A little over a year ago, Isabelle Ringer came to me with a crazy, amazing idea (I feel like there are a lot of people out there with great stories that start the same way). I was finishing up my first year as SDDD’s Events Coordinator and still congratulating myself on pulling off Battle on the Bank VII, when Ringer painted the “Jantastic” picture. What if we could harness the intensity of WFTDA Champs and the Derby World Cup, along with the fun of RollerCon’s Challenge Bouts? What if we could bring together some of roller derby’s most talented and deliver a premier level competition, with team camaraderie on the banked track? Six teams, all mixed together from different leagues, A-level only skaters competing in a banked-track invitational in our house…The Doll House. The mission was both simple and daunting at the same time, showcase the highest level of banked track competition we can, and pull the whole thing off in three months.
My automatic answer was “Yes! I LOVE this!!” I had no idea how it would work, I just knew that it had to, and I knew that figuring it out started with saying yes. What really amazed me was that this wasn’t a hard sell for anyone involved. Our own league was suddenly invigorated by the idea of hosting all their heroes at home, and all the people we reached out to captain teams were excited to challenge themselves on the banked track. From there, everything fell into place, and what followed was some of the most exciting roller derby I’ve ever seen up close! By the time day 2 had started, we had already picked out the dates for 2016.
We’re now three weeks out from January 16th, and the Second Annual Jantastic Invitational. I’m elbow deep in all the administrative logistics and trying hard to keep the creative juices flowing to make sure this year is better than the last. This year is harder – we had so many teams sign up that we expanded the tournament to eight entries! This is going to be a very long but thrilling two days. Saturday we will see two pools of four teams competing for spots in Sunday’s championship games. The first day will be packed with twelve games that will decide which four teams advance. Sunday is the day the top four teams compete for the title, and it’s also the day where we’ll showcase the future of roller derby with a Junior Expo Bout. The amazing thing though, is that the inspiration to work hard comes easy with Jantastic. At its very core, this is an event that reminds me of everything that drew me to derby in the first place. The inspiration I feel when I see these skaters take the track at Jantastic takes me back to those first “I can DO this, I need to DO THIS” moments, and I honestly didn’t realize how much I needed it. So, you see, my Jantastic story is a selfish one. I love this event and am so grateful for the chance to make it happen.
What am I most looking forward to this year? I’m SO glad you asked.
– The Junior Expo Game: Junior all-stars from JRDA and RDCL face-off on Sunday afternoon, and I will absolutely be cramming myself into the front row for this one!
– Vendor Village: Sin City Skates is going to be in the Dollhouse this weekend, and I will be shopping with them along with 20+ other vendors on site.
– Red Carpet Pics: Our PR department has been working really hard to make our Dollhouse more social media friendly. We now have a red-carpet area and backdrop all set up and I can’t wait to see what pictures get posted! Be sure to tag #SDDD and #Jantastic.
– The Upsets: The thing about last year was, everyone knew what we wanted the level of play to be, but there was no way to know what would happen until the players took to the track. What we saw was an incredibly intense level of play that surpassed any of our expectations. I’m really excited to see the teams coming in this year, knowing how hard they have all been training and just how hungry they are for that title.
Jantastic embodies everything I love about roller derby. This tournament is about the fiercest competition we can gather and inspiring everyone (from skaters on the track, to viewers in the stands) to reach that next level. This is also about what we can all accomplish when we come together as a team and it makes me so proud to be a part of San Diego Derby Dolls and the Roller Derby Coalition of Leagues. I hope to see you all there in a few weeks, I’ll be the excited one holding a clipboard by the track – let’s watch some thrilling derby!
Contributing Writer: Selenium Falcon