DDG employ Killbox strategy to victory
By Sunny Montgomery
On April 20, the Rollergirls of Central Kentucky (ROCK) faced off against the Dixie Derby Girls (DDG) of Huntsville, AL, during the first home bout of the 2013 season. After two full seasons of coverage, I was finally in the swing of things. As I entered the arena, I delighted in its familiarity.
The arena smelled of hot dogs and beer. Beyonce blared from the speakers overhead while the Pebbles, ROCK’s junior roller derby, chased each other excitedly through the crowd. I nodded hello to the photographers, the score-keepers, even the avid fan who never misses a home bout and who brings a bean bag chair from home so that he may lounge comfortably in the suicide seating.
I took a seat close to the action, opened my notebook and peered onto the track where ROCK was warming up. I squinted and adjusted my glasses…
Wait. Something was different.
It was not just that ROCK had gained several new skaters. I also noted that ROCK veteran Rainbow Smite, distinguished by the rainbow knee-high socks she has sported every bout, was, in fact, not wearing her rainbow knee-high socks. Similarly, I noticed that Sugar Shock, who always repped the same pair of black derby shorts proudly declaring “I GET AROUND,” was, indeed, not wearing her pair of black derby shorts.
Undoubtedly, the most notable changes were Kitty O’ Doom and Junk Drawer. Between the two, since the end of last season, they had lost a total of over 24 pant-sizes and over 150 pounds.
“I feel faster and more agile than I ever dreamed possible,” Junk Drawer told me. “Though I’m having to learn new hitting mechanics to put physics back on my side.”
No doubt about it. ROCK was evolving—and with sleek new jerseys to boot.
Inspection, demonstration, injury
At quarter till seven, the referees began their routine inspection of the skaters’ gear: knee pads, elbow pads, mouth guards, and helmets. Meanwhile, the Pebbles took the track to demonstrate the rules. Then, the first jam began.
My advice to newcomers is to keep an eye on the jammer. It is both dizzying and exhilarating as a jammer’s success depends on speed, intuition and grace. They must maneuver through the pack as quickly as possible, predict the path of least resistance and remain upright while their opponents attempt to knock them down using brute force. The physical contact is very real. Likewise is the potential for serious injury.
Less than thirty minutes into the first half, ROCK’s Ragdoll Ruby took a hit that sent her skidding off track. When she did not get up immediately, the EMTs on standby came to her aid. She was helped into a wheelchair, wheeled off track and, eventually, to the emergency room with a knee injury. But roller girls are quite accustomed to this risk. The bout resumed just minutes later.
ROCK gets aggressive, then optimistic
The score remained incredibly close throughout the night. Where the Dixie Derby Girls had the advantage in physical stature, ROCK made up for it in aggression. Unfortunately, this resulted in excessive penalties for ROCK.
“If you’re in the box, chances are good you made some kind of contact,” Rainbow explained.
DDG used this to their advantage. Jammers score points for every opponent they pass. With ROCK’s jammer frequently in the penalty box, DDG effectively executed the Killbox strategy, which occurs when the offense attempts to slow down the pack to make it easier for their jammer to circle the track, get back to the pack and collect more points.
Ultimately, the Dixie Derby Girls won the bout 159 to 144.
In spite of the loss, ROCK remained optimistic.
“(ROCK) has really started to focus on helping each of the members train to be elite athletes. I’m very proud of what we are accomplishing together and really feel like this is the best version of ROCK that has ever been,” says Kitty O’Doom.
Indeed, I am certain there is much to look forward to with regards to ROCK’s future. As I left the arena, I couldn’t help but notice Pebbles’ Leen Machine, on center track with the other skaters, sporting a pair of rainbow knee-high socks.
ROCK’s next home bout is June 1 at Heritage Hall. Doors open at 6. Bout begins at 7