Roller Derby Championship Trophies

Austin leagues boast separate identities

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by Jenny Cobb, Associate Curator of Exhibitions

In January 2001, nearly 70 years after the original roller derby was founded, a modern all-female roller derby revival occurred in Austin when a small group of women came together and formed Bad Girl, Good Woman Productions, the city’s first roller derby league. Any woman was welcome to join the newly-formed league, and an instructor was brought in to teach the basics of skating. A training program was implemented and a rules committee formed to tailor roller derby into a 21st century sport.

Despite growing success, dissent and conflict within the organization led to a split in 2003 that gave rise to the two main leagues Austin knows today. Bad Girl, Good Woman reinvented itself as Texas Roller Derby (TXRD) and became a banked track league, while Texas Rollergirls broke off to become Austin’s flat track league.

Each league developed its own unique version of roller derby and a loyal fan following. The flat track Texas Rollergirls adopted a more traditionally-athletic appearance, with semi-standardized uniforms and a detailed rule set. Planned stunts and fights were quickly abandoned as players became better skaters and the sport became more competitive.

Sherry Cardino, who skated with the Hotrod Honeys as “Riff Scandell,” made the first Texas Rollergirls championship trophy from a skate she painted gold. After many years on display at Longbranch Inn, an Austin bar and league sponsor, Carrie "Shank" Osborne of the Texas Rollergirls created this new trophy featuring a homemade golden skate as well as the names of previous winners. Each year, the trophy is passed on to the championship team.

Meanwhile, Texas Roller Derby kept fights and stunts in their games believing it added to the fan experience and enhanced crowd interaction. The league also encouraged skaters to continue customizing their own uniforms as expressions of their individuality.

In 2005, five skaters from the TXRD league met with retired roller derby star Ann Calvello, whose roller derby career spanned seven decades, to ask her permission to name the league’s championship trophy after her. The women wrote their contract on a restaurant napkin. Calvello attended Texas Roller Derby’s 2005 championship bout, the Calvello Cup, and signed the trophy with her name. Every year, a friend of the league or a skater creates a unique, custom-designed Calvello Cup, different from the previous years’ trophy.

Today, Texas alone boasts approximately 47 roller derby leagues, and skilled skaters can be found on flat and banked tracks across the nation and around the world.

See this and other artifacts on the Interactive Texas Map

Roller Derby Championship Trophies Artifact from Austin, Texas
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