In barely seven months of being a full-fledged WFTDA member league, the Gold Coast Derby Grrls accomplished an incredible feat by making the Top Ten of the South Central Region and being invited to playoffs at “Show Me Der-B-Q” in Kansas City. The league has come a long way from 2008, back when they were known as the Broward County Derby Grrls. While the roster has changed significantly (as it does for many derby leagues over time), the talent has been undeniable.

What is unusual is two of the names currently on Gold Coast’s charter roster for South Central playoffs: Blaque Jac and Jamsterella. While at least one of these ladies has previously skated against Gold Coast, before September of 2011, they have never skated with Gold Coast in a bout. For those of you unfamiliar with these two names, Blaque Jac lives in the Sarasota-Bradenton area and has been skating with the Bradentucky Bombers since sometime in 2009. Jamsterella has been a mainstay on the Ft. Myers Derby Girls’ travel team since that same year. How and why these ladies got on the Gold Coast charter roster (as well as how WFTDA rules currently allow this) is our story today.

At the beginning of the 2011 season, both the Gold Coast Derby Grrls and the Palm Beach Roller Girls existed as separate leagues with separate rosters. The Palm Beach Roller Girls had established a limited liability corporation in the State of Florida on or about June 7, 2010. Sometime over the next six months, the Palm Beach Roller Girls had gone through a league split, as several skaters and staff members split off to form the Dub City Derby Girls. The leagues and rosters remained separate once Gold Coast was promoted to full-fledged WFTDA member league status in March of this year, and when Palm Beach skated against the Ft. Myers Derby Girls on Sunday, April 17th. Both leagues held separate rosters, and both the Gold Coast Derby Grrls and the Palm Beach Roller Girls maintain a separate web presence, both on Facebook and on their own websites. However, around June 24, 2011, the Palm Beach Roller Girls Board of Directors voted to dissolve its LLC; a record of the dissolution is on file with the State of Florida and can be viewed online.

Around that time, the decision was made either for the Palm Beach Roller Girls to merge with Gold Coast, or for Gold Coast to “annex” the Palm Beach Roller Girls. On a bout held on July 9, 2011, Palm Beach Roller Girls rosters began featuring skaters from Gold Coast (including Freekarella and Krap Appel), and vice versa. Some of these Palm Beach skaters (including Pyromaniac, Electrix, and Tackle Me Elmo) partially comprised the roster for Gold Coast’s B-team, the Beachside Bombshells, when they faced Ft. Myers’s B-team, the Misdemeanors, on Saturday, August 27th, at a bout during a Blood and Thunder Magazine Derby Boot Camp. In my opinion, in a sport that began in many ways from a league split, there is absolutely nothing illegal or unethical if the two leagues have officially merged into one, or even if Gold Coast has “annexed” Palm Beach. There’s nothing wrong with a consolidation, and it certainly helps the talent pool for the surviving league. Three of Palm Beach’s skaters, Shred-Her, Tackle Me Elmo, and Pyromaniac, are also listed on Gold Coast’s WFTDA charter for South Central Region Playoffs.

As of September 18, 2011, the Gold Coast’s Derby Grrls’ website featured at least 27 skaters on their roster (Interestingly enough, neither Pyromaniac nor Electrix nor Tackle Me Elmo nor Shred-Her were listed on the website roster.). To my knowledge, all were eligible to make the charter roster for the WFTDA 20. For reasons unknown to me, Gold Coast chose to go outside of their roster (and Palm Beach’s roster), and to recruit at least two other skaters from outside leagues in Blaque Jac and Jamsterella.

While not skating for a WFTDA team before September 16th, Blaque Jac has become one of the most intense students of her sport in her three years with Bradentucky. She’s often been seen in the stands at East Coast Derby Extravaganza, in attendance at derby boot camps and at RollerCon, and has become one of the most fierce (if not the most fierce) blockers for the Bombers (not unlike her idol, Beyonslay of Gotham Girls Roller Derby). An argument can be made that, although the league was founded back in 2006 by jammer-turned-blocker Gigi RaMoan, Blaque Jac has become the heart and soul of her league. On Friday, September 16th (a mere two weeks before “Show Me Der-B-Q”), Blaque Jac skated with Gold Coast’s travel team against the Gainesville Roller Rebels at the Bank United Center on the University of Miami campus in Coral Gables, Florida.

“I can only explain the difference between ‘borrowing’ and ‘becoming a part of’ like this,” Blaque Jac states. “(The) Bradentucky (Bombers) borrows skaters sometimes as do other non-WFTDA teams… they skate for a bout here or there and are not required to meet any attendance requirements. GCDG isnt ‘borrowing skaters from outside their league.’ I have decided to become a part of GCDG. I am making the same requirements that are placed on the other skaters that are on the GCDG Charter. I was told before I decided that if I did not make practice attendance then I would not be rostered for any bouts. I bouted in my first GCDG bout as a part of the A team (on Friday, September 16th). Even though this (was) not a sanctioned bout I still had to make full attendance to be rostered.”

Jamsterella came to roller derby as a jam skater, as many in Florida have (including Jacksonville’s Meow Mix Yo Face Up, Magic City Misfits’ Streak, and her Ft. Myers teammate Bellicose Blondie). Skating since her youth, Jamsterella has become a double-threat at jammer and pivot. In an amazing turn of events, Jamsterella and her teammates Bellicose Blondie and deJENerate made a last-minute trip to Feasterville in June to try out for Team USA for Blood and Thunder Magazine’s World Cup of Roller Derby. To her credit, Jamsterella was invited to the final tryouts in Tampa on Saturday, July 23rd. Among a roster that includes Atomatrix, Suzy Hotrod, Teflon Donna, and countless other all-stars from around the country, Jamsterella was named as an alternate to Team USA – one of only two skaters not with a WFTDA league to be named to the team.

Jamsterella’s remarks echo her rival (and now teammate). “I asked about it and since I’m not a WFTDA member (Gold Coast) said it would be okay. I had to make attendance with their team for the past month. Which I’ve done so far including (Ft. Myers Derby Girls) practices as well. ”

It’s hard to find fault with Gold Coast’s choice in recruits. Furthermore, WFTDA rules allow Gold Coast to supplement their charter with outside skaters, so long as those skaters are not currently on another WFTDA league’s charter. However, this situation presents some serious questions to me. First, how does this affect morale within Gold Coast? Skaters who have skated with the league who would be otherwise eligible for the WFTDA Charter have lost spots to skaters from another league. Jamsterella, while no doubt thrilled to skate with Gold Coast and to compete on a national level, has no intention to leave her spot with the Ft. Myers Derby Girls, so South Central Region Playoffs will be a one-shot deal for her.

If we go by Blaque Jac’s definition, isn’t Gold Coast “borrowing” Jamsterella for “Show Me Der-B-Q,” rather than having her “become a part of” the league? With all due respect to both Jamsterella and Blaque Jac (who I respect and even consider to be friends), and while acknowledging that both have made practice requirements as other league members would, would their spots not be better assigned to skaters who skate full-time with Gold Coast and no other league?

How does this situation compare with a league in the South Central Region like the Hard Knox Roller Girls, a league that barely rosters 30 skaters and who has skaters doing double-duty when they skate in double headers, yet still qualified for South Central Playoffs in 2010? Furthermore, how does this situation compare with Deranged et. al. transferring from Pike’s Peak to Rocky Mountain just before Western Playoffs in 2009? Or Amanda Jamitinya transferring from Duke City to Rocky Mountain last year? What about the Oly Rollers rostering Stella Italiana for Western Playoffs this year?

Additionally, just why does WFTDA allows this rule? It’s understandable that perhaps WFTDA did not expect member leagues to supplement their roster with skaters who were nationwide all-stars like Jamsterella (and arguably Blaque Jac). But the rule raises further questions, such as should this rule still exist in this way? Did WFTDA expect teams to exploit the rule in the manner in which Gold Coast appears to be exploiting the rule (a la Rat City’s controversial strategy against Rocky Mountain last weekend, which was within the rules, but is it within the spirit of the rules?)?

As the rule exists, in a hypothetical situation, were Harmony Killerbruse to return to the Minnesota Roller Girls after skating for the Oly Rollers at Western Region Playoffs in 2010, wouldn’t she be allowed to skate with Minnesota at Championships after helping the Oly Rollers to Championships? Does the situation with this rule and the roster for Gold Coast this weekend compare to a situation where Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers plays quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts while Peyton Manning is out with a serious injury? Is this a rule that needs to be revisited and revised by WFTDA at the end of the Big 5, along with slow/no skate play and with forfeits of tournament bouts (all of which we’ve seen over the past two weeks)?

Gold Coast’s accomplishment in making it to South Central Region Playoffs in barely seven months as a full-fledged WFTDA member league is an accomplishment that cannot be denied. However, why Jamsterella and Blaque Jac are on the WFTDA Charter roster for Gold Coast, and why WFTDA rules allow this to happen, should be questioned.

Image courtesy of Vince Hannity