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!