January 2012 Featured League: Sioux Falls Roller Dollz

January 3, 2012

The Sioux Falls Roller Dollz have a penchant for travel and bacon. In addition to their commitments to roller derby, travel, and bacon, the Roller Dollz are dedicated to giving back. They have donated almost $42,000 to local charities since 2006! The Roller Dollz are also dedicated to the growth of roller derby around the world, and traveled to the UK to play roller derby in November. Read on to learn more about these overseas travelers and bacon lovers…

Photo by All Around Sioux Falls

Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Please tell us about your "Betty logo" and who designed it?
Jon Eldeen designed our logo. He has been our screen printer and sponsor from the beginning. Jon donated our first ever batch of t-shirts, and the proceeds were used for our business start-up costs.

How does your season run?
FOREVER. LOL! We used to run October through May because of the Midwestern summers being so precious. However, we are switching our season up to coincide with the WFTDA playoffs. So in 2012, we will run from February through November. In making the switch, we added Season 5.5 after Season 5, to bring us through the summer to November, and we just finally hit our first break in over a year.

Are you close to any other WFTDA leagues?
Minnesota RollerGirls, North Star Roller Girls, Omaha Rollergirls, No Coast Derby Girls and Apprentice Program leagues, Fargo Moorehead Derby Girls and Sioux City Roller Dames, are close to graduating to full member status.

How many skaters/teams do you have?
At the beginning of the season or the end? Ha ha! On average our membership is around 30 but has fluctuated to over 60. We have two teams, the Doll Starz (travel team) and our Killa Beez (our B team).

How is your league structured (home teams, travel team, management)?
When we started our league we had two home teams, but have switched over to an A/B format. We have 11 board members who are voted in by the league and manage the league’s business. Our teams are coached by our own skaters who are on the coaching committee.

In addition to SFRD’s competitive league, we understand that you are planning a junior roller derby boot camp this year. Can you tell us about this project and when it will take place?
We have a lot of young fans that want nothing more than to strap on skates and be roller dollz, so we decided that this year we would look at doing a summer boot camp to teach young skaters the basics of roller derby. Nothing is set in stone yet, but we will probably run the camp in June or July when we can use the outdoor skate park our city built as it’s a great outdoor location.

How many days a week do you practice?
We practice on Wednesdays and Sundays for 2.5 hours. We also have a weekly off skates workout available with local MMA fighter Shayna Baszler. Shayna – the Queen of Spades – is a huge fan of the Roller Dollz, and we are a huge fan of her accomplishments as well. As we both represent Sioux Falls as athletic women, Shayna was keen to help us succeed by leading off skates workouts for us once a week. She leads us through plyometric exercises designed to help us explode on the track, and you can tell who goes to her workouts religiously and who doesn’t. It definitely gives you a step up.

The Doll Starz v London Brawling
Photo by Steve Newton

Do you have any sister leagues you’d like to give a shout out to?
The Sioux City Roller Dames hold a special place in our hearts and we can’t wait for them to be a full WFTDA member league! Also, the Minnesota RollerGirls were very instrumental in our start up and we appreciate all the lessons we have learned from them, as well as from the North Star Roller Girls.

What are the individual challenges of your city?
Our biggest challenge is our venue, but that should improve in 2013 when the Sky Force move to their own facility, which will open up more available dates at the Sioux Falls Arena. It is frustrating when we have the fan base and teams who want to come and play, but cannot find a place to host bouts.

What are your biggest training challenges?
Our second biggest challenge is our sparsely populated area, which makes recruitment a lot more difficult. Where some leagues are having tryouts for just a few spots, we are taking anyone who is willing to try. This tends to put a strain on the coaching committee and can get frustrating and slow the strategy side of things just bridging the gap from rookie to vet in our small league. We would love to have a head coach and continue looking for one.

What kind of training/bouting facilities do you have?
We practice at the Sioux Empire Fair Grounds, which works out pretty well for us. Currently we cannot book any dates at the Sioux Falls Arena due to contracts with the other sporting teams in our area. However, the Sky Force, our local NBA development league just announced that they’re moving to their own facility next year so more dates should be opening up in 2013.

We found another great place to bout, our city's old coliseum, the Multi-Cultural Center. However, due to some pillars, it is 11” short of being a sanctionable track. It is a very affordable and intimate space, so we will continue playing our Killa Beez and unsanctioned bouts there. We dream of moving those pillars but we keep being told something about “the historical value,” blah, blah, blah.

We’ve heard that SFRD is holding recruiting events during your season break this year. Can you tell us a bit about these events and what a person should do if they’d like to be involved with your league?
We have a boot camp starting up in January for anyone interested, they can start coming to practices and learning the basics. This will culminate in an all day boot camp on January 28th, which will be a day full of derby goodness for new recruits and get them fully prepared for regular practices, which will resume February 1st. Anyone who wants to be involved should check out www.rollerdollz.com or e-mail us at: info@rollerdollz.com.

The Doll Starz v Central City Rollergirls
Photo by China Blade

We understand that SFRD functions as a non-profit organization run by volunteers. What are some of your favorite charities and how much have you been able to donate back to your local community?
We have countless charities we have worked with in the past and have donated more than $41,250 since 2006. The nearest and dearest to our heart is Camp Bring it On, which is a camp for children with cancer. These kids are the toughest ever made. We started by just giving a check the first year, and then we volunteered one night at the camp, doing demonstrations for the kids. And now we spend an entire day with the campers and get to know them just by hanging out and doing activities with them like fishing, painting, and playing drums. It is the most rewarding part of being a Roller Doll, and we end up learning a lot from these rad kids. We also enjoy serving at The Banquet, a local soup kitchen, and the only reason you’ll find a Roller Doll awake and smiling at 5a.m.

Who are the "behind the scenes" skaters who make your league run?
Paralyzer helps with our rookies and gets their skills up to par. All of our board members work countless hours behind the scenes and we definitely don’t want to leave anyone out, as it does take the whole league to make things work. From Frenchi Fistfighter handling our merchandise, to Sandra D’Vious handling our safety concerns, and Marty Pants making sure our tracks are laid out properly (while also overseeing our finances) – we’ve got a huge variety of talent on and off the track who work together to make this league a reality. We don’t have space here to list everyone, but you all are very important to this league!!

Who are some of your star on-track skaters and why?
Julia Wild is an awesome all-around contributor to our league. Not only does she excel on the track as an amazing jammer, but she also heads up the coaching committee, does almost all of our artwork for our league, and mentors our rookies like no other.

SFRD has had some bouts aired on the Midco Sports Network. Please describe SFRD’s relationship with the network, and how you were able to develop this relationship.
There were two interns working for Midco Sports Network who wanted to broadcast our events. Our marketing guru, announcer, and board member Destructive D-Lite has worked within our local media for years and hooked up the relationship with her connections. It is interesting that Midco Sports Network reported that the bouts of ours that they aired were one of the highest watched sporting programs they have ever run.

For SFRD, what are the benefits and challenges of being in the WFTDA's North Central Region?
The challenge is that we are way on the west end of the region, and we have a long distance to travel to play opponents close to us in the rankings.

Sioux Falls Doll Starz in London

The Sioux Falls Roller Dollz Doll Starz just took a trip overseas in November to play three bouts in the United Kingdom. Can you tell us how this trip came about? Who did you play while you were there?
On November 9th to the 14th we traveled to London, England to bout against 3 British teams. At the WFTDA annual meeting this past year, our league WFTDA representatives and our ref representative had the pleasure of meeting Metallikat, a member of the London Rollergirls. Over lunch we discussed what at the time seemed like a pie in the sky kind of plan for the Sioux Falls Roller Dollz to travel to the UK to play roller derby. The thought was that we would not only play the London Rollergirls, but at least 2 other bouts against Apprentice Program leagues, which would help those leagues meet their requirements to be able to graduate to full WFTDA membership. The trip was fantastic, and we got to take home 2 wins and a tremendously educational loss. Our results were:
• Linconshire Bombers Rollergirls (AP), November 11th, SFRD 313 - LBRG 28
• London Rollergirls, November 12th, LRG 307 - SFRD 19
• Central City Rollergirls (AP), November 13th, SFRD 190 - CCR 62

Sioux Falls, South Dakota is quite a rural city, and we hear that traveling to in region bouts can take over 10 hours one way. How does your league handle this expense and the logistics of getting your skaters to away events? Do you think this helped you when planning your trip overseas?
Our league covers transportation and housing for away bouts, which helps make travel affordable for our skaters. Being in a small league has its perks. We use a portion of our bout revenue as well as our fundraising to cover our travel expenses. Often times we even charter a bus for long derby weekends where we may play 3 or 4 bouts in just 2 days. Knowing that we could afford to pay more than $5k for a charter bus for a weekend, we felt an overseas trip would be feasible and we knew our skaters would work hard to raise the necessary funds.

What was the most exciting thing about SFRD’s trip to the UK?
Most of our skaters had to get passports for this trip. With that said, just the opportunity to jump across the Atlantic and play international roller derby is a huge honor and one we will never forget.

Sioux Falls Doll Starz in London

Can you tell us about the “Snapshot of London” Party that will be happening in January?
All of our sponsors are invited to come to a celebration of our UK trip and an end to our 5.5 season. We will recap our trip and give out skater awards during this evening of fun.

Who are some of your favorite sponsors?
PBR, obviously. Also the Red Eye Bar, home of the two-fers, and really the Walmart of Bars if you are into people watching. The dance party is always a blast and includes a limbo contest as well as a bar to dance on.

Dr. “J” is a lifesaver, she is our team physician (Dr. Judith Peterson – SoDak Rehab). We also have an official chiropractic office: Health Source Chiropractic & Progressive Rehab, and Paul McSweeny from Emerald City Massage even travels with our team at times and makes those hangover bouts manageable.

From what we understand, your league hosts “Baconfest” each year as a fundraiser. Can you tell us a bit about this event and how it works? Who have been some of your past winners and what were their entries?
We do an annual Baconfest competition, which is a huge event and grows every year. Basically, contestants enter a recipe featuring bacon and provide tasting samples that we sell tickets for. Many league members enter as well as some of our fans. We get a panel of local "celebrities" and bacon lovers to judge the competition, and there is also the coveted People's Choice Award that is voted on by all in attendance. It's a decidedly delicious event that helps us raise those precious travel dollars. Destructive D-Lite won two years ago with her Hot Bacon Dressing and Julia Wild won last year with her Bacon Ice Cream. Runners up were Bacon Euphoria (chocolate dipped bacon) and Cream of Bacon Soup by Dick Richie. As soon as the event is done, our skaters are already planning their dish for the upcoming year. It is so much fun!

Do you have a special message to your fans?
We love our fans! They are the best in all the land.

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Real. Strong. Athletic. Revolutionary.