99 Problems and Recruiting is a Big One!

DaVille Roller Derby just held a pretty fantastic & historic event; we played roller derby at the Cumberland County Fair. We also had a skater's clinic with V-Diva that morning, but that's an amazing story for another time. But for such an historic event, and such a great history of having excess volunteers for our events, I struggled to find NSOs to fill just the basic spots to make the game run.

As a sport, we have some problematic trends with our recruiting practices. I see it in my league as well as others that I've worked with. And as representatives of our small but growing sport, we have to be open minded diplomats when it comes to teaching people about derby and getting people to work with our teams.

As the HNSO for DRD, I'm usually at odds with our leagues coach, MistHer, for a number of reasons. Mostly because we're both strong willed people with big ideas, but the single biggest point of contention is usually about recruitment. He wants everyone he meets, that shows any interest in roller derby, to skate with one of our teams. And as a small league, that's just trying to keep itself going with the well-known problem of skaters dropping in and out of the league at a moment's notice, I get it, and I even agree with it. Without skaters, we have no team. But I also see our team scare people away that might have been really great NSOs, or volunteers, because they don't skate, they don't want to skate, and being recruited like skating is the only option pushes them out of that zone of interest.

That being said, I'm still learning recruitment myself. I'm still learning to step in and stop my teammates from hammering people with the word skate. I'm still learning how to not do the exact opposite and concentrate solely on NSO recruiting and offering that as the only option for participation in roller derby. It's a trap we all fall into. I came into the league with a skater who is a dear friend mine. She introduced me to derby; took me to my first game in November 2013. When I said I could never get out there and take hits, she told me about NSOing and reffing, and how I could still get involved. All of those options existed in her head because she has been a skater, referee and NSO; she's lived in all of those worlds at one point or another. And now, nearly 9 months later, I have experience as an HNSO, and I'm working on the WFTDA certification process. I'm excited about this sport because I was allowed to step in at my own pace and in my own place. I know that if I ever have the desire, I can gear up and spend a practice on the track with my girls. But not all of us have had experiences in all of these spaces, so they aren't always in the front of our minds.

Recruiting is a necessary evil of any sport, business, or operation. Even billboards & television commercials are just recruitment for new customers to come buy your stuff. But what they're offering that we're not quite getting a grasp on is options. It's like producing the greatest new coat in the world that, no matter the temperature, keeps you perfectly warm or cool, but only offering it in a single size. It doesn't matter how much some people like the idea, not everybody fits that one size. And we have to remember that not everybody fits skating. But that's ok, because roller derby offers lots of different options for people with different size commitments to the sport. We just need to make sure we're telling everyone about all of those options, not just the ones that fit us.

Got any great tips on how to recruit? Amazing flyers, great taglines or super cool events that you've found to bring in NSOs, skaters, or both? Grace would love to hear about them & share them with the derby world so we can all keep this great sport moving on up. Comment here on Rollin' News, visit her facebook page or send her an e-mail at GraceOMalice [at] icloud [dot] com.

About The Author

DOB: 10/30/1985

Grace O'Malice is HNSO for DaVille Roller Derby out of Fayetteville, North Carolina. When she's not working the penalty box, she's learning how to skate, customizing her teammates gear & hanging out with her beautiful feline fur kid.

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