The creation of Pioneer Valley Roller Derby LLC (later Pioneer Valley Roller Derby, Inc.) was inspired when co-founders Pink Panzer and Bazooka Joe saw a friend play roller derby in Providence, RI during the summer of 2005. The Western Massachusetts league began to take shape over the coming months.
PVRD began in early 2006 with a women’s team, Western Mass Destruction, and a men’s team, the Dirty Dozen—the first men’s flat track roller derby team in existence.
Both teams had a rocky start on the derby circuit. Because PVRD’s league skaters were not women-only—which was a requirement for league membership in the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA)—Western Mass Destruction had a difficult time competing with teams vying for national ranking within the WFTDA. As for the Dirty Dozen, being the first men’s team in the world meant they had no known opponents. However, with hard work and perseverance, PVRD uncovered opportunities and took them.
The men’s division first competed as the “Guys in Red from Massachusetts” before naming themselves the Dirty Dozen. In October 2006, referee Justice Feelgood Marshall and the Charm City Roller Girls (Baltimore, MD) invited PVRD’s men to play an exhibition scrimmage against Charm City’s co-ed referee crew. The refs put up a great fight, and ultimately sent PVRD packing, but it was exhilarating to skate in front of an audience for the first time.
In February 2007, Western Mass Destruction bouted for the first time against Maine Roller Derby’s Vacationland Vixens. The PVRD-hosted bout sold out the 700-seat capacity at the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Totman Gym, and the league had to turn away another 200 people at the door.
In April 2007, PVRD’s teams competed alongside each other in the world’s first-ever full-length co-ed flat track roller derby doubleheader. (Say that 10 times fast!) The New Jersey Dirty Dames invited the WMDs to skate against their Hub City Hellrazors. The Dozen went head to head against a new team from NYC called the New York Shock Exchange, in the first men’s bout in history. (Read the recap.)
PVRD hosted their first doubleheader later that year after finally landing another venue at American International College’s Butova Gym in Springfield. The Dozen played against the newly-formed Harm City Homicide from Baltimore, MD, which was led by Justice Feelgood Marshall and Virginia Slim.
The WMDs’ opponent backed out last minute. But, in an amazing show of goodwill, a skater from Connecticut RollerGirls organized a mixed team that the WMDs could compete against. The Tri-Skate Derby Coalition, as they called themselves, were comprised of skaters from Connecticut RollerGirls (Naugatuck, CT), Gotham Girls Roller Derby (New York, NY), Charm City Roller Girls (Baltimore, MD), and Suburbia Roller Derby (Yonkers, NY).
The WMDs put up a good fight against the more experienced Tri-Skate Derby Coalition, losing by a very respectable margin. The Dozen pulled out their first win against Harm City, 100-67. (Read the recap.)
Women’s Home Teams (2010-2012)
As PVRD’s membership continued to expand, the league developed additional avenues for skaters to publicly showcase their skill and athleticism, beyond the confines of the travel team roster. Originally conceived as the Bad Habits and Beauty School Knockouts, two women’s home teams debuted in August 2010 under the names Quabbin Missile Crisis and Florence Fightin’ Gals, and bouted each other locally for several successful seasons.
Prior to the 2013 season, the home teams were retired and the women’s division was restructured to include a second travel team, with the name Quabbin Missile Crisis retained for the new team. Both Western Mass Destruction and Quabbin Missile Crisis now represent PVRD in interleague competition.
Pushing the Envelope
Since its inception, Pioneer Valley Roller Derby has continued to grow in vision and scope.
- In 2009, a PVRD-affiliated, dedicated officiating crew was established.
- In 2013, we introduced a junior program for youth 13-17 to gain confidence and learn new skills in a safe and supportive environment.
- In 2014, we changed our business structure from an LLC to a Massachusetts non-profit, a structure that more closely mirrors our consistent and continued efforts to do good and give back in our community.
- In 2015, we introduced the United Front, an all- and no-gender team that welcomes any roster-eligible skater regardless of assigned sex, gender identity (or lack thereof), or gender presentation and expression.
- In 2016, we were recognized by the IRS as tax-exempt under 501(c)(3).
Men’s Roller Derby Association
In November 2007, along with members of the New York Shock Exchange and Harm City Homicide, PVRD founded an organization called the Men’s Derby Coalition to help other startup men’s teams organize, network, and collaborate with their local women’s leagues to co-promote and advance the sport of flat track roller derby in their area.
Later, the MDC would become the Men’s Roller Derby Association (MRDA), the international governing body of men’s flat track roller derby.
Many women’s leagues throughout the country have begun incorporating men’s expos and full-length bouts into their regular season.
- Central Mass Roller Derby (now Bay State Brawlers, Worcester Roller Derby and Mass Maelstrom) – Hellen Bed, a former WMD skater, took PVRD’s values east to Worcester and founded CMRD, which incorporated both men’s and women’s teams and hosted regular doubleheader bouts.
- Hartford Area Roller Derby – founded by PVRD alum Diesel N’ Gin.
- Demolition City Roller Derby – founded by PVRD alum Maully Olly Oxenfree.