2014: A Year in Review

Penn Jersey Roller Derby is excited to announce the end of another successful year for our Philadelphia-based co-ed bi-track-sual league. As 2014 has drawn to a close, PJRD can’t help but reflect on what can only be described as a year of improvements and transitions.

           The PJRD warehouse underwent the second stages of its facelift this year to give skaters and spectators the ultimate experience. PJRD is finally skating under a leak-free roof providing a safer and healthier experience for all. In combination with high-efficiency LED lights installed above the tracks, PJRD and visiting leagues can bash and thrash in what our league photographers can only describe as a photogenic dream.

           Our men’s team, the Hooligans, also made their own improvements to the warehouse. Relocating our skaters’ lockers to the back enabled our men to scrape up the old flat track and tape down a Men’s Roller Derby Association (MRDA) regulation track to help with their transition into  the new rule set. With the assistance of the PA All-Stars, the Hooligans set down the goal of MRDA sanctioning in 2014, superstitiously refusing to wash their jerseys until they achieved it. Games against Mass Maelstrom, Carolina Wreckingballs and Dow Jones Average ensued. Thankfully, the sanctioning came, jerseys were washed and our men proudly brought home their first win in the MRDA world against the Dutchland Roller Girls late last year.

           The men weren’t the only ones to play outside of their comfort zone. Our ladies’ travel team, the She-Devils, once again trained for the tough Battle on the Banked competition in San Diego, played under the Roller Derby Coalition of Leagues (RDCL) rule set. Their second year out west playing against derby titans saw the first She Devils’ victory at Battle on the Banked. Once again feeling the warm welcome, support, and professionalism offered by the RDCL leagues, the She-Devils came home wanting to be more involved. Soon, a league vote would prove PJRD as a whole was ready to transition to RDCL and join the network of leagues including: LA Derby Dolls, San Diego Derby Dolls, Seattle Tilted Thunder, OC Rollergirls, Arizona Derby Dames and many others along the Pacific coast. PJRD is thrilled to be the banked track derby bridge connecting the west coast to the east. The She-Devils can’t wait to fly out in 2015 to train and play with our new sister leagues.

           Despite the transition, PJRD skaters haven’t divorced the Modern Athletic Derby Endeavor (MADE) ruleset at all. After coming home from California, PJRD’s She-Devils switched gears once again and retrained their bodies for the MADE rules to compete at the 2014 MADE National Championships in Lebanon, Missouri. After a hard-fought battle and a series of injuries, the She-Devils came home victorious as the 2014 MADE National Women’s Championship, trophy in tow. Additionally, both Hooligans and She-Devils skaters still participate in mix-up games hosted by PJRD and our friends at South Jersey Roller Derby as well as others. Our local women’s team, the Hell’s Belles, and our freshmen Hooligans have a MADE game scheduled for this upcoming February against our comrades at Empire State Roller Derby in upstate New York.

           As the 2014 season closes and the New Year begins, Penn Jersey would like to sincerely thank from the bottom of our hearts the coaches and mentors who have left their invaluable imprint on us:

  • Little Richard Brown stepped in to help guide PJRD into modern sensibilities regarding roller derby and strategy. Richard: Your enthusiasm, guidance, and drive helped us to push ourselves in ways we hadn't before.

  • One of our founding skaters Wags decided to retire this year, closing his chapter as a long-standing Hooligans captain, just as the men are opening a new one. Wags has offered countless advice, mentoring rookies and vets on their blocking and strategy as well as overall league support from repairing our banked track to reffing games. Wags: We give you the warmest show of gratitude we have—the Hooligan salute—for all that you've done for PJRD over the past eight years.

  • As always, we wish to extend a warm thanks to Gary Powers and the National Roller Derby Hall of Fame for allowing PJRD to host another wonderful Judy Sowinski Memorial Old-Timers’ Game. This event embodies PJRD’s unique connection to the history and future of Roller Derby and gives our league an opportunity to honor our beloved coach, Judy, and connect with the stars that paved the way for today’s skaters. 

  • Last, but in no way the least, our coach, Skip Schoen, has inspired Penn Jersey skaters with tales of derby days long ago, Old School strategies, and safety and training reminiscent of his own in the 1960’s. Without his guidance on the banked track, we’d be lost. Skip: You’re our tie to the past and as we transition fully into the modern concept of roller derby, we will always remember where we came from and how we got here because of you.           

Penn Jersey thanks you, as always, for your support during this past year of changes and welcomes you to join us in our exciting new excursions in the upcoming year. Happy New Year, kisses and stitches, smacks and whacks, from our derby home to yours.