Women's Flat Track Derby Association logo
|No. of teams||
421 Full Member leagues,|
45 Apprentice leagues
(as of 6 June 2018 )
Victorian Roller Derby League|
Boston Roller Derby
|Most titles||Gotham Girls Roller Derby (5)|
The Women's Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) is the international governing body for the sport of women's flat track roller derby, and association of leagues around the world. The organization was founded in April 2004 as the United Leagues Coalition (ULC), but was renamed in November 2005. It is registered in Raleigh, North Carolina as a 501(c)(6) business league organization, a type of nonprofit organization.
According to its mission statement, the WFTDA "promotes and fosters the sport of women's flat track roller derby by facilitating the development of athletic ability, sportsmanship, and goodwill among member leagues", and its governing philosophy is "by the skaters, for the skaters" -- the primary owners, managers, and operators of each member league and of the association are women skaters, although this does not preclude any particular business structure (leagues don't have to be legally incorporated or internally egalitarian). The mission statement also says WFTDA sets "standards for rules, seasons, and safety, and determining guidelines for the national and international athletic competitions of member leagues", and says "all member leagues have a voice in the decision-making process, and agree to comply with WFTDA policies".
In 2004, the United Leagues Coalition (ULC) was an informal electronic message board through which established leagues compared notes in order to prepare for inter-league play, and it was also used to exchange information to help new leagues that were just getting started. The ULC evolved into a more formal organization in July 2005, when representatives of 20 leagues met in Chicago to discuss establishing a governing body for women's flat-track roller derby. At the meeting, a voting system was established, as was a set of goals, and a timeline established for facilitating inter-league play. Among these goals was the production of a standard track design, and standard game rules. The design and rules were settled upon and distributed later that year. In November 2005, the ULC voted to change its name to the Women's Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA), with initial membership of 22 leagues (soon expanded to 30 members by early 2006).
In early 2006, a track design and rules were published on the organization's fledgling website.
On 15 August 2007, the WFTDA announced it had struck a deal with the MavTV network to record, edit and broadcast the 2007 Eastern Regional Tournament as a weekly series of 12 one-hour episodes (one episode per bout).
In September 2007, the WFTDA was admitted to USA Roller Sports (USARS) as a Class V member -- a national amateur roller skating organization -- and a WFTDA delegate joined the USARS Board of Directors.
In June 2008, the WFTDA Rules Committee created a Question and Answer forum to "provide definitive and final answers about the Women's Flat Track Derby Association Standard Rules, and in July, the WFTDA started its referee certification program. The official WFTDA magazine fiveonfive began publication in September 2008. In November, it was announced that for 2009, WFTDA member leagues would be divided into four regions, rather than two: West, South Central, North Central, and East. Each region has a tournament scheduled, followed by a national championship.
In April 2009, the WFTDA published revised rules, WFTDA Rules 4.0. The revised rule-set became effective for all WFTDA sanctioned bouts on 1 June 2009.
At the start of 2013, the geographic regions were replaced with three divisions, each operating worldwide. However, foreseeing continued growth in membership, the WFTDA stated that future developments were likely to include new regional structures alongside the divisional system.
In July 2005 the United Leagues Coalition (ULC) was a somewhat formal organization of 20-plus leagues. By early 2006, the organization had grown to 30 leagues, a cap decided upon at the July 2005 meeting. In February of that year, soon after the initial membership requirements were published (and following the fragmentation of several leagues), a "multi-league per city" clause was added. Although throughout early and mid-2006 the clause was listed as a requirement for membership, WFTDA's web site was later updated to state that the policy is "unofficial". WFTDA also claimed the policy was intended to uphold goodwill between members -- by excluding leagues not likely to find favor with established members -- as well as to prevent rival leagues in the same city from being privy to each other's "proprietary information."
Around this time, induction of new member leagues was put on hold until revised membership requirements could be discussed at the next face-to-face meeting, which was held in May 2006. Following that meeting, a press release was issued to promote the organization and publicize the meeting. The June statement covered the following points:
In January 2009, Montreal Roller Derby became the first Canadian league admitted as a member, the WFTDA's 66th member, and was placed in the East region. Also in January, the WFTDA announced it would stop accepting applications for new membership from February until July, so that it could concentrate on internal restructuring in order to, among other things, "grow the scope" of the organization. Later in the year, in May, the first officially sanctioned international WFTDA bout was played between Montreal Roller Derby and Harrisburg Area Roller Derby at the Olympic Skating Center in Enola, Pennsylvania.
In July 2009, the WFTDA announced the new WFTDA Apprentice Program for aspiring member leagues, replacing its traditional membership application process. The program is designed to act as a "WFTDA 101" tutorial, and will match new leagues with an established WFTDA mentor, who will guide the apprentice through the processes and requirements necessary to becoming a full member. Upon completion of the program, apprentice leagues will have the knowledge (and the recommendations) needed to apply for full WFTDA membership. In November, the WFTDA opened for worldwide membership and the London Rollergirls became the first league outside North America to join as apprentice members.
In June 2010, the WFTDA announced the first round of Apprentice league graduates, and the intention to form two new regions outside of the United States. (Leagues in those regions competed in the closest US region until they develop more fully.)
In March 2012, Bear City Roller Derby from Berlin, Germany became the WFTDA's first full member league in continental Europe. In June 2013 the Rock n Roller Queens of Bogota, Colombia became the first full member South American league. The Tokyo Roller Girls and Kokeshi Roller Dolls became the first full member leagues in Asia.
Each year a series of playoffs are held, based on the June 30 rankings. While the top four teams as of June 30 get an immediate bye to Championships, the next 24 teams are seeded into two Division 1 Playoff Tournaments, with the top three finishers at each advancing to Championships. This was down from the top 36 teams competing in three Division 1 Playoffs in 2017, when the top four finishers from each tournament advanced to Championships without any bye teams. Succeeding lower-ranked teams are then seeded into geographically-based Continental Cups, replacing the former Division 2 system, which in 2017 saw the next 16 eligible teams compete in a single Playoff Tournament, with the winner crowned the Division 2 champion. In 2018, there will be two Continental Cups in North America, separated as West and East and featuring a combined total of 24 teams, and one Continental Cup in Europe featuring an additional eight teams.
In 2013 WFTDA changed ranking systems from a regional, poll-based format released quarterly to a system based on the competitive ranking of teams using game results. When the organization did so, WFTDA introduced competitive divisions and expanded the playoff tournament structure. After the November 30 rankings release of each year, each league was placed within a competitive division for the next 12 months based on their charter team's rank. The leagues remained in their division for 12 months, no matter what their rank was in subsequent rankings releases.
Through 2016, the top 40 leagues from the November 30 rankings were placed in Division 1, the leagues ranked 41-100 (from 2015, those ranked 41-60) were put in Division 2, and through 2014 all other member leagues were grouped in Division 3.
A league's division placement determined the game play minimums for their WFTDA charter team in the following year. A Division 1 team needed to play no less than four WFTDA Sanctioned games, with at least three of those games against other Division 1 opponents and the fourth against either a Division 1 or Division 2 opponent, before June 30 of the following year. A Division 2 team needed to play a minimum of three WFTDA Sanctioned bouts, two against Division 1 or 2 opponents and the third against an opponent in any division. A Division 3 team needed to play a minimum of two WFTDA Sanctioned games against any opponents in order to maintain rankings. Division placement did not affect which playoffs a team qualified for, only minimum game play requirements. If a Division 2 or 3 team moved up the rankings into the top 40 at the time of tournament seeding that team would be invited to Division 1 Playoffs. Similarly, a Division 1 team moving down the rankings would receive an invitation befitting the team's rank at the time of seeding.
In 2017, the WFTDA adjusted the Division system and reduced the number of Playoff tournaments. The top 36 eligible teams qualified for one of three Division 1 Playoff tournaments, with 12 teams at each, and the top four at each event advanced to WFTDA Championships. The next 16 teams (ostensibly teams ranked 37 through 52, if all met eligibility requirements and accepted their invitation) competed at a single Division 2 Playoff, which included the Division 2 championship. In 2018 Division 1 play reduced to two tournaments and teams ranked fifth through 28th, with the top four advancing directly to Championships, and another 32 teams play for Continental Cups in North America and Europe, replacing the Division 2 structure.
As of June 2018, 45 leagues are enrolled in WFTDA's Apprentice Program.
At the conclusion of the calendar year, final rankings for the year are issued.
OC Roller Girls resigned their WFTDA membership earlier this month. Founded in 2005 with 30 member leagues, WFTDA's membership has grown rapidly and now stands at 77 leagues. OCRG is the first league to resign membership.
Notably, original WFTDA league East Texas joins OC Rollergirls this year as one of the only two teams to leave the organization after being accepted.