Sunday, June 2, 2013

Derby Double

Regular readers of this blog just might have noticed by now my keenness for roller derby. It is longstanding. I’m old enough to have seen the old professional teams in action. They skated at the Coliseum in Washington, DC when I attended college there. Yet, in truth, I like the new incarnation better. The new teams consist of local ordinary people doing what they absolutely love to do – not as a job, but literally for the sport of it. (I follow only the women’s teams because one can watch men beat on each other anywhere.) The homegrown leagues and the skaters in them are real in a way a profit-making professional league never quite can be, even though professional skaters may be more polished. Skaters for the local teams range from check-out assistants to bartenders to attorneys, and span an age-range more than 30 years wide. The audience wears a mix of suits, jeans, and shorts. There are men in pony tails, crew-cuts, and Mohawks. There are more tattoos on the women in the audience (including on mothers chasing after toddlers) than one generally sees elsewhere, but they are not universal. The parking lot has pick-up trucks, Harley-Davidsons, and Mercedes coupes. It’s as satisfying a crowd (on and off the track) as one can find outside of a roadside diner or a bowling alley – as American as pizza, chimichanga, and fortune cookies.

So, it should be no surprise that I attended the double-header derby bout in Morristown last night. First up was the men’s bout between the Dow Jones Average (New York) and the Southern Gentlemen (a mish-mash of skaters from the Southeast US). Once again, I don’t follow men’s’ bouts, but I caught a portion of this one. In brief, Dow completely dominated throughout the bulk of the game. The Gentlemen were operating under the disadvantage any ad hoc team: little time to practice together. Nonetheless, in the last minutes they closed much of the point gap in a spirited push. The final score was Dow 210/Gentlemen 176.

The women’s bout followed: the Morristown based New Jersey Roller Derby (NJRD) vs New York’s Suburbia Backyard Bullies.

NJRD was operating without two of its usual big-hitting jammers (Maulin Rouge and Miss USAHole), but Pixie Bust filled in as one of the team’s jammers for the first time since her knee injury last year. Slam Hathaway and Shannanigunz, both strong jammers, also were in the NJRD line-up. The Bullies fielded the impressive jammers Leggy Fleming, Sass Transit, Molly Throttle, and Windy 500. Aya Yai was equally good as blocker and jammer. Bullies’ blocking was fierce and effective. NJRD blocking also was aggressive, with special mention to Yoshi and Nessa. The two teams were very evenly matched, and the score tilted first one way and then the other, with the halftime score at NJRD 64/Bullies 66.

The bout was an especially high penalty one on both sides. In the second half, Nessa and Shannanigunz were pulled from the game, weakening the NJRD. The Bullies crept ahead, but a 20 point power jam by Slam Hathaway reclosed the spread to 4 points. Pixie Bust then returned the lead to NJRD with a 10 point pick-up. These spurts of point gains, however, couldn’t permanently overcome the Bullies’ power advantage in the second half. Though the spurts recurred, including a three pass power jam by Pixie, the Bullies pulled ahead and then expanded the lead. Windy 500 appropriately finished the final jam as lead jammer. The final score was Bullies 179/NJRD 138.

MVPs were Leggy Fleming for Bullies and Pixie Bust for NJRD.

As usual, it was an exciting match and an enjoyable event all around. So was the after-party at the Iron Bar.

Jim Croce - Roller Derby Queen (1973)


  1. Thanks for the great blog post! I'm glad you had a great time at the game. Interestingly, it turns out that I fractured my wrist in the 2nd jam of the bout (my first jam).

    The Bullies will be playing our final bout of the season on October 19 at 7pm at the Police Athletic League in Yonkers when we host the Petticoat Punishers from Lancaster, MA.

    1. Ouch. Maybe there should be badges (a Purple Skate?) for injuries above a certain degree of seriousness.

      Thanks for the heads up, and good luck against the Petticoat Punishers. I've seen them skate against the Corporal Punishers. It should be a challenging bout.