Happy Birthday Roller Derby Leicester, what a triumphant year!

Who would have thought that a small group of skaters that decided to form their own league would grow into such a success after only one year? Read on for the story of RDL’s first year…

The RDL Story so far!

On 10th November a first practice took place followed by a league meeting, and Roller Derby Leicester was born. Within just 24 hours the new league had gained 1000 likes on Facebook Moving quickly into December, the travel team began to train and scrim in earnest.

Travel team captain Sarah Brooks made it into the top 60 of the Team England trials.

RDL’s travel team went through the entire 2014 season undefeated. Since starting out unranked at the start of 2014, the Jackals have leapt a full 326 ranking places, and are currently 34th in Europe and 19th in the UK according to the Flat Track Stats ranking system. RDL has beaten teams from the length and breadth of the UK, including a lengthy away trip to Dundee. The team achieved a 100+ point victory margin in all but one of its games, underlining the consistency and dominance of the team’s performances.

Roller Derby Leicester has also achieved tremendous success off-track, in terms of expanding its membership and actively recruiting new players. The membership has more than doubled in size to 50 members. This includes seasoned players, rookies, new recruits, officials and volunteers.

RDL is passionate about growing the sport in the Midlands and UK. Following their comprehensive victories over Wolverhampton and Northampton, RDL’s coaches accepted the invitations of both teams to travel to their coaching sessions and guest coach their skaters. RDL hosted a two-day boot camp in June 2014 which was attended by over 30 skaters from around the UK.

Our two open door home games – against SWAT and Sheffield – were a success both on and off track. RDL earned hard-fought victories in both games, and the events attracted large audiences, including many new roller derby fans from the Leicestershire community.

RDL merchandise has been designed, developed and marketed in house, and has proven extremely popular. After just two print runs the merchandise business is now self financing.

We have taken part in outreach in the community at events such as Leicester Pride and Sportsfest, and have begun to develop local partnerships including with the Ben Cohen Stand Up Foundation, tackling homophobia in sport. We have attracted a large amount of local press and media attention during our first year, with regular game reports in the Leicester Mercury, visits to games from independent journalists and an exciting team visit on skates to Radio Leicester.

Looking forward

Moving into our second year, the focus is on developing our emerging B Team. With a number of skaters passing minimum skills in 2014, our intermediate skaters have begun playing regularly including scrims and cherry popper games, and are looking forward to competitive play in the coming months. We have recently achieved UKRDA membership and continue to recruit new members and develop, train and qualify our skaters and coaches.

These successes and gains have been made through the hard work and determination of league members who have volunteered their time in order that RDL might grow and prosper. We give ourselves three cheers and look forward to an equally successful second year in 2015.

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