There's nothing better than the support of your peer group mixed with the support of your fan base. For Richter City to be nominated in the Wellington Sports Awards was pretty big in itself – an honour just to be nominated, as it were – but to win? And by a public vote? That's something else.
Nominated in the category for Sports Personality of the Year, Richter City Roller Derby took out the only publically-voted category. Up against injured Hurricane (and charity shaver), Piri Weepu, retired broadcaster Keith Quinn and Lower Hutt boxing "identity" Billy Graham (who they Richter City beat by just 60 votes), it was a good victory. And hopefully one that showed the audience that this might be a very valid sport in more ways than one. It's worth noting that in a World Cup year, no rugby player won any award.
Yes the category wasn't about athletic endeavour. But when the sport is still in its adolescence and the matches are still the club/league level, then it would be hard to argue for inclusion in Team of the Year. And for a league that is notorious for not wanting to single out individuals over the whole, it would be harder still to select a single skater for Sportswoman of the Year.
The adoration of fans is what validates a sport. The continued support, the shows of fanaticism (more and more people are showing up in team colours and costumes to bouts) and now winning a fan-based vote. This is a sport that is ready to be considered as just that, a sport.
On the other hand this may mean some things change for Richter City. The league knows it too. There will be more statistics from games released, (hopefully) more live streams of games, and the biggest change, fewer players swapping teams. The final point is still in discussions but the annual team realignment to keep parity may cease to allow veteran players to become team icons, with new rookie skaters filling any gaps. Even the tone of the posters this season is more classic boxing than pro-wrestling.
The awards are well-timed, with the second bout of the regular season happening this weekend. A derby bout really is an amazing experience, and I have seen some amazing feats of sport there. So please take this as a recommendation. Richter City – award winning.