CRDL was founded by four Canberra women, ready and willing for the hard work and fast fun that is flat-track roller derby. After a couple of months loitering on skates in car parks and basketball courts, they finally knuckled down, registered the league and started scouting for willing skaters. In September 2008, CRDL’s first training sessions started. This is by no means an easy feat, given the challenge of finding supportive venues willing to take on a little known sport consisting primarily of women crashing around on skates. Not to mention the logistics of running training sessions for a sport that only two of the original skaters had even seen live
Swollen with new skaters from info nights, CRDL was soon running two three hours sessions every week. Held back by the lack of derby knowledge in the local area, Canberra derby skaters looked beyond the state borders, attending training sessions in Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney Roller Derby League’s Fresh Meat sessions and bouts. A group of eager to learn skaters also made their way to the Victorian Roller Derby League Roller Camp in November 2008. The generosity of older and more experienced Australian leagues has been invaluable, setting CRDL up with a solid administrative base, and coaches from around the country volunteering their time to coach and guide the league.
With the help of a grant from the ACT Women’s Office, CRDL were able to engage the services of Smarty Pants of Texas Roller Derby (USA), and Cheapskate, fresh from WFTDA victory with Gotham Girls Roller Derby (USA) for coaching in early 2009. Focusing on skating and coaching skills, their visit marked a turning point for CRDL, with skills, events and infrastructure becoming further established. CRDL had aimed to keep roller derby affordable and accessible, this has become easier with the growth of the league and its wider community of supporters. Previously modest fundraising efforts and hand-made merchandise, has developed into a range of bespoke jewelry, beer coolers, car stickers and garments sporting the CRDL knuckle duster logo.
Training skaters to be safe, skilled and smart has been a large focus for the league. Training sessions have been focused on building a solid base of simple skills upon which the derby skills can be built. The league’s attention to safety and care for its skaters has proudly resulted in minimal injuries, and strong, determined athletes who love the sport.
Setting up CRDL as a thriving and self-sustaining community for women’s flat track derby has been hard work, at times trying and frustrating, but ultimately rewarding. Seeing the league develop into a talented group of skaters, with the savvy to run a sell-out debut bout season with efficient media management and organisation, the energy put into the league is matched and more by its success.
CRDL’s debut into public skating was the Carnival of Carnage, 20 June 2009. An exhibition bout between the Candy Caners and the Hot Jammer Donuts, this also marked the start of Canberra’s love affair with roller derby.
This was soon followed by the inaugural three bout season from October 24, 2009, featuring CRDL’s home teams the Black ’n' Blue Belles and the Surly Griffins. 2010 was kicked into gear with another closely contested season between these two home teams as well as the launch of CRDL’s representative team the Vice City Rollers (VCR), who made their debut at the Great Southern Slam in June. CRDL closed 2010 with the introduction of two new home teams the Brindabelters and the Red Bellied Black Hearts and saw CRDL host our first ever interstate bout against the Sydney Roller Derby League’s Assassins at the AIS to the second largest derby crowd in Australia.
2011 was CRDLs most ambitious year with the Vice City Rollers competing in interstate bouts and tournaments as well hosting two of the best teams in Australia at the AIS. It was also CRDL’s first full length bouting season showcasing all our talented home teams spanning from April till October, where the season concluded with the Red Bellied Black Hearts taking home the coveted Darby Derby Cup after a nail-biting double header at the AIS. The VCRs brought home numerous wins from interstate bouts and the cup for the 2011 Eastern Region Tournament. 2011 was not only a big year for CRDL but for the sport of women’s flat-track roller derby internationally as Toronto became host to the first ever Blood and Thunder World Cup. CRDL proudly supported our home team and VCR skaters AmyKazeee, Bambi von Smash’er, King Cam and ShortStop who made that Australian representative team. Team Australia placed fourth at the World Cup.
2012 is already proving to be another closely contested season for the CRDL home teams. With home team numbers grown to as many as 20 skaters a team the competition and competitiveness for a spot on the bout day bench is pushing skaters to reach their potential as athletes ensuring that the Canberra fans are seeing a more fierce competition on the track. While our home teams having been wowing the Canberra fans, our VCRs have been causing a stir both at home and afar with a strong win at the AIS, followed up by numerous wins at this year’s Great Southern Slam. If the first half of the year is anything to go by CRDL will be breaking hearts, booty blocking, can opening and walling their way through another exciting year of women’s flat track roller derby.