The Women's Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) was formed in 2004 to promote and foster the sport of women’s flat track roller derby by facilitating the development of athletic ability, sportswomanship, and goodwill among member leagues. The governing philosophy is
- “by the skaters, for the skaters.”
The skaters themselves are the primary owners, managers, and operators of each member league and of the association. Operational tasks include setting standards for rules, seasons, and safety, and determining guidelines for the national and international athletic competitions of member leagues. All member leagues have a voice in the decision-making process, and agree to comply with the governing body’s policies.
In its first year, the ULC was an informal electronic message board through which established leagues compared notes in order to prepare for interleague 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 was established for facilitating interleague play. Among these goals was the production of a standard track design and standard game rules. The design and rules which 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.
In early 2006, a track design and rules were published on the organization's fledgling web site. By that time, the organization had grown to 30 leagues, a cap decided upon at the July 2005 meeting.
Induction of new member leagues was postponed until revised membership requirements could be discussed at the next face-to-face meeting, scheduled for the end of May. However, in February 2006, soon after the initial requirements were published and following the fragmentation of several leagues, a "multi-league per city" clause was added to the membership requirements. 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 claims the policy is 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."
Following the May 2006 meeting, a press release was issued to promote the organization and publicize the meeting. The June statement covered the following points:
- Representatives of the "30 founding leagues" met to discuss rules, business structure, skill standards, rankings and future tournaments.
- 30 more leagues were slated to be inducted in late summer 2006, bringing the total membership to 60.
- Version Two of the WFTDA Flat Track Derby Standardized Rules for Interleague Play was announced as forthcoming in late summer, 2006.
- Changes to the member league divisions were announced (see table below).
- A 2007 tournament schedule was announced.
In addition, Eastern and Western divisions, delineated by the Mississippi River, were announced. Thus, each member league is either Eastern or Western, and Division 1, 2 or 3.
In September 2006, new membership was reopened.
By late August 2007, WFTDA membership was up to forty-three leagues. On August 15, 2007, 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 mid-2007, WFTDA's Web site was updated to reflect changes in the requirements for placement in the three divisions: it is now based on seniority, as measured by readiness for inter-league play and the number of seasons completed while a WFTDA member (see table below).
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. Anyone with a question about the WFTDA Rules is encouraged to submit questions to the Rules Committee through this forum." Rules Committee Question and Answer Forum
In July 2008, WFTDA began a referee certification program.
In September 2008, WFTDA had grown to 60 leagues, and the official WFTDA magazine fiveonfive began publication.
In November 2008, a flyer was published announcing 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:
- September 11–13, 2009: Eastern Regionals in Raleigh, NC
- September 18–20, 2009: North Central Regionals in St. Paul, MN
- September 25–27, 2009: South Central Regionals in Atlanta, GA
- October 2–4, 2009: Western Regionals in Denver, CO
- November 6–8, 2009: Nationals in Philadelphia, PA
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.
In April 2009 the WFTDA published revised rules, WFTDA Rules 4.0. The revised rule-set became effective for all WFTDA sanctioned bouts on June 1, 2009.
In May 2009, 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, PA.
In July 2009, the WFTDA announced its new apprentice program for aspiring member leagues that replaced 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 June 2010, the WFTDA announced the first round of Apprentice league graduates, and formed two new regions outside of the United States. (Leagues in those regions will compete in the closest US region until they develop more fully.)
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