NewsSubscribe to the Rat City Rollergirls RSS feed
By Jim Almy
It says March 15 on the schedule, but the four roller derby teams taking the track this Saturday at KeyArena for the Rat City Rollergirls will mostly be looking forward to April 12, the championship event.
One team is in the prize ring for sure, one is not and the two others will bring to mind an old Bob Dylan album, Blood on the Tracks. In this case it’s ‘track’, singular, but when Grave Danger and Throttle Rockets open the night’s action skating for a spot in next month’s championship bout the rest of the title will be accurate.
Derby Liberation Front (DLF) will take their undefeated record and guaranteed championship appearance into the second bout of the night against a rebuilding Sockit Wenches team that has yet to score a win. It will be 2-0 against 0-2.
But don’t let their records fool you. DLF has won two very tight bouts. The Sockit Wenches have been in both their matches well into the second half. “We’re not taking the Sockit Wenches lightly at all,” said DLF Coach Ho Chi Danh. “They’ve shown a lot of intensity and we’re aware that they will be coming out swinging.” He added that his team’s strategy will be to work on what they’ve been working on the entire season which includes penalty reduction and concentration on their defensive packs.
Grave Danger, last year’s champions and holders of that trophy for the past three years, and the Throttle Rockets have both lost to DLF. Danger lost by 33 points in an opening night bout that saw changes in the lead switch back and forth and stay within a few points as the match neared its end. Penalties caught up with Grave Danger and DLF pulled away as the final seconds ticked off.
An even closer bout followed in February between DLF and the Throttle Rockets. The two teams were tied at 173 going into the final jam when DLF jammer Muscle Sprouts added ten points while her opposite, Rockets jammer Luna Negra, sat in the penalty box, for DLF’s second victory of the season.
This Saturday has all the elements of another dramatic and exciting two hours of action. The Sockit Wenches improved significantly from bout one to bout two. Both Grave Danger and the Throttle Rockets view their losses against DLF as turning on one or two small points, a penalty here, a missed block there, that could have resulted in a win for either. Both are resolved that those imperfections won’t occur when they meet DLF again.
But first, of course, there is the business at hand, earning a win when they play each other this Saturday to get into that championship game.
Doors: 4:30, Opening Ceremonies 5:30
For tickets to Saturday’s click HERE
by Jim Almy
Flat track derby teams all over the world are going to find one aspect of their game changing drastically when the new Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) rules changes take affect April 1.
The amount of playing time a player has to sit out during a jam when called for a penalty will be half as long, thirty seconds instead of the full minute presently in use. Coaches and officials with the Rat City Rollergirls were in agreement over the effects of that change to penalty time — it will increase emphasis on defense; scores will be lower.
“There won’t be as many power jams,” said Derby Liberation Front Coach Dan Barnett. “More teams will be at full strength for more of the bout. It will cut down on the scoring.”
The rules changes will not be in effect for this Saturday’s (March 15) bouts at KeyArena. RCRG Chief Marketing Officer Jessica Ivey, aka Scarlet Leather said that, “We are currently reviewing how we want to implement the new rules, and officials are preparing for the change by studying and practicing the new rules set at weekly scrimmages. They will not be in effect for this Saturday.”
The local league has some wiggle room when it come to the new rules as they apply to WFTDA sanctioned bouts and not the home team bouts which the RCRG have played in the first half of their season.
“There is currently discussion among the league about whether we should play under the new rule set for the Championship Bout in April – we are not obligated to play under this rule set since our home teams are not playing WFTDA sanctioned bouts (only our All Star team does),” said Slamburger Patty, Director of Media Relations.
The rules re-writes, which happen annually or as the association deems necessary, are all adjustments of the guidelines which already control play. These include a change in the review process; needed clarification of the passing-the-star procedure; a fine tuning of the definition of line ups as they deal with false starts and yielding; who gets penalized when a multi-player block link is called (the initiator of the link or the linker closest to the referee); some easing of what constitutes being out-of-bounds to cut the track; a volume of tweaks as to what can be called out-of-bounds during regular play; added clarification of jammer penalties; and a new, some think overdue, rule about flopping or diving.
Teams are going to be allowed two official reviews per period if the head official determines that an officiating error was made when the first review is requested. Previously, the rule was only one review, no second chance, no matter the outcome of the challenge.
A common mindset of everyone interviewed — once it is decided to use the new rules set there will be no break-in period.
“The rules are what they are and we need to enforce them to the best of our ability. The fastest way to learn is to get called for doing it wrong and learning from that. To be quite honest, the changes are not that huge and, in most cases, are more forgiving to the skaters,” said Reed d’Rulz, Head of RCRG’s Non Skating Officials.
Officials will hold a question and answer session for all skaters to help with the information flow. Head Referee Sir Osis said that, “At Rat City, we will hold an off skates training/rules session for the players once they decide exactly when the switch will happen. Most of what ‘changed’ in the rules set are clarifications of wording and aligning of terminology.”
The new rule set is available online at the WFTDA website (http://wftda.com/rules) and no matter when RCRG has the new rules take effect, skaters, coaches and referees alike have begun studying the changes.
by Jim Almy
K. Beezy saw an ad in 2009 for the Bellingham Roller Betties, walked into their open practice and hasn’t stopped skating since.
A couple years later she was drafted by Grave Danger of the Rat City Rollergirls, playing well enough to become an all-star and well enough to be selected Most Valuable Player in the Feb. 15 bout by her team’s opponent, the Sockit Wenches.
More room may be needed in Beezy’s trophy case as the Wenches also voted her MVP after last season’s championship game. Add to that the Rose City Rollers Wheels of Justice selecting her as the MVP after they played the RCRG All-Stars last fall.
Against the Wenches, Beezy did a little bit of everything. She was the jammer a dozen times, scoring 92 points. She also worked as pivot six times and was blocker in another jam.
“I’ve always jammed and I’ve always blocked,” she said, “though I wouldn’t say my blocking was actually ‘blocking’ until about last year. Training to be a good blocker takes a lot of patience, timing, control and teamwork.”
She says that she loves the thrill of jamming, but her favorite action is to block. “Blocking is like chess on wheels. I’m constantly scanning the pack movement, pack definition, where the jammers are, where my fellow blockers are, what opportunities are available, what seams I can open for my jammer or close for the opposing team. Basically, my brain is on overdrive when blocking. When jamming there is only elevator music and looking to Vito.”
Vito Ramon is the coach of Danger. The elevator music playing in Beezy’s head when jamming is because all she says she has to do is move forward while Coach Ramon tells her when to call/pass/point protect. “No thinking necessary,” adds Beezy.
Kate, as she likes to be called, has played sports her entire life. Growing up in Flint, Michigan, she played basketball, volleyball, softball and ran cross country and track. She was on the track team at Michigan Technological University until she realized that track wasn’t what she wanted most out of the higher education experience and left the team to just ‘enjoy college’. “My varsity jacket is somewhat of a novelty when I show people, it’s covered in medals.”
Her family is still in Michigan but when the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) Championships were held in Milwaukee this past year her parents and other family made the trip over to finally see her skate in a national competition. ”It was awesome,” she said, “after working so hard to skate nationally, they got to witness high-level derby and championships in person. It was cute because they all wore shirts made by the lovely Bashionista of Rose City Rollers & Left Turn Clothing that had my face on it with the saying, “it ain’t eazy being beezy”. The design was made by the lovely Keary Ortiz (Agent Meow).”
Moms are always big fans and Beezy said that, when her former skate name was Kutta Betch her mother took to calling herself “Momma Betch” and she still does as she supports her daughter from afar.
Kate works for Fisheries Harvest Management for the State of Washington. She said that her co-workers are making a group trip next month to see her skate for the first time. “They’ve always been supportive of my career and have been intrigued by my dedication to this crazy sport,” she added.
Kate coached the men’s team Puget Sound Outcast Derby last year and she presently coaches a junior team, the I-5 Rollergirls.
She said that she has loved every single minute of being a member of Grave Danger. “Grave Danger has always felt like home and we refer to each other as ‘ohana’, which is Hawaiian for family — blood, extended and adopted,” she added.
After the MVP performances that have marked her career that ‘family’ is, no doubt, happy to have her as a member.
For tickets to see K. Beezy at the March 15th bout at KeyArena, go HERE
By Jim Almy
Ophelia Melons (#88) began her roller derby career in 2008 not as a player, but as a referee – for banked track – in Los Angeles. Later, she played for the Emerald City Roller Girls in Eugene, OR before moving to Seattle a couple of years ago.
“I came for love,” she said, “and to play with the best there is.”
Six years after putting on skates and grabbing a ref’s whistle, she is one the best, being selected as the Most Valuable Player in last Saturday’s bout for her current team, Derby Liberation Front (DLF) of the Rat City Rollergirls.
Throttle Rockets, DLF’s opponent that night, voted her as the MVP. “It was my birthday,” said Melons, “so maybe they were just being nice.” Rockets players who woke up Sunday morning hurting in many places from the beating Melons and her teammates put on them would probably disagree, offering more painful reasons for their vote.
Melons has always been a blocker. She started 22 of the 44 jams in last Saturday’s match. She thinks the best blockers are also great jammers and vice versa, but her strength is pushing other bodies out of the way on offense, holding them back on defense. “I’ve always been a scrappy kid,” she added.
Growing up in LA and watching roller derby in its earlier versions she became an avid fan. Her parents soon began calling her their “Roller Derby Diva” and her mom is still her biggest fan. But soccer was her first sport. She played competitively for 15 years and was selected as the number one goalkeeper at the California community college level, but she eventually stopped playing because of knee injuries.
A knee injury also caught up with her last season when she had a complete ACL tear in the second half of the March bout against Grave Danger. A year spent in recovery was also a year in which she says she was able to improve her game.
“As a blocker, especially with all the time off from my injury, I really focused on my muscle memory, on being the floor leader. I’m good enough at skating backwards that it allows me to have a fuller vision of things happening around me. I’m constantly communicating with my teammates.”
She calls her first game back, the season opening match against Grave Danger in January, an emotionally intense time for her. “There’s no better feeling than coming back and winning,” she said. Going into that bout, DLF were slight underdogs, but upset Danger, the three-year reigning league champions.
“I like to say that I’m no longer injured, it just kind of hurts,” she said. “I’m really more injured in the sense of getting my mental game back under control. I maybe play a little more reserved now, a little more aware of my body. I think I get less penalties now as a result of that.”
Her given name is Elizabeth Baumwirt. She lives in the Ballard area, does customer service work and is also employed at a popular bar, Conor Byrne Pub, where she keeps things in order at the door. She wears a Rat City t-shirt or sweatshirt most of the time she is on duty, convincing customers to attend bouts and educating them about the sport.
For the March 15 match against Sockit Wenches at KeyArena she said that DLF has a pretty good feeling about playing the Wenches. “We’re kindred spirits. It will be a lighthearted game, but a game with heavy contact. They like to hit as much as we do.”
Melons said that she has never been on a championship team but hoped that DLF, winners of both their bouts this season and the only undefeated team remaining in the league, could keep their penalties under control. “We will be unstoppable if we can do that,” she said.
And those banked track LA Derby Dolls that gave her her first experience with derby? The Rat City Rollergirls sent an all-star team down there in 2012 and beat the Dolls on their own track. Melons is correct, you have to come to Seattle if you want to play with the best.
For tickets to see Ophelia Melons at the March 15th bout at KeyArena, go HERE
by Jim Almy
If Parker Eyeout (#070) were to evaluate her skills on the track she would say that one of her talents is staying with her fellow blockers, both in working with a partner or working with the pack.
“One of my strengths is being able to skate backwards well,” she said. “I can brace another blocker and that reinforces the wall. I’m not a big hitter. I’m more of a container and better at keeping people behind me than actually hitting them out of bounds.”
Her skills as a blocker were displayed well enough last Saturday in the Rat City Rollergirls’ bout between her team, Throttle Rockets, and Derby Liberation Front (DLF) to have DLF award her Most Valuable Player.
That accolade culminated a three year derby history that began with a tryout after watching a bout.
“I hadn’t been on skates in twenty years,” she said. She was selected to start learning with a group called Potential Fresh Meat, an entry-level training team for many skaters who now are part of roller derby teams.
“As long as you’re not a hazard to anyone around you they’ll take you and do work from the ground up,” Parker said. “I skated with that group for about three months, then went to a Rat City tryout where I was selected to join Rat Lab, a sort of minor league to the four teams in the RCRG league.” From there her quickly developing skills and athletic skating ability helped her get drafted to the Rockets.
People outside roller derby recognize Parker as Jennifer Parker Hamilton, the young woman from Wisconsin who took her Bachelors degree in zoology at the University of Wisconsin, paired that with a Masters from the University of Montana in geography, and followed that with a position in Seattle as a technical engineer.
While most of her family is still in the Midwest she said that she has aunts and uncles living on Whidbey Island who love to come to her bouts. She’s also convincing fellow workers to become roller derby fans, she said.
Parker started out primarily as a jammer, which she did most of last season but, she said, “I always liked blocking a lot more.” Her latest efforts have been to improve her screening for her jammer, to make her offense good enough that she and her fellow blockers can get their jammer out of the pack in just a couple seconds.
Last week her team lost by ten points in the final jam. “Re-watching the footage it’s hard not to see all the things you could have done to change the outcome,” she said.
The problem for the other teams in the league is that Parker, and the Rockets, will make those changes.
For tickets to the next bout at KeyArena, go HERE
By Jim Almy
When Grave Danger’s jammer Carmen Getsome (#12) skated up behind Sockit Wenches’ jammer Short Fuse (#11) during last Saturday night’s bout between their two Rat City Rollergirls teams, there was already a history between those opposing players.
They had become friends a few years back and Getsome had invited Fuse to try out for roller derby.
Friendship isn’t part of the action during a bout though, and Getsome hip-checked Fuse hard, sending her sprawling out of bounds far enough to push the barrier cushions ten feet out of place.
Players call such hits “love taps” but people in the stands thought they’d just witnessed a collision between a semi and a mini. Breath was held until Fuse bounced up and was back on the track within seconds.
“I’m cool with that,” she said. “That’s good. It’s part of the game, but you know when you’re flying through the air that it’s going to hurt.”
After the bout, Danger players voted Fuse the “Most Valuable Player” from the opposing team, the Sockit Wenches.
“They said I gave 100 percent and was really fighting for the whole bout,” Fuse said. “They were talking to me during the bout, saying they weren’t going to give me anything. They made me earn every point.” She tallied 37 of her team’s 133 total.
When not in uniform, Fuse is more commonly known as Rachel Schmauder. She is a college student working towards a degree in physical therapy with a couple years left in her program. While attending school she also works part-time in a physical therapy office.
Her sport for years while growing up was soccer, but a torn ACL took her off the pitch and she still wears a knee brace most of the time. She began roller derby three years ago, spending two years in junior league on the I-5 Roller Girls. This is her first year in the bigs and with the Wenches.
She has mostly been a jammer, noting that working hard on her speed and agility has paid off in that position.
Her family is from Everett, where she was raised. “My mom bought season tickets in the front row next to the floor,” Fuse said. “It’s great to look over and see my mom cheering me on.”
Commenting on last week’s loss to Danger, Fuse said that it was a fast-paced game. She noted that her team really pushed themselves in the low scoring first half. “We maybe lost a little bit in the second half, got into penalty trouble, let them have too many power jams.”
“We’re still learning, still improving,” she added.
As far as Grave Danger is concerned, Short Fuse is learning well.
For tickets to the next bout at KeyArena, go HERE
Final Score: Grave Danger (1-1): 244 vs. Sockit Wenches (0-2): 133
By Jim Almy
It was a lot of give and take in a low scoring first half between Grave Danger and the Sockit Wenches when they skated the second bout of the night last Saturday, Feb. 15, at the Rat City Rollergirls Roller Derby event at KeyArena. That changed dramatically as Danger poured it on and the Wenches, a still young team struggling to find its way, were outscored 165-62 in the second half, losing the bout by a final of 244-133.
In the opening bout the Derby Liberation Front (DLF) put themselves in first place, remaining undefeated with their 183-173 last jam victory over the Throttle Rockets.
Sparse scoring marked the opening half of the Danger-Wenches meeting. Each came into the night still bruised from opening loses suffered in their first bouts of the year. Each was bent on evening their records.
The strategy for both sides concentrated heavily on building a wall around the other team’s jammers with the result that points accumulated with agonizing slowness. Two, three, maybe five in a jam and that was not per side but the total contribution from both jammers.
For three straight jams the Wenches were held fixed at nine points despite the efforts of two of their best scorers, Rawkhell SqWelch (#761) and Annyong (#21). Danger took advantage of those sparse points to add five of their own via the skating of jammer unshine (#52) and soon it was 9-9 well into the first half.
Muscle and strategy were working for the Wenches, who shifted blockers Raspberry Slam (#1337), Moe YaDown (#14), Mad ScrapHer (#5150), BelleTolls (#4), SqWelch, Sister Slaughter (#480) and Devilynne Syde (#666) in and out of jams to hold back any Danger scoring threat.
But, strategy and muscle were working just as well for Danger, who relied on the line play of K. Beezy (#187), D’evil’D Meggs (#88), Carmen Getsome (#12), Jerrica Kallio (#33), Tempura Tantrum (#99) and Dee Cap Attack (#1) to shut out the Wenches’ jammers.
Danger Coach Vito Ramon said that his team, “Did a great job of minimizing their (Wenches) points in the first half, especially when we had no jammers on the floor due to penalties.”
And that was the way Danger held it together, except for the jam when Danger’s Meggs was in the penalty box and Annyong broke through behind Kendle Bjelland’s (#808) road grader work as she plowed a giant opening in Danger’s line. The Wenches scorer picked up 19 points in that jam, the most by any one jammer in any jam in the first half.
Thirty minutes into the bout Danger led 79-71. People asked themselves if it was possible to score less than a hundred points and still win.
Wenches Coach Rani Khan hoped that her young team was starting to put it together. “This team has a lot of good chemistry,” she said. “Compared to our last match we have overcome a lot of problems.”
“We need to develop the mental strength to stay in the bout for the full sixty minutes,” she added.
But, with 18:27 remaining in the bout, that team asset began to fade for the Wenches and Danger, league champions for three years running, pounced. Nehi Nightmare (#48) found openings in the tiring Wenches blocking. K. Beezy added fourteen points in one jam while the Wenches point production was held to four points total in four straight jams. At that break in the match it was 130-104 for Danger, who spent the remaining minutes of the bout effortlessly piling up points and ending night with a 1-1 record and a 244-133 victory.
“In the second half we were able to put points on the board because we were able to keep our jammers on the floor,” said Coach Ramon. He was right in that his jammers spent much less time in the penalty box in the second half. They were also the beneficiaries of Danger blockers who were playing just as hard at game’s end as they were at the start.
Next match for the Rat City Rollergirls will be March 15 at KeyArena. For more info on tickets go HERE
Final Score: Derby Liberation Front (2-0): 183 vs. Throttle Rockets (1-1): 173
by Jim Almy
With two minutes remaining in the bout, one jammer sat in the penalty box, the other calculated a course that would score points, break a 173 to 173 tie, and keep her team’s record unblemished. The opening match of Saturday’s second round of action for the tenth season of Rat City Rollergirls at KeyArena was a defensive tour de force between the Derby Liberation Front (DLF) and the Throttle Rockets. Both started the night undefeated. Both were going to leave everything on the track to remain that way. DLF’s Muscle Sprouts (#5280) scored the final 10 points when they were most needed, coming away with a 183-173 win over the Rockets and a 2-0 record for the early season. Edge of your seat tension eased a bit in the second bout of the night when Grave Danger and Sockit Wenches spent a low scoring half sparing against each other before Danger laid a wallop on the fading Wenches, 244-133. Not nearly as close as the tight DLF-Rocket’s game. “We got it done when we had to,” was the way DLF Coach Dan Barnett summed up his team’s performance. “This is a team that never gives up.” The Rockets must have sensed that the entire game as they built leads of 20 to 30 points but could never shake DLF, which ground away until the first half ended with them trailing by four, 103-99. Every one of those 99 points were hard earned. The Rockets built wall after wall in front of DLF jammers with blockers Parker Eyeout (#070), Khaos Theory (#13), and Panda Beer (#330) forcing Sprouts (#5280), Bam!!B (#444) and Bill F. Murray (#906) off the track or, just as often, planting them on the track. But they wouldn’t go away.
Sprouts (#5280) and her blockers kept their team in the game for the first half. She scored 50 of the 99 points DLF put up. The Rockets usually reliable weapon of choice, jammer Luna Negra, who put up a 100 point effort last month, was held to 20 in the first half and 43 for the entire bout. DLF fought penalties as much as the Rockets for most of the opening period. In-your-face defense by Missile America (#321), Panda Beer (#330) and Deva StateHer (#509) led to frustrated DLF jammers drawing multiple track cutting, elbow throwing, and tripping penalties. All that led to lots of minutes in the penalty box, where jammers can only sit and watch the other team score. With 4:15 remaining the Rockets had five penalties, DLF, 17. As he typically does at halftime, Coach Barnett talked his penalty prone team back into a game they had never really given up on. “We had opportunities, we just had to go out in the second half and take advantage of them,” he said.
Rockets jammer RattleSkate (#16) had 14 points in the second half. They all came in the opening jam while DLF jammer Bam!!B (#444) sat watching from the penalty box. Down immediately 117-99 things looked like a first half repeat for the DLF. But they still wouldn’t go away. Jammers used their counterparts as blockers. Opposing jammers skated the track alone together, seeking an edge, faking a move, looking for a block. Raven Seaward (#53) opened a jam on the shoulder of DLF jammer Kimball Machine (#25). When Machine and the line moved right Seward blasted left around everybody. It was three more points, increasing the Rockets lead to 13. But, with three minutes left in the bout, DLF made the move everyone in section 127 was looking for. The place erupted.
Muscle Sprouts (#5280), who had 84 points for the night to lead all jammers, came into the pack at full speed, cut the arc with a slicing jump, and brought the house down. DLF 172, Rockets 170. Luna Negra (#911) and Bam!!B (#444) continued their battle in the next jam, which ended with a giant pile up and the score tied 173 all. Endora Finn Rush (#42), Melons (#88), Lucinda Pack (#505) and Full Nelson (#123) blocked in the deciding jam for the DLF. Muscle Sprouts (#5280) and Luna Negra (#911) looked to break the tie in their team’s favor but Negra got caught up in the middle of the DLF blocking machine, fell and tripped another player. That sent her to the penalty box. Now the strategy of solid defense and opportunistic jamming that had dominated the entire match suddenly changed. DLF blockers joined in a casual stance, as if waiting for a bus, while Sprouts (#5280) circled the track. Each time she caught up with her blockers they busted her through. She scored the final 10 points of the bout. This second consecutive win by DLF solidifies their spot in Rat City Rollergirls home team championships on April 12 at KeyArena.
More info on tickets for the next bout 3/15 at KeyArena go HERE
By AnnYong, aka Evelyn Kong
Growing up in Korea, my mom always dreamed of being a figure skater. While it wasn’t in the cards for her, she decided to experience it through the eyes of her two young daughters. At the young age of 5, my mother signed me and my sister up for figure skating lessons, and before I knew it, I was spinning and leaping my way to the podium as a serious contender. I continued skating competitively through high school, earning gold medals in New England Regional and Eastern Sectional competitions. I was even able to compete at the National level and earn a gold medal while representing the USA at the North American Challenge (US vs. Mexico and Canada).
Training was tough. I remember waking up at 4:00 AM every morning to go to the rink. As soon as practice was done, I’d have to change out of my gear in the car to go to school. After school, I’d head to rink again after school to train for three more hours. I was skating four hours a day, 7 days a week, with 5 different coaches, each with a different focus area – spins, jumps, power, artistry, and flexibility. In addition to on-ice training, I was weight training three times a week and taking ballet lessons once a week.
My favorite part about skating? The competition, of course! I loved the adrenaline and pressure I felt when competing. I loved that that the hours, days, and months of practice came down to performances that only lasted minutes. I loved putting on a show for the audience and proving that while I was smaller and younger than most of my competitors, I was still a force to be reckoned with. Simply put, I was there to win.
After competing for almost 13 years, I decided to hang up my skates in order to focus more on college. Despite this, I was still a competitive person, and I was still able to satisfy this need through track & field as well as golf.
After graduation, I became close friends with a coworker in Chicago who told me she played roller derby. I remember her trying to explain the sport to me using donuts and ultimately invited me to go see a bout. Like many who experience roller derby for the first time, I was blown away! I realized that my drive for competition was waking back up; after watching the first jam all I was thinking was, “I want to do that!” A year later, I moved to Seattle and the very same friend introduced me to someone who played banked track roller derby. I was timid, but eventually this person took me to Fast Girl Skates and I bought my first pair of quad skates.
I remember roller skating once or twice in my youth for friends’ birthday parties. Despite my ice skating experience, I remember struggling on roller skates and hitting the railings or falling in order to stop myself. Understandably, I was nervous for my first day at PFM (a program that stands for “Potential Fresh Meat” that tests foundational skills). To my surprise, once I figured out where I needed to hold my weight, roller skating wasn’t too difficult. As it turns out, skating on roller skates and ice skating are very similar. I was able to skate on the straightaways and with a few minor weight adjustments, and I was able to do most of the same stops as I did on ice skates.
Not everything has been an easy transition from ice skating to roller derby, as I’m sure most people would assume. Skating upright and having good posture – extremely good traits to have as an ice skater – are not ideal in roller derby as your front torso is a legal hitting zone, and I soon learned that lesson the hard way. The “full contact” aspect of hitting and taking hits has been a very difficult thing to adjust to in roller derby. I was so accustomed to killing my competitors with kindness, smiles, and a good performance; not by hitting them. I have had to catch myself so many times from saying, “I’m so sorry,” after hitting an opponent or turning around to help someone back up. Roller derby is a sport with rules, and I just have to keep remembering that hitting is the nature of the sport. If I’m not hitting my opponents first, they’re going to hit me.
There are many people that still believe that roller derby isn’t a real sport. I think many people have the impression that bouts still have predetermined winners and mainly exist for spectator amusement. That may be how it once was, but modern roller derby has truly transitioned from spectacle to sport. Just as I trained in ice skating, derby skaters are training several hours a day and supplementing with off-skates workouts and weight training programs. Skaters are even reviewing footage to learn strategy and implement new strategies. Not only are they training to be the best athletes they can be, but they’re also owning and running their leagues – taking on roles in Human Resources, Finance, Operations, Merchandise, etc. – to be able to participate in a sport that they love. While ice skating is a place where grace, artistry, and physical appearance are valued, roller derby celebrates bruises, big hits, and brute force. This is a sport that doesn’t discriminate based on your job or your school, how much money you make, or even your age and size. In fact, the only thing that matters is your skill as an athlete and your knowledge of the game.
2/15 Bout Preview: Grave Danger won’t be easy pickings, though the Sockit Wenches have a tool box ready to do just that
by Jim Almy
You’d hope that what happens in January stays in January. Particularly if those memories include a loss on the opening night of competition, Jan. 18, when the Rat City Rollergirls League kicked off it’s 2014 Home Team season at KeyArena.
Grave Danger, league champions for three years running, are out to reverse their opening bout loss to the Derby Liberation Front (DLF) and will direct their attack against the Sockit Wenches, a team that dropped their first bout of the year to the Throttle Rockets.
The Danger-Wenches match follows the opening bout at 5:30 between the Derby Liberation Front, winners last month over the Danger by a 229-193 score, and the Throttle Rockets, who throttled the Wenches 219-128.
Both coaches have turned the page, looking at Saturday’s bout as a chance to get their seasons back on track.
“We had a tough loss last month,” said Wenches Coach Rani Khan. “We’re getting back to the basics.”
She was echoed by Coach Vito Ramone of the Danger who said his team has moved on from their last bout. “We didn’t dwell on it,” he said, “using it instead as motivation and to look at making some successful changes.”
Danger didn’t win their three straight league titles by being easy pickings. They’ll bring a tough bunch of blockers, anchored by Shorty Ounce, Muffstache, Trouble Dutch and Jerrica Kallio.
Blockers in roller derby do double duty, playing offense to get their scorer (the jammer) past the other team’s blockers while keeping the opponents jammer bottled up.
Keeping the cork on the bottle for the Wenches is a strong and athletic group including Belle Tolls, Sun Shiner and Kendle Bjelland.
But Danger has a crew of jammers not interested in being bottled up and who can put points on the board in a hurry. That group is led by Carmen Getsome, who piled up 71 points last time out, and K. Beezy, who tallied 63. Nehi Nightmare and Unshine added 59.
For the Wenches Megan Havok, a league transfer to that team, and Short Fuse, who moved up from the junior league, will offer both great blocking depth and scoring power. “They will jam and block,” said Khan, “but enter more often as jammers than the last bout.” In that bout Fuse scored 26 and Havok had 20. Penny Racer, with 39, and Rawkhell SqWelch, with 40, will add to the Wenches scoring challenge.
Coach Ramone said that his team is healthy, though some are getting over some winter sniffles.
“We’re ready to go. We’re not changing our strategy but we will change our approach and our line-ups,” Ramone said. “We’ll play in a way that will be more catered to our strengths.”
Get your tickets to Saturday’s bout TODAY at the KeyArena box office or at ticketmaster.com!
By Jim Almy
Update your insurance, hug you loved ones, strap on your helmets, and get ready to settle some scores.
When the Rat City Rollergirls Roller Derby teams square off this Saturday, Feb. 15, at the KeyArena there will be a little spill over from last month’s bouts.
Grave Danger, league champions for three years running, are out to reverse their opening bout loss to the Derby Liberation Front (DLF) and will direct their attack against the Socket Wenches, a team that also dropped their first bout of the year to the Throttle Rockets.
Expect another earthquake in the opening bout when the two teams in the league with perfect 1-0 records, DLF and the Throttle Rockets, begin the night on the same track at 5:30.
That bout will feature three jammers who combined for 262 points in their team’s victories. Rookie Beatin’ Bam!!B, the freshly recruited eighteen-year-old jamming for DLF, scored 79 or her team’s points in their 229-193 win over the Grave Danger. Bill F. Murray, another unstoppable weapon in the the DLF arsenal, had 83. Next to both of them in early jams come Saturday will be the wily veteran Luna Negra. She scored the most points of anyone, adding 100 to the Throttle Rockets 219 as they crushed the Socket Wenches, 219-128.
Look for the best lineups to be on defensive blocking for both teams.
“The Throttle Rockets are really starting to gel,” said DLF Coach Dan Barnett. “We expect a tough match.”
Tough, as in trying to score around tough hitting Rockets blockers like Deva StateHer, Parker Eyeout and RattleSkate.
DLF puts up a pretty good defensive line of their own and the Rockets jamming quartet of Negra, Enurgizer Bunny, Sintripetal Force and Shock Therapy face a tough task in trying to score past the wall that Full Nelson, Lucinda Pack, Ophelia Melons and Rumble Fist will build in front of them.
The difference between the 219 points the Rockets tallied and the 229 put up by DLF is only ten. Coaches for both teams think their groups are better than the ones taking the track last month. This match has all the ingredients of a high scoring, close contest.
“Our strategy and style is continually evolving as we develop new players and fortify our veterans,” said Rockets Coach Slutnik. “This is not the same team from last month and will surely only get better throughout the season.”
Barnett said, and this is critical considering the scoring power the Rockets bring, that, “I expect our defense to be our bread and butter.”
Missing from the DLF lineup will be Kamikaze Kim, sitting out as the result of a concussion she sustained in practice. Barnett said that that is important to his team as he views Kim as a floor leader amongst the blockers and a real student of the game. “When she’s on the bench she keeps an eye on the game and knows what’s working and what’s not,” he said.
Other than Kim both teams are at full strength.
Coach Slutnik pointed out two Rockets players to watch this Saturday, Missile America and RattleSkate. “They both have a fire within them that cannot be contained. Missile America has mainly jammed through her derby career. We have been pushing her heavily toward blocking this season and she has dominated the track. RattleSkate was our first junior derby transfer last year. Her hits are so hard they can be felt from the nosebleeds…she is very strong and very smart, a deadly combination.”
Get your tickets to Saturday’s bout TODAY at the KeyArena box office or at ticketmaster.com!
Do you love to coach? Do you love roller derby? Do you love the Rat City Rollergirls? The Rat City Rollergirls are looking for a dedicated coach for our All-Star Program! We are looking for someone who can lead the team to another successful season and push each athlete to the next level.
To apply, submit a resume and cover letter detailing your interest, skills, and experience by February 17, 2014. Please submit to firstname.lastname@example.org
|The All-Star Program Head Coach is responsible for coaching roller derby athletes in game strategies and techniques to prepare them for athletic competition in compliance with the rules and regulations of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) and Rat City Rollergirls (RCRG).|
|The All-Star Program Head Coach is responsible for providing adequate coaching staff for the Rat City Rollergirls Rain of Terror team and ensuring compliance with Program training methods and strategies.|
By Jim Almy
It was a battle between the upstart team that believed it could win and the old guard who has a hold on three straight league championships when the Rat City Rollergirls Roller Derby opened its 10th season at KeyArena last Saturday night.
While maybe not an upset (coaches in the league will tell you that the four teams are not all that different in talent) the win by the Derby Liberation Front, 223-190, over Grave Danger served notice that no bout will be a gimmie this season.
DLF made their statement in the opening jam, jumping out to a quick 28-0 lead. Jammer Bam!!B, newly recruited this season after turning 18 and becoming eligible for the women’s league, followed solid blocking and crushing line play and scoring big in this game.
DLF didn’t show weaknesses over the next few jams either, building their lead to 72-28 with 11 minutes remaining in the first half.
Rumble Fist was a wrecking ball against the best efforts of Danger’s best jammers, a crew known for their scoring efficiency. Fist made sure they were inefficient, constantly throwing her body in DLF of the Danger jamming machine, plugging the holes and preventing jammers from passing.
But Danger didn’t win three straight championships without a bit of inner steel and slowly blockers began to establish themselves, jammers began to fight through for scores.
Picking up points a few per jam Danger pulled ahead at jam 20 with 1:33 left in the first half and led 96-93.
Turns out that DLF had some steel of their own, this time in the form of jammer Muscle Sprouts, who rammed through a quick 10 points to give the lead back to the DLF, 103-96.
The return of Bam!!B to jam the last round, which started with three seconds left in the half, could have led to a quick call off for two very tired teams. Instead Bam!!B added nine more points and her team left the track ahead 112-96, 48 of those DLF points belonging to Bam!!B, another 28 to Bill F. Murray.
Murray was picked by her opponents as the Most Valuable Player for the bout for the Derby Liberation DLF. She returns this year after being out the entire last season following a hip injury.
K. Breezy had 41 points as lead scoring jammer to lead Danger.
The final 30 minutes of rough stuff between the Danger and DLF began as a game of strategy.
Quick points were accumulated by DLF in lieu of scoring onslaughts.
Danger played catch up.
Leads changed regularly and nobody was leaving the arena.
At 20 minutes left to play Danger was on top 137-126.
Bam!!B helped DLF close the lead they had relinquished, and, by the three minute mark, Danger’s margin was a nail biting two,184-182.
Then The KZA, another bullet in DLF’s arsenal of jammers, muscled her way around frantic Danger blockers to put the DLF back ahead in jam 22. At 1:40 the score was 192-184.
K. Beezy broke through DLF’s blockers on the next jam but was stopped by Full Nelson before she could pick up any points. Danger Coach Vito Ramon called a time out.
Fifty three seconds remained in the bout and 8 points separated the two exhausted teams.
Carmen Getsome, another of Danger’s efficient jammer crew, set out to reverse that lead when the whistle blew starting the final jam of the night. She came up on the DLFs blocking line with a fake to the right outside shoulder of the outside blocker. When that blocker moved to stop her Getsome crashed through to the left, breaking free and racing around to begin scoring points.
Those points never came.
In the confusion of blockers and movement of the pack Getsome was bounced off the track. Coming back in too soon she was penalized for an illegal track cut setting up a power jam for DLF. Her trip to the penalty box assured that the DLF, who said they entered the bout fully believing they could win, did exactly that.
DLF Coach Ho Chi Dahn praised his team for overcoming a heavy penalty burden in the first half. “I challenged them at halftime to clean it up. I’m really proud of this team.”
Dahn said that he believes, when he has the full complement of four blockers on the track, nobody can touch his team.
“Our jammers were a little more patient the second half, though against this team we knew it would be very much back and forth.”
Grave Danger Coach Ramon said that penalties hurt his team in the second half. “We played a relatively penalty free first half,” he said, “but penalties cost us in the second.”
“We have a lot of respect for the Derby Liberation Front,” he added.
The first bout of opening night was a night for Missile America, Luna Negra and Enurgizer Bunny to shine.
After Miss Washington, Allyson Rowe, sang the national anthem and last season’s champions, Grave Danger, boasted their trophy, the Throttle Rockets set about dismantling the Sockit Wenches in the opening bout.
America and Negra, experienced pros, and Bunny, a new junior recruit to the Rockets, blew the doors open early in their bout against the Wenches.
The 18-year-old Bunny’s recent birthday made her eligible to play in the league and she established herself immediately, breaking out of the first jam half way around the first lap. She blew by Wenches blockers to begin scoring, picking up the fifth point when Sun Shiner hipped her to the outside, squeezing her along the track edge in a battle of wills over who passes and who gets dumped. Bunny held the edge, passed and soon had the Rockets ahead 18-0.
Negra and America epitomized the Rockets game for the night early in the second half when America was the only blocker between the Wrenches’ jammer Penny Racer and an open lap to points. Racer went outside with a burst of speed. America went outside with a piston slam of her right hip and Racer met the track with a profound thud. Without missing a second, America grabbed Negra’s hands and flung her ahead of the pack on her way to picking up 5 more of the 97 points she scored for the bout.
The final score of 219 to 128 may be the most accurate reflection of the sort of night each team had.
Rockets Coach Slutnik and assistant Lexi Luther both were effusive in explaining that their team just played much better than either coach had anticipated.
“Everyone worked hard. They all brought something,” said Slutnik.
They brought too much for the Sockit Wenches.
Wenches Coach X-Khan was succinct when she explained that her team,”…didn’t play up to our abilities.”
“We have to put in some more work,” she said.
All four teams in the Rat City Roller Girls Derby League may be undefeated today, but that will change when they open their 10th season this Saturday, Jan 18 at Key Arena. The opening bout guarantees the first loss of the year, and the first win, as the Sockit Wenches skate off against the Throttle Rockets after opening ceremonies at 5:30 PM.
Following that 60-minute bout the reigning champions for the past three years, Grave Danger, will be challenged by the Derby Liberation Front. The skate to the lead in the four-team league is not a gimme this year for the Danger. Sockit Wenches coach Rani Khan pointed out that last year’s determining points came in the last four minutes of their bout against Grave Danger.
“I’m excited for our prospects in winning the championship this year,” said Khan. “If we can clean it up and play smart I’m happy for our chances this year.”
But first for the Wenches come the Throttle Rockets, a team that has reloaded heavily entering the season. The team lost eight players over the break and has taken on seven new skaters with different skating backgrounds said Rockets Coach Slutnik.
“Enurgizer Bunny graduated from the Seattle Derby Brats All Star Team last year when she turned 18 and became eligible to compete in the adult league,” said Slutnik. The Throttle Rockets drafted her immediately. They also added a banked track veteran from the LA Derby Dolls, Raven Seaward. Roller derby is skated on a flat track, a change that Seaward is learning to master. Slutnik says that both of these ladies bear watching. Two other players who joined the team late last year are Khaos Theory and Ethel Vermin. Slutnik explained that Theory had no prior roller derby experience, but that both players have made huge leaps in their skills and abilities since joining the Rockets.
Annyong, a new member of the Sockit Wenches, brings another set of skills to derby skating. Her background is as a figure skating. Wenches coach Rani Khan pointed out that it gives her a certain agility around the track. “She’s going to do some cool stuff this year,” said Khan. The Wenches will feature another exciting skater that opposing teams are going to have to account for this season in Megan Havok, a taller player described as a great blocker.
Blocking is a critical part of roller derby as both teams are playing offense and defense at the same time. Blockers want to get their scorer, the jammer, past the other team’s blockers while preventing the other team’s jammer from getting past them. Points are scored once a jammer has passed everyone on the other team, made a complete lap, and begins to pass opposing team skaters a second time. Each player from the other team that is passed after the first lap scores a point for the jammer’s team.
Khan said that the Wenches rely on great jammers and outstanding blocking in their game plan. One of those blockers is Short Fuse, small by blockers standards, but, said Khan, “A hard hitter for her size.” Also new to the Wenches is Izzie Does It, described by her coach as a fire cracker who really knows the game. ”We have a deep bench,” said Khan.
A deep bench is necessary in roller derby. Each scoring jam lasts two minutes, usually less as the lead jammer can call a stop at any point in that 120 seconds. New skaters for both teams are on and off the track in seconds so stamina and endurance count as much as skill and athleticism.
Khan said that every team in the Rat City league comes loaded with skilled, highly competitive skaters. Teams carry a roster of about twenty, though only fourteen can be on the official team list at game time.
The Rat City Roller Girls Derby League has grown tremendously in popularity since its inception nine years ago in Seattle. When the league graduated to playing their bouts in Key Arena they also graduated to a larger and more devoted fan base, usually putting four to six thousand fans in the lower bowl at the arena for every bout.
This year, in celebration of their 10th year of play, all kids age 10 can attend bouts for free! Tickets otherwise are $15 for adults, $8 for those fifteen and younger. Tickets & Info: http://ratcityrollergirls.com/get-tickets/
Season 10 Preview: Rat City Rollergirls leave it on the track
by Jim Almy
They like each other during practice bouts and off the rink. But when the whistle blows and skaters start the new season next Saturday for the teams in the Rat City Rollergirls, well, “It’s not very friendly out there for the sixty minutes of the bout,” Coach Dan Barnett explained.
In fact, the competition gets strongly physical as players push to open and close scoring lanes, all on skates and all at full speed on a narrow, flat track. The Socket Wenches and Throttle Rockets will kick off the league’s tenth season in the opening bout.
Last year’s league leader, Grave Danger, and Barnett’s Derby Liberation Front will square off in the second bout of the night. Grave Danger is defending a three year run but the Front’s coach says his team is ready and able to take them on.
“I’m looking for a really good game,” Barnett said. “Last week’s scrimmage between these two teams was like a heavy weight bout, two really good teams throwing their all at each other.”
Grave Danger coach Vito Ramon’s view of his defending champions is that they’ve just gotten better over the season break. “I always think positive of my team,” he said. “We won’t go undefeated this year, but I think we can take the championship.”
The addition of some new and exciting players reinforces Ramon’s view. Cat-a-Ma-Ram is a transfer to Danger from the Rodeo City League in Wenatchee and Aalto Ego was drafted after showing great promise in tryouts the coach said.
Both show the athleticism so critical to the game. Roller derby is one of those sports where each team is playing offense and defense at the same time. The four blockers strive to help their scorer, the jammer, get past the four blockers from the other team. Simultaneously those same four blockers are trying to keep the other teams jammer behind them. Blocking and defending involves liberal use of hip checks and shoulder blocks. When you’re doing it all on skates the law of gravity usually prevails.
Strategy plays a big part in each two minute jam. What looks like a pack of skaters treating each other rudely on the oval track is really a multi-layered game plan being carried out to end the jam with more points than the other team.
For the Derby Liberation Front that strategy is action over inaction, Barnett said. “We’d rather have people attacking, being really aggressive,” he added. Barnett has been coaching with the Front for eight years, joining the team as a strategy coach.
Grave Danger’s success comes from a game approach that begins with not underestimating any opponent. “We try not to focus on the target that’s on our backs,” Ramon said. “We don’t underestimate anyone and play every team with the same consistency.”
Ramon explained that Grave Danger will enter play trying to force other teams to play their game. If that doesn’t work the Danger can adopt quickly to the moment, he added. This year’s team features a strong defensive core and the coach said that they have also strengthened their offensive play.
Returning veterans feature last years Defensive Player of the Year, Shorty Ounce and three other stalwarts of the championship run, Carmen Getsome, who has been selected to be a member of the USA Roller Derby Team and will compete in the Roller Derby World Series, Jerica Kallio, and Tempura Tantrum.
Beatin’ Bam!!b may be the part of Derby Liberation Front’s team that helps turn the tide this year on the Danger. Bam!!B was picked up by the Front after she turned eighteen this year, making her eligible to join the adult league. As a jammer she has shown throughout training practices the quickness and agility so much a part of that position. Barnett said he also welcomes the return of two veterans, Ophelia Melons and Bill F. Murray, who are coming back after injuries that required surgery and lengthy rehabs. “They are both doing great,” he said.
Other veteran anchors for the Front include Kamikaze Kim (one of the smartest players I’ve coached is Barnett’s observation), Rumble Fist and Full Nelson.
Doors open at 4:30 at Key Arena with opening ceremonies beginning at 5:30. The Throttle Rockets and Socket Wenches will then tussle mightily to see who scores the first points of the new season and who plant the first bouncing body.
As part of the tenth year celebration girls ten years old this year won’t have to pay for a ticket. Otherwise adults are $15, those 15 and under are $8. Chief Marketing Officer Scarlet Leather said to expect over 4,000 in attendance for the opening day bout. “We always expect an additional large walk-up crowd,” she said. Tickets are available at the KeyArena box office or online at Ticketmaster.com
The Seattle league set three national attendance records in 2010, drawing 4,800 fans, then 5,900, then 6,800 in order.
Calling all 10 year olds! We’re going double digits, and we know what a big deal that is, so if you are 10 or turning 10 this year, we want to give you a FREE ticket to come out to one of our bouts this season. Roller Derby is the fastest growing sport among girls and women, and it’s a fun night out for the whole family!
Here’s what Bad Juju (age 10) has to say about playing roller derby with the Seattle Derby Brats Tootsie Rollers, “The best thing I learned in derby is that you can do ANYTHING! Roller Derby makes me feel healthy and strong.”
Did you know that Seattle has some of the most competitive skater athletes in the world? In addition, we have drafted 3 skaters from the Seattle Derby Brats who have been skating and learning roller derby skills for years!
Our roller derby skater-athletes span all walks of life, professions, and are active in the communities where they live around the Seattle Area. We are committed to being role models for young women, and support many community organizations like Girl Scouts and YMCA to spread the message of Title IX empowerment through sport. Our members are exceptional women who operate the organization in addition to hours of practice training and community outreach.
If you have a special birthday party or youth group and want to make special arrangements, email email@example.com.
Vouchers are redeemed at the KeyArena box office, and children must be present when redeemed for tickets. Through our valued partnership with YMCA, vouchers are available at the following locations:Dale Turner Family YMCA 19290 Aurora Avenue North Shoreline, WA 98133
The Rat City Roller Girls Season 10 Opener is coming up fast on January 18th at KeyArena! We’re lacing up our skates for a season of fast paced roller derby action and the season opener levels the playing field for each of the four home teams. We have drafted many talented skaters onto the league since last May, and they have all been training hard at our new practice facility in Shoreline for this moment to compete with the some of the best skaters in the nation!
First bout of the night will be hard hit and fast paced, as the blue bruisers of the Sockit Wenches are taking on the jet fueled speed of the Throttle Rockets. The second bout of the night will leave you on the edge of your seat as the devastating explosiveness of the Derby Liberation Front battles their worst nightmare; the 3 year undefeated League Champions, Grave Danger. Bring your posters and scream your head off for your favorite skaters and teams, as each team is known to visit their own fan sections in the corners of the arena.
Our fan favorite halftime show featuring Waxie Moon and Dance Belt USA is sure to dazzle you, and fans can get their blood pumping during intermission with our YMCA Fitness Challenge.
Don’t forget your non-perishable food items for Ballard Food Bank for limited edition Rat City Swag. You can find donation bins at each entrance at KeyArena.
Doors open at 4:30, First whistle at 6pm. Miss Washington 2013, Allyson Rowe will stop by to sing the National Anthem after the opening ceremonies at 5:30, so come early to get your seats close to the action!
Season Tickets and Flexible 4-packs are still on sale & get you 10% off, early entrance to the arena, and access to the VIP bar behind Section 128! Reserve your seat closest to the track by upgrading to the VIP option. Get your tickets online at Ticketmaster or in person at Fast Girl Skates & any of the 8 Rudy’s Barbershops around the city.
For more information on schedule, & tickets prices visit to our ticket page! See you on the 18th!
In honor of our 10th Anniversary Season Opener Jan 18th, the Seattle City Council is going to proclaim “Rat City Rollergirls Day January 18th” at their meeting 1/13 Monday at 2pm, Seattle City Hall. Rat City skaters and fans are planning on packing the house, so we’ll see you there!