An Open Letter to Royal City Roller Derby

Members of Ontario, Canada’s roller derby community are standing up against a problematic coach. Royal City Roller Derby is a women’s flat track roller derby league based in Guelph, Ontario. Unfortunately, people have witnessed the Royal City Brutleggers’ coach Craig “Professor Wrex” Roul act abusively towards members of the community.

Thus, they have drafted an open letter to Royal City regarding its upcoming tournament, Royal Brawl 2019:

We, the undersigned, are consciously and deliberately not applying to volunteer or officiate at Royal Brawl 2019 because of abusive behavior exhibited by the Royal City Bruteleggers’ coach (Craig “Professor Wrex” Roul) toward skaters, officials, tournament officers, and support and safety staff at multiple past events, both as a coach and as a member of the audience. We cannot and will not condone such behavior, and will not volunteer or officiate at Royal Brawl 2019 or any other Royal City event if he is participating in any capacity, including as a coach, a rostered official, or an audience member.
If you would like to sign onto this open letter, you may do so here. The signatories of this letter may be found here.
[Edited on 11/13/2018 at 5:14 pm EST to include link to signatories.]
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39 comments

    • Thanks for the correction. We have changed the name of the league.

      We here at IHID did not write this letter, nor did we put together the form. The letter and form were created by members of Ontario’s derby community. IHID does not have access to the responses to this form.

  • The letter has no effect if the targeted recipient can’t see how many people have signed it.
    The fact that people wish to remain anonymous is just telling of the number of people who have felt bullied, harassed and intimidated into silence by the perpetrators of this petition.
    There are many members of RCRD who in fact do not support this coach but have had to deal with an incredible amount of emotional trauma, stress, damaged relationships, online intimidation, bullying and anxiety, spearheaded by individuals not affiliated with RCRD nor remotely informed on internal league business. Attempts at conflict mediation have been met with hostility, threats and lack of cooperation. I’m so glad that the WFTDA’s new tournament code of conduct recognises the growing danger of online interactions and formally defines rumor spreading under the category of bullying.

    • I cannot speak for the people who chose to sign this letter who also chose to remain FB friends with the coach. That said, I have chosen to stay FB friends with my abuser in the past so that I could see which events he would be going to so that I could avoid those events.

  • First of all, the list of people who signed is public.

    Second of all, enough with the anonymous posters complaining that people might want to remain anonymous!

  • Laughable that this letter has been signed and spread around by folks who I have personally witnessed having full on melt down temper tantrums on the track and screaming at me as a skater and at officials. Not to mention officials and others who I have witnessed bullying, talking down to people, political insults, endangering skaters and misogyny en masse. Selective outrage from a toxic clique of vigilantes.

  • That’s all of derby. Just because someone’s “thrown a temper tantrum, or screamed on the track” doesn’t mean abusive behaviour from the person accused didn’t happen. Roller derby can get heated. It’s a sport. I myself scream a lot. I myself have probably had a couple meltdowns during my time skating. But I’ve also owned my mistakes, and have apologized. I think the problem is he’s had abusive behaviour; and hasn’t owned or addressed anyone’s discomfort; and continues doing so.
    I want to clarify that I myself have never had a negative interaction with this person, but I believe the people who say they have.

    Take accountability for actions and work towards being better humans. Because shit like this is happening in other leagues too.

  • I predict we’ll start to see things like this more and more. The supply of volunteers, and officials in particular, is massively smaller than the demand. Which means that if those volunteers get organized, they have a lot of power to insist on change by the simple expedient of not showing up. It’s not like there’s a shortage of tournaments in May to apply to.

  • I agree that this coach is too aggressive with officials. I have seen it and do not believe he should be on the bench. And I do not believe that anyone is lying about their experiences.
    However I think the scale of this online campaign sets a really concerning precedent. I worry about the kind of effect such a public and targeted list can have on someone’s mental health. I don’t think this is an appropriate scale of response to the allegations made. I understand that as an official criticism and/or aggression can make you feel really shitty and I agree disciplinary action is needed but I implore the people who have signed this petition to ask how you would feel if someone published a long, public list on the internet of people essentially denouncing you as scum, or how you would feel if someone did this to a loved one. Including people you have never even met. Implying that you are violent or sexually abusive (which as far as I understand has not been observed?) And publishing your real name, potentially affecting your ability to form future relationships and your career development for the rest of your life. This is a form of cyber bullying and it is not an appropriate response to in-person bullying.
    I say this not to dismiss anyone’s experience but because I am genuinely concerned that one day this will go too far. This type of concentrated hatred driven by emotions can really damage and isolate a person. It can kill a person. If you are an advocate for mental health, ask yourself if adding your name to these petition is socially responsible. How far are you willing to go to punish someone?

    • I am willing to go as far as I need to go to protect the members of my community.

      You are correct: There are no allegations of sexual misconduct in this case. The allegations are of aggression and bullying. My understanding is that people have been contacting the league about this coach for some time and that the league has not done anything about it.

      Actions like this happen when allegations are made and leagues do nothing. We reach a point of frustration and exasperation. No one enjoys publicly calling out other people. We do it as a last resort.

  • “There are no allegations of sexual misconduct in this case.”

    Sure, but what about what got him turfed from his previous league? While that was some years ago, surely that’s something Royal City is aware of and considering?

  • The fact that people are so unwilling to give him a chance to change is ridiculous. Many outside of RCRD have not interacted with him in 3-6 months, a time in which he has been trying to change and improve himself after the impression he was giving off was brought to his attention. Holding a tournament hostage in an attempt to have him kicked out of a league is an immature way to deal with your personal conflicts and is a form cyber bullying

  • This is bullying. I teach children, and when they get in arguments I sit them together to discuss their problems. By taking this into the public, it drives you further from the “solution” you may be hoping for. As a female who plays roller derby, I joined the sport to take a step away from bullying. Since the allegations of bullying (important to note there were no allegations of sexual assault nor physical assault, which is what this forum is making it seem like), Craig has since been working on his behaviour.

    Please-stop-the-bullying.

    • There has been no accusation of sexual assault that IHID is aware of. The open letter did not say anything about sexual assault. Though most of the content sent to us here at IHID is about sexual assault or harassment, we are also dedicated to addressing issues surrounding mistreatment and bullying.

  • Cyber bullying is something he is quite familiar with FIRST HAND. He’s perpetrated it, himself.

    People without legitimate allegations, do not have time to waste, on this kind of campaign, unless it’s impacted individuals. They obviously have serious issues with his behaviour. It takes courage to speak out when the norm is to be shut down by a League that protects him like their very own, unruly toddler wearing a Captain’s hat.

    Bravo to those who refuse to kiss ass.

  • Third word in on this open letter speaks to sexual assault. Over 100 people signed this letter. Did a sexual assault occur and was it reported to police? If not, why not? Did people signing this do nothing about a sexual assault? If they did nothing do they belong in derby? Let’s be clear. Sexual assault is a serious criminal offence. While there is consistency in reports of the coach being verbally abusive and maybe threatening nothing I have read so far indicates a sexual assault. Yet over 100 people put their name to a letter that opens with sexual assault. Not sure how this supports victims of sexual assault when it’s term is merely used to inflame and get attention to an already bad situation.

    • There has been no accusation of sexual assault that IHID is aware of. The open letter did not say anything about sexual assault. Though most of the content sent to us here at IHID is about sexual assault or harassment, we are also dedicated to addressing issues surrounding mistreatment and bullying.

  • @Been there, done that
    Why are you assuming Royal City is aware that he was “turfed” from his previous league, never mind why? If it hasn’t been reported to them why is it assumed that they know?

  • BULLY? Did I read those comments correctly, relating to HIM being bullied?

    A petition that is signed by over 100, from many different places?! Most have their names clearly provided on the signature list.

    Now, I say, how does VICTIM BLAMING sound? That’s what I hear from RCRD.

    You who scream “bully” are part of the problem.

    I sense some Cognitive Dissonance here:

    In the field of psychology, cognitive dissonance is the mental discomfort experienced by a person who simultaneously holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values. This discomfort is triggered by a situation in which a belief of a person clashes with new evidence perceived by that person.

    The evidence seems to be ignored by those whose fervent loyalty, for their Coach, outweighs their logic. This lack of foresight will cause the collapse of the most important issue, Roller Derby.

    The attendance at this year’s home games speaks volumes. Considering how well RCRD is doing, begs to question, why the stands/seats/floors are emptier then ever before?!

    Stop being blinded.

    STOP VICTIM BLAMING.

    If you are buddy buddy with him…then support him. But DO NOT ignore those with very REAL and witnessed concerns.

    The League IS WFTDA and those standards are definitely expected to be at that level.

  • Seems as though this was a last resort, due to inaction over a long period of time.

    It may seem offensive to some, but I his actions are offensive to many.

    IF, this had been addressed early on, it would have been beneficial for him, the league and to those victimized by his inappropriate behaviours. It may have afforded him the opportunity to adjust his temperament and avoid mass outcry.

    In essence, inaction, directly impacts him as well. If bad behaviour is ignored by the League because they feel it helps their cause, it is then considered acceptable by the individual and easily continues without necessary discipline.

  • @derbylove

    Bravo!

    If Protocols are followed … a mistake/s can be a learning opportunity. It can benefit all.

    If Protocols are ignored, it can balloon into exactly what’s transpired.

    If RCRD really cared about both the victim/s and the Coach, they’d have addressed it swiftly to benefit all and keep things running smoothly.

    But all fingers point to everyone else.

    That’s the major flaw in this particular Roller Derby League.

    EGO. “We can do no wrong”!

    Humility is often found, in hard lessons learned.

    It’s a definite shame, as this League has stella talent but it’s apparent that the Leaders have dropped the ball. A complete restructuring seems to be in order as well as a refresher on ethics.

    Reputation is everything. Roller Derby gets a very bad rap, when things are not swiftly addressed.

    There seems to be a similar thread, running through this sport and it leaves a bad taste, where things were sweet.

    Example: The VOLUNTEER safety/medical assistance team (St. John Ambulance) must conduct themselves, in a Professional way. They do.

    A VOLUNTEER coach is no different.

  • This is no more bullying than the act of boycotting a company or product is bullying. The officials listed are simply making public their reasons for not engaging with this league.

    This came about because a group of us were discussing that we were not planning to apply to this tournament because of the coach’s actions, and the league’s INactions regarding his behavior. At that point we realized that if we weren’t forthcoming about WHY we weren’t applying, the league may not actively realize that their inactions were the cause of the problem.

    So we decided to let the league know why officials weren’t planning to apply. And at last check, over 120 other officials agreed with our rationale and have decided to stand by us in protest of poor treatment.

    Refusing to work a tournament is not bullying. Making those reasons public is not bullying. Actions and inactions have consequences.

  • THE LEAGUE HAS NOT BEEN INACTIVE: STOP F*CKING SAYING THAT.
    The people who run RCRD are effing volunteers and implying that they “signed up for this” kind of relentless torment is just as unfair as I’m sure you think it is to say that referees “signed up for” criticism from the coach, because they “knew what they were getting into”. No this is NOT like “boycotting a company or product”. These people are NOT paid to handle the abuse they have received and they have real full time jobs which lately they cannot do properly due to the hours that coordinating this issue has taken up. You have NO IDEA how much of a toll this has taken on the board members and the captains not to mention how hurt and attacked individual league members who this has nothing to do with are feeling right now. If you have a problem with Craig, contact him directly. If you have a problem with a member of our league and the choices they have made as an individual, contact them directly. But stop smearing the entire league with your broad brush, tormenting our social media coordinator (also a volunteer with a real life and with real feelings who has no culpability whatsoever in this matter but is being visibly bullied and ganged up on) and attacking the actions of “the league” as if the woman in the logo represents one human who makes decisions for everyone. You cannot possibly presume to say that every single member of our entire league suffers from some inherent personality flaw which prevents them from being able to do what you consider the “right thing”. Things aren’t so cut and dry and maybe consider that if you have little to no insight into what has gone on internally, trust that a large group of people who are mature, intelligent adults who are capable of making judgement calls are doing so. You are not entitled to internal communications of a league you are not part of just because you left a facebook comment. If you are so confident that you know how to run the league then give constructive feedback that is logical and feasible instead of just slamming the way it is done. If you have a suggestion, I challenge you to directly contact the individuals who YOU see as culpable and tell them exactly what you think they should do differently, instead of just avoiding personal confrontation and spreading it around your friends that we’re shit.
    Obviously not everyone who has signed the petition has participated in the online bullying but the ringleaders are blatantly clear.
    Also I want to point out the hypocrisy of people saying “this isn’t bullying!” when one could so easily say that the criticism lent by Craig to officials “isn’t bullying” because it’s all subjective AF and we have conveniently not been informed of any specific details or direct quotes of alleged “abuse”. I’d argue that bullying is measured by impact to the recipient, not intention of the abuser and the amount of tears, anxiety and suffering I have witnessed as a direct result of these online interactions definitely constitutes bullying.

  • @Grow Up

    So, what’s your name? Hiding too?!

    Consider that he has been talked too directly!

    You take his word?

    The League HAS been contacted.

    Do you know they have not?

    Ignorance is not a good way to protect something delusional in your single mind.

    This has been a problem for YEARS

  • @ “Anonymous”

    Re: “Why are you assuming”

    Oh, they’ve been told. People have been told in multiple venues about his history and behaviour. Apparently because it happened in another league or was “too long ago” it’s not under consideration. But it doesn’t mean Royal City doesn’t know. They just choose to plug their ears about someone in their midst who bullies and exploits skaters and others.

    It would be nice to hear the results of the league meeting scheduled for yesterday, and what action, or inaction, Royal City is taking, having heard from the community. And whether they really “heard”. Otherwise, it’s shaping up that Royal City’s calender is about to open up a lot for 2019

  • I have never doubted anyone since childhood after I was assaulted and tormented.

    Quite frankly what I see here scares the shit out of me. Over 100 people saw something was wrong but remained silent until some hamfisted open letter came out. I have for the first time questioned the motivations.

    A few months ago a skater came out with allegations of harassment that started whe they were a junior. I have a ton of respect for them. They succinctly laid out the issues. They had more courage than the sum of the people who signed this.

    In this case I am not sure if we are talking about some trash talk on the the track and hurt feelings or up to and including criminal assault.

  • I was a member of this league for far too many years.
    I would say that bullying and segregation is a huge problem within the league. I left for being completely segregated and bullied about my ability to do my volunteer job and segregated from my team. Not being invited to team parties, decisions being made without my knowledge and overstepping me everytime I did anything. This was brought to the board, but it was ignored. As this person was buddy, buddy with the board of directors.
    Bullying runs deeper than just the coach.
    Trust me!!!!!

  • My opinion is clear. Only female/mtf should be allowed to coach.

    Seems that too many male issues are causing a problem amongst the teams.

    Female knowledge and derby skills easily match any man.

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