The Junior Olympics is the largest multi-sport competition for young athletes in the United States, featuring over 14,000 competitors from every state playing in 20 different sporting disciplines. It is the showcase event of the AAU, a non-profit which is dedicated to the promotion and development of amateur sports. The organization has more than a half-million members and tens of thousands of volunteers nationwide.
The AAU has partnered with USARS, who will organize and oversee the competition.
“The participation of our sport in this event represents a historic first step into the world of federated sports and we want to give a great first impression,” said Chris Hunter, member of the USARS Roller Derby Sport Committee. “In the upcoming years we hope to give athletes more opportunities to participate in youth events affiliated to sport federations.”
Hunter has much experience in the junior derby space, as he is also the Sr. Vice President at the Junior Roller Derby Association. He added, “our intention is to increase the exposure of our sport and to give junior athletes high-level competition options that have not been accessible under the current derby model,” a model that currently includes the JRDA Championships and Junior Roller Derby World Cup.
Under the agreement with the AAU, USARS will “define the way the sport will be represented at the event.” Along with other things, this includes coming up with the competition structure, participation requirements, and team selection process. The Sport Committee is actively working to bring on additional partners to bring more experience in organizing the Games.
The roller derby portion of the event will debut next year in Lincoln, Neb. in conjunction with the 2016 USARS National Championships. (The junior derby competition will be a satellite of the main 2016 Junior Olympics event in Houston, Texas. It is expected that derby join up with the other AAU disciplines in future years.) Coincidentally, 2016 will be the first time all of the championships for each of the USARS disciplines will be “under one roof” in Lincoln, including the regular roller derby national championship which USARS has offered since 2012.1
USARS will offer more details about roller derby at the Junior Olympic Games and the structure of the competition in the coming weeks.
In related news, USARS has announced that this year it will be repositioning its competitive season from January-December to September-August. The move is a bid to better align the USARS calendar with club and scholastic calendars, making it much easier for everyone to be on the same training and competition schedule.
This is important news for roller derby teams and players that have USARS sanctioning or insurance through USARS memberships. Cards for the 2016 season will need to be purchased before September of this year, as opposed to January of next year as was the case previously. During the transition, current 2015 memberships will only be valid for nine months.
More information on the calendar change and how this affects membership status is available on the USARS website, here.