Vice City Rollers Court Miami Latino Fan Base

What: Miami's "Vice City Rollers" are riding a wave of popularity in the sport of roller derby with a strong Latino fan base and team makeup.
Why it matters: The revival of roller derby over the past couple of decades has given rise to hundreds of teams and thousands of players, and is a fun way for brands to connect with this passionate fan base.

Roller derby has experienced something of a renaissance in recent years, with recreational and semi-professional leagues springing up all over the country and future Olympics inclusion becoming a real possibility. The sport gained a big following in the 1940's and 1950's, through the 1970's with the "Roller Derby Stars," which later found a new audience on Classic Sports Network, reviving names like "Skinny Minnie" Gwen Miller, Bad-girl Ann Calvello and hotshot Frankie Macedo, mixing athleticism with a healthy dose of not-quite-on-the level, WWE-style scripting.

Today the sport is flourishing, with the Women's Flat Track Derby Association (@WFTDAboasting more than 400 full-member leagues in nearly 30 countries, including the U.S., Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Colombia. And USA Roller Sports, the official governing body that has sponsored amateur competitions for more than 80 years, is leading the charge for Olympism.

We relate to our local community in a way that only we can. We are well-versed in 'Spanglish' and communicate this through our media efforts.

Meanwhile, teams and leagues dot the country, finding fans across many demographics. In Miami, the Vice City Rollers (@MVCRollers), who began competing in 2012, are preparing for their season debut on March 24 vs. the Key West Derby Dames, and according to Jessica "Shakesfear" Giraldo (@ShakesFear1616), team standout and de facto marketing/PR maven, the Latino base is important to the team's and league's growth.

"Being based in a culturally diverse city, it is essential to be able to communicate our message to as many people as possible," said Giraldo. "Having many bilingual players expands our social impact to the Latino population. We have also worked with Al Rojo Vivo, Telemundo, Univision and are working on a feature by ESPN's Woman Latin America. A majority of our skaters are also bilingual and multi-racial."

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Jessica "Shakesfear" Giraldo (credit: Eric Vicario)

Vice City's main audience is 24-34-year-old females living in Miami, according to Giraldo. Having that Latino base of players with such monikers as Assaulty Peanut, Velociraptor, Powerpuff, Ivanna Pachanga and Lil Hellvana add to the fun—and marketability.

That has led to sponsorship by Sixpoint Brewing (@sixpoint), as well as partnerships with Miami Rescue Mission, local media partner 24/7 Miami radio and local businesses that Girardo notes are part of the team's Vendor Village.

"We've also recently partnered with the Miami Heat's Xtreme team," added Girardo, "to bring the Heat dancers, mascot, announcer and DJ for our upcoming March 24th game."

Being in Miami makes multicultural marketing natural. "We relate to our local community in a way that only we can," said Girardo. "We are well-versed in 'Spanglish' and communicate this through our media efforts."

And, Girardo told Portada, they're not stopping there.

"Our plans for the future include taking over the world!" she exclaimed. "That's actually Plan B. Plan A is to spread the word of Derby so much that it reaches any and every woman wanting to better herself in a unique, fun and empowering way! We would love to be a leg in spreading the universal sport of women's flat track roller derby!"

Check out the stars of Portada's Sports Marketing Board, who will meet at Portada Miami on April 18-19 to discuss various topics related to the future of marketing and innovation in sports. Register now!

   
 
 
 
cover image credit: Pedro Rubio

Jerry Milani

Jerry Milani is a freelance writer and public relations executive living in Bloomfield, N.J. He has worked in P.R. for more than 25 years in college and conference sports media relations, two agencies and for the International Fight League, a team-based mixed martial arts league, and now is the PR manager for Wizard World, which runs pop culture and celebrity conventions across North America. Milani is also the play-by-play announcer for Caldwell University football and basketball broadcasts. He is a proud graduate of Fordham University and when not attending a Yankees, Rams or Cougars game can be reached at Jerry (at) JerryMilani (dot) com.

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