Friday, April 15, 2011

Banging on all cylinders

Photos by Dave Shrader

Going into last Saturday's bout against the Kansas City Roller Warriors' Plan B travel team, Old Capitol City Roller Girls were feeling confident in our abilities, but unsure how we would match up against a seasoned WFTDA travel team. OCCRG would enter the bout with a seven-game win streak and tremendous momentum, but Kansas City also brought its own winning streak including a last-out absolute beating delivered to the roller girls of Topeka, 325-45. Our victory in Madison had been a surprising but desperately close one; would we be life-or-death clashing with Kansas City?

ZomB Blokr is on top of things

Well, not exactly.

Ophelia Fracture squeaks by on the inside while Bat R Up holds back the opposing jammer

Though I am considered a veteran skater of OCCRG, pre-bout jitters have been a terrible struggle for me in the past. I've made great strides in conquering them but my bench coaches tend to sit me out the first two or three jams to make sure I am cool and collected before going in for my first one. And time and time again I have been awed and inspired by my teammates, who take no prisoners right from the start. Our jammers --Ophelia Fracture, Gladi8Her and Left 4 Deadwards-- are fleet-footed and agile; our incredible blockers --everyone from Bat R Up to Animal Mother to Jane Bang to ZomB Blokr to Fannysaurus Wrex to A Few Screws Lucy-- are shrewd and calculating. Watching them skate and dominate gives me added confidence and pluck I didn't know I possessed.

Bat R Up takes out a KC jammer... and sends her flying into a spectator's lap

As well as OCCRG played last Saturday, Kansas City played almost as well. They too had capable jammers as well as a hard-hitting and terrifically aggressive defense that kept us working hard to maintain control. One area OCCRG struggled with during the first half was staying out of the penalty box; it was not an uncommon sight at the beginning of jams to see only two OCCRG blockers lining up on the track. Despite the penalties, we went into half-time still leading 115-102.

Left 4 Deadwards cuts inside while I zero in on the KC jammer

During our time away from the track we made up our minds to go out strong in the second half, to up our defense while skating cleaner to stay out of the box. And stepping back onto the track, we were focused and motivated. As the minutes on the clock ran down in the second half, OCCRG gradually extended the lead. More Kansas City blockers made their own trips to the box and more of their jammers were shut out with fewer or no points accumulated during the jams.

Gladi8Her takes lead while Bat R Up and Jane Bang move in for the kill

OCCRG ultimately prevailed with a comfortable and definitive score of 213-152 over Kansas City. The win bolstered our 2011 record to 4-0 and marked the team's eighth straight win. But the ladies of OCCRG aren't ones to rest on their laurels. We're coming right back tomorrow on one week's rest to take on the Eastern Iowa Outlaws for the first time in Dubuque.

And we're ready.

Yours truly butting heads in the second half

As for myself, last Saturday was a valuable learning experience. The Kansas City team had as fierce and assertive defense I have come across yet as a jammer, but I did fairly well. During the first half I was able to garner lead jammer status on most outings and was able to chase the Plan B jammers and force them into calling things off early when they got through the pack first. In the second half I played exclusively as a blocker as that was where I was needed most; to assist defense in stymieing the Plan B jammers. It was a little bit refreshing and good practice for future bouts, even though I had suffered a back strain in the first half and was in quite a bit of discomfort.

The back strain knocked me out for almost all of this week, but after regular dosages of Relafen and hourly icings, I've got the pain down to a manageable level and feel ready for tomorrow.

Besides, I've got a hankering for some spankering.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Storm's a-comin'

I have to apologize for the very tardy breakdown of the Old Capitol City Roller Girls -- Des Moines Derby Dames bout on March 26th. Our March Madness of three bouts in as many weekends left me wiped out but I am happy to say that after many nights of ten-hour slumbers Triple D. Zaster is back to her usually feisty and pugnacious self. I've seen more spark from my teammates at this week's practices as well, so despite not knowing a good deal about the Kansas City Roller Warriors' Plan B travel team I feel the team is ready to give a good account of ourselves on our home turf.

But, back to Des Moines. Going in I knew the Dames were hoping that OCCRG would be knackered and jaded, but I felt confident in my team's vigor and constitution -- especially in light of coach Bat R Up's typically grueling practices aimed to raise both one's strength and stamina. We hadn't played the Dames in over a year but we knew with more experience they'd be tougher this time around. Their star jammer, Stella Italiana, is nimble and startlingly quick and warranted the majority of our focus and energies.

The bout played out as expected. OCCRG established an early lead and never relinquished it, though the Dames were always in striking distance thanks to some big jams from Stella Italiana. Their defense was tough but ours was a little better, and other Dames jammers like Ella Diablo, Show Stopper and Smallsbury Steak were shut out entirely during a few jams. OCCRG's A Few Screws Lucy, Fannysaurus Wrex, Zom B Blokr, Jane Bang and Animal Mother made for an especially formidable defense.

And Bat R Up? "The Kraken," as she is remembered in Des Moines, made her presence felt repeatedly in the first half, delivering her usual round of punishing blocks that sent various Dames to the floor. But she had to sit out the entire second half after accumulating six majors -- most of which I feel were unfairly called simply because Bat R Up is a big hitter, but that's a rant for another day.

In the end the score stood at 156-123, with OCCRG bringing both their 2011 season tally and record versus D3 to a perfect 3-for-3. It also marked OCCRG's seventh consecutive victory. Stat-wise Stella Italiana -predictably- was the highest-scoring jammer, but I did have the second highest point average per jam and notched a 20-point jam. Not to toot my own horn but that's not easy to do when you come from a reputable stable of jammers that includes the venerable Ophelia Fracture, Gladi8Her and Left 4 Deadwards.

And now for the photos:


Ophelia Fracture skates around a fallen Show Stopper, while farther back ZomB Blokr tries to stymie a D3 jammer

From left: Ophelia Fracture, Animal Mother and Devil'n Laces make a formidable front wall, but leave just enough room for Left 4 Deadwards to squeak through

Animal Mother (left) and Swiss Misfit's two-woman wall is enough to hold back Show Stopper

Ophelia Fracture (second from left) attempts to navigate around Show Stopper, Jane Bang holds the line while Fannysaurus Wrex takes out Stella Italiana

Swiss Misfit (right) holds the line while Bat R Up and ZomB Blokr swarm a D3 jammer

Bring on the Kansas City Roller Warriors. I expect them to be tough but OCCRG is ready to bring the fire.