What is Roller Derby?

Roller Derby started all the way back in 1936, when during the depression, people needed entertainment. What started out as marathon skating, where people would skate around an oval track for many miles (for example, skate enough miles to cross the country) Leo Seltzer, the creator of roller derby, realized what the crowds really liked were the crashes and falls that occurred when tiring and racing skaters would run into each other.

Roller Derby was born. You may have seen old footage, and still can on the Internet, of old-school favorites like Skinny Minnie Miller and Ann “Banana Nose” Calvello. Back then roller derby was co-ed, and was very aggressive. Derby skaters took on characters like the good girl (Skinny Minnie) and the bad girl (Ann Calvello) and would incite the crowds, in the spirit of WWF wrestling today. In the 1970’s roller derby was pretty much like wrestling, with practiced moves; sending people over the rails of a banked track rail, or clothes-lining the opponents. Fights were staged, and it was a bit crazy. The fading of roller derby started with the gas shortages of the 1970’s when it became too expensive for the roller derby teams to keep traveling around.

Roller skating never died (we recommend you check out United Skates for a history of African American skating)

Fast forward to 2001. A group of Texan women got together, and after some struggling, they started to play roller derby again. But there was no banked track, so flat track roller derby was born.

Fast forward again. The TXRD was born, and a banked track was built, and an A&E Documentary show called “Rollergirls” aired. In the US, roller derby started to spring forth like wildfire. In Canada, roller derby started in 2006. Now there are hundreds of roller derby leagues in the world, and they are broken out like this:

1. WFTDA – Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (wftda.com)

There are WFTDA ranking, WFTDA Apprentice, and non-WFTDA teams that play with these rules. This is flat track or banked, full contact roller derby. LOCO Roller Derby will be playing with modified WFTDA rulesets, which modify the blocking rules to prevent hard body-checks and blocks.


A limited number of teams play OSDA derby, which is on a flat track, but use the rules of the banked track derby to play. OSDA is co-ed.

3. Renegade Rollergirls

Renegade Rollergirls were born in Arizona. A few teams play this version, which is no rules roller derby and is extremely aggressive.

4. Recreational Roller Derby or Low Contact (LOCO) Roller Derby

Low Contact (LOCO) Roller Derby joins the newest roller derby movement, which is to provide women that do not want to play aggressive, full contact roller derby a chance to participate in the sport, and train for roller derby for the fun and fitness aspect; with friendly bouts and scrimmages.