October 2020

South Sea Roller Derby

What we did

The initiative I am nominating is our Virtual Training Program. Pre-COVID, our league trained three nights per week, with sessions focused on both athletic development and community building. When news came that training would end due to COVID-19 restrictions, our Executive immediately initiated Virtual Training to continue our sessions online.

Our program followed our regular training schedule with events conducted via Zoom or Facebook Live. We created events, posted details, and would follow-up after for feedback.

Our evolving schedule has featured:

  • Off-skates training: yoga, stretching, mobility.
  • On-skates training utilising YouTube videos designed for footwork development in small spaces.
  • Coaches hosted discussions on goalsetting, overcoming setbacks, and more.
  • Watch parties in which we would view and discuss roller derby games online.

We’ve held events aimed at social interaction and community engagement, including:

  • Cooking demos in which a member (who is a chef) taught us to make pasta, brownies, and donuts.
  • Trivia, games, and craft nights.
  • Getting-to-know-you events highlighting new members.
  • Expertise sharing nights in which members educated us on topics relevant to their work and/or study, including pet care, budgeting, how to write job applications, beginning Auslan, basic auto maintenance, and more. 

To successfully run this program, we drew heavily on members’ know-how. We even reached out via social media to high-ranking international athletes within our sport to get some bonus content for our sessions. 

A milestone for us was Sunday, 9 August in which a games night saw our highest attendance since the program began and included members’ partners and families.
The success of the initiative is due to the tireless dedication of our members, and the genuine care and respect we have for each other, our sport, and our community. We are excited to apply aspects of this program to regular training post-COVID.



Why we did it

We developed the initiative immediately as we are keenly aware of the importance of our sport in our members’ lives. While we work hard to remain nationally competitive within our sport, we pride ourselves on our family atmosphere and the community we create for members of all levels. We knew that the cessation of training would impact our members beyond simply missing their sport. As such, we wanted to do whatever we could to maintain community bonds, and to continue providing a safe and inclusive space for our members.

While COVID-19 restrictions were the impetus for our Virtual Training Program, we recognised the need for it beyond simply continuing with training. This is why so much of the content provided is about social connection. South Sea Roller Derby is committed to inclusion and providing encouraging, developmental spaces for athletes from all walks of life. We built our program with this in mind, catering to experienced and developmental players, as well as the parents, students, and essential workers in our community, and all those dealing with the ongoing restrictions. Our program allows members to dip in and out when they wish, and to catch up on content via recorded sessions.

How we know it worked

Several times throughout our Virtual Training Program, we have conducted league-wide surveys requesting feedback from members on how they are finding the program and its components.

We were finding that as restrictions altered and situations changed over the months since March, member engagement during Virtual Training also changed. In conducting surveys (via SurveyMonkey) and through formal and informal discussions within our league’s executive branch, we were able to document these changing needs and adapt accordingly.

Our surveys have been instrumental in the on-going shaping and development of our Virtual Training Program. In shifting focus in direct response to these surveys, we found member engagement increased almost instantly. Member feedback has allowed us to continue providing relevant and desired content for our members and to foster and grow our community. Our surveys have provided invaluable information and will inform our methods of member engagement and interaction long into the future.