Sep 052012

179-53 victory impresses Reese the Beast

By Sunny Montgomery

This past Saturday I attended the Rollergirls of Central Kentucky (ROCK) home bout against the Greenbrier Roller Vixens (GRV) from West Virginia with my best friend, Teresa, who was a roller derby virgin.  I love introducing my friends to the sport.  Being able to answer their questions makes me feel important.

We chose front-row seats so close to the track they were practically in suicide-seating, the area around the track where, due to the very real possibility a skater could skid out of control and into the crowd, fans are permitted to sit so long as they are over the age of eighteen.  As announcer Bill Widener began introductions, I surveyed ROCK’s competition.  Based on stature alone, it was going to be a fair fight.

After introductions, the Pebbles – ROCK’s junior roller derby and a recent sideline fixture to ROCK’s home bouts – demonstrated the rules through a mock-jam.

“Do you understand?” I asked Teresa.

“Yes, but where’s the ball?” She asked.

“I’m writing that down,” I told her.


First half domination

The crowd erupted into cheers as Mayor Jim Gray jogged onto center track to blow the whistle, signaling the start of the bout.  The skaters were off.

ROCK’s Ginger instantly took lead jammer.  Then she did it again and got a grand slam, which occurs when one jammer laps the other.  Ten minutes into the bout,ROCK already had a double digit lead:  22 to 3.

ROCK’s Ginger keeps ahead of the pack as lead jammer. Photo by Jack King.

Greenbrier kept a close pack.  A relatively new team, GRV members appeared slightly unsteady on their skates.  They were tough but not overly aggressive.  No matter how vehemently they bumped and jostled their opponents, the Vixens could not seem to knock ROCK down.

ROCK used this to its advantage by controlling the speed of the pack and by keeping keenly aware of the opposing jammer.  During the first half, this allowed ROCK’s alternating jammers, Ginger and Sugar Shock, to dominate so efficiently I stopped keeping track of grand-slams.


Second half ferocity

GRV was not going to give up easily.  The West Virginia rollergirls returned for the second half with the kind of brute determination that makes the bout more exciting for the fans but more perilous for the players.   The crashes became more frequent and more ferocious.

Twice, a referee lost his footing and tumbled into the fans sitting cross-legged in suicide seating.  At another point, ROCK jammer Bitty Bast’rd crashed headlong into the bleachers and somersaulted over the bottom steps. Before audience members had time to uncover their mouths, she was back up, back on the track and back on her way to a grand slam, pushing ROCK’s lead to 104 to 39.

The audience was so boisterous and the players so resolute that it took several seconds for the arena to notice when—just minutes later – a GRV skater went down and did not get back up.   Skaters from both squads dropped to their knees in solidarity while a medical team carried bags onto the track.  After several tense minutes, the skater was on her feet but did not return to the bout.

Ultimately, despite their efforts, Greenbrier could not best ROCK.  The hometown girls won the bout 179 to 53.

“I want to play roller derby,” Teresa declared when it was over.  We left the arena debating her rollergirl name.

This is exactly why I love introducing my friends to the derby.  Teresa had entered the arena knowing nothing about the sport, and she was leaving as Reese the Beast.  The enthusiasm is contagious.  So stay tuned.  Next month, I’m bringing my grandmother.

ROCK’s next home bout is September 8 at Heritage Hall.  Doors open at 6.  Bout begins at 7.

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