By Troy Lyle
Normally there’s a rhythm, a cadence, a flow to a roller derby bout. So much so that one can sense how a bout will likely end just by feeling the early vibrations. Such was the case for the Rollergirls of Central Kentucky’s (ROCK) latest effort on May 8. One could tell the outcome wouldn’t be pretty from the subtle changes in atmosphere … from that gut feeling that loomed in the air during the bout’s inception.
Ever so subtle these barometric fluctuations were, but omnipresent none the less.
Team warm-ups started like they always do with each respective team skating the track to get their bearings, turn their wheels and heat the blood. Most of the girls use this time to settle their nerves and focus on the task ahead, which is more or less how the pregame transpired this Saturday.
But then something altogether peculiar happened. During ROCK’s post skate and cool down, the Rollergirls of Southern Indiana (ROSI) came over to stretch out and chat it up. A laugh here. A how have things been there. It’s almost as if ROSI was wooing ROCK into a false sense of security. Like playing nice now was to mask playing rough later.
Those vacillations… they begin to gain in intensity.
Throughout team introductions the air progressively thickened in the Swonder Ice Center on the outskirts of Evansville, Indiana. Fueled by an inept announcer and hands down the worst introduction to roller derby ever, the crowd seemed disoriented and antsy, as if they didn’t know whether to cheer or keep quite.
The vibe was strengthening. Something wicked this way was coming.
Hurtz Donut scored first for ROSI in a rough and tumble opening jam as both teams tried to bruise and bang the other into oblivion. When the smoke cleared ROSI had sent their message loud and clear: “This is our turf.”
The next few jams followed suit as bodies banged, wheels screeched and sweat pored. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to see that this was a war that wouldn’t end pretty.
Ryder Die and Ellie Slay managed to push ROCK ahead by one early on. ROCK was working its patented tightly packed wall made up of Sissy Bug, Ragdoll Ruby and Sharon Moonshine to perfection.
ROCK 13, ROSI 12
What in reality were two minute jams seemed like an eternity, as the two teams’ game plans—beat’em up and box’em out—mirrored each other.
After a short deliberation by the zebras over a penalty, Sugar Shock roared off the line using her catlike reflexes to weave her way through ROSI‘s line. It wasn’t easy, but eventually Sugar broke through and gained lead jammer. When the whistle blew ROCK had scored another 3 points and things were looking up.
ROCK 16, ROSI 12
Donut went to work again for ROSI. In a slick move she faked to the inside and speed skated around ROCK’s wall, netting the days first grand slam and posting 5 points.
Die countered and posted 4 points of her own as Slay, Rainbow Smite and Kitty O’Doom reeked havoc on ROSI’s Killyn Time. Though not gaining ground, ROCK was holding its own.
Then the zebras went to shit. For some reason they felt compelled to ruin a perfectly good derby bout with a string of senseless calls.
ROCK 20, ROSI 17
Ragman, ROCK’s coach, had all he could stand by this point. After calling a timeout the Rock coach approached the zebs wanting to know why ROCK seemed to be mounting penalty time at twice the pace of ROSI. And more importantly, he wanted to know why certain penalties weren’t being enforced and others were.
ROCK’s jammers, he noted, continued to be pounded by ROSI’s wall even though they had skated more than 20 feet in front of the pack. Such pounding is a No-No according to the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA), the governing force behind roller derby. According to WFTDA rule 4.3.2, “When a Blocker is positioned more than twenty (20) feet outside the pack or out of bounds, she is out of play and subject to penalties.”
After receiving no satisfactory answer from the vile zebs, Ragman returned to the bench with an obvious look of disgust. The damage was done and there was nothing he could do about it. The zebs weren’t going to make that call, a fact ROSI used to their full advantage to retake the lead.
ROCK 20, ROSI 21
If the bout wasn’t physical enough already, the lack of control by the zebs only served to infuriate ROCK’s skaters, upping the brutal nature of their attack.
Bodies began flying off the track and into the suicide seats outlining the rink’s exterior. Shouts grew, sweat poured and deep moans filled the air, silencing the more than 300 patrons in attendance. The scene only amplified as elbows flailed and panties began flying off helmets. It wasn’t a pretty setting, more like a boxing match than a bout.
ROCK 37, ROSI 32
On the wheels of The Virgin Cherry, Donut, Killyn Time, O. Snap and Suffragette Kitty, ROSI scored and scored and scored behind their all but impassable wall made up of Andre’a The Giant, Grave Digga, Sammich and Ingrid Inhumane.
But ROCK wasn’t done. They fought and clawed between every whistle, inflicting pain and battling to stay close. One could tell there was too much pride at stake to let the zebs get the best of this seasoned derby squad.
ROCK 39, ROSI 60
In most sports a 21 point lead is all but insurmountable. Not so in roller derby. Jammers routinely rip off 15 and 20 plus point jams, especially when the opposing team’s jammer is sent for some butt time in the penalty box. That slight chance was all the motivation Slay needed for her halftime speech. After slapping the girls around a bit, Slay and company reentered the Swonder Ice Center with a new sense of purpose — get even, or die trying. After a halftime percussive assault by The Boom Squad, a local dance, drum and flag ensemble, both teams exited their respective lockers and made their way to center court. One could tell by the look on ROCK’s faces they weren’t at all pleased with the way the first half transpired. ROSI, with smiles and laughter, looked to be right where they wanted to be—in control.
After a quick warm up skate the action resumed.
Unfortunately the plan went awry after an early phantom penalty call on Sugar for back blocking. To make matters worse the two points Slay scored prior to being penalized failed to be awarded by the zebs. Yet another slap in the face for ROCK.
By this time ROCK had had enough. The bout was out of reach, but not the battle. With looks that kill ROCK went about damaging every ROSI skater that dared enter their domain. No jammer or blocker was safe from the anguish, punishment and agony ROCK unleashed, none more punishing than a blow administered by Sissy Bug midway through the second half. Bug managed to blast the panty off of Cherry’s helmet and send her flailing into the air and flat on her back. It was asily the hardest hit registered that afternoon.
ROCK 51, ROSI 79
Bruising ROSI wasn’t the only objective for ROCK in the later part of the second. Newcomers Mericle Whip and Pamm Demic got some much needed track time. Whip skated in a couple of jams, showing serious promise for ROCK’s future as she glided around the track. Pamm Demic got her derby feet wet as she landed a solid hit on ROSI’s Donut, sending her off the track and out of Bitty Bast’rd’s way. Bast’rd seized the opportunity and took lead jammer to score 6 points.
ROCK 62, ROSI 92
The zebs were up to their nonsense once again in the next to last jam of the day. Clearly after the jam started and the blockers left the line, Major Beef decided to whistle the action dead and allow a timeout for ROSI.
‘What the hell?’
That and many other expletives came flying from the ROCK bench.
“You can’t call a timeout between jams,” Drawer yelled. “You refs are really screwing the pooch today.”
Smite echoed the sentiment.
“It’s not ROSI’s fault,” she said. “It’s a ref problem.”
Smite was right, at least judging by the discrepancy in penalties. ROCK finished with 31 minors and 6 majors; ROSI, by comparison, finished with 16 minors and 3 majors.
Maybe the rant of a random ROCK fan summed it up best when he yelled, “You guys [zebs] suck. This is the most blatant case of home cooking I’ve ever seen.”
When all was said and done ROSI finished with 98 points to ROCK’s 71.
Rock hopes to shake off this bitter defeat and take its 2 and 2 record into a much needed break before heading to Toledo, Ohio on June 5. There they will be part of the Midwest Derby Girl Summit—a four team mini-tournament sponsored by the Glass City Rollers. Other teams scheduled to participate include Team Unicorn of the Mad Rollin’ Dolls and the Mid-Michigan Derby Girls.
For more information about the Midwest Derby Girl Summit go to www.glasscityrollers.com. If you’d like to learn more about ROCK, its skaters or its upcoming events go to www.rocknrollergirls.com.
Zebra (Zeb) – nickname for a referee
Suicide Seats – seating on the floor just off the derby track’s edge. This seating is “at your own risk” due to its proximity to the action and the likelihood of a skate in the face, side or stomach.
Panty – a stretchy helmet cover that is used to designate the jammer (with a star) or a pivot (with a stripe).
Rollergirls of Central Kentucky (ROCK) – 71
Rollergirls of Southern Indiana (ROSI) – 98
Saturday, May 8, at the Swonder Ice Center in Evansville, Indiana
ROCK best jammer: Ryder Die
ROSI best jammer: Hurtz Donut
ROCK best blocker: Kitty O’Doom
ROSI best blocker: Sammich
ROCK MVP: Sissy Bug
ROSI MVP: Hurtz Donut