Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Reign of Pain

It’s nice to see a struggling team come together. That why movies like the The Bad News Bears not only get made but remade.

Regular readers will know that a personal quirk of mine is a fondness for live roller derby, and I rarely miss a home bout by the Morristown-based Jerzey Derby Brigade. The Brigade has two teams, the Corporal Punishers which (albeit with a name change) has been skating since 2007. The second team, Major Pains, was formed last year, largely from neophyte skaters stiffened by some veterans shifted from the Punishers. 2011 was the first actual season for the Pains. Understandably, the Pains had growing pains, and endured roughings-up when up squared against experienced teams; opposing blockers were often able to scatter the Pains’ blockers. One loss followed another, the most recent being a crushing 351-16 romp by the Long Island Roller Rebels.

Last night, assisted by a decision to push the veteran skaters on the team to the fore, the Pains came together in a tough contest with the New Jersey Hellrazors that was marked by solid hits, pile-ups, tight defenses, and very aggressive jamming on both sides. (For brief basic info on derby play and terms, see an earlier blog Wheel Appeal .)

This bout looked different from the moment the Four Old Farts (a barbershop quartet) finished the National Anthem. In the first four jams, the Pains’ jammers (Heinz Catchup, Maggie Kyllanfall, Miss USAhole, and Voldeloxx) quickly broke through the pack as lead jammers. Despite firm opposition – Voldeloxx took a particularly solid hit from the Hellrazors’ A-Bomb (#235U) – they racked up an early lead. The Pains narrowly kept the lead through most of the first half, but the Hellrazors closed the gap and, by halftime, had nudged ahead with a score of 52-49.

The half-time break included dancers and a children’s Halloween costume contest; all the participants seemed to have fun. I spoke to Cherry Mercenary of the Hellrazors at halftime break. She told me the team is from the New Brunswick area, and plans to add more bouts to the next year’s schedule with Morristown and Skylands (Hackettstown). Sounded good to me.

In the second half, Morristown clawed back the lead. The blocking was effective on both teams. The Pains refused to be scattered this time; at one point, for example, Doom Hilda and Sid Deuce obstructed the Hellrazors’ Thiza Glory long enough to restrain her point gain when, since the Pain’s jammer was in the penalty box, she was threatening grand slams. The blocking of A-Bomb and Cherry Mercenary stood out for the Hellrazors. Morristown’s jammers were consistently good throughout the bout; Heinz Catchup had the best multiple lap of the evening. For the Hellrazors, Jen-O Go-Go did well, but Turtle of Death was just superb, and was declared MVP after the bout. In the final minutes Morristown expanded its narrow lead into a broader one, with a final score of 122-88, the first ever win for the Major Pains.

As always, it was an altogether enjoyable evening, and I recommend doing a quick internet search for derby bouts near you. You, too, might find the sport addictive.

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