The modern incarnation of roller derby is a relatively new sport and it has only existed in New Hampshire since 2007. Below is a list of the most common questions our members get asked.
- How can I join?
- Is roller derby fake or staged?
- Who holds the ball? How do you score?
- When does the season start and end?
- Do you get paid?
- Are you Granite State Roller Derby and do you skate at Everett Arena in Concord?
- Can guys play, too?
- Do you plan on a banked track?
- Do you beat each other up?
- How many people are on the track at once?
- What are the different positions?
- What’s the difference between a roller derby league and a roller derby team?
- Do you get hurt?
- What are the rules?
- What is this “Wiff-ta-da”/WFTDA thing people talk about?
NHRD offers multiple rookie camps and team tryouts each year. In order to skate on the league, you must be a woman, 18+, have health insurance, and the ability to commit at least 7 hours per week (2 practices plus committee work) to the league. Volunteer and officiating positions are also available for women and men, ages 18+.
Modern roller derby is 100% real. Every hit, every fall, every unlikely comeback, and every tragic loss is completely authentic – not planned, scripted, or rehearsed. It is true that there were periods in roller derby’s history in the middle part of the 20th century when theatrics were promoted over athleticism. The only thing fake about roller derby are the skaters’ names but more skaters are opting to use their real names rather than “derby names”. Derby is fast-paced, action-packed, full-contact “real” sport.
There is no ball in roller derby unless you count the human zipping around the track with a star on her helmet! Want to keep track of points? Follow the star! The Jammer is the point scorer in roller derby. After the initial pass through the pack, she scores a point for every member of the opposing team that she passes without any penalties. It doesn’t matter whether those players are on the track or in the penalty box! Any time a jammer laps all five members of the opposing team (four blockers and a jammer) it is called a grand slam.
NHRD’s home season begins in April and ends in August. Because our home venue, the JFK Coliseum in Manchester, is an ice hockey rink, we are limited to bouting when the ice is off the rink. We do, however, play away bouts between February and October. There is currently no official season for WFTDA roller derby, however, the four WFTDA regional competitions are held in September and October, and the National Championships are held in November of each year. If you have any tips on a venue that isn’t filled with ice, shoot us an email.
We do not get paid. In fact, roller derby players pay dues to fund practice space and must either fundraise or pay out of pocket for travel expenses. We go to our “regular” jobs each morning, then pack up out gear and head to practice several times a week. No massage therapists, soaking tubs, or personal trainers await us (although we sure do wish that was the case after a bout).
We are not connected to Granite State Roller Derby other than by the bonds of derby sisterhood. GSRD is a separately governed league altogether.We have, however, worked together in many cases for bouts, demonstrations, and getting the good word out about roller derby!
Click here to visit Granite State Roller Derby’s website.
There are more and more men’s leagues forming but the number of women’s leagues far outnumber mens leagues. The closest men’s teams are the Mass Maelstrom of Central Mass Roller Derby and the Dirty Dozen of Pioneer Valley Roller Derby. NHRD does welcome men as referees, non-skating officials, and volunteers, though.
Nope. NHRD plays on a Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) regulation flat track. It’s widely believed that the invention of flat track roller derby in the early “Naughties” is the single biggest reason that roller derby has seen such massive expansion in the last decade. Unlike banked track roller derby, all you need to start playing is chalk/paint/tape and a tape measure!
While we certainly do get beat up in the course of a bout, we absolutely do NOT beat each other up. Fighting or misconduct of any type is an ejectable offense. Sure, it’s rough. Sure, it’s full contact. Sure, people get hurt sometimes. Roller derby is definitely agressive but NOT violent!
Each team fields five players per jam—a jammer, and four blockers—out of 14 active and two alternate skaters on the roster for that particular bout. If you see fewer than five players from each team on the track, check the penalty box. Skaters whose penalty has not expired at the end of a jam must remain in the box through the subsequent jam until their time is up, leaving their line to skate shorthanded.
Jammers: Jammers are the point scorers from each team and wear stars on their helmet.
Pivots: Pivots are blockers who have the ability to become the jammer mid-jam.
Blockers: Blockers are the primary offensive and defensive players of the pack.
A league is a unit of derby governance, usually spanning a city or region of a state. Leagues are made up of at least one team. NHRD has five teams – two travel teams that compete against teams from other leagues in the eastern US, and three home teams that compete against each other for the Kennedy Cup Trophy each year. Leagues may or may not be organized or affiliated with one of a handful of roller derby organizations such as the WFTDA, the Men’s Roller Derby Association (MRDA), or the Junior Roller Derby Association (JRDA).
Just like any other sport of course there is a risk of injury. Every skater wears a helmet; mouth guard; and wrist, knee, and elbow pads to reduce the risk of serious injury. Some skaters even wear armored shorts to protect their tailbones. Derby girls have been known to take turns deciding which US states each other’s bruises resemble, or complementing each other on a particularly nasty patch of rink rash. There are even rumors of a certain retired skater posting pictures of a four inch splinter that was removed from her backside. In all seriousness, the rules of the game exist to make for exciting, safe play but injuries do happen.
Roller derby is a competitive sport. Two teams compete against each other for points. Each team sends five skaters onto the track: a jammer, a pivot, and three blockers. The two pivots line up on the starting line with the blockers behind them. The two jammers line up 33 feet behind the starting line. A ref blows the whistle, everyone starts skating, and the jam is on. The jammers have to skate through the pack of pivots and blockers, then lap them. Once they lap the pack, they can start scoring points. Jammers score points by passing skaters from the other team. Blockers try to stop the other team’s jammer and get their own jammer through the pack so she can score as many points as possible.
The Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA – often pronounced “Wiff-ta-da” or “Wift-da”) is the international governing body for the sport of women’s flat track roller derby and a membership organization for leagues to collaborate and network. The WFTDA sets standards for rules, seasons, and safety, and determines guidelines for the national and international athletic competitions of member leagues.
Click here to read more about the WFTDA.