05 November 2012

Bout Recap: GMDD Season Closer Double Header

The Green Mountain Derby Dames had their final home game of the season this past weekend, and the bouts were so amazing that it took us a whole extra day to write up the recaps! (Okay, it really took us a whole extra day to drive home, which delayed everything else. Shush.) Both bouts of this double header were exciting, fast, action-packed, and other nail-biting-type adjectives. We were also stoked to see so many friendly faces, thrilled at Star Slayer's triumphant return to the track post-pregnancy, and thankful that we got to know Miss Dairy Air before her derby retirement. All in all, it was an excellent evening on and off the track.

On with the recaps!

Bout 1: Black Ice Brawlers vs. Twin City Riot

The fact that these two teams practice about an hour away from each other and borrow skaters on a regular basis means that the close score wasn't a surprise, nor the two 4-jam stretches where the score didn't change at all. What was a surprise was that, while the jammers skated fairly cleanly (only a handful of power jams in the bout), not one but two Riot blockers fouled out of the game. Granted, they were two of the toughest blockers on the team (Livid Loquita and Pumpkin CarvHer), but it was still a bit surprising to see the first ejection only halfway through the second period.

When we say the score was close, we mean the spread was less than 40 points, there were two jams that saw tie scores, and four lead changes over the course of the game. Lead jammer status was split pretty evenly between the teams, and there was usually some scoring done by the non-lead jammer. An initial 3-2 jam in favor of the Brawlers (despite the Riot having lead jammer) and then the three subsequent scoreless jams summed up the game as a whole: modest, balanced gains, and a lot of good blockers keeping jammers stuck in the pack.

The first power jam happened with about five minutes left in the first period, and the Riot's Peril Liza immediately called the jam to bring in a slightly less exhausted Bad Betty Bonz to wear the star. After a few scoring passes, though, Bonz caught a major penalty, and the Brawlers' Snow Fury swooped out of the box to recover some of the losses. Two more jams with the Brawlers getting lead jammer, and the halftime whistle blew with the Riot barely leading 67-58.

The halftime pep talk worked magic for the Brawlers, inspiring them to tie the score in jam 3 and take the lead in jam 4. Jam 6 saw the start of another 4-jam scoreless streak, despite a power jam for the Brawlers. Both teams nibbled away at the score for the rest of the period, but the Brawlers maintained their lead and wrapped up the game with a 135-104 win. It was an excellent end to the season.

Special Shout Out: Miss Dairy Air, who skated her final bout with style despite a killer cold. We love you, Dairy!

Bout 2: Rideau Valley Vixens vs. Grade A Fancy

Three years ago, the Vixens were one of the first teams to play the newly-formed Green Mountain Derby Dames, and they won by a scant 5 points. Both teams have been working on their skills in the meantime, and everyone was excited to see what would happen in this rematch.

What happened was that we spent most of the bout wondering when our beloved announcer Rock Thudson was going to get the visitors' name right (Rideau sort of rhymes with Frito), in between watching the very fast jams and trying to figure out what the score was.

There may have been a pair of lead changes late in the first period, but the period started and ended with the Vixens in the lead, and the Fancy only got lead jammer in five jams (four of which belonged to Terminate Her). The Vixens' Soul Rekker was the superstar jammer, picking up more than half of her team's points all by herself. Halftime saw the Vixens up 93-74.

The Fancy seemed to rally in the start of the second period, getting lead jammer in four of the first six jams and taking the lead twice, but it was not to last. The Vixens' blockers held and recycled the Fancy's jammers over and over again while their own jammers powered through walls to get through the pack in short order. By the time it was all over (and the score was re-adjusted to account for some miscommunication), the Vixens had beaten the Fancy 174-129.

Name of the Bout: Drunky Brewster #3 (RVV)

And with that, we end our year as the official bout recappers for the Green Mountain Derby Dames. We'll be covering more bouts in the southern part of New England in the coming year, and would love submissions (recaps, articles, whatever) from areas we're not able to cover. Use the link in the sidebar to get in touch, and have a marvelous off-season!

31 October 2012


In Sandy's wake, we at Pack Is Here would like to send our best wishes to everyone who felt the effects of the storm, and especially to leagues that lost practice/bout spaces and/or equipment in this disaster. Our thanks go out to all of the first responders, emergency workers, linemen, and good neighbors who have been working tirelessly to repair the damage and keep us safe.

We'll be heading up to Vermont for our last bout of the season this weekend, and we'll tell you all about it when we get home.

08 October 2012

Bout Recap: Shoreline Home Team Championship

After a series of logistical issues, Pack Is Here finally kept a promise to Betty Schnockered that we'd make it down to Groton for a Shoreline home bout. It happened just in the nick of time, too, since last night was their last home bout of the season! We're normally not keen on intraleague bouts, but this home team championship between the Steam Queens and the Underskated Knockouts proved to be exciting, entertaining, and seriously good derby.

The Knockouts started things off with a 4-2 jam, but the Queens tied things up in the next jam and then ran away with a power jam after that, taking a comfortable 25-6 lead. The next few power jams went to the Knockouts, who got within two points of the Queens' score, but then the Queens got lead jammer in four consecutive jams and controlled the track. They controlled it so well, in fact, that there was a separate four-jam streak where the score sat at 32-23, even though the Knockouts had lead jammer for one of those jams. Once the score got moving again, the Knockouts nibbled away at the Queens' lead and finally took over with 8 minutes left on the period clock. That seemed to inspire a change of gears for the Queens, who then took back the lead two jams later and held it for the rest of the period. The halftime score was 75-54, Queens over Knockouts.

The Queens came into the second half with determination. They built up their lead little by little, and with about ten minutes to go they were sitting on a pretty comfortable 58-point cushion. If the Knockouts had found a new gear a few jams earlier, the game might've ended differently, but their comeback started a little too late to get them the win. In what was supposed to be the last jam, a ref was fooled by a jammer who wasn't lead jammer trying to call off the jam, so an extra jam was played, allowing the Knockouts to only lose by 31 points instead of 43. Final score was 165-134, with the Steam Queens taking home the trophy.

While we're still a bit skeptical of intraleague bouts in general, this bout showed us that we will always be up for a Shoreline home team bout. These girls skate their hearts out, their fans love them, and the bout was a lot of fun to watch. We'll definitely be back to see them next season!

Name of the Bout: Bitta Pill #500mg (Knockouts)

07 October 2012

Bout Recap: HARD October Double-Header

HARD finished off their 2012 season last night with a high-energy double-header that left our heads spinning. Both of these bouts had some technical issues, most of which were forgivable (and we realize that we've been spoiled by the level of derby excellence at Regionals), but they were also extremely entertaining. Flocci exposed two derby virgins to the game, and both got into the spirit in short order, so we call that a success.

Bout 1: Wailers vs Elm City Derby Damez

Hartford's A team, the Wailers, started things off by taking on Elm City from New Hampshire. Elm City handed Hartford a power jam right off the bat, allowing for a 14-4 first jam. They tried to fix the situation by taking a 29-26 lead two jams later, but were quickly bumped back into second place when the Wailers brought the score to 58-47 in jam 5. It took Hartford a few more jams to really get into the swing of things, but by the time the halftime whistle blew, they were ahead 203-117.

Despite Elm City snagging 5 power jams in the second half and having lead jammer status in 12 of the 18 jams, they still couldn't manage to pull the score close enough to have a fighting chance. The Wailers took the win 314-268. We thought we saw one of Elm City's skaters foul out of the game in the second half, and we weren't surprised.

Name of the Bout: Poison Ivers #9929 (HARD)

Bout 2: Bedrockers vs Upper Valley Vixens

Hartford's B team, the Beat City Bedrockers, rounded out the evening with the Upper Valley Vixens. This bout was a nail-biter from start to finish. The well-matched teams kept the score so close that after the final whistle, the refs had to re-tabulate the numbers to determine who won.

The Vixens took a narrow lead for the first half of the first period while the Bedrockers got into their groove, and then the fun began. Two lead changes and three tie scores peppered the remainder of the first period, and the Vixens wrapped up the half with a tenuous 117-95 lead.

It seemed like the refs and scorekeepers had some trouble with the second half, calling 7 official time outs to sort out various issues. Hartford briefly took the lead, but only held it for a few jams before Upper Valley took it back. When the last jam was over, it looked like the Vixens had won by a point, but after some quick double-checking of the math, it was determined that the Bedrockers had actually eked out a 225-222 win.

Name of the Bout: Felon of Troy #1000 (UVV)

01 October 2012

WFTDA East Region Playoffs

Holy Derby, Batman! Pack Is Here has just returned from a wild and wonderful weekend at WFTDA's East Region Playoffs, and here's Flocci (abandoning her professional detachment and going full-out fangirl) to tell you all about it!

When friends from the Green Mountain Derby Dames (East Region co-hosts with Montréal) started asking if anyone wanted to volunteer for the tournament, my hand was one of the first ones in the air. After all, how often does a superfan have the opportunity to help her home team put on an event of this size and importance? Of course I wanted to be part of it! I figured they'd stick me at the ticket table or the merch booth or something, but it was even better than that.

My assignment: Team Wrangler.

For Philly.


There are no words for how excited I was about all of this. I got in touch with "my" team ("Hi, Liberty Belles, crazy fangirl here..."), answered some questions, helped out as much as I could via email, and got psyched for the tournament.

The drive up on Thursday reminded me how much I miss Vermont, but the excitement of being back kept me in high spirits, so I wasn't a gloomy gus when I arrived at the home of the fabulous Miss Dairy Air (GMDD) who had generously offered me one of her kids' rooms for the weekend. We spent the evening catching up and talking derby, and went to bed early so we could be at the venue for the volunteer briefing at oh-cold-thirty the next morning.

As usually happens the first day of a major event, things were a little discombobulated Friday morning. We volunteers signed in, got our shirts, and helped get everything squared away. Things got smoother by the time the first bout started, and continued to improve over the course of the day. Because Philly wasn't due to bout until later in the day, I got to watch most of the morning lineup and do a lot of knitting.

I think I did a pretty good job of not going into crazy fangirl mode when I met the team. I mean, I didn't drool on Teflon Donna or throw myself at Mo Pain, so I count it as a job well done. It was a little awkward at first, being the random stranger tasked with gluing myself to this pantheon of derby goddesses and making sure that their weekend went smoothly, but everything worked out well, and I found myself dubbed an Honorary Belle by the end of the tournament.

I also found myself wrangling not just the team, but their fans, as well. And boy howdy, are Philly fans devoted. They have cowbells, they have pompoms, they have songs ("Mo Paaaaaain, Mo-o Paaaaaaain, Mo Paaaaaain, Mo Pain, Mo Pain, Mo Paaaaaaaaain..."), they have wrestling unitards (yowza!), and they have Bell Heads.

This is me as a Bell Head. (Pardon the stuck-under-a-hat-all-weekend icky hair.) I wore that thing for most of the first half of the championship (Philly-Gotham) bout on Sunday. Who needs dignity when you're supporting your team?

So yeah, there was a ton of derby. Seventeen games, three days, a couple of slaughters, and some very close scores, too. The biggest win was Gotham over Carolina 437-8 (Remember the World Cup? Yeah, it was like that.), and the closest one was DC over Steel City 239-223. The Gotham-Philly championship bout had the biggest turnout (a claim based solely on how full I thought the bleachers looked from where I was sitting), while most of the other Gotham bouts saw the bleachers mostly empty.

I won't betray the confidence of the team by telling you what went on in the Philly locker room, but I can tell you that the Belles are extremely positive and supportive women, they look out for each other, and they're hilarious. (Especially V. Diva, who is, naturally, Divalicious. To the nipple. *ahem*) They're also adorable, each and every one of them, and I'm trying to figure out how to manage this many derby crushes without going completely bonkers.

Sunday evening found me too exhausted to attend the afterparty, but Miss Dairy Air told me it was a rockin' good time, and I assume everyone enjoyed themselves. I know I had a ton of fun hanging out with Philly every afternoon, playing spot-the-celebrity (not that folks like Quadzilla or Double-H are hard to recognize, especially in a compact venue like the Expo, but their presence was so inexplicably startling that I didn't quite know how to handle it), and working on so much knitting that I had to stop for a while to let a swollen finger heal.

It was great getting to see so many friends and make so many new ones (I think I've doubled my Facebook friends list today). Now it's time to recover, do some laundry, and get ready for the next bouts on the calendar (HARD's final home bout of the season on Saturday, and Shoreline's league championship on Sunday).

Derby on!

18 September 2012

Bout Recap: CTRG vs. Bay State Brawlers

[We have a guest post today, folks! Lana GetDirty of the Bay State Brawlers is here to tell us about the action that went down this past weekend. Thanks, Lana!]

Saturday night, at the Landry Arena in Fitchburg, MA, those of us in attendance saw a hard-fought bout between two teams- one, WFTDA sanctioned, while the other was not. The Bay State Brawlers’ very own A-team, the Petticoat Punishers, got to face off against Connecticut RollerGirls’ B-team, the Yankee Brutals, and in their home rink, no less. It was a hard game to NSO, and definitely a nail-biter the whole way through.

The first half started a bit slow, with the Punishers taking the lead the initial few jams, but when Ashlee Juggz got sent to the box for a track cut, the Brutals’ Kitty Bomb took full advantage and got away with a number of grand slams, giving the Brutals an immediate lead of about 25 points. The first half was something of a mess, much to the crowd’s dismay, when the Punishers’ Ashlee Juggz (something of a star around here) continually got sent to the box on unclear calls, and that by the time the first half ended, Juggz had secured her sixth major- which was a first for the typically very low-penalty jammer. Sandy Ravage of the Punishers brought the girls in purple back to lead a few times, but jammers Revengela and Puke Skywalker did their best to counteract, and the first half ended with 97-88, Brutals in the lead.

At the start of the second half, we saw the Punishers take the game as Sandy Ravage got a solid powerjam and brought the score to 107-97. With Ashlee Juggz possessing a precarious amount of majors at this point, we see a brand new skater, B-Line Blondie, in her skating debut for the Punishers, take lead as star jammer alongside Sandy Ravage.

Not too far into the second half, Puke Skywalker takes advantage of a big hit to the opposing jammer from her teammates, Babe Vigoda and Maura Gregious, scoring enough points to bring them back to lead. The very next jam, all skaters took a knee for Mama Hotep of the Brutals, who was downed for injury, forcing the jam dead.

One of the few times Sandy Ravage was in the box, the Yankee Brutals get another powerjam and reclaim lead, 134-127. Shortly after, B-Line Blondie’s first trip to the box gives yet another powerjam to the Brutals, giving them another shot at lead. Ashlee Juggz, Cali N. Tay, and Sandra Mean, however, proved to be a force to be reckoned with in this powerjam, as all were reluctant to give Puke Skywalker their points. More penalties start rolling in, very much to the displeasure of home team fans, as Sandra Mean gets sent to the box and Ashlee Juggz takes her seventh, and final major of the night for a low block in a final desperate attempt to keep Puke Skywalker from making that grand slam, causing an uproar among fans.

With only 11 minutes and 32 seconds on the clock, the score stood at 149-127, Brutals, and we see Folsom Bruise of the Brutals and Sandy Ravage of the Punishers toe to toe at the jammer line. On a mission to get some of those points back for the Punishers, Ravage makes a brilliant apex jump and weasels her way through the pack.

For the first time this evening, we saw Cali N. Tay, star blocker for the Punishers, put on the star panty, but misses a lead jammer opportunity for a minor track cut. With eight minutes and 13 seconds left, the Punishers have reclaimed the lead 154-135.

The next jam becomes the first jam where Sandy Ravage came out of the pack first but did not gain lead jammer status due to a minor forearm, and the Brutals deny Ravage her scoring pass. New star jammer, B-Line Blondie, takes the game away with another grand slam, putting the Punishers in the lead at 4 minutes on the clock, 160-154.

Blondie takes a trip to the box at the end of a points-heavy jam, leaving the Punishers jammer-less for the next jam, but Brutals’ Kitty Bomb takes her place almost immediately at the start, switching the powerjam in the Punishers’ favor. We are in the last precious moments of the bout, and it is anyone’s win at this point. Punishers’ jammer Crushstacean, proving herself to be a skilled jammer early on in the game and in games previous, takes a major penalty in the start of the next jam sending Punishers’ fans to squirm in anguish as Puke Skywalker gets yet another powerjam as we see Punishers blockers getting sent to the box left and right, leaving only Translucid and Mercedes Bunz to take on Puke Skywalker.

In the last jam of the night, Sandy Ravage takes on Folsom Bruise at the jammer line and breaks through the pack first but a minor penalty keeps her from taking lead and Folsom calls it before she can reach the pack again, denying her of the winning point of the night, sending the game to Connecticut, with 169-168, Brutals.

Sandy Ravage takes a well-earned MVP for the Punishers, and Kitty Bomb is granted MVP for her team, the Yankee Brutals. It was a well-fought game all around, and all of the rollergirls involved should be proud.

For the Punishers, Sandy Ravage was the highest scoring jammer, with 60 points overall, and B-Line Blondie not far behind, having scored 58! Puke Skywalker of the Yankee Brutals raked in the most points for her team, bringing home 49 in total for the whole bout!

B-Line Blondie takes a hard hit from Brutals' Babe Vigoda.

B-Line Blondie encountering some heavy blocking by JK LMNOP.

Punishers' Cali N. Tay takes on Folsom Bruise, jamming for the Brutals.

Punishers' Habeas Corpsemaker and Shar'n Da'Hurt keep Puke Skywalker back.

MVP Jammer for Petticoat Punishers, Sandy Ravage

The girls (and guys! Can't forget coaches and bench managers!) of the Petticoat Punishers and the Yankee Brutals posing with announcers, Banshee and Capt. Skidd

MVPs Kitty Bomb of the Yankee Brutals and Sandy Ravage of the Petticoat Punishers posing with Bootiful Banshee and Capt. Skidd!

11 September 2012

Bout Recap: HARD vs. WoRD

When last we saw Worcester Roller Derby, they were recovering from a hard-fought loss to Rock Coast at the All 8 on the Floor Tournament in August. This past weekend, they came down to Connecticut to see how both their A and B teams would do against HARD. We were only able to catch the A teams (Wailers vs. Warriors), but we understand the B teams (Bedrockers vs. Warheads) played a very similar game.

For the first 15 minutes or so, it was a close game. Hartford drew first blood, but only just, in a 10-9 jam. Worcester took the lead and held it for a few jams, keeping a two-point buffer while scoring in every jam. Hartford snatched the lead back momentarily, but then gave Worcester a power jam, which put the score at 38-51 about ten minutes in. That was when Hartford found the right gear. They used an 18-1 power jam to put themselves back in the lead, and spent the rest of the game turning a 4-point lead into a 152-point win.

Worcester got lead jammer in only 7 of the 40 jams (39 if you don't count a double false start that sent both jammers to the box), and gave up eight power jams to Hartford's three. Hartford excelled at keeping Worcester's jammers stuck in the pack, and at finding holes for their own jammers to fly though. In the end the Wailers walked away with a 277-125 win over the Warriors.

There were a couple of technical issues with this game (resulting in 6 official time outs in the second half), but we're happy to report that HARD is growing into an impressive and competent league very quickly. There's marked improvement over where they were two months ago, and we hope to see even more from them as they finish up their first official bouting season next month.

Name of the Bout: Bench Coach Bloodbath And Beyond (HARD)

26 August 2012

Bout Recap: HARD vs Strong Island

It's such a thrill bringing newcomers to their very first roller derby bouts and seeing what happens. After a few months of persistence, Flocci finally managed to get four of her friends to come to HARD's game last night, and the results were exciting: two with mild interest, one with moderate interest, and one superfan. Watching the superfan's transition over the course of the game was a trip -- he wasn't quite sure what was going on for the first few jams, but with some explanations and a few more jams worth of viewing experience, he got the hang of it in no time, and was cheering himself hoarse in every single jam. It was beautiful.

It helped, of course, that the bout was a good one. And not just average good, really good. We've said it before, but HARD really has their act together, so the logistics were smooth, and they invited a team that's very similar in skill level, so the bout was a nail-biter (which was super-exciting for the fresh meat fans). HARD and Strong Island first met two months ago, and HARD walked away from that bout with a very close win, so Strong Island probably had visions of getting their own win this time around. HARD, of course, had other ideas.

The first half was close, and a lot of fun to watch. Both teams use power jams extremely well, there were no slow-start jams, and both teams skate fairly clean, so there weren't a ton of penalties. Hartford's Wailers started things off with 20 points in the first two jams, and then Strong Island started nibbling away at that lead and took it for their own in jam 9. The Wailers snatched it back in the next jam, and it bounced back and forth every other jam for a little while. The next-to-last jam, which ended with about a minute left on the clock, saw the score tied at 64, and despite Strong Island getting lead jammer in the final jam, the Wailers took a tenuous 67-66 lead to wrap up the half.

The halftime pep talk clearly energized HARD, and they came screaming into the second half with a 28-point power jam. At one point during that power jam, there was only one Strong Island blocker left in the pack, and there wasn't much she could do but watch Hartford's jammer sail past again and again. By jam 2, the Wailers had hit the century mark and established a comfortable 32-point lead that only got bigger as the period progressed. Strong Island was relying on one or two jammers, who, by this point in the game, were exhausted, while the Wailers had three or four to choose from, and it really made a difference in who got lead jammer and how well power jams were used. The Wailers ended up with a decisive 203-118 win over Strong Island, giving the girls from New York one more reason to train hard and come back with some new moves next time.

We'd like to give a huge shout-out to the reffing crew for this bout, all of whom were very clear with their calls, making it easier for both seasoned veterans and derby virgins to follow along. There were fewer disputed calls, fewer and shorter official time outs, and it was a more enjoyable game as a whole. Thank you, zebras!

Name of the Bout: Ann T. Virus #24pt (SIDR)

19 August 2012

A8otF Games 10-11 (3rd place and Championship bouts)

Game 10: Maine vs. Shoreline [photos from this bout]

The battle for third place was the fourth bout in two days for both teams (holy numbers, Batman!), so fatigue was irrelevant and everything came down to skill and experience. Things looked pretty well-matched for the first few jams -- Shoreline scored first, Maine answered with more points, Shoreline took back the lead, Maine took a few jams to get it again. By halfway through the first period, though, Maine's extra years of bouting gave them the edge, and they took off. By the end of the first half, they led 56-11.

Maine only allowed Shoreline to get lead jammer in four jams in the second half, which rather limited Shorelines' ability to score and let Maine walk away with an easy 105-30 win. In a display of derby sisterhood, the final jam saw Maine's jammer slow up, take Shoreline's jammer's hand, and do a sort of joint victory lap before calling off the jam. It was beautiful, and I wish we'd been able to get a picture of it.

With that, Shoreline finished fourth overall, and Maine claimed bronze. Next up: the championship bout!

Game 11: Rock Coast vs. Pioneer Valley [photos from this bout]

The buzz in the arena before this bout seemed to be one of surprise that Rock Coast had advanced as far as they had, and the conviction that Pioneer Valley, a more experienced league, would probably win.

Rock Coast ignored all of that, and just did what they do best... which is, apparently, leaving other teams in their dust. The scores were never so far apart that a solid, well-utilized power jam couldn't have caused a lead change, but Rock Coast never gave Pioneer Valley the chance. Between teamwork, backwards blocking, and pack control, Rock Coast held the lead for the entire bout.

After the 4-0 first jam, Rock Coast never let Pioneer Valley get fewer than ten points behind, and by halftime their lead was a stable 61-33. Pioneer Valley had a brief rally in the middle of the second half, advancing their score by 29 points over several jams while holding Rock Coast steady, but they were still 22 points short of a tie game by the time Rock Coast scored again, and by then it was too late. The best Pioneer Valley could do was keep Rock Coast from scoring in the last two jams, but the price was not being able to score any points for themselves, either. At the final whistle, the score was 94-71, and Rock Coast skated their victory lap as the first Champions of the All 8 On The Floor Tournament, with Pioneer Valley taking silver.

Congratulations to all of the teams who participated, another huge thank you to Worcester Roller Derby for hosting the tournament, and we hope to see everyone again next year!

18 August 2012

A8otF Games 7-9

Game 7: Granite State vs. Shoreline [photos from this bout]

Sunday started off with a bout that Flocci was excited about. Shoreline and Granite State had never met before, and Granite State hadn't been around for the previous day's bouts, so nobody knew what to expect. Shoreline got things started with a 5-0 first jam and held the lead for a few minutes, and then Granite State tied the score in jam 5. Shoreline wasn't having it, though, and they took the lead back a few jams later and held on tight. As the first half wrapped up, it looked like anybody's game, with Shoreline leading 37-25.

Shoreline spent the second half poking holes in Granite State's armor. The girls from New Hampshire have a lot of speed and good jammers, but their defense just couldn't stand up to Shoreline's strategic blocking. A 12-point lead turned into about 40 points by the middle of the half, and despite a power jam, Granite State couldn't close that gap enough to turn the tables. Shoreline took the win 86-56 and advanced to the semi-finals.

Game 8: Rock Coast vs. Maine [photos from this bout]

This semi-final was one of the best bouts we've seen in a while. These two leagues from Maine are familiar friends, and they're at similar skill levels, but instead of either getting nasty or going easy on each other, they stay classy and still fight for each and every point. Watching this bout reminded us why we love WFTDA-style roller derby -- heart, skill, and respect were consistent and obvious from the first whistle to the last.

Maine Roller Derby's Calamity Janes took first blood with four points in jam 2, Rock Coast outdid them by a point in the following jam, annd it took the Janes another few jams to tie things up at 10-10. Rock Coast shifted into a new gear at that point, and that was the last time the Janes saw the lead in the first half. They were poised for a strike by the halftime whistle, though, only trailing Rock Coast 35-36.

The Janes followed through on that strike in the first jam of the second half, but Rock Coast shot them down in the next jam and held the lead for the remainder of the game. Maine got lead jammer in more than half of the jams in the second half, but Rock Coast's blockers used superior strategy to keep the Janes from improving their score by more than a few points here and there. Rock Coast likes backwards blocking, and they use it extremely well to intimidate opposing jammers. Coming up on a blocker's booty is one thing, but having her staring you in the face while she slams into you is something else. Between that and two solid power jams in the second half, Rock Coast took the 84-58 win and moved on to the finals.

Game 9: Pioneer Valley vs Shoreline [photos from this bout]

Pioneer Valley had been hanging around the arena since their scrubbed bout with Upper Valley the previous morning, so they'd been watching Shoreline move up the brackets and knew what to expect. Shoreline, on the other hand, came in blind, and ended up blindsided.

[EDIT: We got it wrong! Pioneer Valley actually went home to play a bout Saturday night, so not only were they not around to watch the tournament action, they were also not as well-rested as we'd thought. Our apologies, and a big thank you to PVRD's Chewbecca for setting us straight!]

This was Shoreline's third bout in two days, while Pioneer Valley got to come in fresh and well-rested, so that probably influenced the score considerably. It took Shoreline six jams just to get points on the board, and once they did, they took a tiny lead and struggled to hold it. A few jams later, though, it was back in the hands of Pioneer Valley, who not only refused to relinquish it, they also didn't let Shoreline score again for the rest of the half. They held a solid 54-13 lead at the halftime whistle.

Shoreline managed to score in about half of the jams in the second half, but those points weren't enough to make up for Pioneer Valley's lead coming in, never mind all the points they scored in the second half. This bout came with an extra break in the middle of the second half while an ambulance was summoned to take ref Saturday Night Beaver to the hospital for a dislocated shoulder (ouch!), and Shoreline scored more points after that break than they did in the rest of the bout, so with some R&R they could probably have a well-matched game against Pioneer Valley. But that's the chance you take with tournaments, and Pioneer Valley took advantage of Shoreline's fatigue to sweep a 116-43 win, moving up to the finals against Rock Coast.

15 August 2012

A8otF Games 4-6

Game 4: Hartford vs. Shoreline [photos from this bout]

These two teams have a friendly rivalry going -- they trade wins back and forth and are very well-matched. Hartford has more cohesion and strategy while Shoreline has more strength and defense, so the outcome of a bout comes down to who's on the roster and what sort of day they're having.

For this bout, Shoreline was having a good day. They took a decisive lead with a 15-0 first jam and never let go. Hartford did their best to keep up, and proved to be excellent at getting a jammer though the initial pass in no time flat, but Shoreline made better use of power jams and held onto Hartford's jammers through scoring passes. The halftime whistle blew with Shoreline leading 50-24.

Shoreline kept up the strong defense thorough the second half, holding Hartford's score steady for six consecutive jams despite Hartford having lead jammer for two of them. The final two-minute jam sums up the game as a whole: even with a star pass, Hartford only picked up 3 points while Shoreline scored 14. On another day, Hartford might've turned the tables, but on this day, at this tournament, Shoreline took the win 97-53 and advanced to the next round.

Game 5: Worcester vs. Rock Coast [photos from this bout]

The hometown crowd was, naturally, excited about this bout. Worcester used their home track advantage to full effect for most of the first half, taking the lead in jam 2 and holding it until the last jam. Somewhere in the middle of the half, though, Rock Coast figured out Worcester's game and started chipping away at their lead, finally taking over in the last jam to end the half at 46-39.

Once they were in Worcester's heads, Rock Coast took control of the second half. With more lead jammers and more power jams, they turned a modest lead into a solid one, finishing up the game with a 100-55 win. At this point, it was clear that Rock Coast was the team to beat in this tournament, and we eagerly awaited their next bout.

Game 6: Maine vs. New Hampshire [photos from this bout]

There were two lead changes early in this bout, but once Maine got their groove on, there was no stopping them. They used lead jammer status and power jams more effectively and restricted New Hampshire's scoring to a mere three jams in the first half, holding a comfortable 45-18 lead at the whistle.

New Hampshire improved in the second half, nearly matching Maine's number of scoring jams, but falling short on points. With a faster learning curve, New Hampshire might have been able to keep the score closer, but Maine kept the pressure on and won the bout 94-51, wrapping up Day 1 of the tournament.

14 August 2012

A8otF Games 1-3

Game 1: Pioneer Valley vs. Upper Valley

Upper Valley forfeits, Pioneer Valley advances.

Game 2: Bay State vs. Rock Coast  [photos from this bout]

This was the first bout actually played at the tournament, and it was a little bit like watching Team USA play Team Canada at the World Cup. The girls from Maine brought superior speed, agility, and strategy, and just took over the track. They started off with an easy 9 points in the first jam and kept building up that lead. Each team had one power jam in the first half, but Rock Coast racked up points in almost every jam while holding Bay State steady in more than half of them. Rock Coast wrapped up the first half with a 101-20 lead over Bay State.

Despite coming into the second half with new energy, Bay State wasn't able to close the gap. They had a 20-point jam about halfway through, but then couldn't score again until there were less than three minutes on the clock, letting Rock Coast pick up more points along the way. Not even a 19-point jam for Bay State at the very end of the bout could get them within spitting distance, so Rock Coast walked away with a 170-78 win and advanced to the next round.

Game 3: Black Ice Brawlers vs. Maine Calamity Janes  [photos from this bout]

This was another somewhat unbalanced bout. The Brawlers had a few skaters who were bouting for the very first time, while the Janes brought more seasoned players, and that experience showed on the track. The Brawlers got first blood with a single point in the first jam, but Maine answered with 24 in the next jam, and that set the point gap trend for the rest of the bout. Maine only let the Brawlers pick up points in the first, second, third, and final jams of the first half, wrapping it up with an 88-21 lead at halftime.

Second verse, same as the first. Jam 4 was a good power jam for the Brawlers, but they got stuck shortly after that and could only watch as the Janes racked up points in almost every jam. The Brawlers had a last gasp 12-point jam at the very end, but it wasn't nearly enough. Maine finished up the bout with a 139-55 win and moved up to the next bracket.

06 August 2012

All 8 On The Floor Tournament Overview

What a weekend! All 8 On The Floor was a great tournament, both for the fans (so! many! teams!) and for the leagues who aren't WFTDA members or whose B-teams don't get much exposure. Flocci is busy processing pictures and writing recaps, but we'll give you the non-bout rundown in the meantime.

First off, a HUGE thank you to Bronco and Worcester Roller Derby for putting the tournament together. It went very smoothly, and we'd love to see it get even bigger and become an annual event. The venue is great for an event like this, since it's easy to locate and has plenty of parking and seating, and not even the minor issues of climate control and sound system wonkiness could detract from the weekend's fun.

There were supposed to be six games on Saturday, but one of the teams had to withdraw. The Upper Valley Vixens suffered several injuries in the week leading up to the tournament and couldn't field a full roster, so they forfeited their bout with Pioneer Valley, who advanced to the next level. To fill the empty time slot Saturday morning, the zebras had a mini clinic that included an outside pack ref practice session. You wouldn't think such an activity would be fun to watch, but Flocci enjoyed it -- anything that makes reffing better makes her happy.

There was not a boring bout all weekend. Every team played their hearts out, every point was fought for, and there were some impressive displays of skill, agility, and strategy. Even the bouts with big point gaps were fun to watch, because the trailing teams put so much effort into trying to even the scores.

The one scary moment of the tournament happened on Sunday. Ref Saturday Night Beaver took a bad fall and dislocated his shoulder, requiring a pause in the game while the ambulance made its way to the arena. We've seen games stalled for player injuries, but this was the first major ref injury we've seen, and it was a nasty one. Big hugs to Beev and Mo, and speedy recovery!

We'd like to thank all of the organizers, refs, NSOs, announcers, volunteers, and skaters who brought this event together and made it so much fun. If anyone thought that it was "just" a B-team tournament, they weren't paying attention. Congratulations to all the teams for skating so well, and especially to Rock Coast, the triumphant victors!

Stay tuned for bout recaps over the next few days!

01 August 2012

Upcoming Event: All 8 On The Floor Tournament

Pack Is Here will be at New England's "All 8 on The Floor" Roller Derby Tournament this weekend! If you see Flocci in the crowd, come say hi!

16 July 2012

Bout Recap: HARD July Double-Header

Howdy, derby fans! Sorry for the posting hiatus. We've had some changes in both geography and staff, which means we've had to leave our beloved Green Mountain Derby Dames behind. However, we've picked up a new home team, and there was a bout just a few nights ago that we'd love to tell you about.

Connecticut has a couple of roller derby leagues, but none of them served the Greater Hartford area... until recently. This is the first competitive season for Hartford Area Roller Derby (HARD), and they're getting into the game with a tremendous amount of dedication and spirit. For such a young team, they have a lot of skating skills and strategy, and they have the organizational skills to pull a bout together pretty seamlessly.

Saturday night saw HARD's third home game of the season, and it was an action-packed double-header. HARD's bout venue, Nomad's Adventure Quest, is bright and spacious, but the sound system leaves something to be desired -- the announcers, while lovely, were inaudible. But that's okay, because we could see both the action and the scoreboard with no trouble.

Bout 1: Hartford Wailers vs. New Jersey Roller Derby

The local zebras have, shall we say, a unique reffing style. It's subtle. It's understated. It's a little unnerving if you're not used to it. It's also very forgiving. There were several times where we missed our beloved Ref Doomsday and his obsession with the rulebook, but at least these refs were consistent in their laxity.

The Wailers and NJRD are well-matched teams, and they kept the points coming pretty consistently throughout the game, usually staying within 20 points and making up at least some of the difference within a jam or two. There were a few too many jams that started with the pack at the jammer line (doesn't anybody love the pivot line anymore?), but the strategies beyond that were well-used. There were 3- and 4-walls, pack speed control, whips of all sorts, forced no-pack situations to help jammers... all of the stuff that makes derby fun to watch.

There were also, unfortunately, some time- and score-keeping issues that interrupted the flow of the game now and then, but given that this was HARD's third official bout at this venue, and they were plugging into an existing scoreboard system, some snags are understandable.

The first half wrapped up with the score tied at 98 points, and then New Jersey got one heck of a peptalk during halftime. They came screaming into the second half, grabbing the lead in the first jam and never letting go. They used a couple of power jams to good effect and got very good at grabbing lead jammer status, increasing a 4-point lead to a solid 36 points by the final whistle. When all was said and done, New Jersey beat the Wailers 198-162.

Name of the Bout: Jersey Buryher #6 (HARD)

Bout 2: Beat City Bedrockers vs. Red Bank Roller Vixens

With just 30 jams, total, this was one of the easiest games to watch from a scoring perspective. It was also a lot of fun, with tight scores and good strategies. Red Bank got lead jammer more than half the time, and more than half of the power jams, but the Bedrockers did more with what they had. Which is not to say that Red Bank didn't put up one heck of a fight -- there were 7 lead changes in the game, 4 of them consecutive at the start of the second half.

The unique thing about this bout was that, while the first half had a lead jammer declared in every jam, the second half had no lead jammer for about a third of the jams. Normally we watch the refs to see what minor penalty a jammer incurred on her way through the pack, but these refs don't roll that way, so we were left in the dark most of the time.

The Bedrockers won out in that string of lead changes early in the second half, and spent the rest of the game chiseling away at a comfortable lead. In the end, they wrapped up the game with a 160-139 win over Red Bank, and they did it in style.

Name of the Bout: Rinky Tuscadero #7 (RBRV)

27 May 2012

What Ever Happened To Class?

The roller derby revolution was born of what is politely known as "alternative lifestyles." Tattoos and wild hair, loud music and late nights... derby girls are typically not the nine-to-five type, and we love them for that. Breaking from social norms does have its limits, though. No matter how edgy you are, this is still a team sport, and everyone's paying to participate. That means that respect and support are critical to the success of the team.

We've had the misfortune of seeing some teams that clearly put winning above sportsmanship, and aside from being disappointing in an abstract way, those teams aren't much fun to watch, either. Their skating tends to be rough, their tactics limited, and their fans rabid. Skilled opponents will wipe the floor with them and never play them again, while fresher teams will come away limping and disheartened.

The saddest part of this phenomenon is that some people will go to these teams' bouts and think that this is the way derby is played. It discredits the sport and turns off people who could otherwise be devoted fans. It sets a bad example for the next generation of skaters, encouraging them to be more interested in leaving bruises than playing a clean game.

Fortunately, these bad teams tend not to last very long. Their classier neighbors realize they're not worth playing, and eventually the bad teams run out of opponents and fizzle into nothingness. This limits the damage, but it can sometimes take a year or two for word to get around that a particular team isn't worth the liability, and that's a lot of bruises and broken bones.

Still, we're heartened that there are so many classy teams out there. We love seeing fans cheer for both the home team and the visitors, we love clean games, and we love seeing the skaters hugging and happy at the post-bout celebrations. It's like that moment at the World Cup when Scotland got their single point against USA, and the entire building erupted with cheers -- that's the way we like our roller derby. Stay classy, ladies.

16 April 2012

Powerful Prancers

It would be just like me to write a rare post and make a mistake in it.

I had mentioned our regret at not noticing Brokeback Jac's performance in the Dames' February bout. As Jac informed us in person at the recent Lumber Jills vs. Riot match, she didn't skate in the February bout. She did, in fact, skate last November as Jac the Whipper. Consider me corrected. And only slightly intimidated. Ok, a lot intimidated.

We recently encountered our beloved Dames in Plattsburgh and were lucky enough to meet a few new skaters, including Track Infection and Jac herself.

It never surprises me to discover derby skaters are seriously cool cats off the track. It does rattle me now and then when they turn out to be ridiculously nice people. We're so used to seeing them girded for battle and knocking the shit out of women far tougher than I that a double-take is in order when we find out they're not so scary off-track. Except Star Slayer. She scares the shit outta me with or without pads, pregnant or not.

We've seen the Dames work on some risky strategies this year and do quite well implementing them. During this weekend's matches, we saw both the Brawlers and Fancy jammers get very physical right off the line. I've never seen this strategy employed outside a few extraordinary circumstances. The Dames made it work fairly well.

One of my favorite derby memories was seeing Slayer flatten an opposing jammer at the first whistle of the game. It was several years ago and I believe the Dames ultimately lost that match, but that jammer was gun shy for the next hour.

...Johnny Bash

15 April 2012

Bout Recap - GMDD April Double Header

Bout 1: Black Ice Brawlers vs. Granite State Legislashers

These two leagues have something of a rivalry going. After losing catastrophically to the Grade A Fancy last fall, the Legislashers decided to try their luck against the Brawlers. Between the difference in opponents and making progress on their blocking and jamming skills, the Legislashers had a much better time of it last night.

Granite State jammers Tazslamian Devil, Emily Deck'erson, and Quasi Wicked dominated the first half, only allowing Green Mountain to get lead jammer in five jams. Despite that, Green Mountain kept the score tight, bringing a 20-point deficit at 15 minutes down to only 3 points with 7 minutes left in the half. Then, with just 4 minutes to go, Green Mountain's Beethoven's Fist incurred a major penalty, giving Granite State's Emily Deck'erson a power jam, which she used to pick up a solid 22-point lead, and increased that to 24 points in the last jam. Halftime saw the score at 65-41, and the teams hit the locker rooms for a breather and a pep talk.

The pep talk obviously worked for the Brawlers, who grabbed lead jammer status almost twice as much in the second half as they had in the first. They overtook the Legislashers in jam 4 and proceeded to build up a decent lead, but it was not to last. Granite State's Tazslamian Devil used her skillful footwork to shrink Green Mountain's lead to a mere 5 points by jam 14, and then Emily Deck'erson put the Legislashers back in the lead in the next jam. With 5 minutes to go, the Brawlers made a valiant effort, but weren't able to turn the tables, and the game ended with Granite State winning 125-118.

It's a testament to both teams' blocking skills that there were more natural grand slams in this bout than we've seen since the World Cup. There were also relatively few power jams, meaning both teams were focused on skating clean. That's the kind of sportsmanship we like to see. When the teams are so well-balanced and so classy, loyalty takes a back seat and we just cheer for everyone.

Bout 2: Grade A Fancy vs. Western Mass Destruction

This was one of those bouts that, despite a huge point gap, was still a lot of fun to watch. When these teams met last May, Pioneer Valley put up a good fight but lost to Green Mountain by 46 points. History repeated last night, but by an even bigger margin.

Green Mountain's Nancy Nightmare set the tone for the game by taking an easy 4-point lead in the first jam. It took Pioneer Valley 'til jam 7 to put anything on the board, by which point Green Mountain held a 35-1 lead. They spent the next 13 jams holding Pioneer Valley to 1 point, while racking up an additional 52 points for themselves. In one jam, Green Mountain's Terminate Her wowed the crowd by leaping over a downed Pink Panzer, showing that sometimes the path of least resistance is a vertical one. The Fancy finally let the Destruction pick up 3 more points with 2 minutes left on the clock, but by the time the whistle blew for halftime, they had secured a comfortable 105-4 point gap.

Pioneer Valley came screaming into the second half, doubling their points right off the bat, but allowing Green Mountain to pick up 18 of their own. They kept picking up points, slow and steady, throughout the rest of the half, but they just couldn't match the speed and agility of Green Mountain's skaters. When it was all said and done (after a post-game score correction), Green Mountain clobbered Pioneer Valley 217-39.

This bout saw the triumphant return to skates of the fabulous Annie Cockledoux, who spent most of the last year nursing a knee injury and being an excellent coach. She was clearly thrilled to be blocking again, and dished out some impressive hits. Welcome back, Annie!

Name of the Bout: Bats Hit Crazy #95 (PVRD)

25 March 2012

Bout Recap: Twin City Riot vs. Lumber Jills

Yesterday, under drizzly skies, we made a 2.5-hour trek into the north country, up to Plattsburgh, New York. We were there to see the Lumber Jills host the Twin City Riot, and we expected it to be a good game. The Jills have a nice venue and a great sound system, so we could hear every word uttered by the fabulous, flannel-clad announcers, Rock Thudson and Malcolm Sex (and the fact that Flocci heard "wood chip toss" as "Wichita" had nothing to do with the sound quality or Rock's diction). We expected a few GMDD folks to be around, since their home base is just across the lake, but it ended up feeling like every time we turned around, there was another Dame. We definitely felt at home!

The last time we saw these two teams together, back in July, the score was pretty close, but the overall feel was kind of messy, and we thought that perhaps with better refs, this bout would be a bit smoother, especially since we noticed Doomsday and Darkness Visible, two of our favorite zebras, on the way in.

Well, the first half went smoothly, at least. The Jills took an early and decisive lead, and never let go. The Riot only managed to get lead jammer in six jams, despite fielding jammers who have been superstars in other bouts. (We're starting to wonder what effect coaching has on game outcomes, now that we've seen some skaters play for multiple teams with dramatically different results.) There weren't many power jams in the first half, but there were a couple of natural grand slams (when one jammer laps the other without the other being in the box) that made things interesting. The half ended with the Jills leading 84-32, and we wondered if the Riot would get enough of a pep talk during halftime to close the gap.

It almost seemed like our prayers were answered as the Riot got lead jammer in the first three jams of the second half, but they only added three points to their score, and then things went downhill. The skating got sloppy, the penalties got crazy, there were power jams and false starts and official time outs all over the place... it was rough. The Jills used power jams to strengthen their lead, and the Riot, despite scoring twice as many points in the second half as in the first, lost ground in all but a handful of jams. With less than a minute left on the clock, the Riot's Livid Loquita was ejected for excessive penalties, and there were several other skaters who would have followed her if the game had been a few minutes longer. When the dust settled, the Jills had spanked the Riot, 161-95.

Name of the Bout: Titsy Normous #36F (Lumber Jills)
Special Meritorious Service: Short Circuit, for venturing out onto the track during warmup to tape down a loose floorboard.

19 March 2012

The One Where Johnny Bash Writes Something

Minutes before the start of the Dames' home bout in February, we were accosted by Blitzkrieg Blondie. She was not the first Dame to graciously find a moment for Flocci and me before the beginning of the night, but was by far the most excited. We were informed to watch for some tricks up their green and gold sleeves.

And we were not disappointed.

Grade A Fancy has elevated the scrum start to an art form. Usually a 50/50 proposition at best, it was used consistently and to devastating effect against Rhode Island and Hudson Valley. Teamwork between blockers was uniformly excellent. And we welcomed newcomers to the green jersey, Dykotomous Free and Track Infection.

Yet, the Brawlers had their own set of surprises. We noticed a dramtic improvement in the skills of several of the Brawlers, especially Snow Fury. Her dedication is evident as her skills continued to blossom in this Saturday's match. By the end of this year, I can see her being a very intimidating jammer. Looking back, I wish we had noticed Brokeback Jac more in the Rock Coast bout. She put in an impressive performance against the ZomB Squad in March.

I must admit that, after years of derby fandom, February's after-party was my first. Hanging out with the Dames off-track was great fun even if several were difficult to recognize without helmets, pads, and war paint. As always, Miss DairyAir and Cajun Crusher were more than generous with their time. Chats with Nancy Nightmare, Terminate-Her, Pope John Maul, Rock Thudson, Blitzkrieg Blondie, and others were also highlights of the evening.

We are looking forward to next month's bout and possibly the return to skates for two of our favorites, Annie Cockledoux and Strawburied Jam.

...Johnny Bash

18 March 2012

Bout Recap: GMDD vs. Hudson Valley Horrors

It makes rules geeks like us very happy when, before a game, the refs get together with the coaches and go over the basics. It seems that Ref Doomsday has gotten so tired of having to explain to irate coaches why he didn't let their jammers call off the jam by patting themselves in the ribs that he's gone, as the businessfolk say, proactive. Before both of last night's bouts, he had a little infield meeting with all the refs and coaches, and we saw him demonstrating the ways a jam could and could not be called off. He probably covered some other rules, too, but we were way up in the bleachers and our long-distance lip-reading skills need work.

Bout 1: Black Ice Brawlers vs. ZomB Squad

The first bout of the night got off to a quick start. Snatch McKraken grabbed an easy 4-0 jam for the Brawlers, and the scores never got closer than that for the rest of the bout. About halfway through the first half, with the Brawlers leading 34-11, Johnny noticed that there hadn't been a power jam yet. Sure enough, the next jam saw the ZomB jammer Dodge Charger go to the box, leaving Snatch McKraken free to increase the Brawlers' lead to 55-11. Dodge compensated for her penalty in the next jam by doing a mini apex jump while Brawlers jammer Veggie Mighty was hung up on the outside, and while it only got the ZomB Squad four points, it was an impressive bit of skating.

If you've watched tournament-level roller derby, you know that bench coaches will keep an eye on the penalty board to see if any of their upcoming jammers are running a little heavy on minors. They'll send a jammer in as a blocker a jam ahead, intentionally out of position, so she can get her fourth minor, serve her time in the box, and be penalty-free when she puts on the star. The Brawlers, for whatever reason, don't do this. ZomB jammer Hitz'n Glamour enjoyed a power jam when Brawlers jammer Highway rAubry picked up her fourth minor on her initial pass. There was enough room in the score that it didn't affect the outcome of the game, but it was still a strategic mistake.

The Brawlers spent the second half holding a roughly 70-point lead over the ZomB Squad, taking advantage of power jams and showing how much their blocking skills have improved over the last season. The ZomB Squad rocked a few power jams of their own, most notably Dodge Charger's 23-point jam halfway through the period, but it wasn't enough to catch the Brawlers. The game ended with the Brawlers winning 178-101, and we wondered if the A-teams' bout would mirror this one.

Name of the Bout: S. Scar Go #00 (HVH)

Bout 2: Grade A Fancy vs. Hudson Valley Horrors

We heard the Dames buzzing about how, according to Flat Track Stats, they needed to beat the Horrors by a 3-1 margin to keep their ranking from falling. It turns out they needn't have worried.

This bout is best covered by the numbers. The Horrors didn't score until jam 7, and then didn't score again until jam 22, when they racked up nearly half the points they'd score in the entire game. The Fancy scored almost 100 points in the second half, while the Horrors scored just 14. The Fancy had lead jammer status in over 80% of the jams. The Horrors had only 12 scoring jams in the 47-jam game.

Aside from that, there's not a whole lot to say about this game. The Fancy have improved their blocking and teamwork dramatically since this time last year, and they had much less box time than they did in their last game. The Horrors skated well, but were out of their league.

The final score was 194-48.

Names of the Bout: Pin-Up Ghoul #B17 (HVH) and Ref Peter Rabid #88mph (HVH)

23 February 2012


Howdy, all. Flocci here.

Looking at the calendar, I see that we've just passed my first derbyversary. It was February 19th of last year that Johnny took me to my very first bout (GMDD vs. South Jersey) and got me hooked. We spent most of the year being anonymous fans -- we'd post well wishes or congratulations on our league's Facebook page, cheer for the Dames at away games, and I even made a sign for my favorite skater -- but it wasn't until late in the season that anyone started to recognize us as regulars.

Hanging out with some of the Dames at the World Cup was something of a turning point in our evolution as fans. I gave one of the skaters the link to this blog, and suddenly everyone in the league was reading it. We were asked to be the official bout recappers over that weekend, and we dropped in on the volunteer appreciation party during the off-season, but we still sort of considered ourselves anonymous.

So imagine my surprise when, at last weekend's bout, Pope John Maul found us in the bleachers and filled us in on a player we wrote about last season. And when Rock Thudson, announcer extraordinaire, friended me on Facebook. And when Justice Feelgood Marshall emailed me to let me know that our short-form recaps had been accepted and posted on DNN.

I think we've hit the big time. Or at least the significantly-less-anonymous-time.

I guess this means we should proofread our posts before they go live, huh?

19 February 2012

Bout Recap: GMDD Season Opener

Last night, we made a beeline for the Expo Center in Essex Junction to see the season opener for our beloved Green Mountain Derby Dames. As if to foreshadow the tense and exciting nature of the bouts, we caught sight of the state police raiding a farmhouse along the way -- bulletproof vests and shotguns and everything. Anyone who thinks life in Vermont is dull should either hang out with those officers or see more derby!

This double header didn't disappoint. Both bouts were nail-biters, and showcased the skills of both our home league and our two visitors. Flocci's still hoarse from all her cheering, and a little deaf from everyone else's cheering, too. But enough about the damage a fan endures for the sake of her team -- on with the recap!

Bout 1: Black Ice Brawlers vs. Rock Coast Rollers

We didn't find out until the bout was nearly over that this was the Rollers' second bout ever. If this is how they skate after just one bout, we can hardly imagine how amazing they'll be when they have an entire season under their belts! The Brawlers were a little short on home skaters, so they borrowed some excellent talent from the Twin City Riot to fill out the roster, and it worked out well for them.

The first jam got off to a messy start, but the close score set the standard for the rest of the game. The Brawlers have been working on their defensive moves, and were often able to score more points than the Rollers in jams where the Rollers had lead jammer. The Rollers weren't about to let the Brawlers grab an easy win, though. After bringing the score to a tie in jam 5, they took advantage of a power jam and started pulling away, increasing their lead to 20 points within a few jams. The Brawlers fought back, pulling themselves up to another tie in jam 12, but the Rollers rocked a power jam and held a stable lead into the second half.

The second half saw five lead changes and lots of cheering for both teams. Lead jammer status was split evenly between the teams, as were power jams, so it came down to a pure battle of skill with a heavy focus on defensive blocking. With ten minutes to go, the Brawlers used a power jam to go from an 11-point deficit to a 4-point lead. The Rollers tied the score in the next jam, and the Brawlers answered by taking a one-point lead, but the Rollers fought back, holding a 3-point lead with about two minutes left on the clock. Brawlers jammer Snatch McKraken took lead jammer and ran with it, pulling her team ahead by six points. The few remaining seconds on the period clock ticked away, and the game was over. The Brawlers took the win 123-117 over the Rollers.

Name of the Bout: Schrodinger's Catfight #46N2 (RCR)
MVP: Snatch McKraken #369 (BIB)

Bout 2: Grade A Fancy vs. Rhode Island Riveters

The Fancy rank 22nd in the East. The Riveters rank 13th. Flat Track Stats predicted that the Fancy would lose by over 100 points to their well-seasoned competitors. In reality, the Fancy held the lead for all but four jams, and only lost by 13 points in the end. So much for predictive algorithms.

While the Fancy took a slow-and-steady approach to scoring points, rarely grabbing more than ten points in a jam, the Riveters played the hare with a couple of 20-point jams punctuating long stretches of little or no gains. It wasn't until about ten minutes before the end of the game that the Riveters took the lead, and then every other jam saw a lead change until the clock ran out. (In fact, if that trend had held, one more jam could have seen the Fancy bring home a win... but we digress.)

The zebras seemed to have some problems with this game, calling seven official time outs in the second half alone, and there were several issues with time- and score-keeping throughout the game, but even with those drawbacks, this was still an exciting bout to watch. The Fancy played their hearts out, and the Riveters hit their stride at just the right time to win the game 174-161.

Name of the Bout: Flocci - Rhoda Perdition #72 (RIR), Johnny - Hit And Run Pauline #96 (RIR)
MVP: Nancy Nightmare #S810

14 January 2012

Bout Recap: Albany All Stars vs. Oz Roller Girls

Last weekend we got gussied up and went out to Albany for our first bout of 2012. The Albany All Stars hosted the Oz Roller Girls (from scenic Oswego, NY) at the fabulous Washington Avenue Armory, and it was quite the experience.

Albany's fans are... well, they're... erm... help us, Roget, you're our only hope! Passionate? Fanatical? Vehement? Ah, here we are, uproarious! Albany fans are devoted to the All Stars in much the same way Bostonians are devoted to the Sox: with extreme fervor, and with a bit of bloodthirstiness thrown in for good measure. We inadvertently found ourselves just a few rows down from a particularly vocal devotee who periodically screamed things like, "send her to the hospital," and, "break her legs!" It was a little unnerving.

Now, for those of us used to two 30-minute periods comprising a game, Albany does things a little differently. You still get your hour of derby, but you get it in three 20-minute periods instead. As fans, we rather like this setup. It makes snack breaks, restroom breaks, and holy-cow-these-seats-are-killing-me breaks more convenient, and, for single bouts, makes the event feel more like a double-header.

The bout got off to a late start (the All Stars love their fans so much that they hold the whistle until everyone's passed the ticket takers), but as soon as the wheels got rolling, it was a heck of a bout. Every few jams saw a lead change, and we noticed a pattern. If Albany's jammer stayed out of the box, Albany dominated the jam regardless of who was lead jammer. If Albany's jammer got a major penalty, Oswego rocked the power jam and picked up points. This trade-off was so well-balanced that the score was tight for most of the game. The end of the first period saw Albany up by just 12 points.

In the second period we noticed visiting announcer Bobby Narco (Gotham) doing something that made us very happy. Instead of waiting for the refs to explain why there was an official time out after the fact, he made the journey to the infield and talked to the refs while the time out was still in progress. It gave the announcers something to talk about, and let the fans interpret the refs' body language with a little more accuracy. More refs need to do this, or have a designated liaison with a walkie-talkie if it's inconvenient for the announcers to be on the track.

The second period saw the same pattern as the first, with the scores staying within about 20 points of each other the whole way through. Albany managed a successful star pass (one of the few we've seen that was done correctly on the first try) and some fancy footwork around the apex, but their jammers kept grabbing penalties, which let Oswego make up points. With one period to go, Oswego held a four-point lead.

Albany picked up those four points in the first jam of the third period, then followed with another point in the next jam, but that was the last time they had the lead. Oswego pulled away, making good use of more frequent power jams as Albany's jammers let the stress make them sloppy. Near the end of the period, Albany had an impressive jam that brought the scores close again, but on reflection the refs realized that both jammers had jumped the whistle, so they scrapped the entire jam, knocking Albany back down to a 24-point defeceit.

After that, Albany just couldn't recover, and Oz ended up taking the game 204-162. We felt that if the reffing had been better, with clearer and more consistent calls, the outcome might have been different, but it was still an entertaining bout.

Living in the boonies as we do, we don't often see folks from other teams in the stands at our home bouts. Albany, though, is a much more accessible location for a lot of the NY and southern New England teams, so we saw a lot of familiar faces. Hellions of Troy were everywhere, including announcer Eloda Sarcasm. Our favorite kilted Alaskan, The Constable, was spotted (in trousers, but we'll allow it since it was a bloody cold night). Even Pioneer Valley skater Chewbecca was present, wearing a cushy bit of handknitting that Flocci drooled over from afar. It's nice to see derby folk out supporting other teams and seeing how they play the game. We worry sometimes that we, as fans, see a greater variety of derby than most skaters do, so seeing skaters coming out to "foreign" bouts makes us happy.

Remember to check our calendar (link above the posts) to see what bouts we'll be attending, and come say hi if you see us in the bleachers!

11 January 2012

November Double Header: Green Mountain Derby Dames

November saw the final bout of the season for the Green Mountain Derby Dames, and it was an exciting double-header -- a great way to finish off 2011!

The Grade A Fancies' first home bout of 2011 was against South Jersey, a team that played by Old School rules instead of WFTDA, only nobody realized it until halfway through the first period, by which point South Jersey was down a lot of points and up a lot of penalties. The Black Ice Brawlers' final bout of the year felt similar, even though this time the opponents were, in theory anyway, using WFTDA rules.

The Poison Pixies, whether because they're a young team, half of their roster was pulled in from other leagues, or something else entirely, scored very few points and spent a lot of time in the box. Their skating was rough, their knowledge of the rules seemed shaky, and they played much more like an Old School team when it came to blocking.

The first half showed the Brawlers that they had nothing to worry about and could enjoy themselves, and showed the zebras that there was a lot of work to be done. Seven jams in, the Brawlers led 54-6, and the refs were running ragged trying to keep up with penalty calls against the Pixies. Doomsday got to enforce the rule about how a jammer calls off the jam (which seems to be a chronic issue with new teams), and Ethyl seemed frustrated at how many penalties she was calling. The first half ended with the Brawlers ahead 104-25, and we hoped the second half would be better.

It wasn't better, but it certainly was eventful. In the first jam, a Brawler pumping her arms for speed caught a Pixie in the eye, and the medics got to activate an ice pack (they do this by repeatedly throwing it on the floor -- we think they must live for the opportunity to throw things). Later on, one of the Pixies was ejected for excessive penalties. With just a few minutes left in the game, the Brawlers put an extra jammer on the track by accident, and we saw a rare 2-minute penalty as a result. When all was said and done, the Brawlers walked away with an easy 197-51 win over the Pixies, and we looked forward to the second bout of the evening.

In another bookend moment, the Fancies hosted a team for their final bout that was from the same state as their first opponents of the season. Jersey Shore brought their A game, and it was a nail-biter from start to finish. Jersey Shore grabbed 14 points right off the bat, and the Fancies answered with 15 points of their own in the next jam. The score stayed tight for the rest of the first half, and the halftime whistle found the Fancies barely holding a 65-63 lead over Jersey Shore.

Maybe there was a great locker room pep talk during halftime, or maybe the Fancies just needed a breather, but they came into the second half like a storm surge. Four jams in, they'd added 27 points to their score and kept Jersey Shore from scoring anything, and apparently this annoyed Jersey Shore enough to take action. It took them until the very last jam, but Jersey Shore chipped away at the Fancies' lead until they overtook by a scant five points, pulling off a 121-126 upset that was thrilling to watch.

We wrapped up the evening with a stop at Al's French Frys, one of our favorite post-derby hangouts, and called it a year. Flipping through the scrapbook, we found that, not counting the World Cup, we attended almost 30 bouts and saw teams from 21 different leagues. Not bad, considering where we live.

Now the challenge is to beat that record in 2012! Our other challenge will be to get recaps written and posted more quickly, since we've accepted an invitation to be the official bout recappers for the Green Mountain Derby Dames. No more waiting four months for recaps -- we'll try to have them up the day after the bout. That's as far as we're going with New Year's resolutions, though... wouldn't want to get in over our heads!