On behalf of all of Royal City Roller Derby, we thank you for allowing us the time and space to come together as a league and discuss the serious concerns and issues regarding a league member’s behaviour toward other members of the derby community. Since May 2018 we have received numerous complaints about ***** being verbally aggressive and physically intimidating toward officials and other important derby volunteers as both a coach and audience member. A comprehensive timeline of these events and our responses and actions are included in this statement.
As indicated in our previous statement, we held an intensive meeting on Tuesday November 20th (facilitated by a professional mediator) in which members had the opportunity to share their perspectives.
Members raised issues including those related specifically to ***** (both this year and across his derby career); an inconsistent level of league understanding about the Code of Conduct and behaviour policies; ineffective codes and policies; and a lack of overall media strategy. Many members also expressed concerns that *****’s continued presence as coach and representative of the travel teams would jeopardize the 2019 season for skaters of all levels (travel, home, rookie). As the meeting’s focus was to restore lines of communication within the league and better understand league-wide concerns, no direct actions were taken that night on any issues raised.
On Wednesday November 21st, the Board of Directors received ****’s resignation from the position of Travel Team Coach. ***** had previously resigned from the position of RCRD Head Coach on November 14th. The BoD supports and respects both decisions, and thanks ****** for all he has contributed in terms of time, strategic development, player development, and commitment to our league over the years. We also thank him for stepping aside so we can continue to grow and heal.
We recognize that there are three major issues still to address:
1. How to address *****’s membership with RCRD
In his resignation letter, ***** indicated his wish to remain a member of RCRD, but affirmed that he would agree to whatever decision the BoD made. Upon receiving his resignation, the BoD suspended *****’s membership effective immediately, which means his responsibilities and voting privileges have been removed. We have also requested that he not attend any RCRD events or any derby events in which he may be seen to represent RCRD.
Currently, RCRD’s policy of removing membership relies on a “three strike” system for internal issues, with strikes applied based on the Conflict Resolution Committee’s recommendations (after meeting with all parties). The issue of ****’s behaviour has shown us that we do not have appropriate processes for addressing external complaints. This, again, is a failing on the league’s part – and highlights even more clearly the need to make significant and timely revisions to our codes and policies (see below for more).
During Tuesday’s meeting, ****’s membership was raised as an issue and it was suggested that a league-wide vote could determine his status. That, in itself, raised serious concerns from several league members who indicated that determining a member’s status by popular vote would set a serious and far-reaching precedent. However, it was also made clear that the league wanted to provide input on any decision made and that the BoD was expected to act with transparency in this matter. After much discussion, it was determined by both the current and incoming BoDs that a Board decision that is informed (but not dictated) by a league vote would adequately address both the need for league input and the long-term risks of making it possible to determine any member’s status by popular vote.
On Thursday November 22nd, the current and incoming BoDs decided that members would be asked for their input on ****’s membership via a survey (open until Wednesday November 28th). A survey was deemed preferable to a meeting, both due to burnout/scheduling fatigue and the need to maintain momentum. On Thursday evening, the BoD sent a league-wide message that included the survey and links to a timeline of recent events and to our current Code of Conduct and policies. It was made clear in both the message and the survey that league members were being asked for feedback, not to make a majority decision about *****’s membership status.
Based on the information from the survey and internal discussions by the current and incoming BoDs, we will come to a decision about *****’s membership by the end of November. That decision will be communicated to league members (including *****) first, and then to the wider derby community.
2. How to make much-needed revisions to our current Code of Conduct and related league policies
While made with the best of intentions, it is clear to the BoDs that the current CoC and related policies have failed to adequately promote and enforce a high standard of behaviour. We need to collaborate as a league on these revisions to ensure that we learn from our mistakes instead of repeating them. We need to lay out codes and policies that future RCRD leaders can act confidently upon for any internal or external issue. As this will be a longer process, the current and incoming BoDs will create a timeline for policy review and revisions with the goal of making major improvements by early 2019. A summary of changes will be made available to the public upon completion.
3. How to hold ourselves accountable for not just the events of this year, but also for patterns of behaviour that have existed for many years.
The actions we have taken this year are in direct response to complaints received in 2018. However, we recognize that many derby humans (both in RCRD and the wider community) have experienced *****’s behaviour and the league’s apparent complicity in such behaviour over many years. The current and incoming BoDs take full ownership of this recurring and harmful pattern. Whether we have been involved with RCRD since its inception or only within the last few years, we know that it is the responsibility of leadership to amplify voices – not silence them. We see clearly now how much hurt has been caused by our inaction. From the bottom of our hearts, we are sorry. We messed up. We didn’t do what we would have expected another league to do. We know this does not undo our past failings, but we do see a way forward, which includes ensuring that we are held accountable both internally and externally while we drive a real culture change within RCRD. The process will be difficult and will require us to take an even more critical look at our past, but we will do it together and in full view of the wider derby community. We are committed to this change. Let us put our words into action.
We will continue to update the derby community on the progress that is made on all three of these issues. Therefore, please consider this statement one of several to come. Thank you for your time and attention.
2018 Board of Directors
2019 Board of Directors
Director of Marketing
Complaints Against RCRD Head Coach/Travel Team Coach and Royal City Roller Derby’s Subsequent Actions – May-November 2018
May 25-27, 2018 – Royal City Roller Derby hosts Royal Brawl, its second annual WFTDA-sanctioned tournament. After a game on Friday, Patricide (Tournament Head Ref) is informed of issues about *****l’s behaviour – as both coach of the RCRD travel teams and as an audience member. Patricide informs RCRD’s Head Ref of the issue, who then passes it to the Vice-President and President of the Board of Directors. Shortly thereafter, Patricide and Kirstie McKinlay (President of RCRD) meet. During this time, Patricide indicates that issues about ***** behaviour were also raised at Put Up Your Toques, but that they were not formally addressed due to a more serious issue with another tournament participant. On Saturday, Kirstie meets with *****, Kyle (the travel team’s line manager), and the travel team captains and asks ***** to modify his behaviour immediately. ***** agrees and Kirstie takes him at his word. For the rest of the tournament, the BoD is not informed of any additional complaints.
June 2, 2018 – The Board of Directors are alerted to a post in an officiating Facebook group, referencing *****’s behaviour at Royal Brawl. The poster felt that ***** had been intimidating and aggressive toward her and her crew of officials in part because she is female. Numerous commenters share similar stories of *****’s aggressive behaviour as both a coach and audience member. Many ask why RCRD, generally considered a good league, would tolerate this behaviour.
June 2-3, 2018 – The BoD solicits feedback on *****’s behaviour from officials and volunteers who participated in Royal Brawl, and also from some who participated in Put Up Your Toques and K-Town Shakedown. The following is a summary of what was received
- K-Town – it was felt that ***** was impeding refs during jams, criticizing the work of NSOs, and heckling.
- PUYT – it was felt that ***** was distracting, annoying, and borderline disrespectful. Some expressed that they did not want to officiate future RCRD games.
- Royal Brawl – several respondents felt that ***** was disrespectful, rude, and sexist – and that they would not officiate future RCRD bouts. Other respondents stated they had heard complaints but did not directly experience anything negative. One female ref felt his behaviour was firm but did not constitute bullying.
- Additionally, the BoD received a comprehensive letter from the June 2 complainant that detailed her negative interactions with ***** at Royal Brawl. She felt that ***** targeted her crew (which included 4 other female refs) due to gender bias, and that his constant criticisms and heckling (including from spaces reserved for officials) constituted bullying and abuse. She felt that he was employing intimidation tactics that were eroding the confidence, safety, and enjoyment of officials. She expressed a high tolerance for intense situations but felt that *****’s behaviour exceeded that. She noted that she approached the Tournament Head Ref about *****’s behaviour and he indicated that there had been a constructive conversation with *****, but she felt this was not sufficient. She closed the letter by stating that neither she nor the other 5 female refs from her home league would officiate any future RCRD bouts while ***** remains coach, although she expressed happiness for the Brute Leggers’ overall success.
June 3, 2018 – the BoD holds an emergency closed meeting to discuss the complaints/feedback and next steps.
- Safety of Officials – outside officials are blacklisting the league because they do not feel safe around *****
- Safety of Skaters – participating officials may dismiss legitimate concerns about on-track safety because ***** is bringing them up; travel team captains feel pressured to wrangle their coach, adding undue stress; negative energy on the bench affects all skaters
- League Reputation – the league is being viewed as complicit in/accepting of *****’s behaviour, making it more difficult to staff bouts or find opponents
- Internal Conflict – not all league members agree on the severity of *****’s behaviour; the Conflict Resolution Committee feels intimidated by ***** and that it cannot adequately do its job; the Brute Leggers are in the middle of their season, which makes a staffing change more difficult as there are no immediate replacements available
- Place ***** on a 6-month probation including a performance development program focusing on restorative action (as outlined by the BoD in collaboration with an external Conflict Resolution professional)
- Limit *****’s interaction with officials, perhaps by having Kyle (the travel teams’ line manager) wear the “A” during games
- Clearly outline how coaches and players are expected to represent the league at tournaments and events
- Prepare a statement in the event that the Brute Leggers attend the WFTDA NA East Continental Cup and issues arise at the tournament
June 5, 2018 – a conflict between ***** and RCRD’s Head Ref regarding *****’s request to rejoin the RCRD ref community is escalated by the Conflict Resolution Committee to the BoD, as the CRC felt that its ruling to uphold the HR’s decision to refuse *****’s request was not being respected. Additionally, the HR reported feeling intimidated by ***** in both derby and non-derby spaces as a result of the decision and ruling.The BoD states that it fully supports the CRC’s recommendations and that it considers the matter closed.
June 26, 2018 – the President of the BoD meets with both ***** and Kyle to discuss the complaints and present the performance development plan. ***** agrees to the terms of probation, but Kyle does not agree to take the A for the remainder of the season. Travel team captains are informed of this discussion and formulate a plan for attending the WFTDA NA East Continental Cup.
June 26, 2018 – the BoD sends notice of that day’s meeting, including *****’s probation, to those who provided negative feedback about *****. Some recipients respond that they will be making official complaints to WFTDA*.
* as of the compilation of this timeline, we are not aware of any complaints made
July 22, 2018 – the BoD posts an official response in the Facebook group where the original complaint was posted. The post is included here in its entirety.
We want to thank everyone who took the time to share their thoughts and concerns regarding the behaviour of a member of our league. On behalf of the league we apologize to those of you that have been impacted by our charter team coach’s behaviour. Derby is often quick to call out negative conduct in other leagues, but we don’t always recognize problematic behaviours in our own. We apologize that we have let people in our community down.
We have brought all of the feedback offered to both of our charter coaches and have made it clear that past behaviours including verbal aggression and actions that could in any way be considered intimidation are not acceptable when representing Royal City. The board of directors and the charter coaches have agreed that going forward they (the coaches) will not comment on the work of officials while acting as spectators and will conduct themselves in a respectful manner during the game when acting as coach. Any critiques of official’s calls or behaviours will go through the appropriate channels as laid out by the WFTDA tournament rules. Should our charter coaches be unable to behave in the manner as outlined above they have been made aware that RCRD’s board will follow the progressive discipline as outlined in our code of conduct up to and including suspension and removal from the league.
***** has been participating openly and in good faith, in the process with the board and has expressed his regret that his actions have hurt members of our community as well as the reputation of RCRD.
RCRD also recognizes that words without action are of no value and as such we will work to make sure ***** and all of our leagues members are held accountable to our code of conduct in a timely manner.
Thank you again to everyone who shared their concerns and experiences, this will only serve to make our league processes and culture stronger.
Board of Directors
Royal City Roller Derby
Early August, 2018 – RCRD is notified that an officiating crew at the WFTDA NA East Continental Cup refuses to officiate any RCRD bouts because ***** remains on the bench.
August 31, 2018 – The BoD receives survey results from evaluations sent to all Royal Brawl 2018 officials and volunteers. Several respondents provided positive feedback and did not identify any negative behaviour by *****. Others felt that ***** was rude, disrespectful, sexist, unprofessional, and condescending. These respondents felt that he was criticizing and heckling officials as both coach and audience member, and that he was inappropriately occupying officials-only spaces.
September 1, 2018 – an RCRD league member (not a skater) makes an official complaint to the league citing *****’s ongoing behaviour as the reason why they feel unsafe, why others have left the league in the past, and why they may also leave.The BoD determines that the complaint has no new actionable information, as the incidents listed in the complaint occurred before the probation was set – and that, therefore, probation has not been violated.
Mid-September, 2018 – travel team captains meet to discuss the complaints and how to bring those issues to the teams.
September 26, 2018 – members of the BoD meet with travel team captains to summarize the complaints and events from the previous three months.
October 11, 2018 – travel team members meet and are informed of all complaints against *****, his probation, and the conditions he agreed to. Following this meeting, travel team members receive a survey asking if a) they were comfortable with ***** coaching and representing the travel teams for the remainder of 2018; b) they were comfortable with Kyle coaching and representing the travel teams for the remainder of 2018; c) they wanted to release a public statement. Each question could be answered “no”, “yes”, or “yes but [insert condition]”.
- Vote on ***** – 43% yes; 35% yes but; 22% no
- Several skaters indicated that they didn’t want ***** acting as head coach, but would be comfortable with him participating in a non-public role
- Vote on Kyle – 64% yes; 18% yes but; 18% no
- Some skaters expressed concern that a similar conversation could be had about Kyle next year if he was made head coach
- Vote on public statement – 56% yes; 28% yes but; 16% no
- Many skaters indicated that creating and finalizing a statement must be a collaborative process
October 16, 2018 – the BoD receives a complaint from RCRD’s Head Ref and Head NSO, who report that ***** directed angry verbal comments at them at an event that, while attended by several RCRD members, was not an official RCRD event. This is not the first complaint submitted by the Head Ref regarding *****’s behaviour. The BoD reviews *****’s terms of probation and determines that it cannot act because the probationary terms do not cover behaviour at non-RCRD events.
End of October, 2018 – travel team coaches and captains meet to determine actions based on survey comments.
Early November, 2018 – the league puts out a call for additional coaching staff for the travel teams.
Early November, 2018 – travel team captains attempt to initiate the collaborative process of releasing a public statement from the teams. However, due to personal burnout and a lack of team buy-in, this was pushed to 2019.
November 13, 2018 – the blog “It Happens in Derby” posts “An Open Letter to Royal City Roller Derby” in which signees commit to boycotting Royal Brawl 2019 and other RCRD events if ***** participates as a coach, official, or audience member. The petition receives over 120 signatures from North America, Europe, and Oceania. The BoD, travel team captains, and Royal Brawl invitational committee spend the majority of the day discussing the consequences of this open letter. The decision is made to cancel Royal Brawl in order to take the proper time to work through the issue of *****’s behaviour and rectify failings of current codes/policies as a league, without external pressure or the pressure of organizing a WFTDA-sanctioned tournament.
November 14, 2018 – RCRD travel team members and all teams that were accepted to Royal Brawl are informed of the tournament cancellation.
November 14, 2018 – ***** resigns from his position as Head Coach of RCRD.
November 15, 2018 – the entirety of RCRD is informed of the complaints, the open letter, and the behind-the-scenes work over the past 6 months. The BoD schedules a league-wide meeting with a professional mediator trained in restorative justice.
November 16, 2018 – the BoD releases an initial public statement on all social media channels to acknowledge the complaints, lay out the league’s plans for internal consultation, and announce the cancellation of Royal Brawl. The BoD commits to providing a full public statement after digesting all member opinions expressed in the league-wide meeting.
November 18, 2018 – RCRD skaters who attended a travel team pre-tryout practice have a preliminary discussion where the above details are shared, potential ramifications for travel team games are identified, and opinions about league-wide accountability are heard.
November 20, 2018 – the mediated league-wide meeting takes place, attended by ⅔ of active league members. All attending members are given the opportunity to voice their opinion. Members raise issues including those related specifically to *****, an inconsistent level of league understanding about the Code of Conduct and behaviour policies, and a lack of overall media strategy. Many members also express a concern that *****’s continued presence as coach and representative of the travel teams would jeopardize the 2019 season for skaters of all levels (travel, home, rookie). The meeting’s focus is on hearing from all sides, not on jumping to resolutions – therefore, few actionable items are laid out for moving forward.
November 21, 2018 – ***** officially resigns as travel team coach and expresses his wish to remain involved in the league in whatever capacity RCRD will allow. Current BoD, upcoming BoD, and travel team captains discuss how to share *****’s resignation internally and externally, as well as what processes to follow to gather league input on *****’s membership status. It is strongly believed, based on the November 20 meeting, that league input is required before a decision is made by the BoD.
November 22, 2018 – the current BoD, incoming BoD, and current travel team captains continue conversations and send an internal announcement to RCRD, which includes a request for input regarding *****’s membership status. ***** is informed that his membership has been suspended (responsibilities and voting privileges removed) and that he is expected not to attend RCRD events until further notice. The current and incoming BoD commit to providing a public statement by end of day on November 23.
November 23, 2018 – a public statement is released detailing *****’s resignation and the ongoing issues of deciding *****’s membership, revising codes and policies, and ensuring league accountability.