Tag Archives: preparing for a roller derby bout

1 for the money, 2 for the show, 3 to get ready …

To say that tonight’s Oz Roller Girls home debut is creating excitement and a side order of anxiety would be an understatement. Like everything else, it involves a lot of preparation and teamwork, including last night’s laying of the track, arena arrangements and even brief rehearsals.

More than 20 of us worked around three hours on Friday night to get the facility ready. Crisafulli Rink is a city facility that usually hosts youth hockey. Since this bout is the debut of roller derby in Oswego, clearly the facility has never seen anything quite like this. The biggest job involved taking measurements and laying down tape to represent the track.

We also had to arrange some bleachers, set up merch tables, move benches and take care of general housekeeping. We installed and tested a sound system, trying to figure out how to make the music and my announcing work in a metallic building that has some echoes. And we practiced bout intros … you only get one chance at a first impression.

That’s not to say we didn’t have fun either. With the name of the bout Yellow Brick Roadkill, some skaters had fun drawing chalk outlines of fallen bodies around the track.

With the exception of me going over and refining scripts, we’re almost past the part of preparation and into the part of action. Doors at 5. Bout at 6. Hope you can join us on this very important step in the journey!

it’s not just a sport — it’s a show!

Much of the blog until now has concerned how people prepare for the sport of roller derby. But that’s missing a very big piece of the puzzle, which is planning for the event itself. As we’re realizing with our home debut vs. the Crown City Royal Pains on Saturday, we have to stage a whole show.

It starts with the momentous steps of finding a venue to use, booking other leagues to come play and lining up sponsors to make it viable. We have a Bout Production Committee, but it eventually becomes an all-hands-on-deck production. In the weeks leading into the bout, here are just a few things the all-volunteer Oz Roller Girls organization works on:

  • Lining up volunteers from referees to non-skating officials (NSOs), security to servers, media team to mascot.
  • Booking entertainment including a DJ to keep the beat moving during jams and a band to play halftime.
  • Preparing a script for running the bout, including thank yous to sponsors, skater bios for reference during action and future events to promote (and I thank Jenny Tonic, whom I shadowed at last weekend’s Crown City event, for sending a template).
  • Promotion and ticket sales because you can’t have a show without an audience — you need to publicize and market the heck out of the bout, and sell tickets via your skaters and online/brick-and-mortar venues.
  • Preparing a printed program by pulling together the skater photos, ads from sponsors and any useful tidbits that will help the audience better understand and enjoy their experience.
  • Prepping your venue and since, like most leagues, we don’t own the rink where the bout will take place, we’ll convene Friday night to lay down tape for the track and set up chairs, tables and anything else we can.

A roller derby bout is show business, and it extends beyond the sport itself to creating a positive experience for everyone who comes — skaters, volunteers and audience members alike. Because you want them to keep coming to future bouts. When all that preparation starts all over again.