The Central New York Roller Derby Story
In late 2007, a small group of women in and around Utica, NY began talking about playing roller derby. None had any significant prior skating experience. Some had never seen a roller derby bout, and this was at a time when you still had to really search to even see it on Youtube! Through mutual friends, they were introduced to members of Assault City Roller Derby in Syracuse NY, and began to make the snowy trek once a week to practices in Syracuse. Soon more local women started asking about the sport. By December 2007, we had enough local and regional interest to begin hosting their own practices, and Central New York Roller Derby League was born.
The decision to call our league Central New York Roller Derby was made because we wanted our league to be geographically diverse, representing the region from Albany to Syracuse along I-90 and from the Adirondacks to the Cooperstown area, and not just representative of one city. As of this writing, we have members from Utica, Rome, Herkimer, Ilion, Mohawk, Little Falls, Richfield Springs, Clinton, Remsen, Syracuse, Dewitt, Canastota, Glens Falls, Whitesboro, New Hartford, New York Mills, Yorkville and Westmoreland. We have women from all walks of life; mothers, teachers, students, a semi-professional arm wrestler, social worker, nurses, farmers, counselor, IT support, graphics design, artists, bartenders, athletic trainer, college sports coach, college professor, gradeschool teacher, baristas, activists, but above all, we have a bunch of ladies who have a drive to skate hard, block harder, and represent this area the best we can in the sport of roller derby. There is NO right 'type' to be a derby girl- no style, no hair-do, no clothes, and certainly no body type- It's about your drive and determination to be an athlete.
CNYRD started competing in April 2008, and held its first home bout in July 2008 to an enthusiastic crowd at the Utica Memorial Auditorium skating as 'The Asylum City Lunatics' against our forerunners Assault City. Since then we have been lucky enough to host bouts during our subsequent seasons at JFK Arena in Rome, NY, and also travel to compete against teams all over the Northeast US.
Roller derby runs in the blood in Central New York for sure- besides us local gals who have built modern roller derby here, there are skaters from CNY in bigger places, too: from Rome NY there are members of both Gotham Girls Roller Derby (NYC) and Roc City Roller Derby (Rochester); a Remsen native crossed the pond and now skates for Romsey Town Rollerbillies (UK), a Frankfort native skates with CT Rollergirls, a New Hartford native skates with Boston Derby Dames, a Whitesboro native skates with Texas Rollergirls, and this list goes on. Since our inception we have spawned three home teams, an all-star travel team, a B level travel team, a second local league, and even a men's team 'The Quadfathers', started by our refs.
Business and Mission
CNYRD operates as a non-profit organization. All money that comes into our league goes to defraying the costs of putting on bouts, making merchandise, and helping with league expenses. No one on the league makes a penny off of playing this sport or running this business. CNYRD is run by the skaters through a democratically elected board of directors, along with committees managing such areas as Public Relations, Marketing, Sponsorships, Merchandising, Recruitment, Events, Bout Production, and Coaching & Training.
Roller derby is not a cheap sport to be involved with. We have been lucky enough to gain the support of many local businesses, and also receive generous sponsorships from select local businesses and organizations. We could not play the sport we love without this community support, and because of this, we give back as much as possible with charitable contributions of money, food donations, and volunteer labor to organizations whose missions we feel match with our own.
Our mission statement includes fostering community, sportswomanship, and athleticism; fostering the spread of roller derby as a sport; to represent our area in the Women's Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA); to foster empowerment of females of all races, colors, national origins, sexual orientations, ages, religious beliefs, and body types by providing positive athletic role models and examples of healthy and tasteful exhibitions of the dichotomy of sexuality and athleticism that women’s roller derby can entail; and to instill a sense of sisterhood, loyalty, hard work, and competitiveness among our skaters, and a sense of family among our organization as a whole.