By Troy Lyle
The Lafayette Brawlin’ Dolls.
That’s who it all came together against for the Rollergirls of Central Kentucky (ROCK) earlier this summer. Lafayette is where ROCK started to show everyone this year’s league is better at every facet of roller derby: skating, blocking, jamming, scoring.
And score ROCK did.
For the first time in the team’s three year history it managed to completely impose its will over another derby crew. When the final whistle blew, ROCK had banged, bruised and burnt its way into the record books, landing its first ever 100 plus point victory: ROCK 215, Brawlin’ Dolls 100.
If you were one of the more than 600 people present at the Lexington Civic Center on August 14, you may have been lulled into thinking such a feat was common place, even ordinary. Don’t be fooled. ROCK was so on its game this night that every jam, every skate and every block appeared effortless. How far have these women come in a very short period of time? For ROCK, roller derby is fast becoming instinctual.
“The Brawlin’ Dolls were very competitive throughout, but I think we played a smarter game than they did,” said ROCK Captain Ellie Slay. “We had this mindset of ‘We Will Win This!’”
That opening mindset clearly laid the foundation for the team to communicate and execute its strategy to perfection. Not only did ROCK perform flawlessly, it managed to do so for 40 solid minutes, the length of time a derby bout lasts.
“For every one good blocker they had, we had two,” said Slay. “And our blockers made it easy for our jammers to take the lead and often. From there it was score, score, score.”
By the half ROCK already had 100 points on the scoreboard (another first), but that didn’t stop them from coming out in the second refocused and reignited.
“We started the second as if we had zero points, not letting up on any of the intensity or momentum we had gained,” said Slay. “When we started to get frazzled, from fatigue or over excitement, our coach Ragman would call a timeout and we would quickly regroup. He really kept us focused and pushed us hard to kill, kill, kill.”
Slay said at one point the bout was going so well that not even a penalty could set ROCK back.
“Ryder Die had fouled out in the second half and I had to take her place in the penalty box as jammer. When I came out of the box, I was in and out of the pack and lead jammer before the Brawlin’ Doll’s blockers even knew I had hit the track,” she said. “My blockers kept their jammer busy and their blockers frustrated, causing the pack to slow way down. It was probably the easiest jam of the bout for me, every time I approached the pack my blockers made a huge lane and I skated through unscathed. It was spectacular.”
ROCK assistant captain Rainbow Smite had her own version of a bout highlight. Hers centered on punishing the Brawlin’ Dolls jammers, blockers and one particular pivot.
“I was really proud at one point in the second period when I put their pivot on the floor as soon as the whistle blew,” said Smite. “It was such a vicious blow I could hear the crowd go OOOOOOOOH.”
Smite said ROCK has been training to be more aggressive, and it’s beginning to show–and not only for Slay and Smite.
“There was one point in the bout where Sharon Moonshine kept beating the crap out of Psycho Socializer,” said Slay. “She’d give her a little space on the inside line, which is the most tempting thing if you’re a jammer, and just as Socializer would attempt to pass—WHAM—Shine would knock her down.”
“I remember one insane quadruple grand slam that Ragdoll Ruby had,” said Smite. “She was juking all the Brawlin’ Dolls blockers and staying in bounds on a single skate on about 3 inches of floor space. It was a thing of sheer beauty.”
Beyond the bone crushing blocks and deft, sidewinder skating, ROCK managed it all in style. Sporting their new uniforms provided by Julie Butcher’s Law Office and UK Orthopedics, the team not only played but looked the part.
“These new uniforms are so awesome,” said Smite. “We look more polished and streamlined, and I think that helps with the mental aspect of the game as well. Plus, they flatter everyone, so that’s always a positive.”
New uniforms. New mentality. New aggressiveness. Watch out derby world, ROCK is on the way up, as one fan put it.
With only a few bouts left on this year’s schedule, Smite said ROCK’s main focus will be on consistency.
“We have to bring it like this for the last three bouts of the season,” she said. “I think we’ve got such a taste for blood now that we’re all fired up.”
Slay echoed Smite’s sentiment.
“We have to skate smart, and execute our strategies automatically as a group,” she said.
Slay also pointed out that ROCK has big plans for its future as well. The league intends to apply for the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association’s (WFTDA) apprentice program. The governing body for women’s flat track roller derby, over seeing the WFTDA oversees all professional derby team rankings and tournaments.
But there are still a few hurdles in ROCK’s near future, one of which is finding a new location for the team’s three or four practices a week. If anyone knows of a location or can connect the team to an interested party, please contact ROCK at www.rocknrollergirls.com or www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=5827970811.
Up next for ROCK is another home bout set for September 11 against the Black n’ Bluegrass Rollergirls (BBR). In the two teams’ last meeting, BBR barely edged out a 10 point victory. ROCK looks to avenge the loss, this time on its home turf. Doors open at 7 P.M. at the Civic Center. Bout is set to begin at 8 P.M.