If you’ll read the “About Roller Derby” page here on the Arizona Derby Dames website, you’ll see that the first inklings of what was to become the sport of roller derby were marathons of skating on an oval wooden banked track (first reported on by the New York Times as far back as 1885). And when physical contact was introduced into the mix and the term “Roller Derby” was trademarked in the 1930’s, the newly named game took place on a banked track. Banked track roller derby is traditional roller derby and that has been the goal and focus of the Arizona Derby Dames all girl roller derby league since it was founded in 2005.
So why are there so few banked track roller derby leagues today? And why did it take the Arizona Derby Dames four full seasons before they became a banked track league? And why are so many of the new breed of skater-run all-girl DIY roller derby leagues “flat track” roller derby leagues instead of banked track?
Modern day roller derby is not a professional sport. There are no investors with major funding behind today’s roller derby leagues looking to make a profit. The modern resurgence of roller derby truly is a “do it yourself” phenomenon, with skaters paying to play rather than being paid to play. Leagues operate via dues paying members and members have to supply their own equipment, health insurance and uniforms, while running the “business” of the league. Flat track roller derby bouts are easy and affordable. A flat track game can be set up easily and inexpensively anywhere with enough room and a decent skating surface, so flat track roller derby leagues have sprung up quickly in the past decade all around the world. The Arizona Derby Dames’ mantra, however, since the beginning has been “the best fundraiser for a banked track is flat track roller derby bouts”. That focus allowed the Arizona Derby Dames to build a fan base, continue to grow throughout four seasons of roller derby, and save every penny made to go towards the goal of building their own banked track.
Only a handful of modern roller derby leagues in the world own and skate on a banked track. Arizona Derby Dames are proud to be bringing a traditionally inspired brand of roller derby with a new age twist to their hometown of Phoenix, AZ. Arizona Derby Dames joins the ranks of the all-women, skater-run roller derby leagues like the Los Angeles Derby Dolls, the TXRD Lonestar Rollergirls in Austin, Red Dirt Rebellion Rollergirls in Oklahoma City and the San Diego Derby Dolls that are the new breed of unscripted, ultra-competitive, 100% real banked track roller derby. Designed by Kitten Traxx Banked Track Design based in Los Angeles, but built by the skaters of the Arizona Derby Dames with the help of a group of extremely dedicated and hard-working engineers, volunteers and Arizona Derby Dames support staff, their banked track is a culmination of four and a half years of dedication and hard work by the women of the Arizona Derby Dames to reach the original goal of the founders of the league of becoming a modern banked track roller derby league.
Though we’ve reached our goal, the hard work for the women of the Arizona Derby Dames does not stop now. Owning and maintaining a banked track is still labor intensive and expensive, even after the build is done. No longer can the Dames just practice outdoors or rent skating rinks by the hour. The track is housed in a warehouse in Phoenix that they must maintain, near the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The Derby Dames practice at the warehouse and will transport the track monthly to the Coliseum for double-header games starting in March. After the game, there’s still the job of breaking down the track, transporting it back to the warehouse and reassembling it for practices until the next event. But we do it all with passion and drive because we love this sport. And we love the fans that have supported us over the years and continue to support us by coming to our bouts so that we can continue to do what we love.
For more information about roller derby banked track builds, visit Kitten Traxx Banked Track Design & Build on the web at www.kittentraxx.com.
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