What is roller derby?
Roller derby is a full-contact game on a flat, oval track with two teams facing off to see who can score the most points. Jammers (the skaters with the stars on their helmets) furiously skate to make the most laps, scoring one point for each member of the opposing team they successfully pass. Blockers clear the path for their jammers to score while trying to keep the opposing team’s jammer from getting by them. Everything you see on the track is real – there are no staged hits or made-up drama. These skaters are there to win and come ready to compete at a high level of action.
Mad Rollin’ Dolls, Madison’s premier roller derby league, first laced up its skates for the public in late 2004 and began its first full season in 2005. Since then, the dynamic skaters and dedicated volunteers have been providing a sport that not only features pure athleticism but a punch of serious fun for its many fans. MRD is a grassroots effort run by an all-volunteer group of skaters and non-skaters. These derby enthusiasts are behind everything from practices and bouts to merchandise and community involvement.
MRD is considered a “grandmother” league within the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, having been one of the first five leagues formed when the modern version of the sport and the WFTDA first formed. As of 2016 we are officially a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, with a focus not only on producing high quality sporting events but also on charitable and community outreach, as well as educational opportunities for our league members.
It is the mission of Mad Rollin’ Dolls, Inc. to provide a safe, inclusionary space to foster the development of a competitive women’s flat track roller derby athletic program, build leadership skills through volunteer opportunities, and make a positive impact in our community by serving as role models for our peers and future generations.
MRD, pursuant to its mission of promoting women’s roller derby, does not and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its activities or operations. MRD does not and will not differentiate between members who identify as female and those who identify as a non-binary gender (including but not limited to genderqueer, transmasculine, transfeminine, and agender) and does not and will not set minimum standards of femininity for its membership or interfere with the privacy of its members for the purposes of league eligibility. These activities include, but are not limited to, draft/home team skater eligibility, membership eligibility, disbursement of resources, and eligibility for office. MRD is committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all skaters, officials, volunteers, and fans.
The Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (wftda.com) is a national sports organization created and managed by all-female flat track roller derby leagues. Founded in 2004 to help the country’s first leagues connect with each other on and off the track, WFTDA has become the nucleus of roller derby evolution. By standardizing rules and regulating interleague play, the organization fosters the continued growth of the sport and provides leagues with support and guidance. WFTDA maintains league rankings and organizes annual tournaments for the most skilled teams.
History of Roller Derby
Roller derby has its beginnings in co-ed skating endurance competition from the 1930s when pairs spent 12-hour shifts to see which couple would complete an impressive 3,000 laps first. While the stamina was a remarkable feat, it became evident spectators were drawn to the event to witness the skaters smash into one another.
This prompted the evolution of the sport to one of teams making full contact on the track. Sadly, the popular game fell victim to smarmy management, outrageous production antics and an economic recession. Much like disco, roller derby faded away at the end of the 1970s.
Roller derby made a comeback in its modern flat-track form in 2003 thanks to the Texas Rollergirls, who wanted to bring to life a sport allowing participants to be both aggressive and fabulous. They realized the sport had the ability to inspire other women, provide young girls with powerful role models and thrill audiences with a blend of hard-hitting action and kitschy fun.
In the last seven years, women’s flat track derby has exploded in popularity with more than 600 leagues and more than 19,000 wheel-wearing athletes worldwide. Flat track derby leagues are independently owned, controlled and run by the all-volunteer skaters and support personnel.
The athletic skill of today’s roller girls is turning as many heads as the campy antics that characterized the beginning of the roller derby revival. It even has its own governing organization – the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, which has member leagues on 6 continents!