It is the mission of Humboldt Roller Derby to:
- Build a stronger community and promote other like-minded non-profits through the sport of roller derby;
- Grow and sustain the Humboldt Roller Derby league as a positive, family-friendly, long term community institution and resource;
- Provide a professional environment for women of all backgrounds and skill levels to train and participate in a full contact sport;
- Provide a model for the development of roller derby leagues in other communities; and
- Facilitate and provide educational and athletic opportunities for youth.
By Jennifer McMahon, HRD's Founder
Such a simple concept yet so complicated. Its hard for me to really give you an unbiased look into ourorganization because I lived it through my eyes.
I recently was invited to participate in a local TedEx event. I was scared to death but very honored to do so. And as I wrote my speech about a subject I learned about called “ Founders Syndrome”; I reached out for help and suggestions from friends and colleagues. I realized in that process their history is much different than mine. Because it's their lense that digests the picture. So as you read this know it’s my history of Humboldt Roller Derby in the most unbiased way I can share it with you. Enjoy.
Before there was a Humboldt Roller Derby there was me on a couch. I was 34. I was channel surfing and I saw this amazing show called “Rollergirls” on A&E. “WHAT the heck is this?” I thought. I cannot explain it - I just can tell you I knew I had to play it. Since at the time there was no roller derby in Humboldt - my only option was to start it, or not play.
So me, a 34 year old woman that can not even skate mind you, started a roller derby league in the small, rural county of Humboldt.
"Be careful what you wish for" has such great impact on me now. I can tell you that as I started this process I had plenty of business experience but no athletic experience. I had never played sports before so when I called the first Humboldt Roller Derby meeting and 60 women showed up, I almost threw up.
Holy moly what have I done. They were all staring and me wondering whats next! Heck if I knew! I just knew I had to do it right, and I was going to take one slow step at a time. That frustrated some. From the get go we had some very talented skaters. I can only imagine what is was like having someone that could not skate try and coach a group of women to learn the skills needed for roller derby. I wouldn't even want to be a fly on the wall of those houses.
It was also very difficult to get anyone to take us seriously. I called all kinds of places to practice. Never did I think that would be so difficult. A lot of people thought we were a joke. A reincarnation of a staged act. We had to work very hard to be taken seriously. We pushed through all that. We just stayed true toourselves and made people pay attention.
I got a break. There was an ambitious creative woman named Heather at Blue Lake Parks and Rec (I believe she is currently working in Arcata) and after hearing many "no"s I was elated to hear her say, "SURE!" - as if it was perfectly normal. Oh what a relief.
Our league was officially born in February of 2007. I did a lot by myself for a while but that changed in about mid 2008. Why? Because in group dynamics passionate ideas inspire people. And one thing I can say for sure is roller derby inspires passion in anyone involved. Boy did our league really start to take off when skaters started to do volunteer work for HRD. Skills I did not possess and skills our league needed. Meeting facilitators (before roller derby I had no idea there was such a thing), committee formations, sponsorship drives, it all started to take off! John Fesler and Jerry Nutter from the Humboldt Crabs organization wereinstrumental in our current set up. They graciously took us under their wings and instilled in us manyyears of hard lessons to keep a sports organization going
In 2009 we started to realize we needed more help. So we reached out to our community to form a non-skater board of directors. Community members stepped up and reorganized our bookkeeping, helped us write bylaws, filed for our non-profit status, ran our home game events, and took care of scheduling. It was amazing. While we the skaters still had a lot of work on our plates, having that support from the community really helped us create more time for training.
In 2010 I officially “sold," - well, donated - Humboldt Roller Derby to the community. It was both scary and wondrous. In that transition we also became members of WFTDA. WFTDA is an acronym for Women’s Flat Track Derby Association. Becoming members of WFTDA allows us to be ranked nationally with other amazing athletes.
Today we are a community-run organization . Both Skaters and BOD working side by side with what we call super-volunteers to bring to the county of Humboldt an athletic organization that empowers women and girls alike, that is rooted in supporting the community in any way we can. And we work very hard and train to compete at a national level representing our community with pride and gratitude. Because this organization is run fully on the support and sweat equity of this community. As an organization, each key individual is passionate about this sport. We participate when and how we can.
One thing I can say for certain is Humboldt Roller Derby would not be here if it was not for the love and dedication of the volunteers , skaters, board of directors, fans, and sponsors. This league is a shining example of why our community is so special.