By Troy Lyle
The Rollergirls of Central Kentucky (ROCK) did everything but toy with the Lafayette Brawlin’ Dolls (LBD), handily dismantling the young derby team and moving their overall record to 2 and 1. The April 10 bout was LBD’s first home game and season opener, a fact a battle tested ROCK took full advantage of on their way to a final score of 136 to 65.
In an unrelenting onslaught of wicked jams and grand slams, ROCK’s Ellie Slay, Ryder Die, Sugar Shock and Ragdoll Ruby weaved their way through Lafayette, using their smooth skating and the team’s trademark impenetrable wall to score point after point and bury the Brawlin’ Dolls in a mound of bruises, back aches and botched blocks.
The bout opened a bit shaky for ROCK as Die slipped entering the second turn, allowing Fierce B-otch to take lead jammer and draw first blood for the dolls. But LBD’s success would be short lived as ROCK’s wall made up of Sissy Bug, Sharon Moonshine and Kitty O’Doom pancaked Lafayette in a series of subsequent jams.
That wall allowed Slay to start a merciless rash of grand slams for ROCK, as she used her tall frame and graceful style to crisscross her way through Lafayette’s Dreaded Thunder, Say Sum’n and Kitty Crossbones.
Sugar joined in the fun after Sissy Bug and O’Doom crushed LBD jammer Jen Van Jam, leaving little resistance as she glided to a 10 point lead for ROCK. That combination of tightly packed blocks, bone pulverizing hits and ultra-smart skating allowed ROCK to work its strategy to perfection.
“We planned to play almost completely defensively at the start to try to get a wide point spread to work from,” said ROCK assistant captain Rainbow Smite. “We put our skaters in their ‘go-to’ positions rather than mixing it up as we would otherwise do in a scrimmage.”
Smite continued, adding that ROCK’s main focus was to keep Lafayette’s jammers down and allow time for their blockers to gain the front immediately and often.
“The LBD skaters tried very hard to break us up, but we had such solid walls that their blockers couldn’t break through,” said Smite. “Also, the LBD blockers would wall up behind our wall to try to break us up, and often inadvertently blocked their own jammers in … it’s very hard for an opposing jammer to gain advantage when she gets knocked down by one of our blockers, and recovers, only to be met by our next blocker in line.”
O’Doom, Sissy Bug and Moonshine weren’t the only ROCK blockers to impose their will upon Lafayette. Paralethal, Two Key Terror, Black Eye’d P and Jessie Maims also joined in as they floored LBD’s Biscuits n Crazy and Valentine Massacre.
With the Dolls’ jammers struggling for position, ROCK was left with little to stop their scoring spree. Die, with the help of jammers Ragdoll Ruby and Bitty Bast’rd, reeled off point after point, only to be replaced by Sugar and Slay who seemed to face little in the way of opposition.
The only thing that seemed to derail the ROCK express was ROCK themselves. A couple of penalties by several ROCK players allowed Lafayette to slightly close the gap with two jams resulting in five and four points. But those points were to be LBD’s last of the half as ROCK jammers skated freely to the front, while the ROCK wall smothered all of the Dolls attempts to obtain lead jammer.
At the half ROCK’s damage was done with a nearly insurmountable lead of 94 to 30 in place. That large of a gap left the Indiana crowd at a loss for words and Lafayette in bad need of a new game plan.
Most teams with a 64 point lead would slow their roll and play conservatively to ensure a victory was in hand, but not ROCK. They kept the hammer to the nail starting off the second round right where they left off.
ROCK bench coach Junk Drawer was quick to remind the entire team just how fragile a lead can be in roller derby. She iterated in her halftime speech ‘to keep up the good work, but don’t get cocky.’
“Remember what happened at Knoxville,” she said, referring to ROCK’s previous bout two weeks earlier with the Hard Knox. “They almost caught up in the last few jams because we got sloppy with penalties.”
Maims echoed the same point.
“I think we did very well to stay out of the penalty box,” she said. “Playing cleanly is very important to winning, since sitting in the penalty box is equal to giving the other teams jammer a free point for every lap. Look at it this way, a jammer in the penalty box is a huge liability for that team. That’s how Ryder Die was able to score a 19-0 jam and Ragdoll Ruby managed a 20-0 jam. Both jams occurred right after LBD penalties.”
With massive jams of 19 and 20 in place, ROCK breezed through the second half. Other than solid play on defense and offense, the most exciting play of round two occurred when Moonshine detonated a ground shaking blow on B-otch, sending her flailing into the crowd some ten feet off the track.
The after party
In an act of supreme sportsmanship, LBD invited the entire ROCK crew to party with them after the bout concluded. A bluegrass band provided the perfect backdrop for some laughs, a few beers and team awards.
“The after party was a lot of fun, and the food was good and the beer abundant, which makes hungry rollergirls really happy,” said Drawer. “The LBD girls were super friendly … truly good sports and great opponents. They gave awards: a jar of Smuckers jam with a ribbon around it for best jammer, a block of wood that was painted and bedazzled for best blocker, and an MVP award that consisted of a beaded necklace and a tiara with veil to wear around the bar.”
For the first time in ROCK’s three year history in the league, it has a winning record going into its fourth bout of the season. And the girls will need all the lessons and confidence for their next opponent, the Rollergirls of Southern Indiana – Battle Betties Team (ROSI). ROCK has never beat ROSI.
Team Captain Ellie Slay said the team needs to keep communicating, working hard in practice, skating clean and sticking to its game strategy.
“Right now we’re working together and just taking the game jam by jam,” she said. “We’ve talked about how much fun it is just to play, but I think now everyone realizes that its even more fun playing when you win.”
Roller Derby Terminology
Jammer — the skater on the track who can score points. The jammer is identifiable by the star on her helmet. The jammer starts each jam behind the pack. After she has lapped the pack once (known as a nonscoring pass), she is eligible to score points for each subsequent skater she laps.
Grand slam – when a jammer succeeds in lapping the opposing team’s jammer.
Bout – one roller derby ‘game’ or ‘match,’ which lasts 60 minutes. Each half is divided into two 30 minute periods.
Blocker – a skater whose job is to stop or block the other team’s jammer from passing while also enabling her own team’s jammer to score. Typically, there are four blockers per team on the track.
Rollergirls of Central Kentucky (ROCK) – 136
Lafayette Brawlin’ Dolls (LBD) – 65
Saturday, April 10 at the Family Sports Center in West Lafayette, IN
ROCK best jammer: Ellie Slay
LBD best jammer: Jen Van Jam
ROCK best blocker: Sissy Bug
LBD best blocker: Dreaded Thunder
ROCK MVP: Ragdoll Ruby
LBD MVP: Jen Van Jam
ROCK’s next bout is Saturday, May 8, against the Rollergirls of Southern Indiana – Battle Betties Team (ROSI). Bout starts at 7pm. Tickets $6 in advance, $8 at the door. For ticket or other information visit www.rocknrollergirls.com (ROCK) or www.rollergirlsofsin.com (ROSI).