April 2010 Featured League: Tampa Bay Derby Darlins

April 1, 2010

The Tampa Bay Derby Darlins are hosting the Franky Panky WFTDA recognized tournament (named in honor of their beloved mascot, Frank T. Flamingo) April 10-11, 2010. In 2008 and 2009, TBDD hosted the Sunshine Skate Florida State Roller Derby Championship during the Florida State Fair. The Tampa Tantrums are the two-time defending state champions, and they will try for a 3rd title in December. Take a moment to learn more about our friends from Florida, the TBDD.

Photo by Julie Busch

Tampa, Florida

How does your season run?
Our season runs just about year-round. Our home season is typically March/April to October/November. The travel team plays whenever they get a chance (this season includes participation in at least 5 tournaments, not including the South Central Regional tournament, of which TBDD hopes to proudly represent the league at). In addition to home teams each playing one another twice this season, we also have exhibitions throughout the year to give newer skaters more opportunities to skate and advance their skills within the league.

Are you close to any other WFTDA leagues?
While there are at least 10+ leagues currently operating in Florida, the Tallahassee Rollergirls are the only other WFTDA league along with TBDD in the entire state. There is some interest in applying for the WFTDA Apprentice Program by a few other Florida leagues which is very encouraging and exciting.

How many skaters/teams do you have?
TBDD is comprised of 70+ skaters, refs and volunteers. We have three home teams (Cigar City Mafia, Black Widows, Switchblade Sisters), a farm team (Aces on Eight), a travel team (Tampa Tantrums), and a newbie “team” (the Quad Killers) made up of our newest recruits in training.

How is your league structured (home teams, travel team, management)?
Our league is a skater-owned and operated, democratically governed organization. On a management level, TBDD has a four-person Board of Directors and a Steering Council made up of representatives from each home team, two coaches and a referee rep, all of whom help discuss and decide important issues on a regular basis that in turn guides the league in a positive and successful direction. When making big decisions, we are always focused on doing what is best for the league as a whole.

How often do you practice?
Practice opportunities are anywhere from two to five times a week.

Who is Tampa's biggest rival? And have you had any outstanding, memorable moments against them when you bouted?
We like to think of who we’ve really fought hard with on the track, and with two close games in less than eight months with the ladies of No Coast in Lincoln, NE, the Tantrums really enjoy the new, healthy rivalry that has seemed to form with the Mad Maxines. They are great competitors and the Tantrums hope to see them again in the 2010 season.

Do you have any sister leagues you'd like to give a shout out to?
TBDD considers the Atlanta Rollergirls their “big sisters” and the Tallahassee Rollergirls their “little sisters.” Atlanta was there to give TBDD a lot of guidance when we first got our roller derby “training wheels” and we continue to have a lot of admiration and respect for them. Tally has always been a great friend to Tampa, both on and off the track. We have SO much love and respect for these women (and a few men). They definitely deserve the recognition of a “shout-out.”

What are some of the individual challenges of your city?
The Tampa Bay area is comprised of several cities that are spread out with no good transit system. We have a hard time getting people to come to our venue from the other side of the bay. We're also a city saturated with sports teams and warm weather year-round, so people like to be at the beautiful beaches that surround our area, or at Disney World and the multitude of other theme parks nearby.

Who are some of your favorite sponsors?
Atomic Tattoos has been our sponsor for five years and they've been very good to us. Honorable mention also goes out to the Skatepark of Tampa and Skaters Choice for hooking up skaters with the required derby gear since the inception of the league; and ProMedia Audio Visual, who has produced many of our bouts and State Tournaments and is now doing so on the WFTDA [Playoff/Championship] Tournament level.

What are your biggest training challenges?
Our biggest training challenges are: (1) that we have to coordinate our practices around the schedule of the three rinks we utilize and keeping consistent attendance rates, and (2) the widespread (i.e. sprawling) nature of Tampa Bay (we practice at a rink in Temple Terrace, one in the heart of Tampa, and one in St. Petersburg).

Who are the best "behind the scenes" skaters who make your league run?
Our best “behind the scenes” skaters who make our league run would have to be our Board of Directors. The BoD is: President - Anne Tagonize, Vice President – Dee Bauchery, Secretary – Sasha Haughtbich, and Treasurer – Tara Fire. These ladies are extremely busy all of the time and work day in and day out to not only keep our league running, but to expand it and make it the tremendous success that it is. Rojo Grande, the force behind the WFTDA 2009 convention planning is one deserving of recognition. Eliza Lot took on Bout Coordination, Merchandise, and Sponsorship all in one season and continues to assist Tara Fire in organizing our league’s finances. We also have some up-and-comers who have really shifted the league into overdrive, like our marketing committee, Addy Tude [no link available] and Lesbolina Jolie [no link available].

Who are some of your stars on the track, and why?
We have so many talented skaters that it’s hard to pick just a few. Lunch Lady has only been skating a little over a year and has progressed into one of the best skaters the league has ever seen. She’s so fast and agile, it’s hard to believe she hasn’t been skating her whole life and only first strapped on skates such a short time ago. Sixgun Susie [no link available], with her long legs, quick jumps and never-say-die attitude; Sixgun might seem like a machine but to know her you will see that she is one of the nicest and most humble skaters you will ever meet. Both Sixgun and Lunch Lady are also great team players and great examples of what every derby skater should strive to be like. Bettie Kruger and Frieda Killigan have been some of our hardest hitters and with TBDD since its inception; an up-and-comer to the 2010 team is Bash’em Up Barbie [no link available] who delivers some great hits using just her hips.

What kind of training/bouting facilities do you have?
We currently have three different practice skating/hockey rinks (two wood floors, one polished concrete) in the greater Tampa Bay Area; Skateplex is one of the three at which we hold our 2010 season bouts.

Tampa is in the process of hosting the "Franky Panky" WFTDA-recognized tournament in April. What's it like to organize a tournament of this capacity? How does Tampa plan to make it awesome for their participating leagues?
After two consecutive years of hosting our annual Florida State Championship Tournament (aptly named the “Sunshine Skate”), where we’ve had up to 14 teams participating, TBDD feels pretty comfortable in organizing tournaments both small and large.

Due to a venue issue for our State Tournament (usually held in February) which subsequently also caused problems for other Florida leagues being able to participate in the state tournament, we had to change the month and date for 2010, and so Franky Panky was born.

Thus, for Franky Panky, we were short on time when it came to inviting leagues across the country to come participate, so, including our own travel team, there are four teams total competing. Organizing a group of this size is manageable and if all runs as smoothly as we anticipate, we hope to make this an annual event and give leagues plenty of time to sign up in advance of next year’s date. What will be nice about this tournament is that we’ll be able to allow all teams the opportunity to play each other and have some open scrimmages, so individuals may have the chance to play with some unfamiliar faces, not unlike the Black/White scrimmages held every year at RollerCon (http://rollercon.net/).

We’ve also got some of the most hospitable skaters around who hope to make everyone’s time here in Tampa a more enjoyable one, from after-parties to “green” gift bags, and, of course, introduce attendees to Frank T. Flamingo, our beloved mascot.

Any words of advice to other leagues who are interested in hosting a tournament in the future?
Prepare to get very organized and communicate with one another, with the attendees, and to your vendors as often as possible to avoid any unforeseen issues. Delegate the tournament tasks (don’t be afraid to ask for help!) so that more skaters are involved and all share in the same desire to create not only a well put together event, but add your own touches to make it special and memorable, and ensure that you treat everyone to great hospitality and hope that they will want to return to your city and play you again.

How does your league feel about their overall performance in March 2010's Clover Cup hosted by the Dallas Derby Devils?
We have a fresh new outlook and mental attitude as a team coming into the 2010 season. I think the Tantrums went into the Clover Cup knowing what we were potentially up against with each team and planned to take each game one at a time and learn from each. Overall, we feel really good about our performance; playing back-to-back games against tough competitors was new to us and it definitely helped our mental performance and overall stamina. We had a great time and learned many new things, both about our competitors and our team dynamic.

Do you have a special message for your fans?
TBDD would like to thank all of our fans, made both here at home as well as at away tournaments and games (everyone loves to have their own Frank!) [and let them know] that we are truly grateful for the support and kinds words they have all given us in the last several years. We strive to play hard, to earn their respect both off and on the track, and to represent our league and the community-at-large in a positive light and will continue to do so.

Is there any other information that you would like to share with wftda.com? Upcoming plans for 2010, tournaments, road trips, etc?
Participating in Midwest BrewHaha (May)
Participating in East Coast Derby Extravaganza 2010—scheduled games against Montreal and Minnesota (June)
Participating in Rocket City Rumble (July)

Would your league like to be the WFTDA Featured League of the month? Have you had an extraordinarily successful season that you'd like to share with the wftda.com fans? If you are a full WFTDA member league and have the authorization to speak on behalf of your league, we'd love to hear from you! Please contact webmaster@wftda.com

Real. Strong. Athletic. Revolutionary.