Recruitment Q&A

So you want to play roller derby?

GMRD is currently accepting new skaters and officials on an ongoing basis throughout our season. These Rookie practices occur most Tuesday nights 8:30-10:00 p.m. at the Champlain Valley Exposition, immediately following GMRD’s weekly scrimmage, which begins at 6:30. Rookies and aspiring officials are encouraged to come early to help with scrimmage. Check the GMRD calendar for our practice schedule.

What you need: A mouthguard, a water bottle, and a good attitude. Plus, any gear you have, including skates, knee pads, elbow pads, wrist guards and a helmet. Borrowed gear available on a first-come, first-served basis, with preference going to those who come early to help at scrimmage. We recommend wearing clothing you’re comfortable exercising in.

Who can join Green Mountain Roller Derby?

All skaters must be 18 or older, and identify as female. Anyone 18 or older can join as referees, non-skating officials, announcers, coaches, or other volunteers. Anyone of any age can help support Green Mountain Roller Derby through promoting, fundraising, sponsoring, and attending events and bouts.

Do I need any sports experience to play roller derby?

It’s helpful, but no. Roller derby is a physically demanding sport that requires speed, endurance, agility, strength, good awareness and communication skills. The more in shape you are, the more quickly you’re apt to pick up basic skating and derby skills, and the less likely you are to become injured. We’ve found that skaters with hockey, rugby, and other skating or sports backgrounds generally pick up skills quickly.

That said, many of our skaters never played sports until they discovered roller derby and have grown to be remarkable athletes. Since we only practice 2-3 times a week, we encourage skaters to work out and cross-train outside of our regular practices in order to stay in shape.

What can I expect at rookie practices?

Rookie practices start out with a basic warm up and then skaters are grouped according to skills they are working on. The first skills you will work on include skating posture, striding, stops, and more. We can also answer any questions you might have. If you’re just getting back on skates after a long hiatus, or if you’ve never been on skates, feel free to just skate around for a bit to get used to them again.

Skaters that have passed Basic Skills will continue to attend Rookie practices while they work on the advanced skills required to bout, such as hitting, whipping, 180s, and more!

What do I need to play roller derby?

All skaters are required to wear quad roller skates, elbow pads, wrist guards, knee pads, a helmet, and a mouthguard. If you have gear of your own, great! Bring it with you. If you don’t, we have some old, slightly (…okay, really) stinky gear that we will lend out for the evening on a first-come, first-served basis (sorry, you have to bring your own mouthguard). You’ll need your own gear once you pass your assessments and start attending regular practices. There are a few skate shops within a few hours’ drive, like Lowlife  and Bruised Boutique. Always feel free to ask another skater for advice!

What else should I bring to my first practice?

  1. Wear comfortable clothes you can workout in
  2. Mouthguard (we recommend SISU mouthguards)
  3. Photo ID
  4. Paperwork. You must fill out a skater application, waiver, and emergency contact information BEFORE you put skates on. Our recruitment coordinator will have them available.
  5. A positive attitude and willingness to learn

What skills do I need to learn to become a skater?

Before you can play derby, you will need to master some basic roller skating skills that will allow you to feel comfortable on your skates. This is for your safety and the safety of those around you.

The more comfortable you are on your skates, the better skater you will be, pure and simple. This video playlist from WFTDA reviews the skills and form you will need to demonstrate in order to pass assessments.

How long until I can bout?

In order to be eligible to bout, you’ll need to pass two assessments and log three hours of scrimmage time. The basic assessment includes basic roller skating skills like stops, falls, and footwork. The advanced assessment covers derby skills such as blocking and skating in a pack. You’ll also have to pass a written rules test.

Once you pass advanced assessments you’ll be eligible to be placed on a team while you work on your scrimmage time.

What if I get hurt?

Roller derby is an aggressive contact sport and injuries are common, from bumps and bruises to torn ligaments and broken bones. GMRD does not require you to have health insurance to play, but it is STRONGLY recommended. All skaters must have supplemental WFTDA insurance once they begin scrimmaging and bouting.

How much time will GMRD take?

Skaters are required to attend 2/3rds of practices and monthly league meetings. Additionally, as a skater-owned and -operated league, everyone is expected to make some contribution to running the business side of things. You should expect to spend some time each week tending to league business – meetings, promotion, events, planning, etc. We need help from all league members to keep things running smoothly!

How much does roller derby cost?

The biggest expense will be your equipment. You’ll need to purchase and replace skates, protective gear, and other incidentals on an ongoing basis. There is gear out there for practically any budget — we usually recommend that our rookies invest in a roller derby “rookie package” offered by a lot of online vendors – it will make sure you’re adequately protected while you’re learning the game without breaking the bank. You can always invest in swankier gear later.

We collect dues to help cover the costs of practice space and running the league. After attending their first two practices free of charge, rookies contribute dues of $20 per skater per month. After joining the league, skaters contribute dues of $40 per skater per month.

Once you’re scrimmaging and bouting you’ll need WFTDA supplemental insurance ($80 annually), which is required for every skater.

What else do I need to know about joining GMRD?

In addition to developing your skating skills, you’ll need to learn the rules of the game. GMRD is a WFTDA (Women’s Flat Track Derby Association) league, and you will be tested on WFTDA rules as part of your advanced assessment. They’re about 40 pages long, so it’s never too early to start reading: www.wftda.com/rules.

Of course, the best (and most fun!) way to learn roller derby is to watch it… A LOT. Come to our bouts, either as a spectator or as a volunteer, which is a great way to get up-close and personal with the game, and get to know how we roll. In addition to GMRD’s bouts, new recruits are encouraged to volunteer at GMRD’s league scrimmages, which immediately precede Rookie  practice.

WFTDA TV broadcasts many national bouts. If you have good streaming capability it’s worth checking them out as well. You can always visit their archives to view past games, including the annual WFTDA international playoffs and championships.

What if I have more questions?

If you have any other questions, feel free to email them to us at fresh_meat@gmderbydames.com