Christianburg rains on Robin Souls’ parade

By Sunny Montgomery

On September 8, I attended the Rollergirls of Central Kentucky’s (ROCK) second to last home bout of the season against Christianburg, Virginia’s New River Valley Rollergirls (NRV), aka the Bruisin’ Burgs Rollergirls, who to my horror were sporting the same pink and black jerseys as ROCK.

Regular fans of the roller derby know the sport is fast-paced with lots of action.  It can be difficult enough to follow without the added complexity of both teams dressed in the same colors. Twenty minutes before the bout began and already I was confused.  This was not a good sign, in hindsight an omen of what was to come.

Baring it all

Blocker Ann Bones faces off against NRV’s Jammer. Photo by Lewis Gardner.

At ten minutes till seven, introductions gave way to a special announcement from Kevin Norfleet, who, we learned, is boyfriend to ROCK’s Robin Souls. Or was. Norfleet took the mike and then Robin Souls’ hand, dropped onto one knee and proposed.  The entire arena squealed.  I cried a little, and Robin Souls returned to the sidelines where her teammates enveloped her.

Then, moments before the bout began, NRV pulled off their matching jerseys, revealing white tees with Sharpie-penned names and numbers scrawled across the fronts.  I breathed a sigh of relief. All was well. The starting whistles blew.

The jammers were off, and as quickly as it began, it was over.  I blinked, bewildered, drew a question mark in my notebook.  A new jam began.  Robin Souls, betrothed blocker, was instantly sent to the penalty box for an elbow foul.  Seconds later, the NRV jammer went to the box.  Then ROCK’s jammer joined them.  The referees called an official timeout.

The packs were so tight that I had a hard time distinguishing one player from the next.  Teammates clung to each other’s jerseys, forming a nearly impenetrable wall and resulting in a tangled mess of rollergirls and lots and lots of penalties.

With five minutes left before halftime, three of ROCK’s players were in the penalty box, leaving just two on the track.  The referees called another timeout.  I drew another question mark.  I glanced at the scoreboard.  I had no idea how it had happened, but NRV had the lead: 51 to 34.

Penalties and official time-outs continued to dominate the bout.  At one point, ROCK’s Kitty O’ Doom was handed a major insubordination—which occurs when a skater willfully fails to comply with a referee—while standing still on the track, waiting for a new jam to begin.

“What the heck just happened out there?”  Announcer Bill Widener shouted.  Another timeout was called.  Half-jokingly, half-seriously, the rollergirls let their bodies fall limp to the track in melodramatic frustration.

 

Rainbow Smite showboats after being ejected from the bout. Photo by Lewis Gardner.

Regret nothing

Later I would learn that the Non-Skating Officials (NSO), responsible for tracking scores and penalties and communicating the same to the refs, were relatively new.  The excessive number of time-outs was, in part, caused by the referees having to straighten out the NSO.

Regardless, it was exasperating and finally came to a head when, after having been sent to the penalty box seven times (the maximum allowable) ROCK’s Rainbow Smite was ejected from the game.   On her way to the locker room, she turned towards the audience and lifted her jersey to expose her bare belly, where she had written in thick black marker “I REGRET NOTHING.”

“It was messy in the extreme penalty-wise,” Rainbow told me after the bout.  “ROCK was having a hard time knowing what some of our penalties were.”

I spent most of the bout utterly mystified, and it was nice to know I was in good company.   However it happened, NRV ended up winning: 191 to 86.  So let’s just sweep that mess under the bed for now and focus on what’s really important:  Robin Souls said yes.

Last home bout of the season, September 29, will occur after press time. Merry roller season, derbyiers! It was a great year for rolling with the derby.

 

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