Tomorrow marks the start of the 2011/2012 season of the Arch Rival Roller Girls. If you’ve not gone to watch a roller derby bout, you really should. It’s a fun sport, and very intense. The players and officials are very personable as well. I guess I would say that, as I became a Non-Skating Official (NSO) at the beginning of last season. A particular highlight of last season for me was singing the National Anthem at the first event after becoming a US Citizen.
Having seen some of the new skaters who have joined the teams during draft, and some of the changes, I’m sure this season is going to be very exciting, and I’m really looking forward to it.
If you have been before, I can highly recommend getting a season ticket – you’ll get to all the bouts for the intraleague games, and you’ll also get the entry to the travel team bouts, where the best of ARRG play derby teams in other cities. And, new this year, the season championship will be at SLU’s Chaifetz Arena!
If you’re not sure about going for the whole season, you can get tickets for this Saturday’s double header, or just turn up at the door, at the Midwest Sports Hockey venue in Queeny Park. Doors open at 6:30. Maybe I’ll see you there!
Last night I saw another side of the Arch Rival Roller Girls, as I went to one of their practices. I’m investigating what it takes to become a Referee. It’s been a while since I’ve skated, and I don’t own any skates, though I have a friend who has the same size shoes as me, and he is one of the St Louis GateKeepers, the local men’s league. Hopefully I will get a chance to borrow his skates so I can see if I can get my “skating legs” back. In any case, before my skating skills are up to par, there are Non Skating Official (NSO) positions. The Refs are the ones responsible for determining lead jammer, determining how many points a jammer scores as she passed through the pack, and for deciding whether or not a player has had a penalty. The NSOs keep track of the timing of the jams, the timing of the penalties, the score, recording who received what penalties. 7 Refs and 14 NSOs for any given bout make up a vital part of the sport.
This particular practice had an info session for women who were interested in possibly becoming a Roller Derby Girl. It seemed well attended (and comments from others suggested they had a pretty high turn out), with around 50 people there. The commitment, both financially and in time is fairly high for the players, so the expectation is that only 50% of those who turn up for information night will actually try out.
As they were learning about what it takes, newbies and rookies were going through drills to improve their skating skills. It was certainly interesting to watch them practice, and also to see the guidance the experienced skaters were providing.
This practice was going to include a recreational bout – a full 60 minute game, with the two teams formed from the rookies and newbies who were there. This helped them understand the rules in practical situations, and also gives them a better idea of the stamina required to play a full bout.
So, while they were doing their drills, I was learning a little more about what some of the NSO responsibilities were, and in particular, the task of being a penalty time keeper.
When a player is sent to the penalty box, she has a full 1 minute penalty. When sent off, she has to skate anticlockwise (the same direction as play), until she arrives at the penalty box. If she had just passed the penalty box prior to receiving the penalty, she is required to skate completely around the track. Her minute doesn’t start until her backside hits the seat. Once sat, she has a total of 1 minute penalty. When she has 10 seconds left, the penalty timer will instruct her to stand.
Only two blockers (including the pivot) on a team may be serving penalties at any given time; if a blocker arrives at the box while two other blockers are serving penalties, this new blocker will be waved on, and she will have to serve her minute after one of the blockers in the penalty box has left. The one exception to this is if one of the existing blockers serving a penalty has less than 10 seconds left. Then the penalty timer will hold the third blocker in the box and start timing the penalty even though she has not yet sat down; once one of the other blockers has left, she will then sit. One other thing – the penalty clock only runs while the jam clock is running. If the jam stops, so does the penalty clock, and the penalised player must continue her penalty in the next jam. As I learnt, it’s a lot to keep track of, as blockers come in and out of the penalty box. There are two penalty timers for the blockers, one for each team.
In a regular bout, there is a penalty timer just for the jammers, though the duties for that fell upon me and the NSO penalty timer for the other team for this rec game.
The reason for this is that it’s a little more complicated for the jammers. They still get a one minute penalty, which is fine. But consider the situation of a jammer taking a penalty, and then the other jammer taking a penalty just 10 seconds later. If they both served their full minute, there would be a 50 second period where no jammer was on the track, and as the jammer is the only player that can score points, that would make for some boring play.
So the timing rules are a little different. When a jammer comes in, they are timed for having their full one minute, just as any other player. If the other jammer does not have to enter the penalty box in that time, no problem. But if the other jammer does come in, the first jammer is immediately released, and the second jammer serves the same time that the first jammer served. So if Black’s jammer comes in and then Pink’s jammer arrives, after Black’s jammer has served 22 seconds, Black’s jammer will be dismissed, and Pink’s jammer will then also serve 22 seconds. If a situation like this has happened, and Black’s jammer is sent to the box again before Pink’s jammer has completed their reduced time, each jammer will stay there until the time she has remaining is served (Pink’s reduced time, Black’s new minute). If both jammers are seated in the penalty box at the same time, they will both serve a 10 second minimum and then both be released.
It’s quite a lot to keep track of, especially communicating to my partner-in-timekeeping when both jammers are having to spend time in the penalty box. I can see why for the regular bouts, there is a separate penalty timer just for the jammers.
All in all, it was a lot of fun, and I got to watch the bout while I had no penalised players to worry about. It was interesting to see how the new skaters were doing.
Afterwards, I enjoyed an opportunity to talk to the other refs and officials and get to know them a bit better, and also to hang out for a while with some of the players. While it’s possible to do that at the After Party at a regular event, there’s a lot more people there, and it’s also a lot noisier and not really conducive to talking so much.
After leaving the practice, some of us went to a local bar and I got to talk with Ginny Beastley and The Bevo Kill, both members of the newly formed Rebel Skate Alliance team, and I learnt a bit more about their history with the league, which was a great conclusion to the evening. Also, I was told by The Bevo Kill that I had to mention her in my next blog post about derby. She scares me a little, so here’s her mention.
The season opener event on Saturday evening was very exciting. With the new expansion team, the Rebel Skate Alliance, making their debut appearance, there was a great atmosphere about how well they would do in their bout against the Smashinitas. But first the reigning champions, the Stunt Devils, would be playing against the M-80s.
The M-80s have a strong roster this year, with Joanie Rollmoan and Black Market Baby captaining their team. Baby was in fine form as Jammer, especially having come back after a shoulder injury at regionals. Her strong abilities exemplified the reason she took the Rookie of the Year award for 2010. Also showing strength was a new member to ARRG and the M-80s, May Require Stitches. Very fast off the jammer line, rivaling the Stunt Devils’ Artemischief, her previous skating experience in Ice and Roller Hockey showed itself with her strong abilities. I’m already sure she’s a contender for this season’s Rookie of the Year award.
The Stunt Devils were led by captains Mayor Francis Slayer and Danikka Doom in another strong performance. Grave Danger was out to injury, which with several of their strong players having moved to the expansion team, left them a little less deep than they would have liked, but the stalwart Mayor showed her team how the game is played, participating in probably 80% or more of the jams. The Stunts are really strong with their Jammers, with Artemischief, Mighty Mighty Boston, Morgan Le Faetal and South City Shiner all putting in strong performances. Coming off a perfect season last year, plus the 2009 Championship, their victory in the first game of the new season gives them a 7 game winning streak.
Final score: M-80s 71 : Stunt Devils 111
(not the ducenarious score I’d hoped for, but we can’t have everything)
After a short break, the second bout of the evening, Smashies vs RSA
This year’s Smashinistas are led by Eli Wallop and Downtown Dallis. This is another team with depth in the Jammers, with Downtown Dallis, The Educator and Punches Pileup often taking their turn.
Rebel Skate Alliance, captained by Chewblocka and Smarty McFly, was somewhat unknown. Of course, they’d got some strong individuals, but how well would they hold together as a team? Very well, as it turns out. McFly, back after an injury last season, along with Party Foul and Starry Starry Fight led the way with Jamming.
The game was tense, with the lead changing several times in the first half, with the Smashies just leading the game at 38 points to the RSA’s 37. But this was a game of penalties, with the Smashies unfortunately leading the way. This put the RSA into a strong lead, and although Punches Pileup did well as Jammer towards the end of the bout, it just wasn’t enough to avoid the loss.
Final Score: Rebel Skate Alliance 103 : Smashinistas 76
I love words. Linguistics is a minor hobby of mine. I love the way that English has hoovered up words from other languages, and gives its speakers the ability to invent new words on a whim. We have words that largely mean the same thing but subtle nuances that allow slight differences. The English language is a glorious thing. However, there are also words which, once common, are falling out of use.
The Oxford English Dictionary has started a campaign to Save The Words. On this rather cute page you can select a word or short phrase from a number that are seldom used, and “adopt” it, committing to use it in conversation and correspondence as much as possible.
Some of the words presented will be difficult to use, as they have quite specialised meanings (“ascoliasm” – a boys’ game of beating each other with gloves or leather), or refer to things that have themselves fallen out of use (“10-cent store” – a store where everything costs 10 cents. Inflation has replaced the concept with the dollar store). Others, however, are somehow fabulous and deserve to be brought back into common usage. How wonderful it would be to be able to report on a Roller Derby event with something like this:
The austerulous Stunt Devils blockers were tudiculating and colaphizing the M-80s until they were labascating. This allowed the slimikin Artemischief to ecstasiate the Stunt Devils as she drove towards a ducenarious point victory against their now vultuous opponents.
I leave it as an exercise to the reader to learn some new words.
Are there any uncommon words that you would love for people to use more?
Are there any favourite unusual words that you use at every opportunity?
I enjoy playing strategy board games. They provide relaxation, some logical thinking, and socialisation, and it’s one of my major hobbies.
There’s an interesting phenomenon that sometimes happens in board games. It’s often called group think
People get together, they take a game and read the rules and learn how to play it. That same group will play the game again, and they’ll see strategies emerge, and perhaps there’s one dominant strategy, or a couple of strong ones that, perhaps depending on a little luck, one or other strategy may be the one to use. Once these strategies have been found, it can often turn into who can play that strategy the fastest, or most efficiently, in order to determine the winner. Everyone believes these strategies are the best, and so continue to play them, for not playing them is to commit yourself to a certain loss.
Then, sometimes, something happens, and one of the players plays completely differently. They try something new, which leads to a breakthrough and a new style is born and the previous strategies are, well, not necessarily worthless, but perhaps not as dominant as previously believed. Sometimes, this happens because it’s an outsider from the group that hasn’t been part of that group’s group think. Maybe they’ve even got some group think from the group they played with before playing with this new group. If the way they play is different enough, it can cause the other players to have to really think on their feet, rather than going through the almost rote play of the “best” strategy, as they are confronted with unfamiliar situations.
There’s a card game, called Dominion. Each player can spend money they play from their initial deck. This initial deck consists of 7 Copper cards (each provides one coin to spend), and 3 Estates (each worth one Victory Point at game end, but provide no power when in hand), and players play these cards to purchase additional cards that in future turns can be used to provide additional powers, culminating in the purchase of cards that provide lots of victory points. These latter cards are obviously more expensive and harder to acquire. When you reach the end of your deck, the cards you had previously played and put into your own discard pile get shuffled to form a new deck.
The aim is to build an efficient “engine”, and once built, use that engine to acquire the Victory cards. Each game is set up with Treasure cards that provide different amounts of coin, different Victory cards that provide different amounts of VPs, and Curse cards, which are negative VPs. Each game is then played with 10 different Kingdom cards, of which there are usually 10 of each card, out of the 25 different Kingdom cards available with the game. This makes the game different each time as different Kingdom cards are used in each game.
One of the Kingdom cards, the Witch, is an attack, that gives opponents Curse cards. Another card is called the Chapel, which allows you to trash cards – completely remove them from your deck. The obvious use for this is to remove curse, and of course, as we were new at the game, that was what we used it for when both Witch and Chapel were in the game. But when Chapel was in the game without the Witch, people just didn’t use it.
But then someone made a realisation – if he could get rid of the less powerful cards in his deck, the Copper and the Estate cards (because, even though they are worth VPs, that’s not until game end), then he could go through his deck faster, and thus use the better cards he was purchasing sooner and more often, thus enabling him to acquire the best VP cards sooner and more often as well.
Now, in this case, this slightly less obvious use of the Chapel was deliberately put there by the designer, but he didn’t make any comment about it in the rules. He wanted players to have the joy of realisation as they discovered the less than obvious play. A number of other cards in the basic game, and in the expansions that have come out do have less than obvious uses as well.
Icehouse was designed in the late 80s, and has a bit of a cult following. In fact, there’s been an annual tournament since 1989. It’s an interesting game where you have 15 pyramids, 5 in each of 3 different sizes. It’s also a real-time game; there are no turns, you just play pieces when you feel like you want to. Pieces can be played upright, defensively, or lying on their sides, pointing at a defensive piece, attacking it. There were also opportunities to capture other players pieces. Placing pieces in such a way that an existing attacking piece was no longer attacking (because the newly introduced piece was in the way) meant that that attack was squandered. If ever a defending piece was attacked by too many attackers, it’s considered overiced, and the owner of the defending piece can capture the pieces in excess.
This game had been played by many people, and the strategy that had developed was essentially a snowball; people used neighbouring pieces to provide protection from attack, so a single mass of pieces collected in the centre of the table.
Then one year, in the eighth tournament, a player in the tournament played completely differently. He scattered his initial defensive pieces across the table (which earned it the name “Gunshot strategy”. People were confused, and started attacking these easily attackable pieces. But people were a little careless, and overiced, allowing this player to capture the extra attacking pieces. He then used his opponents pieces to overice his own defending pieces again, but in a slightly different configuration – this allowed him to manipulate the pieces that were attacking his own, until they were no longer effective. In fact, in one game, he managed to have all 15 of his pyramids out defensively without any of the attacks on them being successful, for the maximum theoretical score.
This shotgun strategy was available for anyone to use in the first 8 years of the game’s existence. It was consistent with the rules of the game but it wasn’t something that the designer had intended or foreseen. It was just there, waiting to be discovered, once someone was able to think in a new way. Once this new strategy had been shown to the world, new strategies to defend against it were soon devised, and now, if you see it played, you’ll likely see a combination of snowball and shotgun.
Sometimes the rules of sports can allow for new and innovate plays, while still within the rules of the game. A recent middle school American football game illustrates this.
Clearly the coach and team had seen a new and unexpected way to approach the play. The defenders were confused by the action, and didn’t know how to react, until far too late.
Lastly, we come to my hot interest of the moment, Roller Derby. Most of the time this is a fast-paced sport, which is what most fans want – to see the excitement of the fast pace, and people getting knocked over. More recently, teams have started a slower game, holding back, and which makes things a lot more tactical. If a player goes out of bounds, they are not allowed to come back in bounds in front of any opponent they were previously behind – they can’t gain ground relative to the opponents off the track. During such a slow play, this sometimes leads to the blocker that they were behind skating backwards on the track, causing the out of bounds player to get even further back in order to re-enter the track behind them. It can seem a little strange when the game is usually so fast paced, but it’s highly tactical. From my background, I really appreciate the beauty of taking the rules and doing something unexpected, something allowed by the rules, but not considered when the rules were put in place. Some people really dislike it, but I suspect that many of those people either don’t fully understand what’s going on, and they just came to watch lots of fast paced action, or they do understand what’s going on and still just want fast paced action (perhaps only to appease the fans). In any case, while I enjoy and am appreciative of the slow game in Roller Derby, I understand I’m very much in the minority.
Some have called for a change in the rules for the Roller Derby to prevent such slow play. It may happen. But in the mean time, some teams have innovated – they’ve found a new way, still within the rules, to defend against the slow game tactic. All the blockers on the team that doesn’t like the slow play take a knee. As they are kneeling, they are not technically in play, so there is not a single group of blockers that contains blockers from both teams, which is a requirement for a pack. Only blockers in the pack are allowed to block the opposing jammer. If there is no pack, the jammers are free to carry on. So, at least for now, a solution has been found. It’s entirely possible that some other innovative play will occur in the future which will secure a win, and then coaches and players alike will discuss what happened and innovate ways to combat it.
Personally I hope there’s not a change to eliminate the slow game. It doesn’t happen all that often, but I enjoy it when it does.
Sometimes, both in board games and sports, someone innovates in a way that is so disruptive to game play, that it becomes an unstoppable strategy. In the board game world that’s often called “breaking” the game. In such cases, if it truly does mean that person wins every time or puts them at a very significant advantage, the designer and publisher will issue errata to prevent that particular style, or to allow other strategies that combat it. Sometimes the innovation changes the way the game is played.
In American Football, the forward pass was introduced to help get the ball away from a brawling pack of players, and so reduce injuries. It wasn’t really used all that much, until a coach realised the potential, and a quarterback made a massive play. Today, you can hardly imagine what American Football would be like without the passing game.
Now, what happens when we group think in business? We often think we are doing the best thing. We follow “best practices”. They must be good, because they are “best”. Much of the time, these are good things to do, they keep things in order, make changes easier and more manageable. Keeping things consistent so that as changes need to be made, they can be made simply across the board is obviously a good thing. But if we follow best practices all the time, then we are always following, never leading. Sometimes we have to examine what we do critically, and determine that there may well be a better, new, unexpected way to do something. It’s that innovation that gives a business an advantage over its competitors.
Have you succumbed to group think?
Are there things that you’ve done in your personal, or business life that you just did because it seemed that that’s just the way things were?
Have you stepped outside the group and innovated?
In less than a week, the Arch Rival Roller Girls begin their new season. It’s going to be a good one, as the league has grown enough to allow them to expand into a fourth team. Having four teams means that it’s viable for them to have double headers for each event, so that means there’s going to be a lot of derby going on. I’m really looking forward to it.
It was because of twitter that I got into it. I made some friends on twitter, and the nature of twitter is it’s very easy to find new and interesting people. Sarah was from Iowa who had been in town for an InterVarsity conference, which I’d volunteered at, so I got to know her because of that. I subsequently made friends with some of her friends that she interacted with; one of these was Meleah who occasionally mentioned Roller Derby.
Another twitter connection was David who I knew from university – through him I started following Barry, who is another expat from the UK. At the time I started to get to know him, he had just moved to Seattle. Barry interacted with Gemma, back in the UK, and also into Roller Derby.
I had people from very different connections all talking about Roller Derby. Eventually I asked the St Louis folk when the next event was. “Tomorrow,” Courtney replied, “you should come and watch!”
We did. I got tickets and we went to watch. I had to choose which team to support; the teams playing that evening were The M-80s and The Stunt Devils. Courtney, who goes by the pseudonym of Mayor Francis Slayer, for anything Derby related, had been the Roller Derby girl I’d been talking to most, and she played for the Stunt Devils, so my inclination was to support them. When I discovered that the team colours were silver and purple, how could I not support them, given purple is my favourite colour?
I read up on the basics of the rules, so I at least had a vague idea of what was going on. Actually, I tend to assimilate such things fairly well, so I understood most of the core rules, a little more than just a vague idea. We went, and we enjoyed the evening a lot. And for some reason I was hooked. It’s an exciting sport, with a lot of action, and while not normally brutal, has the potential for some serious injuries. There was a long injury time-out that first evening, as Suri O’Killer, one of the M-80s had taken an injury to the knee. All the skaters knelt while waiting for the verdict out of respect for their injured colleague. Suri was carted off to the hospital, as an applause of respect for how she had played so far that evening, and for encouragement, as she left the building. I later found out that she had snapped her ACL clean in two.
Anyway, the game continued on, and the Stunt Devils won! We’d both really enjoyed ourselves, but as I say, I was completely hooked, and so I turned up the next month for the next event. After that event, I hung around a bit at the after party and started meeting some of the derby players, and I kept coming back to all the intraleague games, and the home games of the travel team. Several of the players I now count among my friends. They may have mean derby names, and play a little rough on the track, but they are some of the nicest people I know.
So, back to this upcoming season. The first event is on Saturday, November 13, doors open at 6:30, first bout at 7. You can see the whole schedule on their website. Will you be there to watch as well? Come and find out what’s so exciting about the sport and have a fun evening out.
Last night was the final game of the ARRG regular season, with the 3-0 Stunt Devils up against the 1-2 Smashinistas. With the M-80′s at 1-3 for the season, a win for the Smashies would give them the other place in the Championship to join the Stunt Devils. With a loss, it would come down to point difference. The M-80′s had a balance of 101 points against them, so for them to get into the Championship instead of the Smashinistas, the Smashies would have to end the season with a net of 102 points against them in the point difference. Given that going into the game, the Smashies had a balance of 23 points against them, a loss of 78 points would take them to 101 (and then to the next tie breaker – and no, I don’t know what that is). A loss of 79 points would give the M-80′s the Championship spot, and a loss of 77 or fewer points would secure the Smashies their berth. The biggest winning margin of the season so far has been 52 points, so it seemed likely that it was a given the Smashies would get the berth. But with reputations and perfect records at stake, neither team was going to let up on the other.
Right out of the gate, the Smashies got the first couple of lead Jammers, and were the the first to score points. They were also very well aware of Artemischief, usually formidable as a Jammer, and they did an excellent job of blocking her from getting through the pack on several occasions. They know she’s one of the Stunt Devils’ best weapons, and they defended well against her.
The first half was very low scoring, with the Stunt Devils reclaiming the lead to 39-19.
The second half brought more success for the Stunt Devils, from South City Shiner who had a new, very shiny, purple leotard as part of her uniform, and Morgan Le Faetal, both of whom did well for their team.
On the Smashinistas, Downtown Dallis and Punches Pileup were, for me, the stars of the team. Both got lead Jammer on several occasions, and scored well. I have to admit, Punches Pileup looks somewhat ungainly as she’s skating, but style aside, she skates fast!
The second half was interrupted by some power issues which took out the PA, the main score board, and the jam timer. The officials and MCs entertained us with some daredevil jumps over other officials as we waited for power to be restored.
Play continued, with the Stunt Devils in the lead. With under two minutes to go, the Stunt Devils lined up with Mayor Francis Slayer lined up, not in her customary Pivot position, but as Jammer! She successfully secured lead jammer, but her opposite number (which I think was Downtown Dallis) managed to get ahead of her, so she called off the jam to prevent the Smashies from scoring points.
Seconds are left on the play clock, so they line up for one last Jam. The Smashies get lead jammer, and the power goes out once again! The officials don’t stop the bout, but allow it to continue. There’s no visible jam clock or scoreboard and there’s a certain amount of confusion, but the girls skate on, the Smashinistas scoring what they can. The whistle blows, the officials having been keeping time and score independently of the failed devices. There’s tension as we wait the official announcement… the power returns, and the MC announces a final score of 85 -77 for a Stunt Devils win.
The Stunt Devils retain their perfect record, but the Smashinistas held them to under 100 points, the first time this season. 8 points is also the narrowest margin of the season, and just one or two jams could have made the difference.
So, it’s official. The Stunt Devils will meet the Smashinstas in the Championship in a repeat of last night’s bout, and if last night is anything to go by, the bout could go either way.
July 10 is the date for the Championship, again at the All American Sports Mall. As some extra excitement, the newly formed St Louis GateKeepers men’s league now have enough players to form two teams, so they will be playing before the Championship to give us a double header. I believe doors open at 6, with the GateKeepers’ bout starting at 7. $10 on the door, or you can secure tickets early by going to Brown Paper Tickets
You can also read the official ARRG recap of the game.
Well, as it turned out, I was in fact able to go to the Roller Derby bout in St Charles tonight. The ARRG Rookie Rivals took on the St Chux Derby Chix in St Charles. It was a great bout. The level of play was not as high as I’d experienced before – quite a few of the players looked a little unsteady on their skates – but that’s to be expected given that one team was rookie players, most of whom are yet to be drafted into the ARRG league, and the other team are part of a new league that’s only just started.
The first half opened with the Rookie Rivals taking a commanding lead, not least because of an excellent Jam where Stitches became lead Jammer before the pack had even reached the third turn. She’s a player to watch out for, and I’m sure will be an early pick in the next draft. I heard afterwards that she has a roller hockey background, so is already a confident skater in aggressive situations. I’m sure that helps a lot. When not Jamming, she was a good blocker, already aware of what’s going on around her, again a skill from her hockey. She has a strong future with ARRG, I would think. Other Rookie Rivals who performed noticeably well as Jammers were Pelvis Costello and The Forecloser. They’ve already been picked up by league teams (M80′s and Smashinistas respectively). I also noted that each of the 17 players on the Rookie Rivals’ roster was given a chance to be the Jammer. It’s a great opportunity for them to play, and see which positions suit them best.
After a strong start to the bout, the half ended with a score of 59 – 25 to the Rookie Rivals.
The second half opened with a strong response from the St Chux Chix; they got Lead jammer for the first few Jams and started pulling back the points. St. Chux players who were strong Jammers were Pink Diamond, Grey Goose O’Flyen and Lady Lucifer. They fought well, and even outscored the Rookie Rivals in the second half but in the end it just wasn’t enough, and the bout ended with a 112 – 80 win for the Rookie Rivals.
Now, I’m by no means an expert on the game, but that’s not going to stop me offering some some opinions. I would say that the Rookie Rovals had a strong advantage coming from such a strong league. Practising with the calibre of players in ARRG can only help bring their quality of play up, a luxury that the St Chux Derby Chix don’t yet have. The other disadvantage St Chux had was a shorter roster. With only 10 players, that meant that each individual player was on the track more often than the Rookie Rivals, so I’m sure they got more tired more quickly, without as much time to recover. I noticed, particularly in the second half when they were trying to catch up, that there were several Jams that the same St Chux Jammer played back to back. If there is anything I could fault the Rookie Rivals on, it would be making sure their Jammer understands the Penalty Box rules. Normally when a player has a major penalty, they have to spend 60 seconds in the Penalty Box. However, if one team’s Jammer is in the Penalty Box, and then the other Jammer is put into the Penalty Box, if they were both required to stay for the full 60 seconds, there would be a period where no points could be scored as there would be no Jammer on the track. How this is resolved is that when the second Jammer comes in, the first Jammer gets to go back into play immediately, and then the second Jammer’s penalty time is reduced to be the same amount of time the first Jammer actually served. There were at least two occasions where the Rookie Rivals Jammer was in the Penalty Box, the St Chux Jammer committed a major penalty, but the Rookie Rivals Jammer seemed to be unaware that they should then go back into play, and lost quite a bit of time in the jam as a result of the confusion.
All in all, though, it was a great bout, thoroughly enjoyable, and both teams had plenty of fans to support them.
The Arch Rival Roller Girls hosted a double header event this weekend. AARG has two travelling teams, The ARRG All Stars, which is formed of the top players in the league, and the St Lunachix which is the B-team. This is composed of some of the newer players to give them a chance to experience some inter-league games, and also some veteran players who cannot or do not want to commit to the much more rigourous training regime that’s required of the members of the All Stars.
Since I’ve recently become a fan of Roller Derby, I thought it would be fun to get a group of people together to come join me. All in all, I think there were 17 of us; 6 from church, 2 from twitter, 8 from my Board Game group and, of course, myself.
Because the two bouts were the travelling teams, rather than the St Louis League teams, there was no difficulty deciding who to cheer for. The first bout was the St Lunachix against the Dynamite Dolls of Evansville, IN. The action was pretty intense, but the Dynamite Dolls clearly practise their blocking technique. They were excellent at preventing the Lunachix jammer getting through, and at preventing the Lunachix blockers from stopping the Dolls jammer from weaving through the pack. The bout was hard fought, but in the end resulted in a 134 – 78 point win for the Dolls.
After a brief break, the ARRG All Stars faced the Muñecas Muertas all the way from Albuquerque, NM. Both teams played excellently. The fast Meep Meep from the Muñecas Muertas often took lead jammer, except when she was up against the All Stars’ Artemischief, who despite, or quite possibly because of, her small stature, was always very quick off the Jammer line. She also wove through the pack well, and was frequently given a boost exiting the pack by the excellent blockers on her team. Albuqurque fought hard, but in the end just couldn’t manage to keep up: a 127 – 75 win for the AARG All Stars.
I’ve been chatting to a number of the players from ARRG on Twitter, and it was great to meet some of them at the event, and chat afterwards at the after party. They may put on a mean persona for the Derby, but I’m pretty sure deep down they are pretty nice inside. It really was great to see Mayor Francis Slayer again – I met her at a previous event. And congratulations to her for recently being named one of the winners of the St Louis Business Journal’s 30 Under 30 Award. I was also very pleased to meet Nikki Vixxen and Smarty McFly. Finally, meeting Eli Wallop was also a blast. She’d recently told me on Twitter that she and I share a number of interests. As well as Roller Derby, she also enjoys board games, so of course I invited her to my board game group, and she’s also a knitter. I’d brought my knitting along and I showed her the yarn I’m currently using to knit some socks. It’s Possum Sock yarn, which is 80% Superwash Merino, 20% New Zealand Possum fur. The look on her face when she saw what it was made of was quite amusing.
Anyway, it was a fabulous evening, and I’m looking forward to going again.
So what about those future events? There’s quite a bit coming up.
Firstly, I recently learned that a new local Roller Derby oganization recently formed – The St Chux Derby Chix, in St Charles county. It was formed by some girls who lived in St Charles, but found that the travel 3-4 times a week to get to the ARRG practices was a bit much. They are currently affiliated with USA Roller Sports but play by the same rules as the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, so they can play WFTDA teams and once they’ve got a season under their belt, they plan to apprentice to the WFTDA in 2011. As part of their inaugural season, they are playing a team made up of ARRG rookies, which will be good experience for all of them. I’m unable to go to this event, but it’s on June 12, in St Peters, and only $7. The SC/DC site has ticket information. I know that if you can go that they’ll really appreciate your support as they are building their organization.
The week after, June 19, it’s the last bout of the ARRG regular season: Stunt Devils vs Smashinistas. I plan to be going to this event, and anyone who would like to go is welcome to join me. You’ll find me at the Stunt Devils end, of course!
The next big event is July 10, which is the ARRG Championship Bout, which is going to be a very exciting game. It’s currently listed as doors at 7pm and bout at 8pm, but at last night’s bout they announced that this would be a double header event, with a bout from two teams formed from the members of the new Men’s Derby team in St Louis, The St Louis GateKeepers. With that in mind, I’m half expecting the time of the event to change – I’ll update if I hear more.
If you’re interested in joining me at either the June 19 or July 10 event, let me know. Both events are going to be a lot of fun!