28 July 2011

Bout Recap: Riot vs. Lumber Jills

We love seeing new teams, whether new to us or new to roller derby. We especially love seeing new teams that kick butt. When Central Vermont's Twin City Riot hosted Plattsburgh's North Country Lumber Jills last weekend, that's exactly what we got. It was the Riot's first home bout, and the first time we'd seen the Jills, so we were doubly happy.

We don't know exactly what sort of magic the Riot worked while promoting this bout, but whatever it was, it was successful. The venue was sold out, there was a long line waiting for the doors to open an hour before the whistle, and the crowd was bursting with hometown pride, as well as a love for the game (which, from what we overheard, was brand spankin' new to a lot of the folks who came to cheer on their sisters, mothers, coworkers, and friends) that had it cheering for the visiting Jills, too.

In other words, it was fun!

Let's get the two drawbacks out of the way before the gushing continues. The sound system left a lot to be desired (like power and balance -- we couldn't hear the announcers at all), and the reffing crew included a couple of lazybones who forced others to pick up the slack, meaning some zebras were distracted and calls weren't made they way they should have been. Even first-timers in the audience were seeing calls the refs missed, so it was pretty bad.

Okay, back to the gushing.

One of our favorite things about the Jills became apparent during the demo jam, and made one of us gleefully exclaim, "they've gone to plaid!" That's right, the Jills have plaid panties. Which match their plaid skirts. It's amazing. The Jills also had our unanimous favorite derby name of the bout: Salvadora Brawli.

This bout was a nail-biter from start to finish. The scores were rarely more than 15 points apart, and the half saw the Jills leading by a mere two points. Blocking, which is usually one of the things we complain about being sub-par, was excellent on both sides. The Jills even managed to keep a full-length Riot powerjam to just two points! Lead changes were pretty frequent, and while there were a lot of 0-point jams due to well-matched teams, there was also a spectacular 29-point jam (jammer: Khaos) in the second half that gave the Jills a lead the Riot couldn't quite make up in time. The final score was 125 Riot, 140 Jills.

The one chronic issue we noticed was jammer awareness, both of the other jammer, and of the coaches. A lot of jams dragged on for a lap or two longer than they should have, with one jammer hot on the other's tail, because the lead jammer wasn't thinking strategically or wasn't paying attention to the shouts and mimes from the bench. At one point, every skater on the Jills bench was screaming for the jammer to call it, and it took her almost a full lap to notice. It's easy to get tunnel vision when you're jamming, but skaters should be training themselves to conquer it so they can jam more effectively.

We now love both of these teams, and will be going to the next Twin City Riot bout in August. Even with our stretched definition of "local," the Lumber Jills are a bit too far away for us to enjoy their home bouts, but we hope to catch them playing some of our other favorite local teams soon.

Twin City Riot - VeggieMighty
Lumber Jills - Mayday Va J-J