USARS Roller Derby Begins Program for U.S. National Team

No, not *that* Team USA Roller Derby. A different Team USA Roller Derby, meant to participate in another area of the sports landscape.

USA Roller Sports has revealed the next phase in its game plan to attempt to bring a part of roller derby into the established sports community—drawing the ire of a part of the established skater community.

USARS is developing its own national team for roller derby, the organization announced today.

USARS Derby LogoAs part of the program, USARS will select a coaching staff, and ultimately players, to represent the United States in internationally-recognized competitions. It will also, it says, “bring a unified and distinctive face to the USARS Roller Derby program.”

“We are excited to support the efforts of our governing body, FIRS [the International Federation of Roller Sports], and to participate in the 2017 Roller Games in Barcelona, ” says Fernando Regueiro, USARS Roller Derby Sport Committee chairman and at-large member of the full USARS Board of Directors. “We need to prepare the roller derby teams that will be representing the United States at that historic event, but also at other future international events where roller sports already have a presence, like the Pan-American Games.”

USARS is planning for there to eventually be teams for several competitive categories within the program (men, juniors, etc.) but will start with the women’s national team this year.

Tryouts for the team will take place during the 2015 USARS Roller Derby National Championship in Philadelphia, Penn. this August. Players on participating teams and for those not involved with the tournament are welcome, provided they are USARS members in good standing. Per USARS/FIRS policy, skaters aged at least 14 as of this year are also eligible to try out for the senior team.

After being selected, USARS will host training camps and clinics for the skaters, which will lead to exhibition events to showcase the team to the country. After that, the team will be dispatched on international tours to prepare it its first big world showcase at Roller Games.

The news of USARS starting its own national team comes only months after the existing Women’s Team USA Roller Derby, created by the derby community and for the derby community, took its second Roller Derby World Cup title in Dallas at the end of last year.

In effect, this means there are now two Team USA Roller Derby teams. Or still just one, depending on who you talk to.

“As a 5 year member of Team USA Roller Derby I will not be supporting this effort or participating,” said Bonnie Thunders, in a comment to the USARS Roller Derby Facebook post announcing its new initiative. “I recognize WFTDA as the governing body of roller derby, not USARS.” Several of her Team USA teammates echoed her sentiment.

In spite of that position, and in spite of the organization’s past mismanagement, USARS is still recognized by the United States1 as the governing body of competitive roller sports in the country. As authorized by both the U.S. Olympic Committee and FIRS, it is has the right to field a team for competitions sanctioned by both of those organizations.

Since the WFTDA and most of the roller derby community within the United States has rejected USARS as a governing body, and the existing Team USA Roller Derby is showing no interest in further expanding derby’s footprint via Roller Games, USARS was effectively forced to create a national team to fulfill its obligations to its own membership.

But USARS doesn’t see this move as a short-term attention grabber. “This is the beginning of a long-term process for elite athletes in the U.S. to compete at the international level,” Regueiro said.

Even if a good portion of the roller derby community feels as if there is already plenty of international competition for the elite today, USARS sees no harm in preparing for what elite competition might look like in the future. The organization feels confident that it can offer a contribution for roller derby in the world sports stage, and it’s worth giving it a try.

Because Team USA Roller Derby will always be there, no matter what happens. At least one of them, anyway.