Wollongong Illawarra Roller Derby Mission Statement Wollongong and Illawarra Roller Derby league (WIRD) aims to develop a group of committed and passionate skaters, in order to establish the competitive sport of flat track roller derby in the region. We are a non-profit Association, run by the skaters for the skaters, and dedicated to making roller derby an accessible and inclusive sport. Safety, athleticism and teamwork are highly regarded values for WIRD as we structure an empowering and enduring experience for the quad skaters of Wollongong and the Illawarra, New South Wales, Australia.
What is roller derby?
Roller derby is a fast-paced skate sport where women compete for points and glory. It is played on a flat oval track between two teams and players wear quad style roller skates.
How is roller derby played?
A game, or bout, is broken down into two 30 minute periods, with each period divided into two-minute point-scoring segments called Jams.
Each team has five players on the track, with two of these filling special roles while the remaining three are called blockers and make up the pack. Skaters can be swapped out or change positions between jams.The skater at the front of the pack with the stripe on her helmet is the pivot blocker. It is her job to set the pace for the pack, keep up communication between her blockers and act as the last line of defence to stop the other team scoring. In special circumstances she may take on the role of point scorer.
The point scorer is known as the jammer and is identified by the stars on her helmet. She races the opposing team’s jammer and points are scored for each legally passed blocker. The hardest part of her gig is getting through the pack, good teamwork and communication can mean the difference between a fast lap and a slow crawl in the middle of the pack. The first jammer through the pack without any penalties can be made lead jammer which gives her the right to call off a jam before the end of the two minutes.
Isn’t roller derby a pretty aggressive game? Aren’t you worried about getting hurt?
Old school roller derby competitions and popular movies have represented roller derby as a violent and aggressive ‘fake’ sport where rules are ignored, hits, blocks and fights are staged and players’ safety is given little to no consideration. WIRD does not play this kind of roller derby.
Modern roller derby revolves around healthy athleticism, fair competition and the value of good teamwork and community building. A globally recognised body, the Women’s Flat Track Roller Derby Association, sets official rules for the sport. Breaches of these rules are punished by a trip to the penalty box, while violence, maliciousness and blatantly unsafe behaviour can be punished by ejection from the game, season or league.
The potential for serious injury exists in roller derby, as it does in many sports. To counteract this WIRD skaters wear a full complement of safety gear including: regulation quad roller skates; a multiple impact helmet; a fitted mouthguard; wrist guards, as well as elbow and knee pads. Players are also trained to skate, stop, and fall in ways which minimise the risk of injury to themselves or other skaters.
Where do WIRD skate?
As you may already know, all of the skating rinks in the Illawarra have been closed down over the last decade. This made things a little tricky to begin with and WIRD started out skating in carparks but since April 2009 have moved to training in a Community Centre hall.
One day WIRD intends to compete in the WIN Entertainment Centre though until then we are exploring several potential venues for bouts.
WIRD skaters can also be found skating in a variety of carparks and on bike tracks around the region. They appreciate happy greetings and cheers of encouragement if you see them out and about on their skates.
Who do WIRD skate against?
WIRD is still in developmental training and has not yet split into teams. When competition commences we expect to start with two teams playing a season against each other and then move onto playing other teams in the state.
There are currently six independent leagues in NSW and the Act: Sydney Roller Derby League; Canberra Roller Derby League; Newcastle Roller Derby League; Western Sydney Roller Derby League; Byron Roller Girls, and Wollongong Illawarra Roller Derby.
All of these leagues are at different stages of development and there are plans to commence state-wide interleague competitions when all leagues are skating at the same approximate standard.A national inter-league roller derby tournament cannot be more than a few years off and by the time this starts WIRD intends to offer some serious competition to the roller derby skaters of Australia.
When can we come watch WIRD compete?
WIRD will begin short bouts or scrimmages for family and friends towards the end of 2009 and will be holding a gala event to launch our season in the first few months of 2010.
How can people get involved with WIRD?
WIRD is currently accepting female skaters who meet the ‘Basic Skills’ component of the WFTDA Minimum Skill Requirements to train as derby skaters. We also encourage male skaters to join up as referees and officials. Potential skaters will need to be referred by a WIRD member and are encouraged to join our Facebook group, attend a Meet and Greet (check home for more info) or email our Newbie Coordinator.
From August 2009 we will also need volunteers to assist with staging bouts, promotional activities and general riff raff. To jump on the volunteers’ list email firstname.lastname@example.org.