Naptown Roller Derby vs Flint

A 10-1 record in professional sports almost always means a post-season appearance.

Unfortunately, that is not the case for the Naptown Roller Derby Tornado Sirens. Despite a 10-1 record, the high cost of travel is keeping the team sidelined from postseason play for the first time in eight years.

The word came from the team’s official Twitter account on July 16:

“After competing in postseason play for the past eight years, earning a third place medal in Division 2 last year and achieving a 10-1 record this season, Naptown is proud to have earned an invitation to play in this year’s tournaments and disappointed that we cannot participate […] WFTDA offered Naptown Roller Derby’s Tornado Sirens a spot in Division 1 playoffs, but it was with heavy hearts that we had to decline due to the high cost of travel.”

“The Tornado Sirens started the season ranked #49 in WFTDA,” says Tornado Siren Emily Udell. ”We're now ranked #33. We set league records for our longest winning streak, most points scored, and biggest point spread! We suffered one three-point loss to Dallas, but we view losses and close games as learning opportunities.”

One loss by three points. A stellar season with wins over teams across the country. A postseason berth should’ve been a no-brainer.

But in January, the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) announced an overhaul of the playoff seeding process, which led to putting Naptown in a somewhat precarious predicament. Because they ranked 33rd in world standings, the league’s only option for playoffs was to front the cost of traveling to A Corona, Spain, which is about a six-hour car ride from Madrid along Spain’s North Coast. In the past, a regional playoff would have been possible.

While traveling to Spain to play the fastest-growing amateur sport in the world sounds like a dream, it’s also a considerable expense. Sponsorships for roller derby athletes are few and far between. Instead, skaters pay monthly dues to belong to the league and have day jobs. They rely on fan attendance at home bouts and sponsorships from local businesses as primary revenue streams.

“We have fundraised in the past to help make travel games possible, but the expense of overseas travel is considerable. We decided as a team that international travel was out of reach this year,” Udell explains.

In previous years, leagues ranked 29-40 would’ve been granted an automatic bid to one of four playoff cities in a manner similar to the NCAA Basketball Tournament brackets. NUVO did reach out to WFTDA for official comment on Naptown’s situation and for an explanation as to why Spain was their only option, but never received a response.

Udell says the league is looking forward to a few months of rest. “We all love derby, but it's good to give our bodies a chance to recover from the work we put in throughout this season.”

Udell says the league is also in the midst of planning a “hard-hitting 2019 season for our fans to enjoy at home,” as well as working toward a better position for accepting a playoff invitation next year. The first home bout will likely be in January at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.

Visit naptownrollerderby.com for more information on season tickets for the 2019 home season.

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