The big local roller derby bust up

By Jessica Pasko

Thumbnail image for rollery_derby_practice.jpgSo what's the deal with the local roller derby split? Why did the Hellions of Troy break from the Albany All-Stars?

Derby lady The Beirut Bombshell tells AOA the new team came together after certain ideological differences couldn't be worked out. She says she and some members of the All-Stars weren't happy with the way the teams were run and wanted to take a more democratic approach, and focus more on the athleticism than the entertaining antics.

The entertainment element seems to have played a big part in all this. Here's what Dottie Damage, captain of the All-Stars, told the TU: "The Albany All Stars have always thought of roller derby as equal parts entertainment and athleticism. We don't want to lose that showiness. We have silly names, we dress up funny -- that all goes into it."

So now there are two teams. The Hellions will be following the rules and regulations established by the Women's Flat Track Derby Association, and won't be as into the brawling or theatrics as some teams are, according to Bombshell. They also hope to plan more bouts, more practices and develop stronger relationships with other roller derby leagues.

The two 518 leagues will be alternating their practices in their shared spaces at Rollerama and the Washington Ave Armory. The All-Stars already have their fall bout season lined up and will be playing their home games at the Armory like last season. Later this month they'll be traveling to the Poughkeepsie-area to take on the Hudson Valley Horrors.

Meanwhile, the Hellions are still figuring out the details of their schedule but they're hoping to hold their hometown bouts at the Armory as well. They hit the road for their first official bout this coming Saturday, Oct. 11 when they take on the Ithaca SufferJets on that team's home turf, where they'll be joined by a few guest skaters from Utica.

If you can't make that, but you're still interested, you can also check out their recruitment session/open practice on Oct. 14 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Armory.

And here's hoping the All-Stars and the Hellions hook up for a bout in the future. What better place to work out their differences than on the track.

Comments

Thanks for the article, Jess. One crucial point though. You say that the Hellions won't be as into brawling and theatrics as other teams are. That's not the case. Of the hundreds of new derby leagues that have popped up around the country in the past few years, 99 percent of them do not brawl or fight. The derby of today is not the WWE style fake stuff our parents saw growing up. This is a real deal sport. There are some "old school" and "renegade" teams on the west coast, but most of the teams in the Northeast play under WFTDA rules. We're a part of a huge derby community.
As far as theatrics, we've still got the derby names, the crazy outfits and the carnival style bouts. But out on the track, it is serious sport. And lots of bloody fun.
Everyone should come out to our recruitment night at the Armory on Oct. 14 and our Hellions Zombie Prom at Valentine's on Oct. 25. It's gonna be a blast!

i attended a number of Albany derby bouts at the Armory. I do not recall any "brawls". Did I miss out on hot action while I was peeing out all those beers?

Pantaloons? Comment please!

Could the need for "a more democratic approach" imply an undemocratic and tyrannical approach being taken by the All-Stars?

i'm confused. 1. I thought the Hellions of Troy are based in Troy, NY..... Not Albany. Why do I continue to read about them in Albany related sources? 2. Athleticism. The majority of these girls are novice skaters and did not excel in my eyes at any of the bouts. In fact I barely remember seeing them at the bouts. 3. Why is this still being talked about? I mean I know Albany is all about drama, but really our country's economic system is in turmoil, and we are focusing on a few roller girls (for lack of better terms) that are angry? Pathetic.

Whatever you do Pantaloons - please stay away from anything witty.

I do not want to lose my "top quote spot" to you, even if I know I'm about to.

Just to be correct I believe 39% of the Hellions of Troy team for the October 11th bout, are borrowed from another league.

Good for these women for going out on their own to do what they believe in. And for promoting Troy! From what I hear from the way things shook out in the breakup, the lineups are pretty even. I can't wait to see the Hellions of Troy bout.

Way to get one side of the story, AOA. You should be proud of yourselves.

The Hellions do not "borrow" players but have chosen a business model which fosters the development of roller derby in the greater derby community. This business model has specific provisions for providing training and bouting opportunities for skaters in neighboring leagues, especially those that are small and working on building up their own rosters. At this time that includes skaters from both the Utica Roller Girls and the Pittsfield Panty Raid.

The Hellions have their USA Roller Sports charter in Troy because the All Stars already chartered the two regular places we play and practice - the Armory and Rollarama. Once a location is chartered by one club, another club cannot charter it. The Hellions were forced to find another location to charter in order to play at their regular practice space. We are extremely grateful for the incredible support we have received from the City of Troy and most especially Irma Magee in the Recreation Department. She has a love for skating of all kinds and has really helped us in the forming stages of this league.

We have a mix of skill levels for our skaters. Our skaters' participation in previous All Stars bouts was not dependent on actual skills or statistics tracking which are used by today's WFTDA leagues because of the manner in which the All Stars chose to conduct their business in the past. Nine of our current members have been on an All Stars roster and more are expected. As for their relative skill level compared to the All Stars, we're looking forward to fans coming to both Hellions and All Stars bouts and finding out for themselves.

The Hellions are relevant for All Over Albany and other Capital Region media outlets because the Capital Region loves roller derby. As I've traveled around the northeastern United States I've found more people travel to the Armory to watch roller derby bouts - and the last bout they came from no fewer than five different states - than anywhere else. From the attendance numbers published on various derby boards, roller derby at the Armory attracts more than some of the WFDTA national champions!!! People here "get it" because they're hip, smart, love the thrill and excitement derby provides and both teams have a lot to offer the fans in this area. Yes, times are tough. Sports teams like the Hellions help build community pride which is a critical step in improving our lives and our economy.

The differences between the two teams are not about drama or philosophy or even something as abstract as "athletics." We have different business models. Today's roller derby is unique because we are semi-professional athletes who own our own teams. The Hellions and the All Stars want to run their business differently and I feel fans from Albany, Troy, and beyond will find there's plenty to enjoy and experience with both leagues.

I for one think this focus on athleticism is great. But let's be honest here, watching athleticism is not fun, or else the olympics would be held more often, and would include jump rope and handstand competitions. To start with, these girls are already on wheels. That is a problem, now. Let's back up the fun bus and increase the focus on athelticism by challenging these roller girls. How about a pack of starving hyenas chasing them? I would watch that. I mean, with names like "Bombshell" and "Damage" it sounds like they could take it. Also, to emphasize the altheticism aspect, there should be a halftime balance beam competition. On skates, of course.

all I hear is blah, blah, blah. business blah. structure blah. rules blah. I don' t read about local rugby, baseball, basketball, field hockey, hockey, etc. teams crying to the media over spilled milk.
Athletes play cause they love the game, not cause they want to rule the world and be on a power trip.not cause they want to cry about being punched or being kicked out. stop the lies stop the tattling.
when comes down to it, NO ONE really cares about who has structured or developed the teams. People want to see skaters that can put on a good show. Skaters that can skate and keep the crowd on the edge of their seat. For example reflect back to the last bout in April. Aurora Gory Alice.
She was the main reason why people come to see derby. People want to see good derby. People want to see excitement. People dont want to see boring skating in circles afraid to hit one another cause its " unnecessary violence". If that was the case the Armory would be hosting Chess matches.

> "The majority of these girls are novice skaters and did not excel in my eyes at any of the bouts [...] Pathetic."

Strong words, but you did not post anonymously, right?
Oh wait, you did.

blah blah: I hear there is no such thing as "bad press". Drama over splitting = we talk about Roller Derby = people get more curious about Roller Derby, for good or bad. Those girls have Derby persona, they wear fishnets, there is obviously an entertainment component to it, which means theatrics, which means drama, intentional or not. So I think there isn't much surprise here in how it's publicized: it generates buzz. Hopefully it will be "structured" enough that fans won't have to split hard-earned dollars to attend both shows or support both teams.

kicked out? who was kicked out? what side did AOA not cover? enquiring minds want to know!!!

There is only 1 thing I want to know and care about and thats where is Flexi Wheeler??? I'm going to the games she is in and dont care whihc team it is. I bet I speak for lots of guys.

Flexi is all Hellion, Dave. In addition to being one of our best players, she's also an incredible coach. Wait 'til you see the team we've got together.

This is getting ridiculous. The personal attacks and childish comments are out of control. AOA is usually light-hearted and fun to read and the comments on this post have taken a completely different turn. Air your dirty laundry somewhere else please. Sebastien is right – press gets attention, positive or negative…let’s just leave it at that and spare us all the petty attacks.

Wow, sounds like fun!

Where do I sign up?

The Pittsfield Panty Raid wishes both the All Stars and the Hellions good luck in their future endeavors.

Emma, I am not seeing where anyone is attacking anyone or airing dirty laundry. Care to explain how you may see it that way?

If there is one post and one sentence here that I take issue with it is this:

"...watching athleticism is not fun".

Yikes! If I may add my two cents as a skater who has seen the "bigger picture" of roller derby nationally...

I've been on both sides of the fence. Being the co-founder of the Hudson Valley Horrors, the very first flat track roller derby league in upstate NY, and a former member of the Windy City Rollers (ranked #7 nationally) I can only say this:

It sounds like the Capital Region has not yet been exposed to just how exciting a well played, WFTDA sanctioned bout is! It's all about athletics, ladies and gents. There's no theatrics. We save that for the color commentators on the mic and the half time shows. For some people, it's just as exciting to see real athletic strategy unfold and pay off right before your eyes. Take for example, this past weekends Western Regionals tournament in Houston and the historic nailbiters that happened there. Bouts were played under strictly enforced rules, and I can tell you from watching live streaming video that there was not one ass that was not on the edge of it's seat. Many of those games went point for point. Having attended alot of bouts over the past several years, I can tell you that those type of upsets are what get the crowd roaring!!

One of the most exciting things about the WFTDA is the rankings system and how much it's been getting jostled around lately, as teams work harder to climb that rankings list and earn a coveted spot at Nationals. Things in this sport are ALWAYS changing because the leagues that hold those high ranked positions are constantly pushing themselves beyond what they are being given credit for in this discussion.

Speaking of changes, lets talk about the rules. This fact often comes under scrutiny with different strains of derby (OSDA, Renegade, banked track). But it is the evolution and refinement of those rules that is catapulting flat track roller derby into the future. Without the structure those rules create, teams would not have the opportunity to skate a fair game on a level playing field. Rules are friend to some leagues and foe to others. That being said, I see no reason why all types of leagues, ruleset or no, can't co-exist in the greater derby community? Claim superiority and trash talk to your hearts content-- just keep it off the internetz. Let the sport grow in your community!! Two leagues are better than one are better than none! The more derby action for the good citizens of Albany and Troy the better, I think.

As for the spectators, it would seem that some people prefer the excitement that results from drive, dedication and applied athleticism through smart, strategic plays to the flash and spectacle of girls in fishnets throwing elbows all whilst being chased by hyenas... or something to that effect. Just as some people prefer the WWE to the NBA. Different strokes for different folks. I'm not here to tell you to pick one over the other. My sole intention is to educate ya'll who are questioning the importance of the athletic side of this SPORT. If that's not important to you, I'd suggest taking in a broadway musical or something.

For those of you open minded enough, I'd say to take a look at the Women's Flat Track Derby Associations website at:
wftda.com. There's a minutiae of stats and news there. Then, take a look at derbynewsnetwork.com for all the real action, including live coverage of Eastern Regionals in Madison, WI.

Seriously, it'll blow your mind. You may find yourself converted into a total derby nerd by the time this weekend is over.

Regardless of all the BS, this post was about roller derby... and although I've only been a couple times, it was alot of fun! You have to give all the girls props for going out there and kicking it hard! Right on ladies!

The Pittsburgh league gets very good crowds, not to mention seems to create those derby nerds Scarlet talks about all while adhering to WFTDA standards with very little brawling (well that I've seen).

I'm not affiliated with them, honestly, but the website http://www.steelcityderbydemons.com is fun read and has a link to other leagues for anyone interested (shameless plug)

Thanks Bomshell for telling me were I can see great Flexi Wheeler again. Remebering the games last year I think there is alot of exciting action just from the game. As guys most prefer football to hockey or wrestling because we want to see sports not gimicks or crap. Some of the girls who skated in the games last year seemed like real athletes not just silly girls playing dress-up. And thats who we cheered for. If those games had jsut girls dressed up and skating and looking cute acting like tough guys we would go to clubs instead. I remember Big Honkey too. Really we remember the girls who were fast and good and who obvously worked real hard at being good. If they are cute to thats great but I won't pay to see that. Nobody definetely wants to pay to see fighting or stupid stuff.

Thanks to all who commented here. The Hellions performed well against Ithaca in our first bout. SufferJets 115 / Hellions 96. Look for our first home bout in December.

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