Guess There Really is a First Time for Everything
July 14, 2009
Being a newer roller derby fan, it’s not uncommon for me to spot new things on the track, even if they’re just new to me.
But there was plenty of first-time happenings Saturday night that left even the most tenured derby vets scratching their collective noggins.
The Rainy City Roller Dolls hosted a double-header last weekend at the Rollerdrome in Centralia, doing battle directly with Boise, Idaho’s Treasure Valley Rollergirls. The opener for the night kicked off the flutter of firsts, with both the Fort Lewis Bettie Brigade and the Sick Town Derby Dames (Corvalis, Ore.; that’s ST-Double Ds to you) participating in their first official bouts.
I’ll get my little disclaimer out of the way early in this one; I was announcing for Rainy City, so I didn’t get to see every exact thing. That said, I did have one of the best seats in the house.
Let’s start light.
For being both team’s first bouts, I was very impressed with both the Fort Lewis Bettie Brigade and the Sick Town Derby Dames. Both teams came out hitting hard and were trying to employ solid strategies against one another, showing they’ve done their derby bookwork. And it showed on the track.
From the very beginning, this one was going to be a battle. Sick Town was able to build an early lead with jammers Saint Nick (also the team’s captain), Hot Boxxx, Rice Crackr and Jalapainyo. At one point, Sick Town jumped out by as much as 35. But Fort Lewis showed they came for more than just a first bout, using the jamming presence of Suicide Red and Gloria Sass in particular to rally back and keep things close. And while Sick Town led by more than 20 at the half, the second half was anyone’s bout.
Both teams got great blocking efforts, with Sick Town’s Cruel Ann Unusual, Back Alley Bruiser, Boo Bury Deathmuffin and the twin terrors Smackdapus and Wrath of Kant opening plenty of holes. For Fort Lewis, Decapitateher, Miso Rowdy, Stranger Danger, Legs Le’nor and Tamazon seemed to draw the most duty, trying to create opportunities for Red, Sass and company to plow through.
The teams were very evenly matched skill-wise. In the end, Fort Lewis seemed to get a little more tired trying to keep up with Sick Town’s faster pack pace. When Fort Lewis was able to slow things down, they found success. But when Sick Town was able to accelerate it, the Bettie Brigade seemed to lose a little bit of steam.
Still, with Sick Town up by nearly 40 toward the end, Fort Lewis came back with two solid jams toward the end before Sick Town put it away in the last jam, winning ultimately 137-115.
For Sick Town, it was a great first-ever win, and certainly a needed one to help offset the loss of Saint Nick, who appeared to sustain a right knee injury in the second half that kept her off the track for the rest of the night. And while Fort Lewis didn’t get the win in their first bout, they showed they have the skill and know-how to hang tough. With a little more work at either speeding up or controlling the pack pace, they should have their first win in no time too.
But make no mistake, the Sick Down Derby Dames certainly earned this win. They were busting ass right up to the very last whistle, which is the only reason the score didn’t get a little closer first. Coached by Izabell Ringer of the Rose City Rollers’ Heartless Heathers, it was nice to see them getting some tutelage from a a current derby vet. Hopefully we’ll see more skaters venture over to coaching both during, but especially after their skating careers.
Again, I was very impressed by both these squad’s first official efforts. No reason to hang your heads Betties and again, great first win to Sick Town! You were both great to party with too!
So that was the easy part.
Next up was the headline bout, with both the Rainy City Roller Dolls and the Treasure Valley Roller Girls coming in hot. RCRD had won its last five derby events, while Treasure Valley had taken a big win from Reno’s Battle Born Derby Demons to bounce back from a narrow loss to the Emerald City Roller Girls, of Eugene, Ore., prior.
The action was intense right off the get-go as both teams were hitting hard, seeming to elevate the play to their opponents’ levels. That meant fast jammers trying to jam even faster. That meant hard hitters trying to hit even harder. And for fans, that meant some high-octane roller derby action!
Rainy City got some big first-half jams out of DVS Dicer, Holly Hobbler and Toot A. Lou, with Crack Attack, Miss Mel Mangles and Pandora Bloxxx leading the way on the front lines. Lucyville Slug’Her, who went back and forth between jamming and blocking, had a better night without the star, really hitting hard to compliment her teammates. And it was her birthday!!! Happy Birthday Lucyville! Tinkerbell Ringer, Maxxxine McFiercen and Suzzi Sidebomber also had nice moments blocking in the first half.
For Treasure Valley, B Header, Ana Rampage and Dawn of the Shred seemed to handle the majority of the jamming, with Slamanda, Kat E Kizm and Scarlet Danger opening the biggest holes. They were without highly touted Jilldozer in this one, so they needed the total team effort to make up for the loss.
Early in this one, things were tight, although Rainy City was able to open an early lead. That lead slowly grew throughout the first half, lending RCRD a 71-Fortysomething halftime lead. The crowd was amped early, with both kegs tapped shortly after the half.
But that’s when things really got interesting.
In the second half, Rainy City and Treasure Valley were both battling hard, with TVRG trying to close the gap and Rainy City trying to fend them off.
But it wasn’t until just under 20 minutes left when things got, well, confusing.
TVRG’s AngXiety Rush had been skating in the pack with her team as Toot A Lou was jamming for Rainy City. Toots called off the jam before turn three. That’s what I know. I also know that moments later, play was stalled as AngXiety was lying on the floor near her bench, a gash on her forehead bleeding. She was being checked for a concussion, as evidenced by the EMT’s procedures. After about five minutes, it was clear she did indeed suffer both a contusion above her left eye as well as a concussion. In fact, she left the rink on a stretcher for precautionary reasons (a few of the TVRG girls I talked to after the bout said she should be OK, thankfully). The questionable part was, how?
Where the cut was, it seemed to me that she had hit her head on the floor very hardly at some point after the jam. The cut had a similar line to her helmet, although I’m not pretending to be an expert by any stretch of the imagination. After reviewing the video (unfortunately, the tape cuts off before the accident occurred since it happened in between jams), you see RCRD blocker Slaughter Kinney going in for a hit just before Toots calls off the jam. The hit happens off camera, but you clearly see AngXiety Rush still standing in the back of the pack after you see Slaughter go in with momentum. There were murmurs of a late hit, but upon reviewing the tape, I didn’t see who that would have been attributed to, since Slaughter’s hit seemed to not floor AngXiety Rush and seemed to be well before the whistle, and no other skaters took the outside line near the TVRG bench on the video.
Since I was announcing and was standing in between both benches, I asked three or four different Treasure Valley girls what had happened, since the announcing crew (including myself), the NSOs, the refs and RCRD all seemed to have missed the play entirely. The story was the same for the TVRG girls I talked to. Seemingly, no one knew exactly what happened, and, with a pretty bad-looking concussion, AngXiety wasn’t exactly in the position to enlighten anyone.
After 20 minutes or so, things got even more perplexing.
After talking to some of his team, TVRG coach Yippy Skippy announced his team was not going to continue skating the remaining 19 minutes and change in the bout, thus forfeiting to Rainy City. The reasons I was told at the bout by the TVRG staff were that in light of the injury, the team would not continue as, in their eyes, the referees had lost control of the bout from a safety standpoint. Some of the TVRG team seemed to echo displeasure with the officiating on the night, but from my perspective, it seemed no better or worse than your average bout. There were certainly missed calls throughout, but I have yet to see a bout where that didn’t occur. Upon reviewing the video, it didn’t seem either team was given a more favorable advantage than the other via missed/non-calls.
As far as the bout escalating, I’d say this one was no where near as intense as say, RCRD’s road win against Slaughter County’s Terrormedixxx. Anyone who was at that bout could clearly see things getting away from the ref crew. This was no where near that kind of escalation.
Also, Treasure Valley did not bring any officials. That’s not to say the bad calls or missed calls were justified. The team openly admitted they probably should have. Even so, only two of the officials skating were Rainy City officials, with the rest coming largely from Oregon. This is meant to clearly present the facts for your consideration; no more, no less.
At this point, I want to make absolutely clear that I have nothing against Treasure Valley. They were a fun bunch of girls to meet and hang out with before the bouts and those I did get to talk too at the afterparty wanted to make clear that they in no way blamed RCRD for their forfeiture. In fact, at least four of the TVRG girls expressed their displeasure at forfeiting.
Having never encountered a forfeit before (as was echoed by derby vets ranging from 5+ years of involvement to those with a year or two), I did a light amount of research (about half an hour searching through google) trying to find previous examples of forfeits. The only forfeits I could find all seemed to be injury related in that the injury incurred left the team without the legal number of healthy skaters to continue bouting. Section 9.2 of the WFTDA 4.0 rule set clarifies forfeiture procedures, and TVRG was certainly within the rules to forfeit, as evidenced here:
“18.104.22.168.2 A team elects to forfeit rather than continue play.”
Having to announce the forfeit, I was worried about the 80-100 fans still in attendance (the double-header ran much later than expected, with the forfeit happening at 10:40 p.m. approximately (and remember, there was still just under 20 minutes left to still play). Luckily, I think most were OK with it since it was so late, but there were some moans and groans among the fans at the announcement.
So, rather than this being a case of right or wrong, I think it was more a case of no one really having a clear idea of what was going on. It seemed no one at any given point had all the info necessary to make an informed decision about what had occurred, myself included.
All that can really be said with 100 percent certainty is that the preceding events happened. How or why is a much more speculative question. In any event, when the bout was called, Rainy City was leading 89-63.
One more time, I want to make clear that this blog is not meant to be a personal attack on any one group or team. Everyone who was out for the double-header was great to talk to and party with. Rather, I simply wanted to present what I knew surrounding the situation, and let readers take it or leave it. Perhaps in the discussion thread more light will come to shed. Again, not trying to stir anything up here, but I couldn’t exactly sweep it under the rug and pretend it didn’t happen either.
But what a weird way to end a double-header. Certainly a first for most at the Drome.
The win gave Rainy City their sixth win in a row heading into next weekend’s Dockyard-hosted Eight-stravaganza! It should be a lot of fun up north in Tacoma as the four Dockyard Derby Dames’ teams take on different opponents in half-hour minibouts. I’m going to try to get a little preview up before that. In the meantime:
The win was also somewhat bittersweet for Rainy City, as two skaters saw their official RCRD bout careers come to a close. DVS Dicer and Deathrose both will be moving away, but both made sure to make their last official bouts memorable (both are going to skate in Tacoma next weekend as well).
DVS Dicer will be a particularly stinging loss as she had been evolving as a jammer quite a bit, scoring a 15-point jam against Treasure Valley with three grand slams. Rainy City is going to miss her slicin’ and dicin’ through the pack, using her speed and tenacity to either zoom around or blast right through the wall of opposing blockers. She’ll be moving to Las Vegas, where she’ll try to join Sin City as well!
Deathrose, who not all that long ago made her official bout debut, is also moving away, herself heading to California. She too had improved dramatically since making the team. Her blocking ability was solid throughout, but she really grew mentally in regards to keeping an eye on what was going on around and beyond the pack. In fact, one of my favorite moments from the TVRG bout was when one of Treasure Valley’s jammers started to break free of the pack. Deathrose was able to see the perfect line, cut her off at the pass and put a shoulder into her just before the 20-foot mark would have taken affect. She also assisted on a couple whips and had an all-around solid bout.
At the true half of the event, both were presented with photo albums of their time at Rainy City. It’s truly been a pleasure to watch them both grow as skaters. Both these skaters are going to be missed. Hopefully they’ll both continue to skate and we’ll get some serious Rainy City roadtrip action out of the deal!
Big thanks you are due to both Maxxxine McFiercen and Sick Town’s Heather Blocklear for stepping up to the mic and announcing with me! It’s always nice to have other people out there to help balance it out and both you lovely ladies did a fine job!! Thanks again!
Also, it was great finally getting to meet PDXSharkey/Masonite Burn, one of Rose City’s photographer extraordinaries. In fact, he shot (and graciously let me use) the photos embedded in this blog. You can find more of his stuff over on Flickr.
It was also nice to see a contingent of SCRV skaters making the trip down, including Brawlyanna, On’da Slight, TuneHer Up and I believe Pipsqueak. That should do a lot to further dispel rumors of any bad blodd between TMX and RCRD, as they also partyed it up with us all at the afterparty. RCRD and SCRV heart each other! Mad props to On’da Sligh too, your 2009 Roller Hockey Nationals MVP! Nice job!!
The beergarden was also a success, as evidenced by two empty kegs! Thanks for drinking with us!
A big get well to AngXiety Rush too and Saint Nick too. No one likes to see anyone get hurt ever!
I think that about does it for this round. Please feel free to open up discussion about anything above…let’s keep it civil though. We’re all reading this for one reason: We love derby. Let’s use that commonality to help further the sport via discussion rather than divide ourselves for no good reason. As always, thanks for reading,
Yours in derby,