by Mark Sprain
The Rat City Rollergirls season started in January. Somehow it’s already April and we’re looking at only two more Saturday nights before a champion is crowned and the 2015 home season goes into the books.
This Saturday, April 11, two momentous bouts are scheduled for the Rats Nest. The Throttle Rockets open the evening’s thumping against the Sockit Wenches. Grave Danger, at 3-2 the only team with a shot to dethrone undefeated Derby Liberation Front, gets their chance in the second bout of the night. Two weeks later it’s Championship Night at KeyArena.
As every season begins teams always face the challenge of integrating new skaters with their veteran players. This year the decision to not have all stars skate with their teams during the home season greatly increased the value of those new players. It also emphasized a Rat City advantage.
Skaters from all over the Northwest and along the west coast uniformly look at the Seattle league as a pinnacle destination in their track careers.
There was no lack of eager derby vets from all over to fill open spots on all four home teams. Fill them they did. As the season has progressed fans have been treated to some high level skating by these newbies, some of whom started as league rookies in January and are now members of the A and B all star teams.
Here are a few of their stories. While they don’t include ever new skater, they do reflect some common experiences and uniform observations.
Coach Ho Chi Dahn noted the difficulty he had early in the season getting enough skaters together for his Derby Liberation Front team to have a full scrimmage. All of the new players he rustled up have been integral to DLF’s undefeated season. Chocolate Coma (CC) arrived from the Dockyard Derby Dames in Tacoma. It didn’t take long for league skaters to feel the force of her blocking power or occasional crunching jams.
Wicked Slam joined DLF from Port Angeles, where she and her sister were founding members of the Port Scandalous Roller Derby. Her sister, Kitty Kabooty, skated with the Sockit Wenches before moving last year to join the Nashville Roller Girls. Wicked said that she began as an artistic skater who took dance lessons. That art has transferred easily to derby track, where opposing jammers have had a monumental struggle getting by her all season.
She came to Seattle last fall. “I was looking for a higher level of play and wanted to be closer to Dylan, as he had moved here earlier last year. I moved here with my best friend and Port Scandalous league mate, who is now on Grave Danger (Stone Cold StunHer). I was drafted to DLF in October. ” Dylan is her son and a member of the Puget Sound Outcast.
“I quickly fell in love with Rat City and all of the league members. They are a wonderful group of hardworking people who motivate me every day to be better.”
Ju Jitsu was the unlikely doorway for new Throttle Rocket ABombnaBull this season. ABombnaBull’s college debate team started training by giving speeches while running. “That’s when I noticed the effects of neglecting my body,” she said.
Ju Jitsu became her sport. “I immediate fell in love with a sport that required as much mental strength as physical strength. It was pure luck that I heard my hometown of Astoria, OR was starting a roller derby league. I was curious and I thought it would partner well with my Ju Jitsu endeavors. I dedicated myself to roller derby, practicing anywhere I could which was mostly in uneven dusty basements. I have been skating ever since, that was December 2011.”
Her derby travels took her through Port Angeles and the Port Scandalous fresh meat program. “That is when being an athlete and training for roller derby became a part of my identity. I set goals. I learned about Rat City, and soon I moved to Seattle to pursue my derby dreams. Rat City has taught me that I am strong, that I am determined, and that I deserve respect. Those lessons stay with me, and Rat City has helped me be more focused and confident off the track.”
Bomb is a bicycle mechanic by trade and studies nanotechnology at North Seattle College.
Roller derby spans the world, but it is really just a tight knit family with relatives scattered all over the place. Moving from Port Angeles with Wicked Slam was her friend, and now Grave Danger rookie, Stun Her (aka Stone Cold StunHer).
Though she brings a broad athletic experience with her, including basketball, volleyball and soccer and playing college volleyball at Highline Community College, skating was brand new four years ago. “I started at my first practice, holding on to the wall and just hoping not to fall. Learning how to skate and play derby deemed challenging but something I was up to the challenge to do. I was fortunate to have great mentors and an amazing coach in D. Botts (Skates for Puget Sound Outcast).” D. Botts is Wicked Slam’s son, Dylan.
Stun Her said that she chose Rat City, “… because of the competitiveness of the league, and the high level of skating. I get to skate with people I have been admiring for years, it’s a pretty awesome feeling. In terms of my goals, I want to make it onto the All Star Charter (which she did). I have been training from the beginning to some day play at that level. It would be pretty awesome to play for the Hydra before I retire.”
Stun Her, a teacher, said that, “Roller derby helped me find myself and I have become stronger ever since. The community and culture as a whole is one big family. What I like about skating against the other teams is that you are able to see your improvements and areas of focus. You can see what works and doesn’t work with different teams, blockers and jammers. On the track we may be after each other, but once that final whistle blows, we are all league mates, friends and each others biggest supporters!”
Throttle Rockets rookie Buster Up showed up this year a newbie but with appropriate arm art and a great attitude. This from a skater who never played sports before roller derby. “I was the kid who volunteered to help clean the classroom during recess. I never played sports before roller derby. And when I found this sport- I initially didn’t think of it that way, but more of a movement. I was so wrong. Derby turned me into a dumb jock- and I love it.”
‘Jock’ is the appropriate word for this budding athlete who has emerged as a reliable blocker for the Rockets. Dumb doesn’t apply.
Buster said that she began with the Rodeo City Roller Girls in Ellensburg before moving on to skate with the Rainier Roller Girls in White Center. “But I’ve always, always known I wanted to be a Rat City Roller Girl, every decision I made was leading me toward my goal. I’ve never been happier, it’s my forever home.”
Her introduction to the sport and explanation of what it meant and means reflects the feelings of many the derby skaters. Just damn touching.
“I grew up in a conservative town in eastern Washington. It wasn’t ok to be gay, and it wasn’t ok to not be thin. I visited Seattle to come to Bumpershoot 8 years ago and I stumbled into the Key Arena to get some relief from the heat. Little did I know Rat City was holding a tournament that weekend- I had never even heard of roller derby before. I ended up skipping the whole day of music- I cried. I didn’t know the rules, but what I did know were these women were so strong. Up until this point I had never seen someone proud to be queer. I had never seen so many different body types playing sports and being successful. No one was trying to hide who they were. It was a pivotal moment in my life I’ll never forget it.”
Vishus Trollope is not exactly a rookie, but she took most of last season off and so brings sort of a new face to the Sockit Wenches this year.
Vishus, a darting jammer and formidable blocker, also brings the geographic experience that draws so many skaters to Seattle and Rat City. “I played for Wasatch Roller Derby in Salt Lake City, UT for 2 years on hometeams and travel teams, and Salt City Banked Track,” she said. “I specifically wanted to join Rat when I started here so I could compete at the highest level in Seattle. I knew of Rat from my years in Utah, and knew there was a well of talent and knowledge that I wanted to be a part of.”
Aka Erin Brumbaugh (which is the direct English translation of Vishus Trollope) Vishus works at Nucor Steel as an ISO Coordinator doing environmental and safety audits.
She is effusive in her praise of roller derby and the challenge skating with Rat City has posed.
“There is no other sport that I have played that is as inclusive and supportive as roller derby. It is extremely challenging and competitive, builds confidence, and works as a great networking web, socially and professionally. (I could go on about derby culture and benefits forever.) Rat City has been a delightful challenge. Coming from a smaller league, everything about Rat City has been quite a shock. There is so much talent and skill on the hometeams here. I have had to learn from my teammates and coaches to adjust my playing style to be an asset to them and the process is continuous. My teammates are extremely supportive and fantastic individuals,” she said.
All of the rookies in Rat City this season quickly became contributors for their teams, many staking out their own territories of domination. They’ve bumped, blocked and scored and, no doubt, been remembered for the aches many vets felt following their encounters with the new skaters.
by Mark Sprain
What is it with Derby Liberation Front!? They always begin bouts slowly, usually fall behind, and seem to take a few jams to get the lights on and the coffee brewing. Just when you think it’s going to be a contest and settle in for an hour of close competition they throw some native funk and flash at you that suddenly turns no lead into a six point lead that rapidly becomes a 90 point lead. Last Saturday, March 28, at the Rat’s Nest their latest show of superiority turned into a 268 to 163 win over the Sockit Wenches.
At the start of the early bout between DLF and the Wenches it looked like it was going to be a contest of equals even though one team, DLF, came in undefeated while the other, SW, was still looking for its first win of the season.
From the opening whistle it was clear that the Wenches weren’t on the track to be just another speed bump in DLF’s march to a second straight Rat City Rollergirls championship. There were no slough-off blocks in this one. Solid hits sent sweat and snot flying. Muscled, unpadded bodies forced grunts and yells as they slammed into other muscled, unpadded bodies. A lane opened, another closed. It was 1-1, then 3-1. In jam three Sun Shiner (#36), Sister Slaughter (#480) and Moe YaDown (#14) kept DLF jammer WeeWah Smiles (#56) battling in the pack for two laps. Wenches jammer Vishus Trollope (#106) made three passes and it was 18-1 in favor of the Wenches.
The lead grew. A couple jams later Thumper Skull (#83) put on the star for DLF. Sister Slaughter planted her with a well-placed hip, a knock down that left Thumper with a few seconds of recovery time. Eight more points for the Wenches by jammer Sun Shiner and her team was now ahead 33-12.
Jam seven was a power jam that flipped for the Wenches. At the start they were down 3-5. A minute later they had a 5-2 advantage. While Moe YaDown and Mad ScrapHer (#5150) were keeping DLF jammer Terror Swift (#86) in the recycling bin Sun Shiner was adding 17 more points and it was now a 50-19 lead in favor of the mechanics.
That’s when you could smell the coffee brewing.
DLF scored nine. Then Cynthia Bartok (#39) detonated for 29. DLF went ahead 57-51 and the bout was, for all practical purposes, over.
In the final thirteen jams of the first half the Sockit Wenches scored eight points. They were shut out in nine of them. Over that same span DLF went from 28 to 148. Bartok did it with speed, picking up 23 more in jam 13. Nothing the Wenches did could stop WeeWah Smiles in the next jam as she made four passes for 20 points. The Wenches went to a reliable scorer, Sister Slaughter, as the half closed but DLF blocker Wreck N Shrew (#24) put the full anatomy defense on Sister, a thigh here, a hip there, some shoulder, an illegal forearm, a chest slam, some booty block. The Wenches jammer got one point. Wreck N Shrew probably saved her team another 15.
At the half DLF had 19 penalties, the Sockit Wenches, 29.
New clarification on the use of the forearms led to many of the calls. This bout ended with 104 penalties. For much of the second half the Wenches skated on the wrong side of power jams, limiting their scoring ability.
Track official Sir Osis explained the new interpretation of the forearm rule this way:
“I think the salient point now is that we have a change in the impact spectrum that can be pretty significant. Previously, forearms calls were most often made because of an observable push, but that push had to cause the opponent to fall, go out of bounds, lose superior position on the track or allow an opponent to gain superior position because of the illegal contract.
Now, we’re looking for something different. If the forearm contact causes a significant alteration in trajectory or speed, you have a potential call. One call that would illustrate the difference is if you imagine a blocker moving laterally towards a jammer on the inside line. The jammer extends her forearm when the blocker gets close to her, effectively pushing her away and preventing contact by the blocker. The blocker’s trajectory goes from lateral motion (outside line to inside line) to a forward trajectory. Provided the player doesn’t fall or otherwise lose relative position or go out of bounds, which was a no call under the old rule set. It’s potentially a call now because of the alteration of trajectory.”
The second half was more of the same. DLF jammers rang up 15s and 27s and 22s. Wenches jammer Sister Slaughter managed 16 in one jam, the first five coming over the body of DLF blocker CC (#90), whom Sister planted with a no frills full on shoulder slam. Vishus Trollope added 19 in the final jam. That was the one were WeeWah Smiles was called for blocking with the head. It was penalty 104.
DLF picked Wenches blocker Winter Scoming (#1221) as their Most Valuable Opponent. The Sockit Wenches gave that honor to Terror Swift.
Vishus Trollope led Sockit Wenches scoring with 60. Sun Shiner had 51, Sister Slaughter, 25, Kendle Bjelland (#808), 12, Winter Scoming, 11, and Mal Fet (#26), 4.
Leading all scorers for the night was DLF jammer Cynthia Bartok with 97. Terror Swift had 66, WeeWah Smiles, 54, new comer Nasty Drew (#72), 21, Thumper Skull, 13, Chocolate Coma (CC), 9 and Dirty South (#87), 8.
by Mark Sprain
Grave Danger jammers took the lead for the first five jams of their Rat City Rollergirls bout against the Throttle Rockets last Saturday, March 28, at the Rat’s Nest.
Shock Therapy (#1400v) scored the only eight points the TRs managed in that space. At that point the score was low, 15-8, the action was high, the stakes even higher.
Both teams have serious goals as the season nears its close. Both skated with a tinge of desperation, a ton of determination.
Grave Danger is looking at two upcoming matches to cap its season. A win over TRs, which they got 232-201, would put their record at 3-2. With two likely upcoming bouts against undefeated Derby Liberation Front (5-0) two more wins would tie them for the league lead.
Throttle Rockets, 2-2, were just looking to get above the .500 mark.
Grave Danger held the lead most of the first half, falling behind midway through and again at the close. They trailed once at 66-60 when TR jammer Xena (#5) following an opening block by Liberty Bell Ringer (#76) broke out for her first pass on the way to 22 points. One jam later both teams answered the whistle with three skaters on the track, two in the penalty box. TR jammer Missile America (#321), an aggressive, take-no-prisoners bulk of beat-down (she would eventually foul out of the bout) was sent off the track for a low block. Danger had the brief advantage of a 3-2 power jam but, 3-2, 3-3 or 5-5, Danger jammer StunHer (#316) had the additional advantage of bone-crunching blocks being thrown ahead of her by teammates Trouble Dutch (#2468), Rodger That (#789) and Cat-a-ma-ram (#10). She passed for 29 points and it was 89-69.
It got much closer as the end of the half approached. Danger jammers Daisy Duke’m (#909), J Killa (#425) and Nehi Nightmare (#48) muscled for 18 points over the final six jams, Nightmare was delayed in one by the applied recycling of TR pivot Missile America before she had a chance to do her own magic. Approaching blocker Ella Whirled (#47) Nehi slowed, looked right and coasted until Ella took the bait. That tenth of a second move in the wrong direction is all it takes and, while Ella squared quickly to recover her blocking lane, it was too late. Nehi Nightmare has after-burners. Ella Whirled got singed.
Fourteen points picked up by Shock Therapy brought the TRs back to within two, 107-105. Shock is a fast and agile skater, but will readily engage brute force if needed. Danger blockers Keri Watson (#39) and Ponyo Knees (#81), moving to block the speeding Shock, were instead treated like peanut butter as Shock spread them on the track while scoring five of those 14 points.
Xena took a quick lead in the next jam, tallied four points and called it. TRs were ahead 109-107 as the half ended.
It wasn’t the same Grave Danger team for the first five jams of the second half. A series of forearm, back blocking and cutting calls saw them starting three of those jams on the wrong end of the power ratio. In each it was two versus five when the whistle blew. After six minutes the Throttle Rockets were ahead 146-107.
Penalties bothered both teams, though in the end it seemed to balance as Danger was whistled 37 times, TRs, 42.
Leading 165-154 as they entered jam 14 Throttle Rockets struggled through a power jam in the Danger’s favor, 5-2. Nehi Nightmare had little resistance on her way to scoring 18 points. Blocking began to collapse for the TRs while Grave Danger threw zeros at them behind solid line play by Tempura Tantrum (#99), Dee Cap Attack (#-1) and Muffstache (#17). The only bright spot for TRs came when jammer Ethel Vermin (#77) exploded for 20 in jam 20, closing the gap to 209-194. Nehi Nightmare and StunHer answered with runs of 9 and 14 and it was a win for the team that calls itself “Your Worst Nightmare”, 232-201.
The Throttle Rockets selected Nehi Nightmare as their Most Valuable Opponent. Nehi led all scorers with 89 points. StunHer had 73, J Killa, 36, Daisy Duke’m, 20 and Tempura Tantrum, 13.
Ella Whirled was chosen by Grave Danger as their Most Valuable Opponent. Throttle Rockets scoring was led by Ethel Vermin with 68. She was followed closely by Xena at 63. Shock Therapy had 58, Missile America, 8, and Ella Whirled, 4.
by Jim Almy
Maybe teams about to skate against Derby Liberation Front should start lobbying to end those bouts at the half.
It would change things dramatically for the steamroller that DLF is putting on the track this season. Undefeated at 4-0, DLF found itself trailing by ten (99-89) at the half of their opening night bout Jan. 11 against the Throttle Rockets and again on Feb. 21 when Grave Danger ended the first thirty minutes ahead of DLF by 28 (103-75).
There was no lead at the half for the Throttle Rockets last Saturday, March 7, in their opening bout at the Rats Nest against DLF. But the Rockets had something nearly as positive, a low-scoring, 64-all tie and a roaring crowd of supporters sensing the Rockets were about to put the first blemish on DLF’s record.
Not to be.
In the two previous bouts mentioned above DLF came back to outscore their opponents 121-60 and 90-56 in the second thirty minutes. Against the Throttle Rockets in their second meeting of the year last Saturday DLF put up 153 points in the second half, the Rockets managed 50 for a final score in favor of undefeated DLF, 217-114.
“The team is feeling really confident right now,” said DLF Coach Ho Chi Danh after the bout. Come-backs like the ones DLF is collecting will add to that perspective.
The Rockets took a lead early, added to it steadily. Jammer Rattleskate, (#16), back on the Rockets roster after missing a few bouts, got out front quickly in jam 3, raced around DLF blockers CC (#90) and Wicked Slam (#94), and scored twelve points, moving the margin to five, 17-12. Lane closing blocks and harassing one-on-one defense against DLF jammers by Khaos Theory (#13), Missile America (#321), Slutnik (#3279) and Rattleskate (#16) held the DLF offense to 2 points over the next five jams. Rockets jammers Shock Therapy (#1400v) and Ethel Vermin (#77) collected points for their team, building the lead to 35-14.
Taking advantage of a 5-3 power jam in jam nine Jill Nye the Science Guy (#655) added thirteen to the fourteen points DLF had managed to gain through the first eight jams. A couple minutes later jammer Cynthia Bartok exploded through Rockets defenders for 18 more, putting DLF on top, 45-40.
Near the end of the half a combination of timely blocks, spread lines and the calculated pivot play of Raven Evergore (#49), directing Wicked Slam and Wreck N Shrew (#24), took most of the electricity out of Rockets jammer Shock Therapy. The 4 points she scored to tie the bout at 60-60 were hard earned.
Missile America started the second half by shedding Wicked Slam like an old overcoat, juking Thumper Skull (#83) and making a complete pass for five points to break the 64-64 tie and put the Rockets back in the lead, 69-64.
Then the scoring ran out for the Throttle Rockets.
Over the next eleven jams they managed 7 points. During that same run DLF scorers collected 91.
Jill Nye followed some lane clearing by Wicked Slam, Raven Evergore and Thumper Skull for 14 points. Team mate Cynthia Bartok used the escort service provided by Kamikaze Kim (#00) and WeeWah Smiles (#56) as she passed for some of the 19 she totaled in jam six. Others of those points were collected as Bartok just shouldered herself through fatigued Rockets defenders. Then Nye added 15 more, followed by 14 from Bartok, 9 from CC and 9 more by Bartok. With 14 or so minutes remaining in the bout DLF was comfortably ahead, 155-76.
DLF played the long game for the rest of the bout, spreading out their lines, extending blocking challenges and generally working the clock to their advantage. Bartok had another 27 points in the next to last jam, though she may not have skated against the stiffest resistance. Dirty South (#87) closed out the scoring for DLF with a 5-spot in her only jam of the night.
Penalties were not a major factor in the bout. At the half DLF had 13, the Rockets, 12. The count at bouts end was DLF 27, Rockets 31.
Coach Danh gave credit to the refs, saying, “They let us – both teams – play a high intensity game.”
He was full of praise for his blockers also. “They set up well and played very together. It was always a solid unit of four, not four individuals.”
Rattleskate was voted Most Valuable Opponent by DLF. The Rockets gave that honor to Chocolate Coma (CC).
Cynthia Bartok led all scorers for the bout with 92 points. DLF team mate Jill Nye the Science Guy had 68. Other points were added by CC with 40, Thumper Skull, 10, Dirty South, 5, and Erma Gerd, 2. Rattleskate put up 34 for the Throttle Rockets. Missile America had 29, Ethel Vermin, 28, Shock Therapy, 18, and Liberty Bell Ringer, 5.
by Jim Almy
J Killa (#425) picked up 14 of her bout total 24 points in the fifth jam of the night between her team, Grave Danger, and the Sockit Wenches last Saturday, March 7, at the Rat’s Nest.
That put Grave Danger ahead 36-19 in what looked like the makings of a one-sided match. Wenches jammers Winter Scoming (#1221) and Sister Slaughter (#480) had other ideas. They brought their team back to an eight point lead at the half of a hard fought, lead changing bout finally won by Grave Danger 202-176.
With the win the team that calls itself “Your Worst Nightmare” evened their record to 2-2. The Wenches fell to 0-4 in a season where the skaters in the bright blue have to asking themselves, “where can a girl get a break around here?”
Not from Grave Danger. Early in the bout Danger blockers StunHer (#316) and Trouble Dutch (#2468) helped bottle up Wenches jammers, holding them to three points in five of the first six jams. Winter Scoming took advantage of a 5-3 power jam to pick up 18 in one outing or the Wenches would have been looking at an even bigger hill to climb. Tempura Tantrum (#99), Muffstache (#17) and Cat-a-ma-ram (#10) ran a series of pivot triangles along with Dee Cap Attack (-1), Keri Watson (#39) and Daisy Duke’m (#909) that held Wenches jammers in the pack. Danger continued to hold their lead. Then, in the final two jams of the half, Sister Slaughter and Winter Scoming found the invisible rail that runs around the outside of the track, picking up 9 and 18 points respectively and sending the Wenches into the half ahead 119-111.
First Danger blocker Loco Chanel (#37) put a shoulder into Winter Scoming who, with her body on the track by one skate, reached for that phantom rail, kept her balance, passed along the edge, and finished the jam with 18 points. Only 40 seconds remained, but that was long enough for Danger blocker Aalto Ego (#43) and Sister Slaughter to repeat the scene. This time Ego hipped the Wenches’ jammer on her first scoring pass, sending everything but her skates off the track. Somehow (the rail, we assume) Slaughter stayed upright and on the track, passed for five on her way to a nine point jam and the halftime lead.
Defense held sway as the second half opened. Clobberin’ Mame (#440), Moe YaDown (#14) and Ginger Brute (#7343) built walls against Danger jammers. In the second jam of the second half neither team’s jammer was able to complete a pass. Only two points, by Danger jammer Ponyo Knees (#81) were put up in jam seven and those didn’t come until only 15 seconds remained in the jam.
But too often as the bout progressed the Wenches’ zeros were bettered by the Danger’s ones and two and fours. Grave Danger built their lead to 30 points. The Wenches chipped away, but could not put enough big scoring jams together to close the gap. Perhaps the final jam of the night best illustrates the Sockit Wenches frustration as Sister Slaughter spent as much time skating backwards as forwards when first Muffstache recycled her twice, then Daisy Duke’m and Loco Chanel a couple more times.
Grave Danger selected Sister Slaughter as their Most Valuable Opponent. The Wenches voted that honor to Trouble Dutch.
StunHer led all scorers for the bout with 68. Other jammers for Grave Danger included Daisy Duke’m with 39, Nehi Nightmare, 25, J Killa, 24, Trouble Dutch, 15, Tempura Tantrum, 14, Aalto Ego, 11, Cat-a-ma-ram, 4 and Ponyo Knees, 2.
Sister Slaughter and Winter Scoming each had 54 points for the Sockit Wenches. Sun Shiner had 35, Sher Nobyl, 16, Vishus Trollope, 8, Hurl Jam, 5 and Mal Fet, 4.
The Wenches next face undefeated Derby Liberation Front at the Rat’s Nest in the first of two bouts on March 28 starting at 5:30. Grave Danger will take the track later that evening against the Throttle Rockets.
by Jim Almy
You can lead these skaters by nearly 30 at the half.
You can take their best shot but still pile up points, inch ahead, go into the break with a bit of breathing room.
But at some point in the bout you’re going to look up and see Derby Liberation Front coming at you with fire in their eyes, lightening in their skates and a tidal wave of attitude that says, ” not here, not tonight.”
For sure not last Saturday night when Grave Danger gave the defending league champions a titanic battle for 28 jams, held on tenaciously for ten more, and lost a narrow Rat City Rollergirls bout by six, 165-159. The final jams had the sellout Rat’s Nest crowd all standing, screaming support for their favorite team and living and dying with every point.
Last year’s league champs, DLF, are 3-0 early into this season. Their win Saturday over a Grave Danger team that is every bit the battler they were two seasons ago when they were best in the league doesn’t just speak to how good DLF has become, it says volumes about the higher level of play all four teams are putting on the track this season.
Grave Danger pivot StunHer (#316) set up a nice triangle with blockers Tempura Tantrum (#99) and Muffstache (#17), shutting out DLF jammer Jill Nye the Science Guy (#655) in the opening jam. 9-0 Danger. More solid defense and DLF was still scoreless after two jams, 11-0. Enter Thumper Skull (#83) as a DLF jammer in jam three. StunHer and fellow Danger blocker Ponyo Knees (#81) were just swinging doors for Thumper Skull, who muscled through the Danger line for 19 points, serving notice that there’s everybody else, and there’s DLF. It helped their cause that Wicked Slam (#94) toyed with Danger jammer Daisy Duke’m (#909), recycling her at will and keeping her in the pack until just 12 seconds remained in the jam.
Grave Danger has jammer Nehi Nightmare (#48), who finished the night with 84 points, 50 in the first half. They also have J Killa (#425) who had 23 of her total 31 in the first half. DLF worked hard to find a solution to that scoring duo, but someone had torn the answer sheet out of their first half playbook and so the lead, which they did hold at 19-11 after three jams, slowly drifted away. It wasn’t just Nehi slashing for 14 here and 16 there or Killa adding 14 in one jam, it was continuous pressure on DLF jammers by Danger blockers Loco Chanel (#37) and Aalto Ego (#43), Keri Watson (#39) and Trouble Dutch (#2468), that kept the champs penned in.
There was a 28 point margin in Danger’s favor at the half, 103-75.
It increased to 38 when Nehi Nightmare added ten points at the opening of the second half. Danger took advantage of a 3-5 power jam with DLF jammer Thumper Skull and blocker Wicked Slam both in the penalty box for a good part of the jam. But Wicked Slam came back with 15 one jam later, starting the next chapter of a great defensive epic authored by both teams.
Points began to be hard to find. They came in 3′s and 4′s and 0′s from jam to jam. Danger blockers Dee Cap Attack (#-1) and Cat-a-ma-ram (#10), along with most of the crew listed above, put the clamps on DLF jammers until jam six when Thumper Skull, who had 63 points for the bout, raced for 14, closing the margin to 130-116. Grave Danger responded by giving up 4 points and three shutouts in the next four jams while adding to their lead, now 139-120.
DLF Coach Ho Chi Danh commented early in the season on how hard it was for him to put a team together, how he had scrambled to get enough players to even hold a scrimmage and how he was coaching new and inexperienced skaters. After last Saturday you might guess that that story line has run out. In jam eleven, trailing by that 19 point margin outlined above, the DLF coach inserted a new jammer, Chocolate Coma (#90) who also goes by CC and who skated last season in Tacoma. She looks young, she probably is young, but she jams like she’s been doing it for a couple decades.
She scored 24 points, giving DLF the lead when you would least wish them to have it, late in the bout, 144-139. CC became lead jammer 19 seconds in, crashed through all five Danger skaters for five quick points, then used uncommon strength and agility to force openings or wait in her approach until the defenders left a sliver of space which she would either slice through or slide around.
Nehi Nightmare came back a jam later with nine as Grave Danger retook the lead, 148-144, with ten minutes left in the bout.
The five points DLF jammer Terror Swift (#86) scored in the second half were the five that gave her team a one point lead, putting them back ahead in jam 13, 149-148. The Rat’s Nest was bedlam. Talking to your seat mate was useless as they couldn’t have understood a word being said. Nehi Nightmare flipped that one point margin back in the Danger’s favor with a two point jam, her team now leading 150-149.
Back came jammer CC, who didn’t take the lead until 1:14 into jam 15, then scored 8 while Grave Danger was shut out. The teams traded points for the final three jams, Thumper and CC scored four each, Nehi and StunHer added five and four. DLF picked up win #3, 165-159. The nest may be empty today, but I suspect the seats are still buzzing.
DLF selected StunHer from Grave Danger as their Most Valuable Opponent. Grave Danger gave that honor to DLF’s Kamikaze Kim.
Nehi Nightmare led all scorers on all teams for the night with 84 points. Other Grave Danger scoring came from J Killa with 31, StunHer, 20, Tempura Tantrum, 9, Cat-a-ma-ram, 5, Daisy Duke’m, 4, Aalto Ego, 3 and Dee Cap Attack, 3. DLF was led by Thumper Skull with 63. Additional scoring came from jammers CC, 36, Terror Swift, 26, Wreck N Shrew, 18, Cynthia Bartok, 15, Erma Gerd, 4, and Jill Nye the Science Guy, 3.
Grave Danger will look to get back on the winner’s side when they take on the winless Socket Wenches at the Rat’s Nest on Saturday, March 7. DLF will put its undefeated record up against the 2-1 Throttle Rockets the same night.
by Jim Almy
Thirty five of the 135 points the Sockit Wenches scored last Saturday night in their opening bout against the Throttle Rockets at the Rat City Rollergirls Rat’s Nest came in the second jam.
Seven grand slams. Seven full passes by Wenches jammer Winter Scoming (#1221).
Most of the fans in the sold out venue were hardly settled into their seats before the Wenches ran their scoring machine through all five gears, leaving a surprised group of Rockets blockers — well, — surprised.
Those were the blockers who, in the first jam, anchored by Liberty Bell Ringer (#76) and the enforcer, Missile America (#321) had shut out jammer Sun Shiner (#36), keeping her in the pack for the entire jam and taking a quick 19-0 lead. Winter Scoming had other ideas for jam two, using Khaos Theory (#13) as a welcoming mat for her first pass, taking aim at Xena (#5), the last blocker between her and five more points on the second pass, then weaving easily through a disorganized group of Rockets blockers five more times.
It was 35-19 after two jams. The Wenches, 0-2 in derby play going in to this game, held their lead through the next six jams but could only score five points over that run, fell behind, and eventually lost to the 1-1 Throttle Rockets 188-135.
Whatever scoring magic the Wenches boasted at the beginning of the bout just never came back. They were shut out in ten of the first half jams and thirteen in the final 30 minutes.
Before the bout, Rockets Coach Lexi Luthor said that she felt really good about how her team was coming together for the season, adding that the jamming crew was particularly deadly.
Deadly as an incoming tide. First it just splashes around your toes. Then it’s up to your knees, your waist, your neck and, gulp, you’re twenty points behind. The scoring comes mostly in single digits but it’s steady, relentless, unstoppable.
It wasn’t as if the Wenches went away. They just couldn’t score enough in their flashy jams to overtake the unforgiving grind of the Throttle Rockets.
Trailing by 20, 78-58, as the first half neared the end Winter Scoming and Sister Slaughter (#480) ran off two jams of nine points each, closing the gap by half time to 88-80.
Things halted for a while in jam twelve when Wenches blocker Oh So Final (#26) fell awkwardly after a bump by Shock Therapy (#1400v). Something didn’t look right about the position of her right ankle. When the paramedics quickly arrived the Emergency Medical Team of volunteers that is on hand for every Rat City bout had already stabilized Final. She was taken to the hospital with a broken right fibula and dislocated ankle. She was in surgery Monday afternoon.
There is no mercy rule in roller derby so while the Wenches went through the first eight jams of the second half, only scoring six points in one of them, the Throttle Rockets continued their dogged attack. Sister Slaughter, Winter Scoming and Sun Shiner couldn’t find an opening in the lines Slutnik (#3279), Buster Up (#85), Deva (#509) and Ella Whirled (#47) cemented in front of them. It was 151-86 after eight jams. Sher Nobyl (#5) exploded for 20 points in jam ten, aided by some great offensive line control from blockers Clobberin’ Mame (#440) and Kendle Bjelland (#808) but, at that point, the Wenches 30 points in ten jams were doubled by the Rockets, who had piled up 63. Ethel Vermin (#77) had 15 of those in one jam and Xena added 14 in another, but most of the Rockets points came in that unforgiving, grinding attack that puts up a few points in almost every jam.
Penalties hurt both teams equally. The Women’s Flat Track Derby Association has tightened its interpretation of the forearm rule. Skaters are still getting used to it. The announcers pointed out that, as the first half neared its close, each team had 16 penalties called against it, ten of those being forearm violations. At the end of the bout the Wenches had 49 penalties, losing Moe YaDown (#14) and Kendle Bjelland when they notched their seventh foul and had to leave the track. Four other skaters had five, one sat at six. The Rockets saw Parker EyeOut (#070) foul out, had two other skaters at six and one at five. A longer bout would have seen both teams losing many players to the whistle.
Wenches Coach LeBrawn Maimes said that her team is still working to overcome inexperience. “We know how to do it,” she said. “We just have to concentrate more and carry through.”
Winter Scoming led all scorers in the bout, her 35 point second jam almost half of the 71 total points she tallied. Other Wenches scoring came from Sister Slaughter, 23, Sher Nobyl, 24, Sun Shiner, 11 and Vishus Trollop (#106), 6. The Rockets attack was spread evenly through four jammers. Ethel Vermin had 58, Shock Therapy and Xena each added 48, Liberty Bell Ringer, 30, and Deva, 4. Shock was picked by the Wenches as their Most Valuable Opponent. The Rockets chose Sher Nobyl for that honor.
Did the Throttle Rockets make a statement last Saturday night? Are they ready to put the first defeat on the defending champion Derby Liberation Front when both teams meet in two weeks on Saturday, March 7, at the Rat’s Nest? Those teams opened the season against each other, a January bout in which the Rockets got off to an early and large lead, then were overwhelmed by DLF in the second half, losing 210-159.
Coach Luthor said that her team, “…has a great dynamic. Our new skaters and fitting in well and Rattleskate just returned to the team! We are looking good and feeling strong. DLF is doing awesome this year though and have a lot of veterans on their team, so it will be a battle for sure. We are really looking forward to a great bout.”
Lead changes, comebacks, penalties and ejections. Another night at the office for DLF and the Throttle Rockets
by Jim Almy
It was come back city in the first half for the Throttle Rockets in last Sunday’s second bout as the Rat City Rollergirls league opened its eleventh season in KeyArena.
Then it was come back city in the second half for their opponents, last year’s champions Derby Liberation Front.
The TRs closed a deficit of 35 points to lead at half time, 99-89. Then DLF had to erase a 37 point gap in the final thirty minutes to get the win. Their 210-159 victory included a second half in which they doubled up on the TRs, out-scoring them 121-60.
Maybe it just took a half for DLF to get their skating legs under them. There are only two players on this year’s team that you could find on the opening day roster from a year ago. Coach Ho Chi Danh said that he has been scrambling for players and only recently had enough to run a full scrimmage.
But the team of pick-ups, move-ups and transfers he’s assembled are not exactly inexperienced, quickly demonstrating that the way the game is skated hasn’t changed for the Liberators.
It was 10-10 after jam three, most notable for the opening round of high blocks and forearms that would stamp this bout with 81 penalties, a couple ejections, and one or two mini-wars that became their own bout-long epics.
DLF jammer (and captain) Jill Nye, the Science Guy (#655) and TR blocker, pivot and general enforcer Missile America (#321) began their chest to chest battle in jam four. Missile America, who could have turned down the role of Wonder Woman for not being up to her toughness standards, planted her tall frame firmly in Jill Nye’s path. Missile’s shoulders are wide enough that jammers can see nothing but skin whichever side they try to pass on but Jill, who could have auditioned for the role of Marshawn Lynch, wasn’t interested in going around anyway. It was a profound collision, a monumental shoving match until Jill got Missile far enough down the track to break the pack. The DLF jammer won round one, scoring 9 points. She would end the bout with 38. Missile America would end the bout with seven penalties and an early exit from the track.
Scoring for both sides came in dribbles and drabs with the exception of jam six. DLF jammer Cynthia Bartok (#39), who led all scorers for all teams on Sunday with 96, exploded for 28 in that frame. DLF enjoyed a brief 4-3 power jam edge but that didn’t account for Bartok’s scoring spree. She just took the lead quickly and out maneuvered TR blockers Scarlet Fever (#104), Muad ‘Dibs (#1816) and Liberty Bell Ringer (#76) on every pass. That put the reigning champs up 48-21.
DLF continued to inch ahead. They put jammer Terror Swift (#86) on the track against a couple TR veterans, captains Parker Eyeout (#070) and Deva (#509). Parker brings her own brand or terror to opposing jammers. It comes cat-quick. On Terror’s second passing attempt Parker came out of nowhere on a crush and recycle mission for the surprised jammer. Half a lap later Parker bounced her completely off the court again. Terror managed five points in that jam. Parker saved ten more.
Near the end of the half the TRs were on the better side of two power jams. While DLF blockers Cynthia Bartok, Thumper Skull (#83) and Raven Evergore (#49) were sitting, TR jammer Ethel Vermin (#77) made four passes for 20 points. Her team now trailed by six, 89-83. Liberty Bell Ringer added another 14 in the final jam when the TRs were once again on the plus side of a 5-2 power jam. Down 35 early in the bout, they went into the half ahead by ten, 99-89.
There were plenty of whistles on both sides. At 1:26 left in the bout DLF had 38 and the Throttle Rockets 43. The hitch came from when those calls were made.
Two power jams at the end of the first half helped the TRs gain their lead. DLF had the same opportunity in jam 13 of the second half. A power jam in their advantage, 5-2, helped Terror Swift (that and her own sweet inside move on Parker Eyeout) to ten points and put DLF back in the lead, 158-151.
Cynthia Bartok added 26 more two jams later, destroying TR blocker Khaos Theory (#13) in the process. Jill Nye finished the final jam with 18 more DLF points. Over the final five jams DLF scored 62, the TRs had 8. Bartok and Parker worked each other over again during that stretch and not with beauty bumps either. Plenty of forearms and shoulders were thrown. Both went to the sin bin. Bartok came back in with 30 seconds left in jam 16, picked jammer Ethel Vermin as her new target, and left the track with foul seven.
”The bout definitely had some ups and downs,” said Throttle Rockets Coach Lexi Luthor. “We had some great moments, like when we came back from a 30 point deficit to a 40 point lead. Ethel, Liberty and Missile did a great job jamming tonight! Some of our newbies, like Gazelle (Gazelle from Hell) did an amazing job of blocking. Parker was awesome. Our penalties were definitely an issue tonight and we will work on that. We may have lost the battle tonight but we still plan to win the war!”
Coach Danh said that Derby Liberation Front, “…came out and played the way we are capable of. The team just reset at the half and came back with a ton of heart.” He said that he switched up some jammers during the break and advised his team that they can’t react to the penalties coming at them.
He pointed out Raven Evergore and Wicked Slam (#94) as having great games. Wicked is new to DLF this year after skating four years in Port Angeles.
”The return of Kamikaze Kim was huge for us,” Dahn added. “Is showed that she is still the smartest, toughest player in the game.”
Cynthia Bartok had 96 points for DLF. Jill Nye, 38, CC, 20, Terror Swift, 20, Thumper Skull, 14, Wreck N Shrew, 14, and Raven Evergore, 8. Ethel Vermin led the Throttle Rockets scorers with 62. Liberty Bell Ringer had 35, Shock Therapy, 27, Xena, 25, and Missile America, 10.
DLF selected Throttle Rockets skater Liberty Bell Ringer as their Most Valuable Opponent. The TRs gave that honor to DLF skater Jill Nye, the Science Guy.
by Jim Almy
At one point it was 65-26 while the crowd waited for a bout to begin.
Much later, with 7:31 remaining in the contest, one team ran jams of 20, 14 and 4, taking the lead for the first time all night, 137-130. Then, at 1:42, the fan base in KeyArena standing and screaming encouragement to their teams, the Sockit Wenches were ahead 140-134 and looking at a win over Grave Danger in the opening bout of the 2015 Rat City Rollergirls season at KeyArena.
It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.
You have to play every jam, including the final when Wenches jammer Sun Shiner (#36), she who led her team with 47 points, was called early for cutting and sent to the penalty box. Soon there were three more Wenches skaters in the box. Grave Danger jammer Nehi Nightmare (#48) grabbed 15 quick points against sparse blocking and the team that bills itself as “Your Worst Nightmare” turned out to be exactly that, winning 149-140.
Grave Danger was tough early, often and late. The Sockit Wenches were tough in stretches, they just didn’t have enough of them.
After six jams Danger led 53-7. Both team were sorting out players, changing lines, sending their stables of jammers to test the walls of muscle ahead of them. It just didn’t make much difference which line up of blockers and pivots Danger Coach Vito Ramon put on the track, they were all impenetrable as far as the Wenches could tell. Rodger That (#789) and Tempura Tantrum (#99) helped throw a shutout in jam one. StunHer (#316), Muffstache (#17), Ponyo Knees (#81) and Loco Chanel (#37) were the interchangeable vets well practiced in the strategy of roll ‘em down the line, bounce ‘em off the track and recycle ‘em so far back that the locker rooms are closer than the pack.
But there were two teams in this bout and Wenches blockers Sister Slaughter (#480), Clobberin’ Mame (#440), Moe YaDown (#14) and Fatal Fenix (#78) began to throw some zeros or their own on Danger jammers. Winter Scoming (#1221) picked up ten for the Wenches. Sun Shiner took the lead in three steps and added another nine before a back block gave her a penalty time out. 53-26 after eight jams. Danger put the clamps on after that spurt and there was no more scoring by the Wenches for the next eight jams.
Trailing 67-26 Sun Shiner slashed for 20 in jam 15. Sister Slaughter, with that unexpected grace you never get used to, waltzed through the Danger blockers for five, then came around for another scoring pass that included removing Muffstache with a crushing hip as she passed for four more. It was 69-55, looking more like the close contest it would become in the second half.
Both sides skated tight, quick call jams to open the second half. The Wenches trailed 66-84 but chipped away while frustrating Danger jammers, closing the gap by jam six to 82-88. Nehi Nightmare and J Killa (#425) wouldn’t go away, however, and Grave Danger kept their lead, pushing it to 130-99 by jam 15.
Nehi, whose small stature helps her avoid hips and shoulders coming in somewhere above where they could do any damage, lost that advantage while picking up four points in jam 9. Moe YaDown, as Nehi picked a passing lane by her, got low enough, aimed her shoulder and sent the jammer tumbling off the track. That defensive move prevented another scoring pass, keeping the Wenches within striking range.
And strike they did.
In jam 16 Vishus Trollope (#106) was quicker to the open lanes than the Danger blocking crew for four straight passes. Her 20 points closed the score to 130-119. Sun Shiner took advantage of Danger blockers caught up amongst themselves to add 14 more in the next jam. Sher Nobyl (#5) and Ginger Brute (#7334) put an absolute stop on Danger jammer Ponyo Knees and the Wenches were suddenly ahead for the first time in the bout 133-130.
It got pretty crazy in KeyArena.
Grave Danger is a veteran team. After four jams stuck at 130 and three more at 134 they took the track for the final jam with the same swagger they wore when the bout began. Trailing by six wasn’t a number they couldn’t overcome.
The Wenches helped.
Within seconds of the whistle blowing to start the final jam another blew to send Wenches jammer Sun Shiner to the penalty box for cutting the track. Then Mad ScrapHer was called for destroying the pack, soon joined by Vishus Trollope for a high block. More Wenches off the track than on.
Nehi Nightmare made three passes, her 15 points more than enough to give Grave Danger the 149-140 win.
“I thought we had it,” said Sockit Wenches Coach LeBrawn Maimes. “I couldn’t be more proud of this team. They have put in so much work. Our vets truly stepped up tonight,” she added.
Grave Danger scoring was led by Nehi Nightmare with 48, followed closely by J Killa, 46, StunHer, 35. Aalto Ego chipped in 2, Jess Cuzz had 14 and Ponyo Knees 4. There was enough passing of the star during some jams that these numbers aren’t being guaranteed.
For the Sockit Wenches Sun Shiner had 47, Winter Scoming, 32, Vishus Trollope, 31. Other points were added by Oh So Final, 16, Sister Slaughter, 9, and Mad ScrapHer, 5.
New season, new faces, same tough, entertaining teams.
By Jim Almy
It’s a new year introducing a lot of new skaters for the Rat City Rollergirls.
The one thing pre-season bouts and practices have shown is the continued improvement of all around play and the promise that each bout this year will bring a new and higher level of physicality, oomph, enthusiasm and skill.
The vets are back and they are one year better. The rookies, and there are a slew of them, are eager to show that they have their own stuff to strut.
All will be on display this Sunday, January 11, at KeyArena beginning at 3 p.m.
Scheduled to open their season on Saturday, the 10th, Rat City opted to move their bouts to the next day to avoid any conflict with the first playoff game by another group of Seattle pro athletes with a large following, the Seahawks. Seattle begins defense of their National Football League Championship title Saturday afternoon at Century Link Field.
Grave Danger, the Sockit Wenches, Throttle Rockets and the reigning champions Derby Liberation Front, begin their quest for this year’s Queen of the Hill the next day.
The league has opted this year to form their all-star team at the beginning of the season. Those skaters, who would previously have skated the first four months with one of the four league teams, will instead work out as a team to better prepare for the season’s second act, bouts against national and international teams leading up to the national championships in the fall.
The Throttle Rockets, hoping to put the first dent in Derby Liberation Front’s championship trophy in bout two Sunday, return nine skaters from last year’s team. Those include Parker Eyeout (captain), Khaos Theory, Shock Therapy, Ella Whirled, Missile America, Deva (captain), Ethel Vermin, Xena and McKenna Gita Witness.
Coach Lexi Luthor said that, “We lost Raven Seaward, Trippy (Sintripetal Force), Luna (Luna Negra), Rattle (Rattleskate), Bunny (Enurgizer Bunny), and Jem (Jemini Holograms) – all amazing skaters that have definitely left some really big skates to fill. Our returning veteran skaters have stepped up and our newer skaters are up for the challenge.”
That new group of Rockets include a longtime favorite of league fans, Slutnik, who returns this year to skating after taking a turn as a coach of the TRs last season. She also spent a year as a non-skating official (NSO) and a year as a referee as well as six years as a skater. Fans might also remember her sister, Andromeda Sprain, an original Throttle Rocket.
Joining Slutnik and also newly skating with the Rockets this season are Gazelle From Hell, a cold country veteran who skated with the Fairbanks Rollergirls for 3 plus years before joining Rat City last September. Another new member is Liberty BellRinger. She did Rat City’s Makin’ Bacon in June, 2012, was in Potential Fresh Meat for a few months before joining Jet City Rollergirls where she was drafted by the Pink Pistols, transferring to Rat City in 2013.
Another PFM and Rat Lab product is Muad’Dibs, who was drafted to the TRs last October. The Rainier Roller Girls and Rodeo City Rollergirls helped Buster Up break in her skates before she was drafted by the TRs. “I’ve been skating about 3 years now, though I’ve only really considered myself a real derby athlete for the last year and a half,” she said.
Rounding out the roster are Scarlet Fever, A Bomb N ABull, and Ally McWheel.
A team of the new and the old, the TRs have quickly jelled this season and boast a deep jammer bench. “The TR Machine is a family. We genuinely love, care and respect each other,” said Coach Luthor. She added that their strategy this year would be solid – to play roller derby and play it really, really well.
Have you heard? There’s a football game in Seattle on January 10th. We’re proud of our Seahawks for making it to playoffs, but we don’t want to make you choose between Seattle Sports. We’re rolling our home opener over to Sunday, January 11 at 3pm!