Sunday, December 18, 2011

AB Negative (or The Jingle Brawl)

Last night the Jerzey Derby Brigade at Inline Skating in Morristown hosted a charity all-star women’s roller derby bout, pitting skaters from all over New Jersey against skaters from all over Pennsylvania. The bout benefited Toys for Tots. Non-coms from the Marines and Navy were on hand to accept donated toys. The event was a double header, with an A-Team and a B-Team from each state. Rather than skate two complete bouts one after the other (standard playing time for a bout is two 30-minute halves with a halftime break), the two pairs of teams alternated halves on the track (A-B-A-B).

The teams were in seasonal colors of red and green. Immediately upon entering the rink, I resolved which team was which by identifying a familiar skater by her favored face scarf:  Jerzey Derby Brigade skater Criss Catastrophe was in green. PA skated in red. The toy collection was successful – the boxes filled – but audience attendance was no more than moderate. Regularly scheduled home matches sometimes pull bigger crowds. Those who passed it up missed a fun bout.

It always is interesting to see if all-star teams are as good as the sum of their parts. Since the players haven’t had much time to practice together, coordination that is second-nature with usual teammates can be a challenge. All four teams did surprisingly well. Of the two pair, the A’s were most evenly matched.

In the very first jam of the A teams, PA’s Roxxy Fox blew through the pack and scored the first points of the bout. It was a feat she would repeat again and again throughout the evening as one of the outstanding jammers. In the second jam, Ozzie Clobberpot scored a grand slam (5 points) for NJ. Those two jams set the pattern for the two very competitive teams, both of which were able to score points against the other. A slight edge in defensive blocking, however, allowed PA slowly to build a lead. (For neophytes, jammers score points, blockers try to block them; see video clip at end of Wheel Appeal for more info: .)

The B teams were another matter altogether. PA absolutely dominated this second part of the bout. While not discounting the other skaters (who otherwise were pretty well matched on the NJ and PA sides), Pennsylvania’s advantage owed a lot to two skaters: Shenita Stretcher and V-Diva. Both had skated for Team USA, the all-star team that won the Gold medal at the Roller Derby World Cup in Toronto earlier this month in which teams from 13 countries participated; Team USA bested second-place Canada 336-33. The two skaters were on their game in Morristown last night. Shenita was formidable whether blocking or jamming. V-Diva was all but unstoppable. “Amazon” is not always a flattering word, but in this case I mean it to be; think of it with all its best possible connotations. V-Diva was as comfortable skating backwards as forwards, and frequently did so, which made her an extraordinarily tough blocker while giving extra power to her whip assists to her own team’s jammers. When skating as jammer herself, she pushed through the pack of blockers pretty much at will.

Several other skaters deserve mention. Well, all of them do, and they are listed below. For special mention though, A Bomb jammed gamely for NJ against the very tough PA B team defense. Yoshi Ground Pound and Superstiches stood out for NJ. For PA, Happy Feet, Mj Slamher, and Roxxy Fox drew attention.

PA’s A Team prevailed against NJ 113-61. PA’s B ruled 211-24 – considering the score up in Toronto mentioned above, that’s not so bad for NJ.

The Lineups

 V-Diva in her Native Habitat

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