When the Victorian Roller Derby League became the first Australian league to be accepted as a WFTDA Apprentice League, they rapidly discovered acceptance was just the beginning.
The Victorian Roller Derby League (VRDL) has been abuzz with some incredibly exciting news – the league has been accepted into the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association’s (WFTDA) Apprentice Program.
As every well-informed roller girl knows, WFTDA was formed in 2004, and has been accepting leagues into the program on a quarterly basis for a number of years now.
It’s complicated system of application, requiring pages of documentation, a number of key starting criteria, and lots of questions.
The London Rollergirls (LRG) became pretty notorious throughout the derbysphere for becoming the first league outside of North America to be accepted into the WFTDA program in late 2009.
VRDL thanks Kitty DeCapitate, a former London Rollergirl, for her tireless work in helping the league get appreciated.
Kitty has been a key player in making the apprenticeship possible, although she admits she is as keen as the rest of the league to find out what the process looks like.
In 2009, when London got the good news, Juliana Gonzales, WFTDA Executive Director issued a statement. “WFTDA is delighted to begin collaborating with overseas leagues,” she said. “We have a lot to learn from each other, and we’re excited to see the strength of the flat-track derby community expand its reach outside North America.”
WFTDA have been anticipating an influx of overseas applicants in the months since their acceptance of LRG, with Paris Rollergirls accepted in October 2010. But with more applicants than places, this process may be more trickle than flood.
At VRDL, we’ve got to admit we’re pretty thrilled about the apprenticeship news, and can’t wait to find out more of the process.
While it seems a little magical and mystical, the process does come with some key guidance, and associated mentor, and a curricula.
According to WFTDA the idea is to leave flexibility for leagues at all different levels and, generally, the curriculum will take one year to complete.
Designed to act as a ‘WFTDA 101’ tutorial, the Apprentice Program matches new leagues with an established WFTDA mentor, who guides her apprentice through the processes and requirements necessary to becoming a full member.
The mentor also offers advice about league-specific issues, everything from league formation to how to become ranked and qualify for WFTDA sponsored tournaments.
And there’s more to look forward to, such as access to the Apprentice Program section on the WFTDA message board – think networking and a goldmine of shared resources, referee education and training, and access to WFTDA committees and projects.
How this will work with such a large distance between the North American-based WFTDA, and the southern hemisphere-bound latest apprentice league remains to be seen.
So far, the VRDL has discovered their mentor is Knocker SocksOff from Oly Rollers. The impressive track record of the Oly Rollers in their years of association with WFTDA is knocking VRDL’s socks off!
The league is all too aware of Oly’s reputation as one of the fastest teams on the flat track, with many key members having competed in speed skating and roller hockey.
Based in Olympia, Washington, the OlyRollers held the WFTDA win streak record (22-0), and were the national WFTDA champs for years before being knocked off the top spot by Rocky Mountain in what became the Derby News Network’s Bout of the Year in 2010 (our very own VRDL vs. Sund State Soller Girls bout at The Great Southern Slam also gained a nomination).
So what does this apprenticeship means for Australian roller derby?
While that is pretty difficult to speculate about, it could open up Australia roller derby to become more visible as a whole.
The future looks bright as Australia looks to becoming a region watched closely by derby fans the world over.
For more information about the WFTDA apprenticeship program visit http://wftda.com/apprentice-program.
published in Issue 4, Autumn 2011.