The Women's Flat Track Derby Association, or WFTDA, announced on July 3, 2014, its latest list of new WFTDA member leagues. This announcement, like so many in the last few years, represents a growing trend in roller derby worldwide: a move toward professional sportswomanship in roller derby. What began in Texas in the late 1990s has much developed and changed. Today roller derby spans the globe with teams in exotic locales like Dubai and New Zealand. While there is no unifying treatise making roller derby happen (besides the growing tide of women empowering themselves through teamwork and athleticism), there is the WFTDA.
It is believed that 90% of derby leagues in the world use WFTDA rules when playing derby, but only 259 of the 1,250 leagues are a part of WFTDA. Why not all leagues? It's not because WFTDA doesn't want more member leagues, because WFTDA is always working hard to bring more teams into the fold--the fold being international play at the highest level. It's because WFTDA has a performance standard that must be met that all not leagues can or desire to meet right away.
Shasta Roller Derby, formed in 2010, set out to be a world class roller derby league with three major goals in mind:
- To be a 501(c)3 non-profit organization
- To have a team bus for travel to away bouts, and
- To compete on an international scale as a member of the WFTDA.
As of WFTDA’s announcement on July 3, Shasta has finally met their inaugural team goals and become a full WFTDA league. It was a long and arduous application process, including a year-long apprenticeship. Now that Shasta is a WFTDA member the work doesn’t stop here. There are very specific requirements for maintaining WFTDA status, including running the league with democratic processes and regularly competing for rankings in WFTDA-sanctioned bouts throughout the season.
Regardless of the added workload, being a WFTDA member gives a little mountain league access to a whole new world of roller derby. For one thing, Shasta will be competing for rankings against some of the best teams in the world. In the beginning they won’t always win but the exposure to game play from those who do will be invaluable. According to team spokeswoman Vonda Kut-A-Vitch, “We hope to be able to play amongst the higher ranked teams and make a name for our league and area.” This move to a higher level of play will also benefit the fans, as they will be exposed to a higher caliber of derby, meaning more exciting and athletic home games and also the satisfaction of knowing that their home team could one day be ranked among the best.
Yes, being a WFTDA league comes with more responsibility. To even be considered for apprenticeship a league must have at least 14 boutable skaters and a venue for hosting home bouts. While that may not seem like a lot, any start-up league will tell you that it takes a while to build a solid foundation. Shasta, now four years old, is proud to be able to join the global tide of women's roller derby by skating in the WFTDA.