How to Start a Junior Roller Derby League 101

Starting a junior roller derby can be a really daunting task. Even if you've helped set up your adult league, juniors are a lot of extra work. You can make it a lot easier on yourself, and we've done a lot of the back-end work to make it even easier. What follows is not the only way to do this, it is simply the way we reccommend to simplify the process as much as possible.

Organizing your Board, Members, and all the other back-end paperwork

Setting up the business structure and organization is the most painful part of setting up a league for most people, and also the part that can really cause problems later if it's not done right - so get it out of the way, then focus on the fun stuff. If you are not planning to be affiliated with an adult league, you will need to do all the same things here that you would do there.

Here are the things you'll need to look into, at a bare minimum. We've linked many of these to example documents which you can edit and use (Google Docs - select File --> Make a Copy... to save a copy you can edit), or which you can use as-is (.pdf documents).

  1. Name / Logo / Business Identity
  2. United States Federal Registration and Tax ID (EIN)
  3. State-specific Registration
  4. Bank Account Set Up
  5. Incorporation (include 501(c)(3) required language if you're going that route)
    • Board of Directors
    • Bylaws*
  6. Any additional required state paperwork - not-for-profit registration, etc.
  7. Membership Stuff
    • Registration Packet
    • Codes of Conduct
    • Membership Rules
    • Liability Waivers

*Important point - These are business bylaws, rather than roller derby bylaws. Bylaws in a business sense is what the president's job is, what the vice president's job is, how the organization is organized and administered. This document is filed with the state government for corporations, and the US Government for 501(c)3 not-for-profit organizations. The IRS does not care how much your skaters pay in dues/registration, or what happens to them if they don't make it to practice. Put that in a separate document - we recommend calling it Membership Rules.

Another important point - Keep in mind that the Membership Rules are written for children and their parents. Do not put every minor revision or change up to a league vote. As long as things are running smoothly, the kids "just want to skate" and their parents tend to "just want their kids to skate." It's a delicate balance - the board is in charge of running the league and will probably make 95%+ of the day-to-day decisions either on its own, or after asking for parent/skater input, but there should be a method that the members can use to get rules changed in the (hope-it-never-comes-up) case of the board running amok or disappearing without a trace, just in case.

We recommend putting all of the required paperwork for your league into a single packet. The KISS principle - Keep It Super Simple - always applies in everything you do; no one likes to go hunting for forms all over the web, or downloading 30 attachments, if it's avoidable. Many PDF creation programs will allow you to attach pages together into a single file; this can be very useful in compiling your registration packet.

Notes on Membership Rules: The JRDA recommends that you hold both behavioral, and scholastic expectations for your skaters - they should be expected to behave themselves both on and off the track, and to uphold a certain GPA, in order to participate in junior derby. As parents, our policy with our own kids is, School Comes First - and we extended that to derby.

Details and links to live documents can be found here:

About The Author

DOB: 1/4/1975

About JRDA The Junior Roller Derby Association (JRDA) a public non-profit educational and amateur sports organization that is dedicated to advancing the growth of roller derby through the standardization of rules and goals for existing and new leagues.

The mission of JRDA is to nurture bold self-confidence in youth by developing teamwork and athletic ability while treasuring individuality within a culture of integration, encouragement, and service to others.

JRDA partners with competitive & recreational junior leagues, communities & schools, mentors & families; to empower youth through the international sport of roller derby.

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