February 2010 Featured League: Texas Rollergirls

February 1, 2010

Formed in 2003 as the only sports league of its kind, Texas Rollergirls Rock-n-Rollerderby® is the league who started today's modern Flat Track Roller Derby movement. There are now more than 300 Flat Track Roller Derby leagues worldwide, with more forming all the time. The Texas Rollergirls, from the proud city of Austin, is made up of of four home teams supported by a loyal, enthusiastic fan base: Hell Marys, Hotrod Honeys, Honky Tonk Heartbreakers, and Hustlers. Their travel team, the Texecutioners, is comprised of all-star members from each of the four home teams. In 2006, the Texecutioners were crowned Champions of the first Women's Flat Track Derby National Tournament. Take a minute to learn a little more about this groundbreaking league that helped shape the sport of roller derby as we know it.

Photo by Bill Smotrilla

Austin, Texas - The birthplace of Women's Flat Track Roller Derby

How does your season run?
Generally we play home games late February to early September, then focus our attention on WFTDA Regionals and Nationals and training a new crop of Texas Rollergirls; there is little off season for these skaters.

Are you close to any other WFTDA leagues?
Texas is BIG (that's just how we roll), so there are lots of leagues to watch and play and we are good friends with so many of them - Houston Roller Derby, Dallas Derby Devils, Assassination City Roller Derby, Alamo City Rollergirls and the West Texas Roller Dollz are all the WFTDA leagues just in Texas alone.

How many skaters/teams do you have?
We have four home teams with about 15 players each; the Hotrod Honeys, the Hustlers, the Honky Tonk Heartbreakers, and the Hell Marys. The best of the best from the home teams combine to make Decepticon, I mean, The Texecutioners. But that is not where our derby love stops, we also have a recreational league packed with 40-60 skaters, and a Junior Derby league for girls aged 8-17.

How often do you practice?
Per week, we have two league practices, two team practices and two speed practices. Some girls do two-a-days and/or get an extra workout (riding their bike to and from practice, power lifting, punching orphans, etc.).

Who is Texas' biggest rival? And have you had any outstanding, memorable moments against them when you bouted?
Being "the league that started it all" means that we've met many adversarial opponents; however, some of our most memorable rivalries are with Gotham Girls Roller Derby who laid an unexpected smack down to the 2008 Texecutioners at the East Coast Extravaganza. Most recently we've rivaled with the Oly Rollers, who are comprised of many skaters that the old school Texecutioners played in 2006 & 2007 tournaments against the Rat City Rollergirls. Nonetheless, Texas is like the Lakers, everybody loves them but everybody wants to beat them.

Do you have any sister leagues you’d like to give a shout out to?
Too many to yell at, but significant ones are Tucson Roller Derby, who Texas went head to head against many times in the first years, and Mad Rollin' Dolls, who took our adorable Vicious Van GoGo but gave us the multi-talented Crackerjack and the lovely Vanna Whitetrash.

What are some of the individual challenges of your city?
Austin is the "live music capital of the world," or so they say. Because of this, there is ALWAYS something going on in this town. It can be hard to get a large turn out because there are a million things going on the same night that we have a bout. That is one reason why we have stuck to Sunday night bouts.

Who are some of your favorite sponsors?
All of our sponsors! We are lucky to have several sponsors who have supported us since the very beginning and we couldn't have done it without them!

Photo by Jules Doyle

What are your biggest training challenges?
It seems like we never have enough time in the rink so we have to be creative with our skating, workouts and team-building to make the most of th time we have together on and off skates. Also sharing the space and time with four home teams, an all-star team, and brand-new rookies can make it like playing Tetris to fit everyone in there!

Who are the best "behind the scenes" skaters who make your league run?
EVERYONE! It is hard to give all the credit to our managers because without the help of everyone in the league, we couldn't make this happen. We would like to give a shout out to all the ladies that started this flat track derby revolution because without them we wouldn't be here today.

Who are some of your stars on the track, and why?
Our new Texecutioner Captains: Olivia Shootin John - MVP of the WFTDA South Central Regional tournament; and Angie Christ - known for frustrating DeRanged (from Rocky Mountain Rollergirls) at the Nationals Semifinal bout and the punch heard 'round the world. And the oldest skaters in Women's Flat Track Derby: Lucille Brawl and Bloody Mary, if they take the dentures out and put mouthguards in - we let 'em skate in circles with the grandkids.

What kind of training/bouting facilities do you have?
We have a skating rink that is about 20,000 sq. ft. where we have league practice twice a week and where we host pretty much all of our bouts (we've skated here since we started!). We also train on outdoor basketball courts, parking lots, and occasionally at another local rink.

Texas is generally credited with the "birth of the modern flat track derby movement." How did it start?
Well we all wanted to be in a band, but we were tone deaf. So we decided to start a roller derby league instead. Then we realized we didn't know how to skate, but by then we already had uniforms, teams, skater names and fliers printed out - so we just had to follow through with it.


A bunch of strong, independent women showed up at a bar one day after a flyer was posted about starting a roller derby league and the rest is history. Hell on Wheels is a great documentary that tells the story of the rebirth of derby in Austin, TX. Check it out!

Tell us a few memorable stories about those early years.
Well we had some crazy rules in the beginning: we had one rule-set that allowed negative points, and one rule-set that didn't allow blockers to re-engage once they had been passed, and one rule-set that required like 14 officials! Oh wait...

Tell us about the first-ever interleague game.
The first ever interleague games was held in Arizona in November 2004 against Arizona Roller Derby and Tucson Roller Derby. Texas played Phoenix on Friday night and Tucson on Saturday night. We didn't have a travel team yet and couldn't fathom selecting an all-star team so we divided the league into red and blue and who ever could travel got to play one of the games. Those who didn't travel had first dibs on playing later when Phoenix and Tucson came to play us. We played by their rules on their turf and our rules on ours. One of our favorite rule differences was when Phoenix checked our nails to make sure they weren't too long but didn't require mouthguards. It was amazing to play in another state, pretty damn momentous!

What values define Texas Rollergirls? What's the "personality" of your league?
Fun-loving! We're athletically driven, but winning isn't the end-all be-all of our games -- the afterparty is the end-all be-all!

How is your league structured (home teams, travel team, management)?
We have four home teams and a travel team (our home teams travel too!). On the business side, our leadership consists of an Advisory Board and five chief officers who oversee committees which fall under our five verticals: Communications, Production, Operations, Revenue and Administration. Our five chief officers: Radioactive, Rita Menweep, Acute Angel, Dilla, and Sin O'Bite. Our Advisory Board: Tinkerhell, Electra Blu, Sic Shooter.

If Texas Rollergirls had a genie in a bottle, and that genie could instantly change ONE THING about the WFTDA, what would it be?
Take the W off the front. Our female leagues make up the premier flat track derby association. If men wanted their own association they should have to qualify it for men, since modern derby is assumed to be female.

Some of your skaters have been around for almost a decade now. What is the secret to league (business) longevity and sustainability? What is the secret to skating for ten years?
We've changed our structure a bunch of times - trying to remain ahead of the curve and know what is going on with our skaters, our league, our city, and nationally and not stagnate. We've also found margaritas can be used to ice a knee after practice. That's right kids, have a margarita after every practice and you too will skate for ten years and still be able to bend your knees all the way!

Some would say Texas is its own little nation, outside the union of the 50 US States. Is there anything uniquely "Texan" in the Texas Rollergirls values, challenges, or culture?
We're kinda cantankerous and cocky, do all y'all out there see that as part of Texas culture?

Those Texecutioners are a silly bunch. What's with all the YouTube videos, after party costumes, etc? Sometimes it seems like the "Texies" have their own language...
We've found that being on the travel team is a lot of work. Who knew? But if the team is bonded and having fun then it's not so painful to spend 10+ hours a week practicing together.

Do you have a special message for your fans?
Texas Texas Kill Kill Kill!

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Real. Strong. Athletic. Revolutionary.