First off, if you’ve been a reader of the Nerd over the years, you’ve probably noticed that things look a little different around here. It’s a fresh new look for a fresh new year! But don’t worry, in terms of content and derby nerdiness, nothing will change. However, due to the change, you may notice some formatting inconsistencies, particularly when reading archived material. Feel free to let me know if anything looks truly messed up!
2013 was an incredible year for roller derby, and any way you look at it, 2014 is going to be an even bigger year. Internationally, this will truly be the year that roller derby goes global. The second women’s world cup is coming up, but first, the inaugural men’s world cup will take place in Birmingham, England, in March, making roller derby truly a global undertaking open to all. This global gender equality could very well be the first tentative step toward mainstream (IE: Olympic) international recognition.
A little closer to home, in 2013 Canada certainly announced itself as a power in competitive roller derby. After such a successful World Cup showing in 2011, it seemed only a matter of time before Canadian teams started to emerge as contenders in the WFTDA. This season, it all started with Montreal’s high playoff seeding and Tri-City’s impressive run in the D2 playoffs and was capped off with Vancouver and Toronto’s string of upsets in the D1 Divisionals.
This has set expectations for 2014 very high. Tri-City was recently awarded one of the WFTDA’s D2 playoff Divisional tournaments, which is a great achievement, but perhaps one year too late as all indications show Tri-City making a run at D1 this season. Similarly, while Montreal will be hard pressed to ascend to the ranking heights they hit in 2013, Toronto and Vancouver are poised to make noise and advance up the standings. Also, Rideau Valley (who just missed out on D2 playoffs last year) and Hammer City (who had one of the largest ranking jumps in the WFTDA last year) are both solid contenders in the second division.
AND on top of that, we now welcome Forest City, Calgary, Border City and GTA Rollergirls into the WFTDA fold. Last year Calgary made massive competitive strides and could be a team to watch this year and could even be in the mix in the second division. Forest City should be able to build on an inconsistent 2013, while Border City (who are going through a big organizational change) and GTA probably lack the depth of organization to compete in 2014, but nonetheless will help bring more exposure to Canadian roller derby in general, and Ontario roller derby in particular (it’s amazing that there are seven [!] full WFTDA member leagues in Ontario alone).
All of this makes the Nerd very excited to cover 2014!
On this site, you can expect the same Toronto and Eastern Canadian roller derby coverage that you’ve had for years now, but there will also be a very specific global focus as I cover both the Canadian men’s and women’s teams as they prepare for their respective World Cups (expect profiles and interviews). As usual, I’ll be taking the odd road trip as well and reporting back. Actually, that begins this weekend, as I’ll be heading to Detroit to be a guest announcer for the Detroit Derby Girls 2014 house league opener.
Also, after an incredibly fun and informative first season of working on the Canadian Power Rankings with Captain Lou El Bammo, Dick Pounder and Jenny Fever, we’ll be back to track 2014 as well! Stay tuned for a separate Power Rankings Preview coming soon.
And finally, on a more personal note, this spring, I will be travelling around promoting a collection of short fiction written by my alter ego D.D. Miller. Not surprisingly, roller derby features prominently in the title story, “David Foster Wallace Ruined My Suicide.” As some of you know, I am also currently working on a book-length project about roller derby: so every league in Canada (and beyond!) be prepared to be hit up for interviews if I happen to pass through your town in 2014.
Thanks so much for the continued readership and support! Here’s to a phenomenal 2014!