Friday, June 17, 2011

No More 4 Ewe

I haven’t been blogging about all my derby activities this year.  One reason is I’m a slug.  Also, I’ve been volunteering as one of the textcasters for the Cincinnati Rollergirls’ home bouts this season.  You can read some comments from the bout in the DNN bout archives.  Because of that I haven’t been posting here on CRG bouts this year even though I’ve been to them all (in fact, all home bouts since the first Super Roll Sunday).

I want to get a quick post out before the last CRG home bout of the season tomorrow night.  If you haven’t caught a CRG event at the Cincinnati Gardens yet this year, be sure to attend tomorrow night.  CRG had an ambitious schedule this year that has brought some very good teams to the Gardens.  This has resulted in some exciting derby action for the home town fans!  Although CRG hasn’t won these events as judged by the final score, I think they have won in terms of their performance.  For the most part CRG has hung in there and kept things close against tough competition.  Even against the Windy City Rollers, who are #1 in the North Central region and undefeated against North Central opponents, the two teams were neck and neck for most all of the first period!  While some might not agree with DNN ranking criteria, it’s this type of effort that helped CRG move up the rankings a bit in the last update.

The main reason to post though is that tomorrow night will be the last home bout for four Cincinnati skaters: Hop Devil, Miss Print, Sk8 Crime, and Trauma.  Hop Devil has been a wonderful surprise for the team these last couple years.  She is a solid jammer with good speed and intuition.  I hope we’ll see her on the track in the future – although sadly not for CRG.  Miss Print is one of the original CRG skaters that has had an impact both on and off the track.  And when I say off the track, I’m thinking both for CRG and also for derby in general through her blog and media presence.  Fortunately, she’ll continue to be involved with CRG.  Sk8 Crime is another original CRG skater and one that I gave some pretty harsh comments early on.  Boy was I wrong!  She is a skater who is talented on the track and also someone who uses her passion and leadership to help the team a lot off the track as well.  Finally, Trauma has been a strong, versatile part of the team since she started (I think in 2008).  She can block with the best of them and has the speed to step in as a jammer.

I’ll miss seeing all of them skating regularly for CRG!  Thanks for giving us some great derby memories starting way back at Castle Skateland and carrying through to today at the Cincinnati Gardens.  I wish all of you all the best in the future!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Gem City vs. Killamazoo -- 2011 Home Opener

Last Saturday night I went to Dayton along with Penal Eyes and Stabby McNeedles for the Gem City Rollergirls’ 2011 home opener at the Orbit Fun Center in Huber Heights.  Gem City was hosting the Killamazoo Derby Darlins for the bout.  I took photos for Gem City and Penal Eyes and Stabby were helping with NSO duties.  The venue was packed – standing room only off of the floor.
Gem City vs. Killamazoo-70
A little photo diversion -- This was my first big photo event using radio flash triggers (Pocketwizards) to control off camera flashes.  The new Pocketwizards were very easy to use.  The only watchout I discovered is that flash batteries that would be sufficient for many photos using Nikon’s CLS or on camera were not sufficient for the Pocketwizard Flex to establish a connection with the flash.  Other than that, they were reliable anywhere in the rink and the control of the light groups was simple using the SU-800 on the Pocketwizard Mini on the camera.  Kudos to LPA Design for putting out a fine product!  It took a while to get the Nikon version out, but it was well worth the wait to get it right.

Gem City vs. Killamazoo-80The Killamazoo Derby Darlins were in control of the bout from the start.  Ladyhawk, one of the Darlins, was doing a tremendous job as a jammer.  It seemed she posted a good share of the points for the Darlins.  The photo above is Ladyhawk at full speed and looking to catch the pack.  Click on the photo to see a larger version.  At the half the score was Killamazoo 113 and Gem City 29.

Gem City used several jammers in their rotation.  Some of the skaters taking a turn with the jammer star were Racey Rocker, Rage-L and Supersonic.  The photo at right is of Racey Rocker during one of her jams.  She has been skating with Gem City for a while now and is a solid anchor for their group of jammers.  The photo below shows Supersonic during one of her jams.  Gem City picked up the pace a bit in the second half and Killamazoo started making regular trips to the box that slowed their scoring just a bit.  The final score was Killamazoo 198 and Gem City 71.  Although Gem City was behind from the start, they all stayed focused and gave it their all the whole bout.

Gem City vs. Killamazoo-14

The best blocking photo I took during the bout is this photo showing Dizzy Queen trying to slow down the opposing jammer.

Gem City vs. Killamazoo-36
Gem City’s next home bout is April 16th when the NEO Roller Derby team drives down from Akron.  Check out their website for more information about this and future bouts.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Derby Hot Stove League

Although it has been quiet here for quite awhile, there has been a lot going on in the derby world.

We were fortunate to be able to attend the WFTDA nationals (yes, I’m still calling it nationals) last Fall in Chicago. The Windy City Rollers did a great job hosting the event at the UIC Pavilion. We got to see a lot of good derby during the event – with the highlight being the final bout where the Rocky Mountain Rollergirls beat the Oly Rollers by a single point to take the 2010 championship. Can’t ask for anything more exciting than that. It was a fun weekend and we got to connect with friends and make some new ones!

The last few months have been hot stove league derby time for us here in Cincinnati. Now with the increase in popularity of derby, you can find quite a bit of derby news and in depth derby discussions on the web. The Cincinnati Roller Derby Examiner has lots of derby news posts and skater interviews/profiles for Cincinnati local skaters. If you haven’t been there, check it out. A solid derby site that has come of age in the past several months is Roller Derby Inside Track. That site has lots of news, bout previews, and good discussion about the sport in general. For me the most interesting hot stove league post there was that written by Tank discussing minor penalties in derby. It is an interesting post that made a good case against minors and opened the door for some good commentary on whether minor penalties should be removed or not. If you haven’t read the post and the comments, check it out -- some good reading. I hope some leagues do start gathering data as Tank suggested and work toward simplifying the rules without sacrificing safety. Finally, the Roller Derby Diva blog written by Miss Print is always a good spot to check for local info, national news, and derby related tidbits.

While many teams have started their 2011 season, the closest women’s teams to me haven’t had bouts yet – but they will be starting their home seasons soon! (Thank goodness!!). Of course everyone is wondering what the rosters will be for the teams. Who retired? Who moved (the WFTDA version of being traded)? Who are the rookies? All these can have an influence on the teams.

First up are the Gem City Rollergirls that will have their first bout on March 19th against the Killamazoo Derby Darlins. That is followed by the Cincinnati Rollergirls home opener on March 26th when they take on Nashville. The CRG home bout schedule has some historically good teams (Nashville, Windy City, and Detroit) that promises to challenge them and bring some exciting derby action to the Cincinnati Gardens. Finally, the Black-n-Bluegrass Roller Girls have their home season opener on April 16th against Vette City at Midwest Hoops in Florence. Check each of their websites for their full schedules and ticket information.

It’s going to be an exciting Spring filled with roller derby action. Get out and catch some bouts!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

CRG's Last 2010 Home Bout

Saturday was a great day in Cincinnati for a couple reasons. Cincinnati mayor Mark Mallory declared Saturday Cincinnati Rollergirls Day! It also was a CRG bout day – the last home bout of the season for the Cincinnati Rollergirls. It was a typical double header with the CRG Silent Lambs taking on the Demolition City Roller Derby team from Evansville, Indiana in a 40 minute bout and the CRG Black Sheep taking on the Brew City Bruisers from Milwaukee, Wisconsin in a WFTDA bout. There were over 2800 fans in attendance at the Gardens, braving the heat and humidity to cheer on the CRG skaters.

Unlike all the previous CRG home bouts where I was a fan on the floor, I had a job this time. I tried my hand helping to text cast the bout for DNN along with candyKICKass, Moriarty’s Moll, and Mr. Fuchsia (a.k.a. the Kman). Candy has been doing the CRG text casts most of the season and she gave guidance to the rest of us first timers (thanks for your help!). You can read the archive of the text boutcast here as well as see the video. I had a little bit of a rocky start with some connectivity issues, but got in to the swing of things after a bit. We divided up commenting responsibilities during the evening. In both bouts I was providing comments on the pack skaters of the opposing teams. That focus really put the blinders on as far as the overall action was concerned, but it did give me a different perspective on the bout and a new appreciation for the work in the pack.

In the first bout of the evening the Silent Lambs took on the Dynamite Dolls from Demolition City. DCRD just obtained WFTDA status last week – congratulations! The teams seemed to be feeling each other out the first few jams. The defense was tough on both sides and the score was relatively low and close. After a few jams, CRG was up 22 to 16 and they held that margin through the first half where they ended up in the lead with a score of 34 to 28. There were two keys to Demolition City’s defense. Much of the time the DCRD skaters stayed together in a tight group that could often double team the CRG jammer or occasionally trap a CRG pack skater behind them to control the pack. Even a great skater has trouble advancing when being double or triple teamed. The other key was some great individual DCRD skater efforts. Probably the most impressive was Bangs McCoy, who somewhat reminded me of Blu with her stature and ability to single handedly use a wide stance and cuts to hold up an opposing jammer. In the second half things were the same until about mid way through the period. The Lambs had some penalty troubles and with the Lambs jammer in the box DCRD slowed the pack and racked up a 20 point jam to put them ahead 54 to 48. A few jams later, even with only three pack skaters at the start of the jam, they coordinated their defense and held back Bex Pistol as the DCRD jammer Lillith of the Valley put up a grand slam to jump further ahead. The DCRD pack coordination of defense was disturbed in some instances by CRG blockers (Celia Graves and Kitten Kicker had some nice hits to help), but not enough of the time. DCRD ended up on top at the final whistle with a score of 79 to 52. However, take away those couple of high point DCRD jams and the game was a toss up. The Lambs should be proud of their effort!

The second bout showcased the CRG Black Sheep (DNN rank #19) and the Brew City Bruisers (DNN rank #25) in what could be a preview to one of the final matchups at the North Central regional tournament. The Black Sheep controlled the match and held the lead the entire way. In this bout the Brew City Bruiser pack effectiveness was almost the exact opposite of DCRD in the first bout. While there are several talented Brew City blockers (notably Rejected Seoul, Killy, Moby Nipps and Cookie Ciano) that exhibited some wonderful individual efforts throughout the bout, they weren’t able to consistently coordinate their pack. They weren’t able to hang together like the DCRD pack and double team the Black Sheep jammers. The main reason for that was the disruption caused by constant attacks from the CRG pack skaters. While ALL the CRG blockers contributed to this constant barrage of Brew City pack disruption, I have to say that June with a Cleaver, Buckhead Betty, Ruff’n the Passer, and Nuk’em were especially effective at blocking to keep Brew City off balance. Without a consistent, collective blocking effort, Brew City couldn't put together a defense to slow or stop the Black Sheep scoring. All the skaters were getting a tough workout as the pack was generally skating pretty quickly. That made it rough for the jammers. The Black Sheep jammers were speedy and posted quite a few points each jam to lead by 46 at the half. Brew City wasn’t able to adjust much in the second half. The bout finished with a score of CRG 139 and Brew City 71. Congrats to the Black Sheep for posting another win!

Sadly, this was the last event of the home season for CRG. It was another great production in a fantastic venue (although some ac wouldn’t hurt). Thanks to all the CRG skaters for making this another fun season for us fans – the best yet as far as excitement and production value goes. It is thrilling to see the CRG fan base grow exponentially and feel the crowd getting into the sport. I didn’t get any photos this bout since I was text casting, but the CRG photomonkeys were both there and will undoubtedly have their usual fantastic photos on Flickr.

The Cincinnati Rollergirls still have quite a few away games ahead of them. Watch their website and catch some boutcasts on DNN if you can’t make the trips. Good luck to the Black Sheep on their road through the North Central Tournament!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

CRG vs. Gem City and the North Star Supernovas

It was a warm night in the Cincinnati Gardens on Saturday – made all that much more so by a heated bout between geographical neighbors and another by neighbors in the DNN power rankings. I didn’t hear the attendance number, but it must have been over 2000. In the first bout of the evening, the Cincinnati Rollergirls’ Silent Lambs took on the Gem City Roller Girls from Dayton in a 40 minute match. In the second bout, CRG’s Black Sheep took on the North Star Roller Girls from Minneapolis. Congratulations to CRG for coming away with two wins!

Silent Lambs vs Gem City-15The first bout between the Silent Lambs and Gem City pitted some old teammates against each other because of transfers between the Cincinnati and Dayton teams. That seemed to add a little extra tension to the bout and it translated into a lot of hard blocking in the pack. That kept the score relatively low. Notables in the blocking department were Ruff’n the Passer (her first bout coming off maternity leave) and Celia Graves (shown at right blocking Gem City Jammer Racey Rocker) for the Silent Lambs and Juwana Hurt for Gem City – but everyone in both packs was getting a workout and giving it their all. The first photo below shows Wheezy flying to the inside after taking a hit from Juwana Hurt. There was a lot of jammer rotation for the Lambs that included Pistol Whippin’ Wendy, Wheezy, Bombtrack, Hop Devil, Miss Print (second photo below), and Bex Pistol (third photo below). CRG played smart during the match – varying the pack speed, catching babies, etc. The blocking, speedy and experienced jammers, and smart play were all factors that kept the Silent Lambs in control from the start. Gem City’s Racey Rocker must have posted most of the Gem City points, but it wasn’t enough. At the half the Lambs were up 45 to 24 and after 40 minutes they won easily with a score of 112 to 53. Congrats to the Silent Lambs on another big win that was achieved by using many different skaters in a variety of different packs.

Silent Lambs vs Gem City-28

Silent Lambs vs Gem City-32

Silent Lambs vs Gem City-13

Black Sheep vs Supernovas-5In the second bout, the Black Sheep (DNN rank 19) took on the North Star Supernovas (DNN rank 24) in a WFTDA bout. CRG started out slow and the score was low and within a few points after the first few jams. That changed when Hannah Ouchocinco (skating in her first home bout following her finger injury) posted a 20 point jam to create a gap that North Star could never close. From that point on, CRG controlled the bout with hard work and smart play that was interesting to watch. It was obvious that both teams knew each other the way they were pairing jammers on the line and assigning blockers to double team where necessary to slow or stop jammers in the pack. Although the pack speed varied according to strategy, it was a pretty fast pack for most of the bout. However, with K. Lethal and Hannah back in the jammer rotation so Nuk’em could focus on blocking, the Supernovas had their hands full. The photo above and right shows Sadistic Sadie zipping around the track to score on her birthday.

By the half the Black Sheep were ahead with a score of 67 to 21. The second half was very similar to the first. It was the Black Sheep in control most of the time. That’s not to say that the Supernovas gave in by any means. They continued dishing out some hard blocks and use double teaming to make Cincinnati’s jammers work hard. But work they did to keep up about the same scoring pace as they did in the first half of the bout. The first photo below shows Hannah going around turn 4 with the Supernova skaters Roller Vixen in front and Katarina Hit behind. The second photo below shows Sk8 Crime holding the inside line to slow down Supernova jammer Medusa enough so Sk8r-Kinney could come in to give a hard block. In the end, the Black Sheep won handily with a score of 119 to 50. Congrats on a solid victory!

Black Sheep vs Supernovas-12

Black Sheep vs Supernovas-26

Black Sheep vs Supernovas-80 The bout production was very good as usual. Some friends who brought kids for their first bout of this season were impressed with the improvements compared to past years. The kids loved the chance to meet the skaters and get autographs after the bout. It’s nice that the CRG skaters take time to talk with the young kids – and the older kids like me too. After the bout we talked a bit with the Librarian. She was notably absent from the Silent Lambs lineup due to a knee injury. She was hobbling around with a sturdy brace on her knee, but she always has time to say hi and give a shush pose. Thanks, Librarian!

Black Sheep vs Supernovas-82I also had the opportunity to meet Hop Devil, one of the CRG rookies and a jammer for the Silent Lambs. She also posed for a photo with me. Finally, Dianne and I posed with Buckhead Betty and Nuk’em in this photo below taken by the Kman. Thanks to both of them!

Black Sheep vs Supernovas-89

Black Sheep vs Supernovas-84In a Rabid Derby Fan blog first, Dianne got a photo of me with one of the CRG zebras, Captain Gorgeous. You can see a more traditional photo of me and Capt. G here. All the photos I posted from the Lambs’ bout are in a Flickr set here and all the photos from the Sheep bout are in a set here.

If you haven’t been to a CRG bout, what's the matter with you!?! You better mark June 19th on your calendar as that is their last home bout of the 2010 season. After that you can follow them on the road for several bouts around the country before the North Central Regional tournament in September. Check out the CRG website for more information about their schedule as well as lots of info on upcoming matchups, events, and blog posts by skaters. The recent post by Bombtrack that gives a rookie’s perspective was very interesting. Check it out and see you at the last home bout!

Black Sheep vs Supernovas-1

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Mother May I?

Last night we went to watch the 2010 home opener bout of the Black-n-Bluegrass Rollergirls that was held at the Florence Fundome. The place was packed with fans and friends that came to watch the BBRG double header event dubbed “Mother May I?” In the first bout the BBRG Blue Lightnin’ team took on the Vette City Vixens and in the second bout the Black Thunder team took on the Quad Skate Terrors. Congratulations to the BBRG skaters on two wins for their home opener!

BBRG Mother May I?-40The first bout was a see-saw battle the whole way. Both teams were struggling to pull together a consistent, coordinated blocking effort. There were some good individual efforts, but the teams weren’t able to bottle-up the opposing jammers consistently. Both teams were getting their share of lead jammer status based primarily on speed. As a result, there were quite a few lead changes during the bout that kept the fans of both teams on edge. BBRG jammers included Beka Rekanize (shown at right), Scary Garcia, Kris P. Cream, and Honey Bunny. At the half, BBRG was up by two points.

During the second half of the first bout the scoring pace kept up, but with several minutes left in the bout BBRG was down by around 20 or so points. With a never-say-die attitude, the BBRG skaters buckled down and had a couple good jams that left them closer, but still behind the Vixens going into the last jam. The first photo below shows Kris P. Cream getting a whip to help her get around the turn and score. In the last jam the Vette City jammer was sent to the penalty box and the outcome of the bout was on BBRG jammer Honey Bunny and her teammates. BBRG slowed the pack and Honey Bunny kept up her speed to post a couple grand slams that in the end put BBRG ahead by one point when the whistle blew. The second photo below shows Honey Bunny wearing the jammer star in an earlier jam. What an exciting finish to the bout! BBRG won with a score of 164 to 163.

BBRG Mother May I?-58

BBRG Mother May I?-63

BBRG Mother May I?-106In the second bout of the evening the BBRG Black Thunder skaters took control of the bout from the start and held the lead over the Quad Skate Terror skaters (that included some BBRG Blue Lightnin’ skaters) for the entire time. It’s no secret from past posts that I’m a QST fan, but this wasn’t the iron fisted QST team we’ve seen in the past. They were struggling against the BBRG squad. The Black Thunder jammers included Pinup Pussycat (first photo below), EMolition (at right being blocked by a QST skater), Petal to the Metal (second photo below), Shelter Skelter, and Aine Ass. They were able to consistently get through the QST blockers to score and the BBRG blockers were able to slow the QST jammers and on occasion double team them to block their progress. There was a lot more blocking in this bout, but because the score gap was so wide it didn’t have the nail-biter appeal of the first bout. At the half BBRG was ahead with a score of 95 to 30 and at the end of the bout the Black Thunder won easily with a score of 167 to 64. Congrats to BBRG on the win and kudos for QST for skating hard the entire bout!

BBRG Mother May I?-99

BBRG Mother May I?-64

BBRG Mother May I?-149I didn’t hear final attendance figures, but it seemed to me that the crowd was about twice the size of the crowds at BBRG bouts I attended last year. The crowd really taxed the capacity of the Florence Fundome – a good thing for BBRG. It was standing room only and the floor suicide seating was packed for the first bout. After the bout I got to meet and talk with Honey Bunny and Dianne got a picture of us. Besides the photos shown in this post, you can see all the other photos I took during the bout in a Flickr set here. The next BBRG home bout is on June 26th when they take on the Fort Wayne Derby Girls. Check out the BBRG website for more information about tickets, times, and other events around town where you can meet the skaters.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

CRG vs. The Chicago Outfit

Last night was a rough night for the Chicago Outfit as their two teams, the Shade Brigade and the Syndicate, took on the Cincinnati Rollergirls’ Silent Lambs and Black Sheep at the Cincinnati Gardens. The Outfit is a relatively new team organized in 2007 that became a WFTDA apprentice team last September. The Outfit was no match for CRG. As expected, CRG came away with two big wins in front of their home crowd.

CRG vs. Chicago Outfit-20In the first bout the Silent Lambs took on the Shade Brigade. The Lambs were in control of the bout from the start. The CRG pack was able to contain the Shade Brigade jammers and by the 20 minute half the Lambs were ahead with a score of 53 to 8. The photo at right shows Bex Pistol, one of the Silent Lamb jammers, in the open and looking ahead to the pack. The scoring picked up on both sides during the second half but the Lambs continued to outpace the Shade Brigade scoring by about double! The photo below shows The Librarian and Maime putting the squeeze on a Shade Brigade jammer to stop her from scoring. The final score was Lambs 140 and Shade Brigade 45. An excellent showing and quite a few of the CRG rookies got to see action. Congrats to the Lambs on another solid win!

CRG vs. Chicago Outfit-15

CRG vs. Chicago Outfit-75The second bout, a full hour, unfortunately was a repeat of the first bout for The Outfit. The Black Sheep were in control from the start and the solid CRG blocking and smart play slowed the Syndicate scoring. The Syndicate skaters Lola Blow and Sweet Mary Pain led the Syndicate jammers, but there wasn’t enough depth yet in their team to keep up the scoring. The CRG blocking was just too tough for the Syndicate to handle. There were occasions where Syndicate blockers double teamed the CRG jammers to slow them down a bit, but they couldn’t keep that up and the Black Sheep jammers were scoring easily. The depth of the CRG team was illustrated by having Trauma and Dr. McDerby step in to the jammer rotation. The photo at right shows Trauma wearing the star, smiling as she skates past the Trauma Center cheering section. At the end of the first period, the Black Sheep had opened up a sizeable lead and the bout ended with CRG winning 141 to 86. The first photo below shows Sadie rounding the turn at full speed. The second photo shows Nuk'em going shoulder to shoulder with Lola Blow.

CRG vs. Chicago Outfit-26

CRG vs. Chicago Outfit-64

CRG vs. Chicago Outfit-93Once again the Queen City Rainbow Band was there to play during the bout and the Wooly Bully was having a ball. During the bout I was up in the stands talking with some friends and I have to say the sound is much better in the stands. Caesar and The Tank are much easier to hear up there and they really do a great job explaining the action for folks new to derby bouts. After the bout Dianne got photos of me with Bombtrack (at right) and Captain Painway (below right) – both skaters for the Silent Lambs. Thanks to both of them for taking time for a photo. Check out the usual blogs and photo sources for other opinions on the bout. With the attendance explosion, there are a lot of things to read and photos to peruse. You can see the rest of my photos in my Flickr pool here.

CRG vs. Chicago Outfit-95The next bout should be a bit more exciting as the North Star Roller Girls from Minneapolis make the trip to the Gardens on May 28th. In the latest DNN Power rankings, CRG is #19 and NSRG is #24. CRG will face a bit more competition from that match up, but I'm confident they'll come out on top. Catch the derby fever and cheer on CRG at the next bout!