to win money during the Great Depression. So people would skate for hours on end until they dropped from exhaustion. Once in a while, a skater would bump out another skater (intentionally or not) and that got a great response from the crowd…and that is how roller derby was born! We do the skate-a-thon every year and have raised between $4,000 to $7,000.
We hear that during the month of August your league will host open houses during practices. What is a Jet City Rollergirls' "open house," and why have you decided to host them?
Open houses are held on scrimmage nights and give the community an opportunity to get to know us and find out what we’re all about. We welcome all of our visitors, introduce ourselves, warm up with a few drills and then scrimmage – either as home teams or in black and white. There are other skaters and volunteers around to answer questions. You can sign up for our basic skater training program or our more advanced Jet Cadet program. You can also learn how to become involved as a ref, NSO, volunteer or sponsor. Open houses make us more accessible to our community and they’re very successful.
In 2007, your league was featured in “Jet City Rollergirls,” a short documentary film. Looking back at this film now, how much has stayed the same? As you’ve grown and become more competitive, what has changed?
OMG – that’s a blast from the past! We’re still skating at the Skate Deck and Big Poppa is still our league coach! We do still strongly believe in training skaters. We are very proud of our new skater program and the skaters who graduate from our Jet Cadets program and get placed on teams are better skaters than groups we’ve trained in the past.
JCR has consistently been ranked 7th in the WFTDA West Region since Q2 2010. What does it take to maintain a position in the top 10 of the WFTDA West?
It takes a lot of work! It takes having a strong league behind you as you travel across the county and bout other teams. It takes skaters who are competitive but who also have heart! It also takes our sister leagues like Rat City, Rose City Rollers, and Oly scrimmaging with us. However, we’ll be honest – 2011 has been a very challenging year for us. We came out of last year’s West Region Playoffs with 1,000 ideas about how we were going to try to move up a spot or two (dream big!). We’ve been plagued with injuries – especially among veterans – and struggled with a tough travel team schedule. We will have played 15 sanctioned bouts by the time we go to West Region Playoffs this year! Each time we play, we have a different roster. However, we hit rock bottom after our Nashville Roller Girls/Cincinnati Rollergirls tour and came back with a renewed fire. The awesome thing about Jet City is we’re always learning and we’re always willing to learn. This year has been tough but it gave our newer travel team skaters an opportunity to step it up. The team you see at West Region Playoffs will not be a team you’ve seen all season. Expect to be surprised!
What are the benefits and challenges of being in the Pacific Northwest; a notoriously competitive area for women's flat track roller derby?
Wow! We wouldn’t want to be anywhere besides the Pacific Northwest! The bar is set very high with two of the last four WFTDA Champions coming from the West Region. It is incredibly challenging but it’s also a very fertile place to grow as a league. We are lucky to have so many awesome leagues and skaters in the area. The other benefit, besides making the region competitive, is that it contributes to well-educated fans and a large and very supportive roller derby community. But again, this last benefit is also a challenge for us in this region as we are competing for fans, time, money and attention - as well as recruiting and retaining skaters.
Do you have any predictions for this year’s WFTDA West Region Playoff Tournament, the Bridgetown Brawl?
West Region Playoffs are always exciting! This year will be even tougher than last year!
Is there any other information that you would like to share with wftda.com? Jet City Roller Girls is continually growing and developing as a league. With challenges come great learnings, and as a league we will strive for excellence and be a competitive force to be reckoned with for years to come!
Do you have a special message to your fans?
We love our fans – thank you for all of the love and support! We’re looking forward to our 5th anniversary next year and invite you all to celebrate with us!
Would your league like to be the WFTDA Featured League of the month? Have you had an extraordinarily successful season that you'd like to share with the wftda.com fans? If you are a full WFTDA member league and have the authorization to speak on behalf of your league, we'd love to hear from you! Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Real. Strong. Athletic. Revolutionary.