Thursday, March 12, 2009

Déjà Vu: NEO Demolishes Demolition City

Evansville, Indiana (3-7-2009)- The first game of the NEO Rock 'n' Roller Girls' first season last year was an away game in Evansville against Demolition City Roller Derby. That was such an amazing first game, for both new leagues, that it set the paradigm for what DCRD would strive for the rest of their home season. They won the game in an overtime jam by three points. The intensity was so overpowering that everyone thought it'd be impossible to recreate, but hoped to make happen again. Well, lightning did strike twice, although this time with different results. NEO beat DCRD in regulation play by two points: 102-100 in the bout dubbed Repeat Offender.
Last year both leagues were brand spankin' new and had never played a real game against another team. In the eleven months between the bouts, both teams have matured remarkably. The wet behind the ears, wobbly packs of yesteryear were replaced with machines of Swiss precision. The jammers were faster and stronger. The hits were harder and more strategically placed. In short, this was storybook roller derby.
The event was a double header with DCRD's B team, the Destruction Dames taking on the Circle City Socialites of Indianapolis. By comparison, this was watching a peewee football game open up for the SuperBowl. Neither team was amazing, but each team had its moments and players that show promise. The Destruction Dames had a couple of players from last year's A team on the roster to lead the newbies. This has to be the underlying reason the score was a washout. The scoreboard didn't even have the technology to extend past 199, and the Destruction Dames went well past that mark. The Socialites stayed in the lower double digits and after awhile the crowd was growing numb to the slaughter. The Socialites have a great coach, but they need a lot of practice to be able to compete and hold their own against any formidable foe.
And now the main event. From the first jam to the last, these girls were on fire. Shelby N. Pain from DCRD was as instumental this year as last. She was given an MVP by NEO as the player that gave them the most trouble offensively and defensively. She is a scoring machine that is fun to watch. Jetsy Rockette was versatile as well and having won the game for DCRD last year, she would have surely done the same this year given the chance. Clara Plegic was not to be outdone in the competition of "who can land the hardest hit" and from seeing her last year to this year, I'd have to say she's the most improved skater.
NEO's Phantom Fox, the sweetest girl you'll ever meet, demonstrated how a smile can be deceiving. She racked up 33 points for the evening and set the pace of the game by getting 23 of those in the first six jams. Chrissie B. Hynde did her best to match Phantom's prowess with her 27 point contribution and continues to be a veritable force in any position on the track. Taking Names had the most jammer take-outs, and even without a complete stat sheet to look at, I'd have to say she had the most penalties for NEO. As for DCRD, it's hard to say. Maully Olly Oxenfree did her best to make the refs earn their stripes. She was ejected from the first period for excessive trips to the penalty box and didn't slow down for the second period. She may commit a lot of penalties, but she also hits like 808 beats: consistant and hard.
NEO skated into the last jam with a 12 point lead and almost blew it by calling a time out. Under the current rule-set, if there is less than 30 seconds on the period clock before a jam, another jam will not start, i.e. game's over. Had NEO let the clock run out, the game would have been 98-86. But team captain Taking Names called a time-out for team regrouping and that forced one last jam (the period clock won't start again until the whistle that starts the pack). DCRD, much like they did last year, pulled it together and did phenomenally in the crunch. Shelby N. Pain scored 14 points, but NEO's Twin Pistol , despite DCRD's strong defense, managed to get 4 points in there as well, keeping NEO just 2 points ahead. When the tally was reported, only about 14 girls cheered, everyone else felt wronged in some way. But in my opinion (which most often doesn't count) it only sets the stage for next year. Will there be a rematch? And if so, who will come out on top? We can only wait and see. But rest assured that I'll be there to report the story to you. Keep rolling true believers!

Cold, maybe, but Hungry No More!

Akron, Ohio (2-21-2009)- The NEO Rock 'n' Roller Girls took the plunge, literally. For years, the Portage Lakes Polar Bear Jump has raised money for worthy causes. As the NEO girls aim to positively participate in their community, it seemed like a no brainer: let's jump into freezing cold water! Sounds easy, but breaking that ice was no picnic.
This year's charitable donation went to the Akron-Canton Regional Food Bank. For every dollar donated, 7 people can eat. Not bad, especially considering the jump raised over $22,000. Over two hundred jumpers bathed in the icy drink of Portage Lakes and we were there. Six of us to be exact. We raised just under $700, but the true dedication came when we had to line up on that pier. I say we because I was there in all my freezing-why-do-I-live-in-Ohio glory shivering on that platform waiting my turn to show the world that what I lack in common sense, I make up for in goose bumps.
As the jumpers registered they were given a number (mine was 117) and then we waited; huddled around the smoky warmth of the ad hoc camp fires and fleece blankets to keep even the tinniest shred of warmth about us. The DJ (a mentally twisted bloke) insisted on playing music that convinced your mind what you were about to do was nothing short of insanity. Songs like "Ice Ice Baby," and "You're as Cold as Ice," when all I wanted was the Beach Boys and "Heat Wave;" not that it would have helped. As families, friends and curious onlookers gathered around the boat launch, we the jumpers began to line up. Our crew, B.F. Goodbytch, Chrissie B. Hynde, Rowdy Cougar, Pepper Insult, Taking Names and I, had to wait until after the intermission, but it wasn't long until they were rounding 110 and we were being called up to "walk the plank."
Now to help you understand the scene, the jump took place between two boat docks roughly 15 feet apart. The workers had to cut a rectangle out of the ice and continue to move the ice that kept migrating back into the jump zone. For safety there were two dry-suited men, one bobbing continuously in the water while senseless people jumped around him. There was a ladder on the exiting platform for the jumper to climb out of the water and a gang plank that led to the "heated" tents where one would try to regain any concept of non-shivering.
B.F. went first. She made it look easy. She swam like Gertrude Ederle swam the English Channel. Chrissie went next and she made it look fun. Cougar was in front of me and she did the fake out "I can't go" but turned and made it look valliant. I was next. I tried not to think too much about the cold (which by now had increased exponentially with the hurricane like wind) and just focused on my exit strategy. I had to do Rodney Dangerfield a solid and performed the prep of the Triple Lindy, then did my best to splash those that weren't jumping. That's the last thing I remember for about 5 minutes. I've seen the video and it shows me going under and resurfacing in less than 2 seconds. I then swim to the ladder with ease and up and out I go off to enjoy the rest of the day. But in my mind it was much more tragic. I was sinking to the bottom of the lake. I didn't actually feel the cold. I didn't feel anything. It was just me and a greenish blue light that was slowly ebbing into black. There was soft music playing or maybe it was a whale song. All I know is that I was ready and I was at peace. Some force must have pushed me back toward the light as I blinked the icicles away from my eyelids and saw the afore mentioned rescue man bobbing away like a buoy. Why wasn't he helping me? Why is he telling me I'm fine? Clearly he can see that none of my mental powers over my body's actions were working. The cold clearly had interrupted all communication and the body was working on reflex. I swam with heavy stiff arms. I climbed with non-responsive legs that didn't stop clicking together. I was a cartoon version of myself with some creepy frozen smile on my face (I was trying to cry, but I'm sure I looked like I was overjoyed). I remember thinking that there were too many people between me and my father in-law who was holding my bag of dry clothes out to me (Virgil, you may have saved my life, if not my dignity). I scurried to the tent in dreams of walking into a sauna like bath house. Not so. There were more shivering naked men than... well, I'll keep this clean. Suffice it to say that there were a lot of shivering naked men and I was just trying to find a little corner where I could change (like a 10 year old at the beach; in complete cover of the towel) and get the ice out of my butt crack.
My son was completely impressed and awe-struck. My wife vowed never to mention being cold around me again. My derby family was that much closer and now the question on everyone's chapped lips: would I do it again?
Come out next year and find out.

Naptown: The Boobs Won... and so did Naptown

Indianapolis, Indiana (2-14-2009)- Ok, so I've been waiting to get some solid statistics from the game to put together a comprehensive recap, but those stats are lost in the void. My titanium trap of a mind will have to suffice.
The bout, Kick Start My Heart, was played on Valentine's Day and what better way to express love than to watch a bunch of bad-ass women knocking each other around? This event was also a fundraiser for breast cancer awareness and research, but we'll get to that later.
Naptown Roller Girls' B team the Warning Belles, hosted the NEO Rock 'n' Roller Girls to a crowd of approximately 2,500; something NEO had only dreamed of up to that point. The Belles certainly had a hometown cheer in their favor and the sound at the venue was deafening to say the least. The first period definitely belonged to the Belles as they demonstrated the tough love they held for NEO. The NEO girls just couldn't seem to pull their teamwork together long enough to keep the Belles from scoring; notably Noxious Donna and Katya Lookin. At the end of the first half the Belles held a lead of 40-12 over NEO. Now in derby, that's not a big spread of points and it's not unheard of for a jammer to rack up fifteen points in a single jam. But that's not how things happened for NEO.
The second period, however, did belong to NEO. Whether it was the rumored zen meditative breathing during the break or the sheer determination not to go home bloodied and bashed on Valentine's, we'll never know. What was evident was the teamwork that NEO pulled together in that second and final period. Chrissie B. Hynde had some amazing scoring runs as did team captain Taking Names who proves to be affective regardless of what position she's playing. Names, as a jammer, seems to find some sadistic joy in taunting the opposing jammer outside of the pack. At one point she drew some jeers from the hometown crowd when she dropped Katya Lookin to the cement before taking back off to attack the pack in a scoring run.
The final score was 63-41 in favor of the Belles, which shows the strong second half NEO had. They were able to hold the game off from being a Valentine's Massacre. Instead it was akin to a bad date with no kiss at the end of the night.
This brings us back to boobs. Breasts. There's no doubting the seriousness of breast cancer and the struggle and glory of its survivors. So to help the cause the Naptown Roller Girls held an auction with the proceeds, over $5,000, going to the Young Survivor's Coalition. What can you auction to get that kind of payoff? Live-casted roller girls. A variety of the Naptown girls volunteered to have their torso from boob to belly button be cast in plaster. Those molds then went to artists of choice who interpreted the cast in their own way. Those works of art will no doubt be proudly displayed on walls, mantles or coffee tables and the story that goes with them will surely include that great game of derby. The NEO Rock 'n' Roller Girls will be the first roller derby league in Ohio to take part in this unique fundraising experience. For more information check out