October 31, 2014
Music City will be derby central this month as the Nashville Rollergirls host the 2014 WFTDA Championships! Established in 2006, the league has steadily increased their profile on and off the track, from taking home 6th place in the D1 Playoffs in Evansville, Indiana and now hosting their first WFTDA tournament. Sit back and experience a little southern hospitality from your November featured league, the Nashville Rollergirls.
Where are you located? Nashville, TN
How does your season run?
We usually start practices in January, with preseason or “just for fun” games in February and early March. Our home season at a larger venue begins in March or April and runs through August, then it’s playoffs time. We continue a full practice schedule through divisional playoffs or championships, then have a reduced practice schedule for the off season with a break for the holidays. Every year we seem to start the travel season earlier and earlier - in 2015 we’re traveling in mid-January!
What are the closest WFTDA leagues to you?
Vette City Roller Derby is the closest, just 65 miles north in Bowling Green, KY. We have Memphis Roller Derby, Hard Knox Roller Girls, Little City Roller Girls, and Chattanooga Roller Girls all within a couple hours, and going outsBleeding Heartland Roller Derby, Dixie Derby Girls, Arch Rival Roller Girls, St. Chux Derby Chix, Demolition City Roller Derby and so many more within a 5-hour drive.
How many skaters/teams do you have?
Our league is home to 40-50 skaters at any given time, and we have two main teams - the Music City All Stars and the Music City Brawl Stars.
How is your league structured (home teams, travel team, management)?
Both the Music City All Stars and the Music City Brawl Stars travel and play at home under an A/B structure. We also book developmental C-level games for our newest skaters, although we don’t have enough skaters to add a formal C team at this time.
Who is your biggest rival? And have you had any outstanding, memorable moments when you've played them?
We have quite the history with the Atlanta Rollergirls with wins and losses on both sides of the fence. After winning against Atlanta in 2010, 2011 and 2012, they came after us with a vengeance and handed us our biggest sanctioned loss ever during our 2013 home season opener - ouch! We’re constantly challenged by and learning from Atlanta’s killer defense, and our recent scrimmages against them reflect the learning we’ve done with much closer scores. We have a feeling that Atlanta will always keep us on our toes.
Do you have any sister leagues you’d like to give a shout out to?
We were the mentor league for Vette City Roller Derby as they progressed through the WFTDA Apprentice Program, and we couldn’t be happier to see them thriving now as a full WFTDA member league. Our skaters often attend their practices and we scrimmage each other a few times a year. We also have a friendly relationship with Southern Illinois Roller Girls. So Ill is always ready to volunteer skaters for pickup games and they have a great attitude that makes them a lot of fun to skate with.
What are the individual challenges of your city?
Nashville is a busy town, and there’s always a dozen different events happening on any given game night. Each year we try to schedule our home games around Predators hockey, Titans football, Bonnaroo, CMA Music Fest week, the Country Music Marathon, Nashville’s huge 4th of July celebration and more, but we always end up overlapping with some big fun beer festival, color run or live music event.
What are your biggest training challenges?
Our practice space isn’t climate controlled, so the humid 100+ degree Nashville summers are definitely a challenge. This past spring, our All Stars played in two back-to-back tournament weekends bookended by home dates (with hangover bouts!), and it was difficult to maintain intensity with training when it was also important to taper, rest and recover at the same time.
What kind of training/bouting facilities do you have?
We rent a practice space that we affectionately refer to as the Blood & Thunderdome. We’re able to hold some closed bouts there, but our home season is primarily played at Nashville Municipal Auditorium, the 2014 Championship venue! We also schedule preseason games or special fundraisers at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds, our old bouting facility.
How many days a week do you practice? How are your practices divided/organized among your teams/skaters?
We practice four days a week, consisting of two shared league practices, one scrimmage night and one day with separate team practices. We do kettlebell strength training as a league before practice several times a week led by Electra Cal, who is a SFG Certified Kettlebell Instructor. All skaters also strength train outside of practice time, utilizing various barbell, kettlebell and body weight programs we’ve developed over the past few years.
Who are some “behind the scenes” skaters/members who really help your league run?
We are really fortunate to have a Level 4 referee, Major Wood, affiliated with our league. He is a wealth of information about rules and interpretation, and he’s been around forever so he has a lot of institutional knowledge as well! Whenever new rules are in the works, Major Wood spends halftime of scrimmage nights answering our many questions and helping us test things out. He is also a valuable training resource for the rest of our officiating crew, and we couldn’t do this roller derby thing without them. Much of our success over the last several years is a direct result of being able to pick Wood’s brain.
Who are some of your star skaters on the track, and why?
This past season we really focused on playing together as a unit, with emphasis on our pack work and building strong walls. As a result, for the first time in the history of the Nashville Rollergirls, we were able to play every single member of our charter in a sanctioned All Star game. At playoffs this year we heard a lot of comments about how our walls and pack work made the team blend together without any standout stars, and we take that as the highest compliment. Of course, any fan of Nashville will recognize names like Lady Fury, Maulin Monroe, Tear O’Bite and Electra Cal!
Do you have any big bouts coming up that you're really looking forward to? Why?
We’re still in the process of scheduling next season, but our first big bout is coming up soon. We’ll be traveling to play the Naptown Rollergirls in mid-January! We’ve played Naptown several times and have never come away with the win, but a lot of things have changed for both of our leagues since the last time we met in 2011. We’re definitely looking forward to a rematch.
How does your league give back to the community?
Connecting with our community is very important to us, so despite being a non-profit ourselves, we partner with a local non-profit to share the proceeds at each of our home games. This year we held the first of hopefully many Girl Scout Nights. We also schedule opportunities within the Nashville community to volunteer as a league each year.
We love that you embrace your Music City roots, like with your recent "Team Dollywood" versus "Team Graceland" bout at the Tennessee State Fair! How have exhibition events like this helped to attract new fans?
That bout was great because it was actually a part of the Tennessee State Fair, and tickets got fans into both! The state fair took care of most of our expenses, so we were able to sell very inexpensive tickets and draw in potential new fans who were just killing time between the ferris wheel and the hog races.
Each winter you host a "Scrimmage-a-thon" fundraiser, inviting co-ed skaters from the region to participate. How have you made this event a success and when can skaters plan to attend in 2015?
We’re fortunate to be within a few hours driving distance of dozens of roller derby leagues, and Nashville is a fun place to visit! During the day we provide fully-officiated scrimmages divided by skill level and coached by our All Stars, so skaters get more structure and personal attention than a typical show-up-with-your-black-and-whites scrimmage. To make the most of the venue rental, we always hold a preseason game the same night and invite some standout skaters from the scrimmage-a-thon to join us on the track. Our 2015 Scrimmage-a-thon is scheduled for February 1, 2015.
This year was filled with a lot of tournament successes for your travel teams, from your B-Team, the Brawl Stars, taking home the trophy at B Cup, to the All Stars going 3-0 at Southern Discomfort, and coming in at a strong #6 in the Evansville D1 Playoffs. How did your league train to prepare for such heavy tournament play?
For the past two years we have started the season by bringing in some amazing outside trainers to lead a full weekend on skates, which has really brought focus and intensity to our training right from the start of each season. We try to pick up hangover games whenever we travel, both to maximize travel funds and to gain multi-game experience. The Brawl Stars have competed at the B Cup for the past two years, so many of our skaters have gained valuable tournament experience before ever playing as an All Star. Strength training as a league keeps our endurance high and recovery time low, which comes in handy playing back to back games.
What can you tell us about your relationship with your junior league, the NashVillians?
The skaters and families of Nashville Junior Roller Derby are our heroes and we have a close working relationship with them. The NashVillains are coached by a longtime NRG skater and junior derby mom, Suzy Ho’Maker. Several of our skaters also have daughters that play on the team, and our skaters step in as guest trainers when NJRD needs help. It’s important to both of our leagues that we support the other - whether it’s the All Stars offering training for a junior derby boot camp, participating in joint promo events or the families of NJRD catering one of our afterparties. The NashVillains often make appearances during halftime of NRG games, and they’re always a crowd favorite! Several NJRD parents are incredibly dedicated officials, and we love seeing NashVillain faces on the sidelines on scrimmage nights.
Everyone knows Nashville is Music City, USA! What are some of the "must see" sights and sounds for derby fans attending Championships this month?
What, you mean there’s something to see other than the best roller derby in the world?! Some Music City staples to check out are the Ryman Auditorium, the Johnny Cash museum and Hatch Show Print. Or just take a quick walk down to Broadway to get your fill of honky tonks and country tunes on every street corner!
Do you have any big fundraisers coming up?
We’re always fundraising because we always have to pay rent on our practice facility! We’re planning our first 5k for next year and will repeat annual fundraisers like our scrimmage-a-thon, trivia nights and a super unique silent auction. Recently we were able to partner with the world-renowned Anderson Design Group to become part of their Spirit of Nashville poster collection, and we’re selling the first 100 prints online to recoup travel expenses from playoffs. We also worked with the historic Nashville letterpress print shop Hatch Show Print to create a special poster for 2014 Championships… Visit our merch table to check it out!
Who are some of your favorite sponsors?
We can’t pick just a few! Huge thanks to the sponsors that kept us rolling this year - Asphalt Beach Skate Shop, Bourbon Street Blues & Boogie Bar, Burns Insurance Group, Fleet Street Pub, GoPerformance and Fitness, Gym5, Hiller Plumbing, DJ Jane Dupree, Music City Hypnotherapy, Sweeney Chiropractic, Warrior Massage & Wellness and our superstar trainer, Sunil Rebeiro.
Do you have a special message for your fans?
We can’t thank our fans enough! Your support means so much to us and we truly mean it when we say we couldn’t do this without you. Special shoutout to our fans and friends Peyton and Erica. In addition to being season ticketholders, they go above and beyond to help us out by volunteering at every single opportunity. Whose house? OUR HOUSE!
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Real. Strong. Athletic. Revolutionary.