A Bout last night
TXRG Hotrod Honeys v VRDL All-Stars
July 23, 2011, couldn’t arrive fast enough for derby people across the world, from Melbourne to Texas.
The headline bout of the night, at the Melbourne Showgrounds, was the Texas Rollergirls (TXRG) team – the Hotrod Honeys – versus the Victorian Roller Derby League (VRDL) All-Stars.
As the first Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) sanctioned bout on Australian soil, it was a ground-breaking showstopper of an event, with 3500 people watching breathlessly from the stands.
What did the VRDL think when they hit the track against opponents who are a part of the league that gave meaning to the phrase ‘by the skaters, for the skaters’, and have skating histories more than twice as long as theirs?
VRDL were genuinely honoured and overjoyed to have such an opportunity before them, of course.
When the two teams hit the track, it was worth noting that while the Texans had been functioning on the minimal sleep and horrific jet-lag, the VRDL ladies has been put through their paces in the first day of the Texan-run bootcamp which brought hundreds of skaters, refs and spectators alike to the showgrounds for a packed weekend of skills and drills.
To say that this was some of the best derby Australia has seen couldn’t be more of an understatement.
The Texans really conveyed a sense of joy and pleasure at the skating, but on the line-up, and in the moments of key strategy, it was all focus and ‘game-face’.
The game was characterised by very engaged strategy, with some stellar jamming moments.
Stand-out jammers of the night were VRDL’s Swish Cariboom, and TXRG’s Olivia Shootin’ John, who refused to quit, scoring points right up until the very last whistle blow.
The Texans really impressed with a range of strategy plays, which included keeping the action in the ‘south’, with almost impossibly slow-starts, which gave them control of the back of the pack, while putting the opposing team as risk of direction-of-play penalties to keep pack; heavy walls at the back of the pack, stopping the opposing jammer from even getting into the pack and acquiring points; and moving ‘live’ point players back every time an opposing jammer went out-of-bounds, forcing them into major penalties and time in the box.
This meant that they regularly appeared in control of the pack, and the game.
VRDL power-players Kitty Decapitate, and Berzerker were really missing injured team-mate Rocky Rogue, known for her hard-hitting and jamming ways, as they were singled out by the Texans as major threats.
But not quite enough to stop Berzerker down legendary jammer Rice Rocket, enabling Skate Bush to start scoring before Rice Rocket caught up once again.
Halftime: 88 to 26 in favour of the Texans.
The beginning of the second half showcased the tactical skills of VRDL’s Bella DuBois, as she got a well-deserved MC shout-out for her amazing defense, as well as Sarah Hipel’s crowd-pleasing reffing calls from the track, for which she gained her own penalties.
With 22:41 to go on the clock, the score sat at 120-28 to the Honeys.
Kitty DeCapitate and Hauss the Boss lined up on the jammer line, and engaged one another all the way to the pack.
Kitty got trapped by a duo wall, who high-fived a job well done on their return skate to the bench.
Just a couple of jams later, the All-Stars all but repeat that play, with Vicious Van Gogo being forced to call her jam early after hitting a wall containing Kitty.
VRDL’s Calamity Maim steadily impressed with her quiet and effective blocking tactics, until the Texans noticed her work, knocking her repeatedly out of bounds with less than 15 minutes left on the clock.
On the fourth-last jam of the night, Gogo openly applauded Kittie Von Krusher’s jam but unfortunately, there was nothing even she could do to equal the scores.
Final score of the night left us with an emphatic win for the Texans, and a glowing sense that roller derby was really the winner of the night.
The sheer level of constant intensity of skating (think fitness, stamina and speed), carefully thought-out strategy, and joyful ‘game-on’ approach from the Texans really won the hearts and respect of the crowd, and the All-Stars.
And the moves of really consistent high-performers in the All-Stars held some American respect.
1. That memorable apex-jump block.
2. Gogo’s enormous ‘let’s go’ grin as she hit a two-person front-pack wall in one of her final jams of the night.
3. Formidable blocker Olympia’s laughs-that-wouldn’t-quit, as she gathered a penalty by assisting All-Star tactics in the last jam of the night.
4. That sneaky respectful low-five that VRDL’s Swish Cariboom got from jammer Rice Rocket at the end of a closely-matched jam will linger in my mind as I’m sure it does in hers.
as seen in Issue 6, Spring 2011.