How to Start a Roller Derby League
Starting a roller derby league can lead to many headaches, but just as much gratification. Whether you decide to start a rec league, or go on to construct a 100+ member world championship team, constructing a solid foundation to your league is of the utmost importance.
MADE has an extensive Mentorship Roller Derby Program that has many leagues up and safely bouting within six months of inception. For more information contact us here.
We hope to help provide you with invaluable tips that will lead to a long and healthy life for your league.
1) Do your homework!
Leagues are very territorial. Visit www.derbyroster.com to see if there is a league in your area already. If there is, ask yourself -- do we fill a niche the other one can't? Many large cities have multiple leagues of various types. However, if you are in a small town or city, you might run into trouble you could easily avoid by just joining one of the existing leagues.
2) Remember your league is a business!
Whether you decide to form an LLC or a 501(c)(3), keep in mind that ultimately your league is a business and should be run as one. It is easy to fall into what we call the "tee ball league" mentality. Develop a sound business plan, have sound financial stability first and keep good records. Obtain an EIN number at IRS.gov with your new league name and personal information attached.
3) Naming your league
Make sure that you do your research. Name your league something relative to the area and easy to remember. Make sure not to use any trademarked names, such as "derby dolls," owned by the popular league LA Derby Dolls. You can trademark your name and copyright the logo at legalzoom.com
4) Get help!
There is strength in numbers. Find a friend, or preferably a relative, you trust to assist you with starting your league. Google "writing articles of incorporation" and have each founding member agree and sign the Articles. This will prevent any problems with potential members trying to dominate something you have put blood, sweat, tears and capital into.
5) Find a location
You don't need a fancy rink or convention center to start practicing. Many successful leagues started out in parking lots and outdoor hockey rinks. Make sure that if you do practice outdoors, you have proper equipment, cones and other items you might need. If you are lucky enough to land a roller skating rink, make sure you have a strong contract and make sure you have plenty of due-paying members. You do not want to be shelling money for practice out of your own pocket. Don't be afraid to negotiate the price for rental space. If you have questions about typical rental fees, you can contact us for advice at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How do we get our name out there? You should already have a name secured. Develop a good, clean logo and get yourself some inexpensive business cards. Vistaprint.com is an excellent resource for printing for less. Print up cards with your name, Facebook address and phone number on them, and leave them everywhere. If you can afford to, develop a website and construct an online application to assist you with recruiting.
You have a business plan, now how do I get skaters to join? Starter leagues typically have anywhere from 5 to 15 members. Some suggestions are:
* Post practice times on your League Facebook page and invite your target audience to attend.
* Create 4.25 x 5.5 recruiting handouts and pass them out in parking lots, community centers, skating rinks, malls, bars, gyms, and everywhere else.
* Start practicing. Believe it, or not, the best way to gain members is to start skating. Put on all your gear and hit the local park, or rink. Make sure to bring plenty of business cards.
Make sure to have a strong Waiver or General Liability Form, and have all new members sign the waiver before participating.
8) What to practice?
Now I have members how do we start preparing to actually play a game?
* Download the latest roller derby rules at www.skatemade.org.
* Join MADE. Submit a MADE League Membership on the Get MADE page. MADE will assign you a mentor league, and enroll you in the new league program. This program gives you total access to all the documents and drills you need to get up and skating in no time. A typical rookie MADE league has, on average, their first game six months after its first practice.
9) Get insurance.
Make sure all your members have Primary Medical Insurance. If they don't, they may obtain inexpensive Accidental Injury Insurance. You can contact us at email@example.com for assistance, and to enroll in our group plan. Obtain a P&C agent in your area and have them research General Liability Insurance for you. This will insure any spectators who might get injured watching your games or practices.
10) Develop a strong dues and attendance policy.
MADE has templates that will assist you in this step.
11) Recruit and train referees and officials.
MADE has an extensive and easy roller derby reffing system that your refs can enroll in from Day One.
12) Create merchandise.
The quickest and most low cost way to get selling is to open a Cafepress.com shop. Once you have begun selling merch and swag, find a local or online printer. Tee-shirts and car decals are awesome recruiting tools.
13) Develop a Public Relations program.
MADE can assist you with creating slick press releases and packets.
14) Take photos!
As your league grows, creative photography will help you create eye-catching flyers, websites and more.
15) Schedule scrimmages, participate in mixers, clinics and tournaments, and mingle with other MADE leagues.
The best way to get good at derby is to immerse your league in as many MADE events as possible. Leagues that have been around for a while are always willing to help out the newer leagues, and usually willing to help loan refs, players, announcers and more, until you are able to stand on your own.
16) Get ranked!
Have all your players obtain Individual MADE memberships, so that we might register them on RDnation.com. Remember, the more games your players compete or guest skate in the higher your leagues ranking will climb.
17) Read Vicious Circle Magazine
Visit (viciouscirclemag.com), the official Magazine of the Modern Athletic Derby Endeavor, for lots of training tips, current events, and more.
2010 - present
2010 - present