Roller derby is a sport with many devoted players and fans, and many of them gathered in Columbia Sept. 9-11 for the 2016 International Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) Division 1 Playoffs at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center.
The tournament was one of four semifinals in the international playoffs, with the top three teams moving on to the finals in November in Portland, Oregon. The convention center’s lower level was transformed into a flat track, with bleachers which were filled with fans all three days. Columbia Regional Sports Council officials estimated the tournament’s economic impact on the city at more than $300,000, and for the women of the Columbia QuadSquad, the host team which also played in the tournament, it was a huge opportunity.
“Hosting a Division 1 WTFDA Playoff tournament is a great honor for Columbia QuadSquad. Being able to play in it made it an even bigger honor,” said the QuadSquad’s Holly Hunter (a pseudonym like those used by many derby players for entertainment). “All the hard work from so many was worth it to be able to offer our region an opportunity to see the highest level of roller derby right in their backyard. It was certainly a weekend that we will never forget.
“After being in competitive roller skating for 22 years and roller derby for 9 years, you would think I’ve experienced it all, but this experience was like no other,” Hunter added. “I celebrated every lead jammer call and every point I earned. I will cherish this experience with my teammates forever.”
In addition to the honor of hosting, the QuadSquad performed well on the track, winning their opening bout before falling in their second to Portland, the world’s top-ranked team and the eventual tournament champs.
“The best part about this weekend was seeing the culmination of all the hard work that so many have done over the years to bring us to this point,” Hunter said. “I would have never thought at the first practice I attended that roller derby in general and especially roller derby in Columbia would evolve to the point that fans all across the world would be watching an event like Playoffs take place in our little city.”
The Columbia QuadSquad hosted the the The city was 1 of 4 playoff sites, with the top three teams from each going on to the national championship tournament in November in Portland, Ore.
The QuadSquad is currently recruiting, and offering training for those brand new to derby. Derby is as inclusive a sport as you’ll find, with all walks of life, shapes, sizes, ethnicities, ages, and sports/non-sports backgrounds. Anyone who primarily identifies as female can qualify to be a skater for the QuadSquad, and Columbia also has a team for those identifying as male.
More information on the Columbia QuadSquad and the sport in general is available online.