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  • Writer's pictureMelody Alexander

A co-founder's dream for roller derby

I will never forget a few years ago when I opened Twitter and found my name tagged on a list. Someone had chosen me for their fantasy roller derby league as we headed into a tournament.


Now, roller derby doesn't actually have any fantasy applications the way that the NBA or NFL does. This person’s fantasy team was built because she watched our sport, saw who she liked, and noted how people played and performed.


Despite the fact that roller derby is a global sport, it’s also incredibly niche. And it's one of those sports that you don't really think about how fans might be watching you. At least I didn't. To watch roller derby, you either have to show up in person or watch the streaming feed that the Women's Flat Track Derby Association streams. Players aren’t paid. The ones who make it into Team USA may get sponsored, but otherwise, we pay dues, we practice countless hours, we pay for our own gear. I still laugh at the thought of having fans. And I certainly hadn’t thought about someone from outside of our league noticing me.


I was shocked my name was called out as someone they wanted on their team. And it was really a cool experience for me to see that because I didn't really think anybody was paying attention to anything I was doing. There were certainly better skaters than me, but, apparently, something clicked with this person, which was really an honor for me.


This is one of the reasons I am really excited about what we're doing with STATSdraft. When we first started launching and Topher asked what my dream is for the app, I obviously said roller derby. I played for several years, and that moment was the closest I ever got to having any sort of gaming associated with the sport I loved, played, and dedicated a lot of time to over those years.


The thought that STATSdraft could be a place for sports like roller derby to get some love, to me, is really cool. There are superstars in roller derby just like there are superstars in the NFL and the NBA and NCAA. There are people in roller derby that for our community are on the same level, at least in our eyes, as somebody like a Patrick Mahomes or a Caitlin Clark. To know that a team in Salina, Kansas could be represented in what we're hoping will be a global gaming app is, to me, a really cool thing.


We believe STATSdraft can begin to open up opportunities for women's sports, and these niche sports like roller derby. Our hope is it will help people find new sports that they can connect with and start to see that when it comes to different types of sports, things are not really that different. You can still look at data, crunch those numbers, and figure out what's being effective.


One of the things that drew me to roller derby was how it was this rogue sport. Back in the early 2000s, it had this DIY, punk rock aesthetic, and that was drawing in a lot of people who had never before played sports. I played with people who started playing roller derby after not being in a sport at all in as a child, in middle school or junior high, high school. And suddenly, they were being embraced, able to use their bodies in ways that they had never even thought was possible. In a lot of ways, it's kind of like football where you have these different positions where every body type is necessary.


There is so much opportunity for people to discover these really cool sports, that people are pouring their all into.


Our hope is that we can start to bring in and bridge the gap for some of these other sports that just aren't represented on ESPN and within these big sports gaming apps.


There are so many great things happening in sports, and we want to be a part of that — not just the major sports. Even though we love those major sports, we want everybody to get that love the way that those bigger sports are.


We'd love to hear from you, too, if you know of a sport that you'd love to see included in our drafts. If you are in a place where you think that there's a great story that's connected to a story you love, let us know. We're always interested. When we have the data, we can do just about anything with. We just need the data and the stories, and then we want to bring it to life. So feel free to reach out. We'd love to hear from you.


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