Women's Flat Track Derby Association

The Women's Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) is the international governing body for the sport of women's flat track roller derby,[1][2] and association of leagues around the world. The organization was founded in April 2004 as the United Leagues Coalition (ULC),[3] but was renamed in November 2005.[3][4][5] It is registered in Raleigh, North Carolina[6] as a 501(c)(6) business league organization, a type of nonprofit organization.

Women's Flat Track Derby Association
Women's Flat Track Derby Association logo
SportRoller derby
Founded2004 (2004)
No. of teams
  • 463 Full Member leagues
  • 0 Apprentice leagues
    (as of 23 June 2019)
Most recent
Rose City Rollers
Most titlesGotham Girls Roller Derby (5)
Official websiteWFTDA.com

The primary owners, managers, and operators of each member league and of the association are women skaters, although this does not preclude any particular business structure (leagues don't have to be legally incorporated or internally egalitarian). The mission statement also says WFTDA sets "standards for rules, seasons, and safety, and determining guidelines for the national and international athletic competitions of member leagues" and that "all member leagues have a voice in the decision-making process, and agree to comply with WFTDA policies".[7]



In 2004, the United Leagues Coalition (ULC) was an informal electronic message board through which established leagues compared notes in order to prepare for inter-league 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.[5] At the meeting, a voting system was established, as was a set of goals, and a timeline established for facilitating inter-league play. Among these goals was the production of a standard track design, and standard game rules. The design and rules 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 (WFTDA), with initial membership of 22 leagues[7][8] (soon expanded to 30 members by early 2006).

In early 2006, a track design and rules were published on the organization's fledgling website.

On 15 August 2007, the 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).[9]

In September 2007, the WFTDA was admitted to USA Roller Sports (USARS) as a Class V member — a national amateur roller skating organization — and a WFTDA delegate joined the USARS Board of Directors.[10]

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, and in July, the WFTDA started its referee certification program.[11] The official WFTDA magazine fiveonfive began publication in September 2008. In November, it was announced that for 2009, WFTDA member leagues would be divided into four regions, rather than two: West, South Central, North Central, and East.[12] Each region has a tournament scheduled, followed by a national championship.

In April 2009, the WFTDA published revised rules, WFTDA Rules 4.0. The revised rule-set became effective for all WFTDA sanctioned bouts on 1 June 2009.[13]

At the start of 2013, the geographic regions were replaced with three divisions, each operating worldwide. However, foreseeing continued growth in membership, the WFTDA stated that future developments were likely to include new regional structures alongside the divisional system.[14]

In November 2015, WFTDA broadened its discrimination protections for gender identity to include transgender women, intersex women, and gender-expansive[15] participants.[16][17]

During the COVID-19 pandemic the WFTDA, in consultation with epidemiologists, formed a tiered activity "ladder" in order to keep the league operating during the crisis.[18] The plan was hailed as "the best COVID-19 plan in sports".[19][20]


In July 2005 the United Leagues Coalition (ULC) was a somewhat formal organization of 20-plus leagues. By early 2006, the organization had grown to 30 leagues,[21] a cap decided upon at the July 2005 meeting.[3][22] In February that year, soon after the initial membership requirements were published (and following the fragmentation of several leagues), a "multi-league per city" clause was added. 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 claimed the policy was 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."[23]

Around this time, induction of new member leagues was put on hold until revised membership requirements could be discussed at the next face-to-face meeting, which was held in May 2006. Following that meeting, a press release was issued to promote the organization and publicize the meeting.[22] 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 mid-2006, bringing the potential total membership to 60.
  • Version Two of the WFTDA Flat Track Derby Standardized Rules for Interleague Play was announced as forthcoming in mid-2006.
  • Changes to the member league divisions were announced.
  • A 2007 tournament schedule was announced.

In addition, Eastern and Western Regions, delineated by the Mississippi River, were announced. In September 2006, new membership was reopened.[7]

By late August 2007, WFTDA membership was up to forty-three leagues.[24][25]

In February 2008, WFTDA announced that leagues from Canada would be eligible for membership.[26] By September 2008, WFTDA membership had grown to 60 leagues.

In January 2009, Montreal Roller Derby became the first Canadian league admitted as a member, the WFTDA's 66th member, and was placed in the East region.[27][28] 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.[29] Later in the year, in May, 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, Pennsylvania.

In July 2009, the WFTDA announced the new WFTDA Apprentice Program for aspiring member leagues, replacing 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 November, the WFTDA opened for worldwide membership and the London Rollergirls became the first league outside North America to join as apprentice members.[30]

In June 2010, the WFTDA announced the first round of Apprentice league graduates, and the intention to form two new regions outside of the United States. (Leagues in those regions competed in the closest US region until they develop more fully.)[31]

In March 2012, Bear City Roller Derby from Berlin, Germany became the WFTDA's first full member league in continental Europe.[32] In June 2013 the Rock n Roller Queens of Bogota, Colombia became the first full member South American league. The Tokyo Roller Girls and Kokeshi Roller Dolls became the first full member leagues in Asia.[33]

Post-season tournaments

Playoffs and Championships

Each year a series of playoffs are held, based on the June 30 rankings. While the top four teams as of June 30 get an immediate bye to Championships, the next 24 teams are seeded into two Playoff Tournaments, historically termed as Division 1, with the top three finishers at each advancing to Championships.[34] This was down from the top 36 teams competing in three Division 1 Playoffs in 2017, when the top four finishers from each tournament advanced to Championships without any bye teams.[35]

The 2020 Intentional Playoffs and Championships were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[36][37]

Continental Cups

Teams ranked below the cutoff for playoffs are seeded into geographically-based Continental Cups,[34] replacing the former Division 2 system, which in 2017 saw the next 16 eligible teams compete in a single Playoff Tournament, with the winner crowned the Division 2 champion.[35] In 2018, there were two Continental Cups in North America, separated as West and East and featuring a combined total of 24 teams, and one Continental Cup in Europe featuring an additional eight teams.[38] The 2018 announcement described the model for Continental Cups as "scalable", such that event numbers and sizes may change over time based on needs.[34] It is expected that 2019 will see additional "Developmental Cups" to help leagues in regions which do not yet qualify for a dedicated Continental Cup.[39]

The 2020 Continental Cups were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[36]

WFTDA league divisions

In 2013 WFTDA changed ranking systems from a regional, poll-based format released quarterly to a system based on the competitive ranking of teams using game results. When the organization did so, WFTDA introduced competitive divisions and expanded the playoff tournament structure.[40] After the November 30 rankings release of each year, each league was placed within a competitive division for the next 12 months based on their charter team's rank. The leagues remained in their division for 12 months, no matter what their rank was in subsequent rankings releases.[41]

Through 2016, the top 40 leagues from the November 30 rankings were placed in Division 1, the leagues ranked 41-100 (from 2015, those ranked 41-60) were put in Division 2, and through 2014 all other member leagues were grouped in Division 3.[41]

A league's division placement determined the game play minimums for their WFTDA charter team in the following year. A Division 1 team needed to play no less than four WFTDA Sanctioned games, with at least three of those games against other Division 1 opponents and the fourth against either a Division 1 or Division 2 opponent, before June 30 of the following year. A Division 2 team needed to play a minimum of three WFTDA Sanctioned bouts, two against Division 1 or 2 opponents and the third against an opponent in any division. A Division 3 team needed to play a minimum of two WFTDA Sanctioned games against any opponents in order to maintain rankings.[41] Division placement did not affect which playoffs a team qualified for, only minimum game play requirements. If a Division 2 or 3 team moved up the rankings into the top 40 at the time of tournament seeding that team would be invited to Division 1 Playoffs. Similarly, a Division 1 team moving down the rankings would receive an invitation befitting the team's rank at the time of seeding.[40]

In 2017, the WFTDA adjusted the Division system and reduced the number of Playoff tournaments. The top 36 eligible teams qualified for one of three Division 1 Playoff tournaments, with 12 teams at each, and the top four at each event advanced to WFTDA Championships. The next 16 teams (ostensibly teams ranked 37 through 52, if all met eligibility requirements and accepted their invitation) competed at a single Division 2 Playoff, which included the Division 2 championship.[35] In 2018 the Division 1 designation was effectively set aside, and play reduced to two tournaments and teams ranked fifth through 28th, with the top four advancing directly to Championships, and another 32 teams play for Continental Cups in North America and Europe, replacing the Division 2 structure.[34]

Member leagues

In July 2017, the WFTDA surpassed over 400 members.[42] As of June 2018, it counted 421 member leagues,[43] which had increased to 471 by February 2019.[44]

New Member Program

The predecessor to the New Member Program, the WFTDA Apprentice Program, was retired at the end of 2019. Prospective member leagues can now apply to join as long as they meet the following requirements: [45]

  • Managed by at least 67% league skaters who identify as women or gender expansive, as detailed in the WFTDA Gender Statement.[46]
  • 51% owned by league skaters who identify as women or gender expansive, as detailed in the WFTDA Gender Statement.
  • Governed by democratic principles and practices.
  • Competitors must play by the Rules of Flat Track Roller Derby.
  • At least fifteen skaters who are skating at least two hours a week.
  • Each member league must have one charter team.
  • This charter team must include only skaters who identify as women or gender expansive, as detailed in the WFTDA Gender Statement.

Applications are reviewed twice yearly, in March and September.

Apprentice Leagues

As of June 2018, 45 leagues were enrolled in WFTDA's Apprentice Program.[43] In February 2019, the WFTDA announced it was replacing the Apprentice Program with a new New Member Program.[44]

The WFTDA ruleset is used by all WFTDA leagues, as well as MRDA and JRDA leagues.[47] MRDA and WFTDA have worked together on developing the rules since 2014, and since 2017 have worked on a modified version of the rules for junior leagues.

Former members


At the conclusion of the calendar year, final rankings for the year are issued.


  1. Breeze, Maddie (2015). Seriousness and Women's Roller Derby: Gender, Organization, and Ambivalence. Springer. p. 4. ISBN 9781137504852. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  2. Berrick, Genevieve (21 February 2017). "International Roller Derby Teams Face Uncertain Season Thanks to Trump". Sports. Vice News. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  3. "A Short History of the Sport of Roller Derby". Sin City Rollergirls. Archived from the original on 2007-12-08. Retrieved 2007-07-09.
  4. Later histories recall the original name as United Leagues Committee.
  5. Parnavelas, Ellen (12 December 2012). The Roller Derby Athlete. Bloomsbury Sport. p. 24. ISBN 978-1408182604. Retrieved 26 November 2016.
  6. "Corporations - WOMEN'S FLAT TRACK DERBY ASSOCIATION". North Carolina Secretary of State. 8 December 2006. Archived from the original on 18 July 2011. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
  7. "About WFTDA". Archived from the original on 2007-08-20. Retrieved 2007-09-24.
  8. Cohen, Alex; Barbee, Jennifer (13 July 2010). Down and Derby: The Insider's Guide to Roller Derby. Soft Skull Press. p. 62. ISBN 9781593762742. Retrieved 26 November 2016.
  9. "WFTDA EASTERN REGIONAL ROLLER DERBY TOURNAMENT "Heartland Havoc" TO BE BROADCAST BY MavTV". WFTDA. 15 August 2007. Archived from the original on 11 May 2008. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
  10. "WFTDA joins USA Rollersports as a Class V national organization". leadjammer.com. 19 September 2007. Archived from the original on 20 October 2007. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
  11. "WFTDA Referee Certification FAQ". WFTDA. Archived from the original on 25 February 2009. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
  12. "Introducing… 2009 WFTDA Regions" (PDF). WFTDA. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 December 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-27.
  13. "Rules Central - Women's Flat Track Derby Association". WFTDA.com. Retrieved 2017-02-20.
  14. "WFTDA Competitive Divisions System", WFTDA
  15. "Understanding Gender". Gender Spectrum. Retrieved 26 November 2016.
  16. "WFTDA broadens protections for athlete gender identity". WFTDA.org. Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) - latest news. 10 November 2015. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
  17. McManus, Jane (12 November 2015). "Transgender Athletes Find Community, Support In Roller Derby". ESPN W. ESPN. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
  18. Aschwanden, Christie (2020-02-07). "Women's Roller Derby Has a Plan for Covid, and It Kicks Ass". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  19. Roscher, Liz (2020-07-02). "Women's roller derby has the best COVID-19 plan in sports, and it's not close". Yahoo Sports. Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  20. "Roller derby laps major sports leagues with pandemic play plan". CBC Radio. 2020-07-07.
  21. "Member Leagues". WFTDA. April 2006. Archived from the original on 9 April 2006. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
  22. WFTDA press release: "Flat-Track Roller Derby Solidifies [sic] National Presence / Second Annual Flat Track Derby Conference meets in St. Paul, MN" (June 2006)
  23. "Multi-league per city clause". Women's Flat Track Derby Association. Archived from the original on 2006-06-20. Retrieved 2006-07-09.
  24. "WFTDA Member Leagues". Archived from the original on 2006-04-09. Retrieved 2008-09-25.
  25. Chris "Hurt Reynolds" Seale (2007-08-22). "Tampa Bay newest WFTDA member". Archived from the original on 2007-09-02. Retrieved 2007-08-25.
  26. "WFTDA opens membership to Canadian leagues". 2008-02-20. Retrieved 2017-02-20.
  27. "Women's Flat Track Derby Association - Members". Retrieved 2012-09-08.
  28. Chris "Hurt Reynolds" Seale (2009-01-22). "WFTDA makes a run for the border". Retrieved 2017-02-20.
  29. "WFTDA temporarily closes membership until July 1, 2009" (Press release). 2009-01-15. Archived from the original on March 19, 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-10.
  30. "WFTDA Announces International Expansion - Latest News - Women's Flat Track Derby Association". Wftda.com. Retrieved 2013-10-10.
  31. "WFTDA adds 11 new members - Latest News - Women's Flat Track Derby Association". Wftda.com. 2010-06-25. Archived from the original on 2012-07-22. Retrieved 2013-10-10.
  32. "WFTDA Welcomes 14 New Member Leagues - Latest News - Women's Flat Track Derby Association". Wftda.com. 2012-03-01. Archived from the original on 2016-05-18. Retrieved 2013-10-10.
  33. "WFTDA Welcomes First Full Member Leagues in Asia and South America - Latest News - Women's Flat Track Derby Association". Wftda.com. 2013-06-06. Archived from the original on 2013-10-04. Retrieved 2013-10-10.
  34. "WFTDA Announces 2018 and 2019 Playoffs Structure and New Continental Cups System – WFTDA". wftda.com. WFTDA. 26 January 2018. Retrieved 6 June 2018.
  35. "WFTDA Releases Tournament Locations and New Playoffs and Championships Structure – WFTDA". wftda.com. WFTDA. 30 January 2017. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
  36. "3/30/20 - COVID-19 Statement and Update » WFTDA Roller Derby Resources". WFTDA Roller Derby Resources. WFTDA. 30 March 2020. Retrieved 23 May 2020.
  37. "5/18/20 - COVID-19 Update » WFTDA Roller Derby Resources". WFTDA Roller Derby Resources. WFTDA. 18 May 2020. Retrieved 23 May 2020.
  38. "2018 WFTDA Continental Cups Hosts and Locations Released – WFTDA". wftda.com. WFTDA. 22 March 2018. Retrieved 6 June 2018.
  39. "WFTDA Continental Cups – WFTDA". wftda.com. WFTDA. Retrieved 4 January 2019.
  40. "WFTDA to Introduce New Playoff Structure in 2013". WFTDA Official Site. October 16, 2012. Archived from the original on December 5, 2014. Retrieved December 5, 2014.
  41. "WFTDA Competitive Divisions System whitepaper" (PDF). WFTDA Official Site. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 13, 2014. Retrieved December 5, 2014.
  42. "WFTDA Adds 8 New Leagues, Surpasses 400 Members – WFTDA". wftda.com. WFTDA. 12 July 2017. Retrieved 12 July 2017.
  43. "WFTDA Leagues – WFTDA". wftda.com. WFTDA. Retrieved 6 June 2018.
  44. "WFTDA Announces Revamp of Its New Member Program and Graduation of 42 New Member Leagues; Changes to the New Member Initial Ranking and Strength Factor Challenge Programs – WFTDA". wftda.com. WFTDA. 13 February 2019. Retrieved 13 February 2019.
  45. "How to Join WFTDA » WFTDA Roller Derby Resources". WFTDA Roller Derby Resources. Retrieved 2022-07-19.
  46. "Women's Flat Track Derby Association Statement About Gender » WFTDA Roller Derby Resources". WFTDA Roller Derby Resources. Retrieved 2022-07-19.
  47. derby (2017-02-06). "WFTDA, MRDA and JRDA announce partnership on The Rules". WFTDA. Retrieved 2022-07-18.
  48. "OC Roller Girls Joins Women's Flat Track Derby Association". 2008-01-02. Retrieved 2009-04-28.
  49. "Angel City squeezes OC Roller Girls 161-69". 2009-03-20. Archived from the original on March 27, 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-28. OC Roller Girls resigned their WFTDA membership earlier this month. Founded in 2005 with 30 member leagues, WFTDA's membership has grown rapidly and now stands at 77 leagues. OCRG is the first league to resign membership.
  50. "WFTDA Releases Second-Quarter Rankings". 2009-07-29. Retrieved 2017-02-20. Notably, original WFTDA league East Texas joins OC Rollergirls this year as one of the only two teams to leave the organization after being accepted.
  51. "SCDG Goes Banked Track". 2011-03-08. Retrieved 2011-03-08.
  52. "Choice City Rebels". Flat Track Stats. Retrieved 12 June 2014.
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