More than just a derby league, Derby Revolution of Bakersfield works to be a revolutionary source of positive change in the derby and their local community. As a federally recognized 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, Derby Revolution strives to be a charity that helps connect skaters and community members through the power and inclusiveness of roller derby. The league is gearing up to host this year’s annual Dust Bowl Invitational, a massive event featuring teams from across California and beyond. With the tournament just a month away, find out how Derby Revolution of Bakersfield is preparing for all the action on and off the track.
Where are you located?
Derby Revolution of Bakersfield is located in Central California in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley. Bakersfield is known mostly for our Agriculture, Oil Production and, bad air quality. Lol
How does your season run?
We play games late February through early November. We only rest during December (Holidays) and in mid-July through late August when it’s 100+ degrees.
What are the closest WFTDA leagues to you?
We actually have two other WFTDA leagues in our mid-size city. DRB was the first WFTDA league in Bakersfield and has been a WFTDA member since December 2010. The Bakersfield Diamond Divas were accepted in July, 2014. The Unforgiven Roller Girls in September of 2015.
How many skaters do you have?
Derby Revolution of Bakersfield currently has a 20 member charter with five newer players with two years of experience or less. Because of our low numbers, we rely heavily on our wonderful volunteers that repeatedly go above and beyond the call of duty and have for several years. It is important for every league to remember that everyone has their role, with each role being just as important as the other. Some are on the track, some are off the track. Our league would not be able to exist without our volunteers. We would like to take this opportunity to say, “THANK YOU” we couldn’t do it without you!
How is your league structured (home teams, travel team, management)?
We have two teams that skate under the DRB umbrella. We have our WFTDA Charter “The Militia” which would be considered a high “C” low “B” team. We also field a “C” team, “The Rebellion” which is comprised of Newbies that have recently passed skills testing, other “C” players from our league, and accompanied by “C” players from our Sister league, The Westside WreckHers out of Taft, California. Taft is a small “Oil” town, roughly 40 miles southeast of Bakersfield.
Our league is structured differently than most leagues. Most leagues have a “BOD” that is voted in and makes all or most of the league decisions. We tried that for the first three years and it kept exploding. The skaters felt that decisions were being made without their knowledge and there was constant struggle between the BOD and the skaters. The league is now run in a fashion that come from the skaters up. Running on existing bylaws that were established with the league in December of 2008, the skaters meet to discuss current issues and concerns. The (2) elected Team Captains take the issues to the (2) Team Managers who meet with the appointed League Founder and League Manager to discuss said issues and concerns while the General Director (League Founder) sits in (without a vote) to make sure the meeting stays on track and decisions are made within the intended league vision. It is really a little more complicated, but this design has kept the skaters much happier with the feeling they have more of a say instead of being told what the “BOD” has decided for them.
Who is your biggest rival? And have you had any outstanding, memorable moments when you’ve played them?
Our biggest rival league would have to be Monterey Bay Derby Dames. They are given this title because they are the league that is a MUST on our season schedule, EVERY year. With similar league histories and struggles, we seem to just “click” on and off the track. We play with such intensity against one another, yet it’s always such a pleasure. The biggest rivalry that DRB has with MBDD begins with the fact that MBDD has never beaten DRB in a game, yet continues to be ranked higher.
Do you have any sister leagues you’d like to give a shout out to?
For Sure! Shout outs to: Angel City Derby Girls for being our WFTDA mentor league and writing a WFTDA recommendation letter. Tucson Roller Derby for writing a WFTDA recommendation letter. Taft Westside WreckHers for being our sister league and always being willing to lend a helping hand when needed. San Fernando Valley Roller Derby for donating money to the Dustbowl Invitational when our gate money box was stolen!
What are the individual challenges of your city?
The biggest challenge for Roller Derby in our city is the fact that we have three WFTDA leagues in a pretty small city. It is about one league per 100,000 people. Most of the larger, higher ranked leagues are pulling from populations of about 300,000-500,000 people or even higher.
Another challenge we face is venue. Living in a VERY conservative town, we all suffer from “The Good Ol’ Boy” Syndrome. While all of our “semi- professional” male sports teams have large facilities built for them to practice and compete, women still suffer from trying to get some space, any space. There are very nice facilities here that sit vacant for very long periods of time. They either will not, under any circumstances, allow us to use them at all, or try to charge us a fee that they know we will never be able to afford. The venue we use is owned by the City. Even after we had secured it, they put many road blocks in our way that made it very difficult to keep. We had to purchase backer board to place under all of our rented chairs, “just in case” the chairs might put divots in the floor. We have to rent barriers for every home bout to put between the track and the crowd, to ensure nobody in the crowd is injured. We’ve had to rent a trailer and storage to house all of these materials. Astonishingly enough, it took us two years to be issued an alcohol permit, being denied on the grounds that “skating and beer don’t mix well.” It’s been quite a battle. With all of the added, unnecessary expenses, it is VERY difficult to turn a profit. Our yearly tournament “The Dustbowl Invitational” financially sustains our league for the most part.
What are your biggest training challenges?
Our biggest training challenges are: Venue and training of skaters because of so many varying levels of ability. Finding the time to seriously train when we have careers, children, spouses, bills…
How many days a week do you practice? How are your practices divided/organized among your teams/skaters?
Because of our venue and league size, we are only able to successfully complete two league practices a week. At one time we bumped up to three times a week which led to sporadic attendance and disgruntled teammates.. We have always struggled to find the perfect fit for our league in this category. Some want more, some want less. Many of our teammates will meet up at various locations and skate. We also throw in some Xtreme workouts when we can. Many scrimmages and pick-up games with other leagues in the Valley.
Who are some “behind the scenes” skaters/members who really help your league run?
Our #1 Work Horse is skater/ League Manager, AHart WreckHer. She handles all of the clerical work for the league along with financials, WFTDA representative, and team relations. She is the “go to” for all league members. If there is a question, AHart has the answer. She holds this appointed position (appointed by Team Founder) because she is fair, honest, unbiased, efficient, and organized. #2 Work Horse is skater/ League Founder and General Director, Tonka Toy. Tonka handles all bout production, rosters, officials staffing, inter-league liaison, WFTDA representative, and is the Dustbowl Invitational Tournament Director for the sixth straight year. Skater Michelle O’Trama is always quick to deliver when AHart or Tonka need something in a pinch! Skaters Rece Witherdoom and Beten Boppin always lend a helping hand with coaching if needed because they are at practice 90% of the time.
Looking at the facility you use to host bouts, it’s not hard to imagine it gets pretty warm in the summer months! What are some of the challenges of having a partially enclosed venue for bouts? What are some of the advantages?
DRB plays outdoors. Our venue is covered, but it’s still outdoors, so we try VERY HARD not to schedule any bouts between mid-June and late August. We almost always try to schedule away bouts in the summer. The only advantage we have in these conditions is that we are somewhat use to the heat and know the importance of hydration. However, the heat is SO INTENSE we do not like to schedule home games during the summer out of fear of someone suffering heat stroke or heat exhaustion. That would definitely be an advantage, but nobody wants to see that happen.
Who are some of your star skaters on the track, and why?
Our most current biggest star currently on the track is #747 Rece Witherdoom. Rece is a star because she works really hard to be better. A better skater, a better player, a better person. She is humble and loved by many. She most recently went to State Wars in Florida where she played for Team California. Going into her mere fourth season she plays like she has been playing forever and is known and feared by her rivals on the track. Blocker/Jammer extraordinaire, she does it all!
We understand you are busy making the final preparations to host the Dustbowl Invitational March 18th-20th. Who are some of the league members working behind the scenes to make this event happen? What kind of things do skaters and fans have to look forward at this year’s tournament?
Our Tournament Director, Tonka Toy works nearly year round in an effort to make Dustbowl Invitational a successful event each year. In her sixth year as Tournament Director she claims that this year will be the best one yet. By her side is league volunteer and retired skater, Assistant Tournament Director, Knox’r Bloxov. Knox helps Tonka with communications, graphics, and media. She begins her work on Dustbowl six months prior to the tournament by designing the highly anticipated and very important Dustbowl logo. This is the fifth year she has designed the logo. Of course, League Manager, Ahart WrekHer is not far away, dealing with collections of fees, charter information, completing intricate paperwork and steady reminders of things we might have missed along the way. Michelle O’Trama is always an integral part in securing affordable, and comfortable hotel accommodations for participating leagues. Joining the Dustbowl committee this year, is skater Ms. Hostility who is rounding up all of our vendors and insuring that not only do we get to play derby but we also get to SHOP! To help make the Dustbowl a complete success, the rest of the league is busy gathering volunteers, donations, and sponsors. With WFTDA leagues coming from all over California and one from Hawaii, it is sure to be a good time had by all. As a WFTDA-Recognized Tournament this year, Dustbowl goes into its second year of being a fully WFTDA-sanctioned tournament. EVERY SINGLE BOUT WILL BE SANCTIONED! Because of the WFTDA stamp of approval, our Tournament Head Officials, Judge Injury (THR) and 2Pack ShockHer (THNSO) are boasting crews comprised of officials applying from all over the USA! Skaters and fans can look forward to highly competitive, fair, fun, ROLLER DERBY!
How does your league give back to the community?
Since our league does not make much profit, we make up what we lack in money with time. We help other charities such as Boxers and Bullies (a local dog rescue), The Boys & Girls Clubs of Kern County, and The Apple Core Project (a local non-profit which feeds and clothes the homeless, elderly, and less fortunate). 90% of the time we have a charity at our bout and allow them time to solicit donations. If we profit from a bout, the selected charity receives a portion it.
As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, what are some of the ways you have leveraged being a charity to further your mission in your community?
Our mission as a Roller Derby League is to help bring our community together. Bakersfield may not be huge, but it is filled with diverse individuals and many charities. Our non-profit status allows us to bring awareness not only to the sport of Roller Derby but also allows us to create awareness for other organizations that may not have the means to reach the larger community. Due to Roller Derby attendees coming from all walks of life, it’s like, “Hey come watch an awesome sport and also learn about this great charity that is right in your backyard that we support.”
Who are some of your favorite sponsors?
We have had many sponsors come and go. But, our most supportive sponsor is Jo Show Promotions.
Do you have a special message for your fans?
We love all our fans. Our fans that have been with us since the beginning and our new fans. If it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t be able to continue to do what we do.
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! Or nominate your favorite league and tell us why they should be featured on wftda.com! Please contact .