Starting a sports team with no money, no sponsors, and no skaters is not an easy task. In October 2005, with the resurgence of roller derby across the country, co-founders Danielle Abbott (Little D. Evil) and Tonya Vojtkofsky (Minx) created Indiana’s first all-female roller derby league. In the beginning, they weren’t sure whether Fort Wayne would embrace the idea of derby or laugh about it – but it didn’t matter.
“I personally felt so strong about what we were doing that it didn’t seem to matter at the time. The world of flat track roller derby was already making its way into our world and we were going to be a part of it!” – Minx
The league was founded in October 2005 as the Fort Wayne Derby Girls driven by passion and volunteers. Initial turnout was less than optimal, but by hitting the streets the group began to grow. Early sponsors and support from local media helped the league become a reality. Most importantly, it was the time, sacrifice and energy of the skaters and their families that made the league what it is today.
The first official season began in May 2006 with two exhibition teams and generated enough excitement to create an all-star travel team, the Bomb Squad.
After several events, it became clear that derby was as much about making a difference off the track as it was delivering a good hit on the track. The team reached out to local charities and organizations, participated in fundraising events, and donated a portion of proceeds from each game to worthy causes. When the balance sheet finished in the black after the first year, the league knew they had found a formula for success.
People began to take notice of our charitable work all while playing roller
derby. It was a win-win situation; but what we really noticed most were the
relationships we were building, and the fabrics of our philanthropic acts being woven into our personal lives along with our community, and thus creating part of our culture as derby girls. – Minx
In 2007, the Fort Wayne Derby Girls became proud members of the WFTDA (Women’s Flat Track Derby Association) by meeting the qualifications and obtaining recommendations from well-established leagues across the nation.
In March of 2020 the pandemic hit and all roller derby action across the world was forced to come to a complete stop.
In 2022, FWDG was rebranded into Fort Wayne Roller Derby and opened up to all gender skaters to join the competing team. The merged partnership with the Fort Wayne Derby Brats and operate all under on umbrella now. Our 2023 season will be the first time we take the track versus opponents for our fans to watch since almost exactly 3 years ago.
Today, the dream continues thanks to our fans, volunteers, and skaters. If you’ve never been to a game, you should come check it out. If you’ve been along for the ride since the beginning, you know a lot has changed – but the atmosphere and passion for derby in Fort Wayne is stronger than ever.