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Friday, October 22, 2010

75 Years of Roller Derby - A Diamond Celebration

        75 Years of 
      Roller Derby

       A Diamond 

[J. Seltz...
This picture is just for you.]

:Auntie Social – East Bay Roller Derby
[Lauren Kallio]

The first game of Roller Derby was held on August 13th 1935 as a cross-country endurance race. Accordingly,  2010 marks the 75th Anniversary of the sport. Over those seven plus decades Roller Derby has endured many changes and continues to evolve.  Recently a part of that evolution has been the creation of the National Roller Derby Association. Founded in 2007, president and visionary Carlos Ray strives to unite all generations and styles of the sport to attain national recognition.

On Saturday October 16th the NRDA hosted an historic event near San Francisco California to celebrate 75 years of Roller Derby and honor those who have made significant contributions to the sport’s continuing success. Honored that evening was keynote speaker and roller derby pioneer:  Mr. Jerry Seltzer, son of the sport’s creator Leo. Jerry, otherwise known as “The Commissioner” was the recipient of the first annual Leo Seltzer Award, created to pay recognition to those who have paved the way for the progress of the sport of Roller Derby.

Lending credibility to the event, the NRDA is the first derby association that Jerry Seltzer has endorsed since 1973, stating that he is on staff and actively working with the Association to achieve all our derby dreams and get the sport into the Olympics. While a few skaters of today’s modern flat track did have words with some of the feisty banked track skaters of yesteryear, getting roller derby on the fast track to national recognition was the main consensus of the evening for all. As Jerry said, “My dad always wanted a 100% legitimate game, that was his dream, and he never lived to see it.” The Commissioner’s hope for the men and women of today’s Roller Derby to achieve that dream was evident in his speech and demeanor that evening. Energy and excitement filled the air and it felt like the start of something big.

Representatives from all generations of derby were present at the event. Split into three waves of 25 years, (1935-1960, 1960-1985, and 1985-present) there were skaters from dating as far back as the original roller derby, all the way to women of today’s flat and banked tracks. Mary “Pocahontas” Youpelle, the last living derby skater of the 30’s, was in attendance and just as spunky as ever.  Her only advice of the night: “Toe stops are for dancers, not speed skaters!”

                [Mary Youpelle]
Among some of the derby legends were Carole “Peanuts” Meyer, who when asked how she felt about the difference between flat and banked track roller derby, called flat track skaters “crazy”, saying the floors are too hard and citing incidents like Tequila Mockingbird’s of the Windy City Rollers paralysis injury as an example of modern derby girls’ cutthroat ruthlessness. 

Also in attendance that evening was Cliff Butler of the revived International Roller Derby League of derby’s second wave. With consummate coaching skills and an incredible history as a skater, Mr. Butler has now become and integral component of the NRDA, assisting with skating and coaching for the Sugar Town Rollers of Oxnard CA. In addition, new to the staff of NRDA is Brian “Blade” Gallagher, co-inventor of Jam Skate, RollerJam skater and owner of California Skate School in Sherman Oaks. A stuntman and skater with several television appearances and 15 plus years professional skating experience, Blade was also the subject for Andrew Wilson’s character Razor in the movie Whip It.

While discussing how to get more men into the sport of roller derby with Coach Blade, Peanuts burst in: “Just call them a bunch of chickens and then maybe they’ll come and play!” While derby greats were there such as Judy Arnold, Bill Gardner and Gloria Mack Gardner, Rita Williams, Frank Macedo and Sue Fregulia, the firecracker of the evening was Lorreta “Iodine” Behrens, -who by the way, invites any present day skater out to Vegas so she can “teach them how to really skate”.
Loretta "Iodine" Behrens big pimpin Ann Calvello style 
as Georgia Hase looks on

Representing modern day derby were girls of the East Bay Roller Derby, Port City Rollers, the Brawlin’ Bettys, Redding Roller Girls, Sonora’s Mountain Derby and a skater all the way from Vermont’s Central Roller Derby. Of course, the new banked track team partnered with the NRDA, the Sugar Town Rollers of Oxnard, were also there. Corinna Hamilton and Paula Daleo of Sugar Town presented Jerry Seltzer with a team shirt and dubbed him an honorary Sugar Daddy, reassuring him not to worry, that “it’s not as expensive as it sounds”.

The evening was an extraordinary culmination of 75 years of roller derby. Young and old came together to reminisce celebrate and dream of a greater tomorrow. Little Iodine Behrens reflected, “It was surreal seeing Margie Laszlo, Delores Tucker and Carole Meyer together again”. Sweet Alyce, head NSO of the Mountain Derby Girls, captured the air of the evening commenting, “Being at the Roller Derby 75th Anniversary showed me that derby never really died between [1935] and the latest incarnation. Roller Derby has always lived in the hearts of the people associated with the sport.” And she is right. Roller Derby has not only survived but thrived for the past 75 years and we intend to keep it going strong into the next 25. See you all at the 100th!

 EBRD ladies with J. Seltz, Judi, Frank Macedo,
Georgia and Iodine.


  1. We will not tolerate your threats of 'taking Jennifer Banks down' -- you speak of a dream of a national roller derby league -- you need to choose your words carefully in the future and not imply physical threat if you are serious about your dream.

  2. I never implied physical threat. You know what I won't tolerate? I won't tolerate your league lying to the media. You all have accused me of "cyber bullying" which is pure bullshit. By the way bitches, I went to college, (not Marinello) and it's only libel if it's UNTRUE. I am not going to back down because one representative from a bullshit rogue league such as yours called me unprofessional under a pseudonym. (By the way, my given birth name is Lauren Kallio). I actually have years of being a part of this sport, not to mention ACTUAL FUCKING SKATING TALENT, to back me up. So shut your mouth and skate. Or start your own blog. Go away.

  3. IMPOSTOR ALERT! Someone from the rogue league, The Golden State Roller Girls is falsely posting as the Tri-Valley Roller Girls! THIS WILL NOT BE TOLERATED AND THIS LEAGUE SHOULD BE SHUT DOWN FOR SUCH UNETHICAL, UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT. The comment that appears on this blog is NOT from TVRG, but an IMPOSTOR!!! This is not the first time they have done this. They should be reported to the WFTDA.