Roller Derby Then
Racing. Collisions. Skill. Power. The history of roller derby has been nothing if not colorful. Over the years it has evolved many times, but the competitive spirit of its members has never died. With its inception in the early 1900s, roller derby began as glorified banked-track racing, then morphed into what was known as “transcontinental roller derby,” where teams of skaters would cover 3,000 miles skating around an oval track.
When World War II shook the globe, the sport’s popularity briefly waned. But in the late 1940s, it was picked up once again – this time on television – and sensationalized with loose storylines and a flair for the dramatic. These televised matches continued into the 1970s.
Roller Derby Now
After a period of dormancy, life was breathed back into the sport. In the early 2000s a couple of all-female leagues formed and played a few matches. Suddenly, leagues began popping up all over the country, and the world. In 2006, the WFTDA – or, the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association – was formed, and contemporary roller derby was born.
Over a decade later, derby is one of the fastest growing sports, with more than 400 registered leagues existing across the globe.You can find teams in almost every major city, as well as peppered throughout various communities. This ever-evolving sport has once again captured the hearts of loyal fans and dedicated athletes.
How the Devils came to be...
Our Humble Beginnings
The rebirth of international roller derby spawned the birth of a movement in Savannah. In January of 2006, Heather Hamilton Watson (a.k.a., Ms. DFiant) organized a small group of women at the Star Castle Family Entertainment Center in hopes of forming a league. Most hadn’t skated since they were kids, and no one had ever seen live roller derby before. But they put in the time and effort, practicing and upping their game until they were ready to compete. The time of the Savannah Derby Devils had finally arrived.
Coming into Our Own
Fast forward several years. The league has grown in numbers, skill, athleticism and understanding of this evolving sport. Hundreds of women and men have laced up as skaters and referees, but only a few have made the commitment to the demanding schedule, pricey equipment, and physical and mental challenges that roller derby demands.
In 2014, Savannah Derby Devils became a Full Member League of the WFTDA, complete with 501(c)(3) nonprofit status. Now, we are far more than a roller derby team. Skaters pay dues to play, and all members are expected to pitch in when it comes to planning events, fundraising, marketing and training.
Savannah has become as much a part of us as we have of it. We have a passion for making our city a better place, both through community initiatives and paving the way for future generations of women. Roller derby isn’t just a sport. It’s a mindset. It’s the knowledge that you can be a part of something bigger than yourself. From humble beginnings, our message has emerged. It is one of independence, empowerment, passion and teamwork.
We are fierce. We are women. We are here.