Tampa Roller Derby: From Phone Calls to Front Runners
The Tampa Bay Derby Darlins were formed thanks to the vision of one woman: Angela Kroslak (known in the derby community as "Dee Bauchery"). Dee imagined Tampa Bay being home to an astounding roller derby league and in August of 2005, she set out to make that happen. After countless hours of phone calls, internet research, and visits to local roller skating rinks, Dee was able to find a place to host practices and bouts, as well as enough committed girls to begin the league. Thus, in October of 2005, a relationship began between United Skates of America and the newly founded Tampa Bay Derby Darlins ("TBDD").
After 5 months of intense training and player evaluations, the league broke into 4 teams: Black Widows, Cigar City Mafia, Switchblade Sisters, and Vicegrip Vixens. Skaters began to practice with their teams and in May of 2006, all four teams participated in the first two bouts in TBDD history, appropriately coined "Project Mayhem". The season was an impressive success and a colossal learning experience for the valiant original skaters. It culminated with the Black Widows winning the Double D ("DD") Championship Cup, by way of a completely undefeated, record season.
However, the first season took a physical toll on some of the girls, and after evaluating injured skaters, the Darlins merged from four teams into three, more powerful teams. With the Vixens now dispersed among the other teams, the competition between them was ruthless, but, after all was said and done, the Cigar City Mafia triumphed as the Champions of season two.
With two seasons under their belts, the members of the league had a decent understanding of what it meant to be great skaters, leaguemates, teammates, and derby girls. What they hadn't showcased is what wonderful women they are off the track. In an effort to help the area and reach out to those in need, the Tampa Bay Derby Darlins began performing community involvement activities, working closely with The Springs Domestic Violence Center, Lowry Park Zoo, The Ronald McDonald House, Arthritis Foundation, Florida Blood Services, Habitat for Humanity, and many more. It is important to the league that we be more than great derby players, but also to be wonderful people and show the diversity that exists among us.
After significant efforts and lots of hard work, in August of 2007, the governing body of modern roller derby, Women's Flat Track Derby Association ("WFTDA"), accepted the Tampa Bay Derby Darlins as its newest league. Since that time, the Darlins have stepped up as Florida's premier roller derby league, with its all-star team, the Tampa Tantrums, consistently winning bouts against the best teams in the state and across the country. In 2012, The Tampa Bay Derby Darlins decided a name change was in order, and became Tampa Roller Derby.
Tampa Roller Derby is proud to organize and host an annual multi-team invitational called Franky Panky, in honor of their beloved mascot, Frank the Flamingo. Since 2010, each year some of the best teams from Florida and beyond converge in Tampa for a two day derby-filled extravaganza. Franky Panky is a renowned success, with teams coming from as far away as St. Louis and Philadelphia to compete.
Roller derby is officially a force to be reckoned with across the country and, more specifically, right here in Tampa Bay. Tampa Roller Derby is working hard to ensure that the passion and intensity of modern roller derby is spread throughout the city, state, and country. TRD has its three home teams, a training program for new girls ("Quad Killer" Program), a developmental practice squad (Aces on 8's), the Tampa Tantrums (who travel throughout the country playing some of the best teams roller derby has to offer), and the Tampa Bay Bruise Crew (a B-Team that travels across Florida). Derby girls are real, hardcore athletes, who spend endless hours practicing and promoting the sport of roller derby. They are also your sister, neighbor, doctor, lawyer, shop owner, manager, and best friend. The future of roller derby is boundless and so is that of Tampa Roller Derby.