The time is right for roller skating at the haven–Flint Roller Derby is back for the new season and they are playing sanctioned games with the major league of the sport: Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA).
Flint Roller Derby will host Durham Region Roller Derby at 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 4 at Rollhaven Skating Center. If you have never attended a match, you are in for a treat as the atmosphere is old school punk rock blended with the passion and athletic dexterity of what can only be described as the halcyon era of minor league hockey (e.g. Slap Shot).
How did the team make it to the big leagues? They fought hard last season to get a high enough ranking to join the premier league of skaters.
One of the means by which teams are judged in the WFTDA is by rankings viz a viz other sanctioned clubs. The rankings will not be released until the end of April, but Head Coach Nick Cotton feels that the team should make a good showing in the tables.
The team has already played two sanctioned matches. In the first, Flint Roller Derby defeated the Fort Wayne Derby Girls on March 23 by a score of 195-138. Fort Wayne has been a member of the WFTDA for over 10 years and went into the match with a #202 rank.
In Flint Roller Derby’s second game the team fell to the team ranked #59 in the world, the Grand Raggidy Roller Derby All-Stars, by a score of 211-109. The Grand Rapids club is annually considered to be a state powerhouse.
According to Cotton, the league uses an algorithm that takes points differential and the opposing team’s rank into consideration for the ranking. However, the loss and point deficit is not such a cause of concern in the roller derby world. Ratings are a key factor in the decision of who is better and where the squad lies in the pecking order.
“Each team has a weight attached to them and the higher the rank, the higher the weight,” said Cotton. “When you play a team that is highly ranked, and you are low ranked or unranked, you can get a lot of points and lose the game. We lost the game but for us it was a huge victory. We got a lot of points that will help us debut with a rather high ranking.
“We were given a 2% chance to win this game. Our goal as a team was to get 22% of the total points in the game. We managed to get 34% of the total points. Grand Rapids is one of the perennial powerhouses in Michigan roller derby.”
The game is played on an oval track. Unlike the roller derby in the day, there is no banked track and the action is definitely not choreographed. Before attending a game for the first time, it might help to visit the WFTDA website for a description of the flow.
The team’s May 4 opponent hails from Canada. The Durham Region Roller Derby Atom Smashers are from an area just east of Toronto, which adds an international flair to the competition.
“They are another newly accepted team in the WFTDA,” said Cotton “This will be the first sanctioned game for them, our third. We do not know much about them yet, so it is exciting to try and plan for a team we have never seen.
“Because the game takes place on the fourth, we have dubbed a Star Wars theme, ‘May the 4th be with you.’ We have lots of fun things in store for the game, including a possible costume contest.”
The match begins at 8 p.m. with the doors opening at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $8 in advance (available at Brown Paper Tickets. At the door, the cost is $10 with kids under 12 free with paid admission. Parking is free.