Category: All Star

Derby Lessons from the Men’s Roller Derby World Cup

Derby Lessons from the Men’s Roller Derby World Cup

I recently got home from my latest gypsy romp in the world of roller derby, starting in Calgary, Alberta and ending in the grand Las Vegas derby mecca of RollerCon. I watched, I studied, I contemplated, I watched again. Not only did I learn a lot through watching the elite athletes from 20 nations, but it hit me in the derby feels. There was more than just tactic and technique I saw, and after a few weeks to let it all settle,  I wanted to share with you all things I realized through the adventure in Calgary. Editing note: Please excuse formatting inconsistency. WordPress continues to be the worst platform in which to write and create. 😀

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Fans during Finland v. England. Photo by John Hesse

Here are my take aways from the Men’s Roller Derby World Cup in Calgary, Alberta:

  1. Bashing the snot out of each other on the track isn’t always the most effective derby strategy – unless you can mix in control… then it’s highly successful

Germany, Argentina, Mexico, Finland, Italy – they are bruisers. They are teams with hard hits and fast feet. Their blockers will leave welts the size of a softball with ease. They play the “let’s kick their ass” game. Teams like USA, Canada, England, Scotland, Belgium are just as brutal and imposing, but there is a game play different: they beat their opponents to a slower speed and then catch them in a net of positional blocking. The successful teams at the World Cup were able to balance brutality and control.

Just trying to beat a jammer senseless alone often has the undesired result of pushing them forward and through the pack like a pinball. I watched many jammers face (what I call) a turnstile of blockers facing backwards. The blockers would, one at a time, take a ding at the jammer, who would rebound off the hit, regain their feet, collect the point and move onto the next. It wasn’t successful at stopping them, merely bounced them about a bit.

 

USA MRDA
Team USA is successful through their use of power to slow a target, and then controlled blocking to maintain power, as demonstrated by Percy Controll and Cory Pain

From a jammer perspective, the skaters who were able to use their shoulders like jack hammers to bully their way through a wall, around an edge, or to level a backwards blocker were the ones who scored a lot of points. AS LONG AS they had the footwork to capitalize on the hole. I would see jammers come in hot to a pack and use their shoulders to drill a hole, or duck to get around a pack, but without the proper burst to get past the blockers, they would end up as a smear on the concrete.

Ireland Japan
Noblet comes in hot and uses his shoulders and power to push out the Japanese blocker. Photo by Brangwyn Jones
  1. Offense is a thing

If anyone from Puerto Rico or the Netherlands are reading this they’ll flash back to me LOSING MY MIND during NO-ffense. When blockers watch their jammers get beat to hell on power jams it makes me very protective of those jammers. Yes, sometimes they need to do it for themselves, but sometimes you need to stop the tough love thing and HELP. You have 30ish seconds with which to score as many points as humanly possible. “Blockers make points, jammers collect them.” (Smarty Pants) So go make some goddamn points!!!

Plus, you only have so many jammers. Protect them like they are delicate lilies; whether it’s day 1 of a 4 day tournament or the 7th and last game of the weekend.

 

  1. Americans are super lucky that the rest of the world speaks multiple languages.

So many times I had people come to the Elite booth that were from Europe (and not England) and they spoke fluent English. Actually, most of the teams were made up of people who spoke multiple languages. Every now and again I’d have someone come up who was not English speaker, and I felt dumb and lost. Dammit, Americans: Teach your kids multiple languages! I have made so many friends from the World Cup because they happen to speak my language.

netherlands, mrda
Myself and my new friends from The Netherlands (from left): YouPiler, Slaapzack, and Lone Star. Thank goodness the Dutch speak so many languages!!
  1. Champ UnKind and I agree: Uptown Funk should be played during every half time

Why? Having to do with #3, dancing breaks borders. There is nothing more phenomenal than a Sunday morning early bout and seeing participants from the Netherlands, Spain, and Puerto Rico grooving together. Hell, maybe if Uptown Funk was played in the streets we’d all love each other more because we’d see that we’re all the same. And we just wanna dance.

Want to see why? Check out the short video I shot. Nice moves, Spain!

  1. After hours, don’t trust the shirts on the backs of MRDA players

I kind of knew this already, but after several “Oops I’m an asshole” moments [that I was able to play off (thank you, white wine)] I learned to ask this question first: “Are you actually Flustercluck or is your jersey lying?”

Honestly, I love the tradition of swapping jerseys! It shows community and camaraderie that stretches across oceans. I kind of wish WFTDA skaters did this. A few of the men I talked to were confused as to why we don’t. Maybe we’re too protective over our kits. It’s a thing of pride and friendship to swap out at the end of a hard tournament with someone you respect. But yea, always ask if the person in the jersey is the one whose name is on the back.

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Disaster Chief (Puerto Rico) and Jamie Gray (Ireland) are lying to you.
  1. THE KEY TO SURVING THE LAVA AS A JAMMER….

Ok, so my big Sherlock mystery from this weekend has been this question: “Why are some jammers so successful taking outside lines, while others get splattered when they try to do [what seems to be] the same technique?”

As I have been re-watching games, I have spent most of my energy looking into this. The jammers of Team England, particularly Sully, Fish, Alien Al, and Giggity all were able to attack the lava (the absolute edge of the track/tape) and come out on the other side often unscathed. Meanwhile, teams like Italy and Japan had jammers that would attack in a similar style and get constantly recycled.

alien al team england
Alien Al, yet again navigating the edges successfully; without heed to opponents or physics. Photo by John Hesse

The first thing I noticed as a difference is the acceleration going past engaging blockers. Team England jammers are excellent at bursting with speed a split second before passing opponents, which throws off the blocker’s timing. To achieve this, more pressure most be applied into a toe stop or edges as the blocker you’re attempting to pass is ALMOST hitting you. The chance of survival increases significantly when the burst is timed so, while other jammers would get flattened for their hesitation.

The second part that I noticed (and it was Finland that helped me realize), is that many jammers turn their hips to open into a transition a moment too soon. The result is that they are trying to get past a blocker either A) after they have completed their turn, so their hips are a wider target to the incoming blocker or B) After the momentum from the torque of their initial turn has been lost, so the jammer does not have enough energy to counterblock the energy being put into them by the blocker.

team england MRDA
Sully turns his hips to curve around the Finland blocker and (what photos can’t show you), pops off of the planted to stop to snap his hips around the wall before they can push him out. Photo by John Hesse

Ok, let me say that again:

If you turn too early, your hips are going to be square to the track and you’ll be skating in the opposite direction, when you are hit. OR if you turn too early, you will have lost extra energy you gain while spinning. When you are driving, and you make a sudden, sharp turn you feel the inertia playing on your body, right? You feel more force driving you, don’t you? (Protip: It’s not centrifugal that’s a made up word). That’s angular acceleration, and you want more of that happening when Optimus Grime is coming at you full force with dreams of Gold shining in his eyes. Want to know more about the physics I’m talking about? Just go watch this video.

When you watch game play these are minuscule adjustments. I can only guess that the timing change comes through diligence, IMMENSE body control, brevity, and a squad of mercenaries to practice against. Rolling off a hit from Sutton Impact hurts a lot less than taking it square in the ribs, so your body learns and adapts.

^ It may seem to you a basic realization, but finally seeing it with my own eyes made a world of difference. Now to practice it………

France men's roller derby
Poupa Test of France hits his toe stops hard before shuffling further. Photo by Orel Kichigai
  1. International superstars don’t mean everything to a team

Who wasn’t dazzled by Sausarge Rolls, Bled Zepplin, Reaper, Pibe, or Tank? These are men known on the international stage. There were plenty of derby celebs dancing around at World Cup, infamous for their strength, smarts, and prowess. However, there were also a lot of teams with names unknown that pulled together when the time was right and stunned us all.

Mexico came out with skates blazing against Canada, causing everyone to rush to track 2 to see what was going on. Chile, after a hard time in their group play, stunned us all by beating Spain by double. Puerto Rico’s final game involved coming back from a 50 point difference, and holding the game to an 8 point differential at the end, even as 4 of their ‘star’ players fouled out from the game. It was awe-inspiring to watch a pack of 5 people who had barely known each other before the weekend, a few of whom had barely played entire derby bouts in their life, come together into strong defense and rally to keep Italy on their toes and out of bounds.

Team Chile Men's Roller Derby
Team Chile making a diamond against Team England. Don’t underestimate the ‘little guys’. Photo by John Hesse

Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Belgium all played tremendous derby throughout the weekend. Some names rang familiar, but the world now has solid memory of skaters previously unknown to them. These teams came in without huge superstars, and played well together, and did amazing things on the track. They created new derby celebs in the likes of Ashby, Lt Damn, Optimus Grime, Track Vadar, Jones, Skate Plissken, Roche, and Trick or Threat. Ok and please know there are a TON more skaters that I want to recognize, but I don’t want this to become a blog of names ❤

The point is this: yes, having tried and true players on your team is awesome, but don't get hung up on them. I've seen too many teams panic when their star player can't make it to a game, or gets injured. Every single one of us can do amazing things when we pull together with our squad and work as a team. Don't undervalue 'the little guys' in your league. Lift them up and expect the best out of them, and they will give it.

 

  1. “You can either yell about the call or play derby. I suggest you play derby.”

I had to say/yell this at least 12 times during the Cup. Ok we all get peeved on rules stuff. We all see things happen or [not] get called that makes us go “DAFAQ REFS?” however when you’re in the middle of a jam, that is not the right time to stop what you’re doing to throw your hands in the air in disgust. Play the game. Control what you can control. You standing in the middle of the track signaling for a forearm penalty is not going to put the ref in the position to have seen it 5 seconds ago. Move on. Skate hard.

puerto rico
Really, Disaster Chief? France isn’t going to take it easier on you! 😀 Photo by Orel Kichigai
  1. ONE HAND IS EVERYTHING

Dear folks who have mastered the ‘one hand out of bounds’ thing: TEACH ME YOUR GODDAMN JEDI WAYS. I know that a ton of folks have used this since the clarification came out. I was impressed by how many jammers got knocked backwards, caught themselves with one hand VERY out of bounds, only to regain their skates after the blocker had triumphantly removed themself from the ENTIRE PACK thinking a cut was imminent. The jammer, meanwhile, skates forward to freedom. I think Rollomite had the move patented by the end of the weekend.

WORK ON BALANCE PEOPLE! And back bridges apparently…

  1. Even if you don’t leave with a medal, you still win at the World Cup

The amount of stories of pride I’ve heard during the event and since brings tears to my eyes. The people who have met new friends, taken on derby legends, and scored little victories with a team of their nation is remarkable. The officials, photogs, announcers, vendors, EMTs, volunteers are not left unaffected. To watch Japan get their first win, to watch Argentina who were the little guys of 2014 finish 6th, witnessing Mexico coming out of the gate with something to prove, to see Australia unseat Canada on the podium, to see England give the USA a run for their money, to witness all the apex jumps, tremendous blocks, and incredible timing, to be in the room when so many proposals happened … it leaves a mark on you. Every person who was a part of the Men’s Roller Derby World Cup in Calgary, Alberta will have friends around the world for the rest of their lives. We took care of each other, cheered, danced, had our hearts broken, and triumphed as one.

If there’s anything I regret about the World Cup is that I couldn’t be on both tracks all the time, and there are some teams I didn’t get to watch as much as others. But that’s ok! 2018 isn’t far away. You should go like the Men’s Roller Derby World Cup on Facebook, and maybe host the next one…..

Netherlands
Anita of the Netherlands. The face says it all. Photo by Brangwyn Jones
Thank you Chinook City Roller Derby. Thank you Roller Derby Elite. Thank you nations of the world. Thank you roller derby for being the best thing that has ever entered my life. It’s hard to believe that my World Cup experience was followed up by as equally of humbling of a RollerCon experience… but I think I’ll save that for another blog.
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Team Belgium during opening ceremonies just one of many teams super stoked to be there! Photo by John Hesse

Thank you to the photogs that let me use their work in this blog! Go visit Brangwyn Jones, Orel Kichigai, and John Hesse!!

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Canada was a fantastic host during the MRDWC, eh? Photo by John Hesse

Khaos Theory Blog is run completely off my own funds. Make a donation now to keep the blog going! 
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Kristie Grey (Merry Khaos) has been playing roller derby since 2009 and has coached almost as long. She has worked with over 20 leagues in 11 states, and five countries. She has coached on and off skates at Beat Me Halfway 2014 & RollerCon (2012-2015). She currently skates with Tampa Roller Derby. Active in health and wellness, she is an active Herbalife Health Coach, rock climber, and power lifter. For questions, booking, requests of topic, or help with a nutrition plan, message Khaos at DerbyAmerica@gmail.com

Continue reading “Derby Lessons from the Men’s Roller Derby World Cup”

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2015 River City Rumble Preview – Twin City Terrors

2015 River City Rumble Preview – Twin City Terrors

It’s that time of year: we are less than a week away from the MRDA Championship in St. Louis: River City Rumble. I have taken on the task again of giving the derby world a look at what the can expect this weekend. With the expansion of the tournament to 10 teams, my task this year is more daunting than ever before. I will do my best to keep each article even in length. It will depend on how much I know about each team, though. You have been warned.

Your 10 seed is here by (for them) fortuitous circumstances. The Twin City Terrors are actually ranked #14, but due to a variety of reasons the #10-#13 declined the invitation to Champs. Having done a lot of research for predictions before the rankings were released, I can say that (according to math) TC is as good of an opponent as any that declined. I do not think they will be a dull team to watch.

twin city terrors
Usually a pivot, Steve Sweat takes the star against Bridgetown Menace. Photo by Mr. McWheely

This team is no stranger to tournaments, having played in two every year for at least the last three years. This year they had a particularly daunting tournament schedule: 3 tournaments: Midwest Brewhaha, Rolling Along the River, and River City Warm-Up. They lined up 7 times this year against top 8 teams including playing the Gatekeepers and Texas Outlaws twice, and also Bridgetown Menace, Puget Sound, and Your Mom on top of an additional 5 sanctioned games. Since TC obviously has had Champs on their mind, this highly challenging season had to be chosen by design for solidification of team work and to test nerves under pressure. They’ll need that experience for champs: they meet the Bridgetown Menace again in the first round, and the winner will play the Gatekeepers. The loser will play the loser of the Magic City/Aftershocks bout.

But who ARE the Twin City Terrors?

They are a team that has the potential to play like Shock Exchange, as long as they keep up their training and focus. Their walls can grind down jammers when the game is slow, they have far better bracing and positional blocking than I was expecting when I sat down to watch Brewhaha footage. In a sport where players love looking jammers in the eye, Twin City looked as comfortable plowing a jammer to stop as they did tossing a backwards block at them. If there is anything I have learned from watching the WFTDA playoffs this year is that the difference between a good team and a great team comes down to their ability to plow stop. If Twin City can take a note from their WFTDA counterparts and begin to really ratchet down their speed control and recycling, they’ll be in good shape.

TC has been working on their
TC has been working on their “Great Wall of St Paul”. Photo by Ryan Siverson.

In both their Texas and Puget games at Brewhaha, Twin City came out strong with slow walls, coordinated offense, and a protection of the lines that slowed down Scott Slamilton and Dr. Feelgood. Steve Sweat #808 and Egon Strangler #42 are impossibly fast at the top of the pack. Often they can catch jammers who have a head start, and knock them out of bounds before the end of the engagement zone. At the same time, Timchilla #3 (whether as pivot or jammer) has ridiculous fast feet, and was able to take advantage of the offense given. Derby Monster #00 and Freight Train are the bruisers of this team that also moonlight as seriously effective jammers. In the tournament I watched, jammer penalties (cuts primarily) killed the momentum of a team with many weapons in their tool belt.

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Ladies & Gents, Derby Monster. Photo by Mr. McWheely

If Twin City can keep calm and keep their packs together, they’ll do well this weekend. Their blockers are strong, they just have a tendency to get split up when the game gets fast. If they can use what they learned from playing Puget Sound at Brewhaha and apply a pack definition strategy to keep the game slow and at their pace, they will do well. “The Great Wall of St Paul” is what coach Betsy Wrecksie calls it: working together to remove speed from the game and control the other team’s position. Twin City has had the advantage of Wreckie’s experience this season, she was formerly Minnesota All-Star’s head coach in 2014. She knows how to help a team gel.

Baron von Bean #609, Luce Wheel #103, Jamnit Dim #31, and Sampson #66 are the guys you put out to glue the walls together. You may not always notice them, because they are quietly holding their team mates use them as the rock to form around. Recent transfer Ogden Smash #64 will only add to the solidity of walls, being a very smart strategist and very effective at getting in the opposition’s way.

twin city terrors
Timchilla does the near impossible in this photo: getting around Bled Zepplin. More proof that the team has the talent for success. Photo by Ryan Siverson.

Bridgetown is also a ‘jack of all trades’ kind of team, so it will be fun to watch these two trade blows in the first round. If Twin City can stay focused and engaged the Great Wall and not allow the bruisers of Bridgetown to split them apart for too long, they’ll put up an excellent fight. Where Bridgetown will have a solid jammer rotation, Twin City seems to come into games a little looser. They have a deep jammer pool and tend to throw in a variety of people ‘to see who sticks’. They may need to call on the power of Freight Train to push through the likes of Cozmo Damage, but keep an eye out for rookie N8s Gonna Nate who made a big impact at Brewhaha.

Coach says of Twin City’s attitude going into Champs:

We’re pretty sure we’re not heading home with a first place medal as we’ve already played the one and two seeds and while it was a welcome challenge – they were pretty one sided games…  If we can go as far as to beat [the Aftershocks], I think it says we were supposed to be here at champs even if we weren’t the first choice.  Win or lose; we are all extremely excited to be taking part in MRDA Champs and proud to be the first Terrors squad to do so.

Thank you photographers Mr. McWheely and Ryan Siverson Photography for use of photos in this article. Please like their Facebook pages and buy prints from them!

Twin City Terrors
Bench coach Trudy and the Terrors at Brewhaha 2015 Photo by Mr. McWheely
2013 Mid-Atlantic All-Stars

2013 Mid-Atlantic All-Stars

I know my friends within the Mid-Atlantic Region have been antsy for this list, so I’m going to publish this one first. The Mid-Atlantic included any Maryland/DC/Delaware teams. All voting was based on where the skater PLAYED, not where they LIVED. As long as they played as an active member of a team from the region in that season (regardless of rule set) they were eligible for vote.

I am writing from the perspective of 2013, keep in mind! Most of the people on these lists have had pretty incredible seasons thus far as well. With all of these articles, remember – maybe not everyone gets a picture. Sorry. You have no idea how much time it takes to find photos for 60 skaters that are 1) good and 2) from a photographer I have permission to credit. ❤ PS THANK YOU ALL PHOTOGS FOR THE HARD WORK YOU DO!!! You are awesome, we love you, and I highly suggest that everyone who reads these articles check out the photogs listed [and buy things from them].

RESERVES:

Serious Snowflake – Salisbury Roller Girls

Long of leg and strong of hip, Snowflake uses muscle to get by her opponents. She’s not afraid to jump an apex, but often you’ll just see her push right through a blocker (sometimes with a pirouette just to be sure she gets by). Snowflake is one of those skaters that brightens a bench; always excited to learn and play more. She got a chance to try out the bank track on the East Coast Outlaws this season versus the Penn Jersey Hooligans, and her skills have earned her a spot on the Maryland All-Stars.

Uvetta Work – Charm City Roller Girls

This woman is terrifyingly gorgeous on the track. I love watching her be a rock in front of jammers and when she jams for her home team I can’t help but giggle (and be glad I’m not the one bouncing off of her). She is a critical, dominant piece of the Charm City blocking core.

T – Free State Roller Derby

You’ve gotta be good to have your derby name be just a letter. Almost pixie-like in her jamming, T is around you before you realize she was there to begin with. The apex is nothing more than a small obstacle to jump over for her, and before you know it, she’s back around the track and taking your point.

O’Chit (Rebecca Simon) – Charm City Roller Girls

Power. That is Chit. Watch her hit someone. Chit has mastered a bursting pop that will take girls off their skates. Her control with her edges is amazing and her positional blocking is nothing short of pure intimidation. Watching her jam is fun simply because of the amount of strength she can put into her wheels to cut back and forth and through walls. It’s no wonder she’s a member of the Maryland All-Stars.

 

ALTERNATES:

Jackie Treehorn – Free State Roller Derby

Standing 6’Forever on her skates, Jackie is still considerably new to the sport of roller derby. The amazing thing about Jackie is not her ability to take up half the track or her booty blocking – it’s her adaptability and her eagerness to learn. She is a Maryland All-Star who once was top heavy with blocking, but no longer relies on her shoulders for strength. She understands that her hips are where the magic happens, and is a rock in any wall.

 

Thee Mighty Isis – Mason-Dixon Roller Vixens

Isis makes an impression whenever she is on the floor. Like Treehorn, Isis commands attention in a wall and is a leader on the floor. Far more agile than teams will give her credit for (before the bout), she is able to recycle through packs to punish jammers. With the star she is a battering ram who also can roll off of hips and duck past opponents. She is a secret weapon in the Maryland All-Star arsenal.

 

Isis and Treehorn work together on Team Maryland Photo by Keyesboard
Isis and Treehorn work together on Team Maryland
Photo by Keyesboard

ROSTER:

13. Warren T Voider – Harm City Havoc

Still relatively new to the sport, Warren is a key jammer in the Havoc roster. While other jammers on his team rely on pure agility, Warren is able to jam like a blocker to get through heavy walls. His footwork is just as good, and as a blocker, he is starting to become a real leader in the pivot position.

Photo by Jason Walter
Photo by Jason Walter

 

12. Battery Operated – Charm City Roller Girls

“Bops” (as she is known to her team mates) has been an important player in the All-Star line-up and to her home team, The Modtown Mods. As a blocker, she is a leader on the floor, a strong piece of wall work, and has the feet to always be waiting for a jammer at the front of the pack. She is also a wonderful team mate – serious and pointed when the time calls for it. Joking and laughing when given the opportunity.

 On the Mobtown Mods. Photo by Tyler Shaw

On the Mobtown Mods.
Photo by Tyler Shaw

11. Dual Hitizen – DC Rollergirls

Dual is another skater who can blend into the crowd sometimes, because she is so good at her job when she’s blocking that you don’t notice her. The jammer just can’t get through. When she jams, she doesn’t even do anything too magical. She simply gets by you. No no, don’t worry it’s not you. It’s her. She’s magic that way.

 

10. Sin Diesel – Harm City Havoc

This man has been around for a while; he was one of the founders of MDC, Harm City, and has coached for several women’s teams (including Team Maryland). He has always been strong in blocking, and quick footed with the star. Being a member of the Cinderella Team Argentina at the MRDWC leveled him up. Before he was a part of the pack, but now you can see him play as a pack member. Regardless of the experience of his pack, he no longer takes all the responsibility onto himself, but rather directs and trusts those around him. Harm City has benefitted from Sin’s experience and leadership far beyond what I can express in a short paragraph. He looks like a new skater. It’s really awesome to watch.

 

Sin Diesel Photo by Down N Out Photography
Sin Diesel
Photo by Down N Out Photography

9. Susy Pow – Charm City Roller Girls

A member of Team Australia, Susy Pow made her way onto Charm City All-Stars easily with fast feet and agility in her blocking. She made the biggest splash when CCRG made their way to Salem, OR and used Susy as a primary jammer. Susy’s jamming style is unusual: she is light and fluid when she takes a hit, but extremely solid when attacking a wall. She also jumps apexes like it’s her job. Maybe it is! In Salem, she jammed 41 times over the three games. Her lead jammer average was 61%, and she scored 146 points during the tournament.

Susy Pow isn't concerned about blockers. Photo by Tyler Shaw
Susy Pow isn’t concerned about blockers.
Photo by Tyler Shaw

8. Frightmare (Stephanie Griffith) – DC Rollergirls

I love Frightmare: hilarious off the track, aggressive as hell on the track. She doesn’t care who you are, she’s getting past you. And you’ll just have to learn to live with it. When she pivots, she commands her pack. When she hits, she is able to nail those little nerve spots with her hips and shoulders; she is able to stop the blockers that look like they should blow her up. I love Frightmare.

Frightmare Photo by Tyler Shaw
Frightmare
Photo by Tyler Shaw

 

7. Lady Quebeum – Charm City Roller Girls

(It’s pronounced ‘Kaboom’) Here is another skater that makes me happy to be on the track. “LQ” has been around CCRG for a long time, and the all-stars have utilized her long legs and head for strategy effectively. She is able to keep skaters focused on the track, and is amazing at following direction from others. Her leadership on Team Maryland helped the skaters grow as a unit quickly. CCRG is happy to have her back on her wheels too – at the end of last season she suffered a tib/fib fracture. Cleared to skate again, her tenacity will surely get her back on the All-Stars quickly.

 

6. Truth Hurtz – Harm City Havoc

Feet of fury and will of fire: this is Truth Hurtz. A critical piece of the Havoc jamming crew, but powerful in a blocker position, Truth’s footwork is blinding. He is able to squeeze through cracks in the wall you didn’t know were there and can outrace opponents on the outside line all day. He’s menacing at his least, he’s impossible to handle when in his groove.

Truth Hurtz Photo by Mr McWheeley
Truth Hurtz
Photo by Mr McWheeley

 

5. Buster Skull – Salisbury Rollergirls

If you’ve read my writing about Buster Skull in the past than it’s no secret that I am a fan. Buster is absolutely tenacious on the track, whether blocking or jamming. Her work as a blocker within the pack has evolved significantly over the years; now she is able to trade blows with the biggest skaters without flinching. When she jams, she fearlessly attacks walls and has an ability to break packs without looking like she’s putting in much effort.

Buster Skull Photo by Jim Rhoades
Buster Skull
Photo by Jim Rhoades

 

4. Hittsburgh – Charm City Roller Girls

Have you ever been hit by truck? If you would like to be, Hitts can provide that experience for you! Solid on the track, her can-openers can easily put the opposition on their ass. Backwards or forwards, getting by her with the star is challenge, her mobility is top-notch, partially because she is excellent at working within pairs and diamonds. Her blocking has also been super useful to the ranks of Team Maryland. When she wears the star…well… she likes the edges. It doesn’t matter if I tell you that though: she’ll still able to tip toe past you.

 

3.Nuckin Futz – Charm City Roller Girls

 The woman is made of vapor (very, very quick vapor). A student of herself, Futz was able to study her own patterns and make huge leaps in 2013 in her jamming. The Salem WFTDA Divisional playoff had no idea what it was in for when she stepped to the line. She found the smallest crevices in walls, patiently waited for her blockers to create a little chaos, and juked behind teams of blockers so quick that they weren’t sure where her hips even were (much less know where she was going). You want to study a jammer who can be lighting quick to the side and then stretch her stride long out of the pack? Go study some Nuckin Futz.

Nuckin Futz doesn't worry about blockers. Photo by Tyler Shaw
Nuckin Futz doesn’t worry about blockers.
Photo by Tyler Shaw

 

2. IM Pain – Charm City Roller Girls

Co-Captain of the All Stars, Pain is known for her strength in jamming and effortless ability to rack up points. With a background in speed skating, it’s no wonder that she can outrun most of the blockers she comes against, and has extra-sensory vision for the inside line that reveals holes that the rest of us mere mortals cannot perceive. I watch her and wonder how she gets through packs sometimes. She makes everything look effortless. When faced with injury at the end of the season, Pain shifted her leadership role to one off track. Her persistence and dedication also earned her a spot on Team Maryland.

 

IM Pain helps Holly Go Hardly on Team Maryland.  Photo by Side Track Studios
IM Pain helps Holly Go Hardly on Team Maryland.
Photo by Side Track Studios
IM Pain has no time for blockers. Photo by Tyler Shaw
IM Pain has no time for blockers.
Photo by Tyler Shaw

1. Holly Go Hardly – Charm City Roller Girls

Not everyone understands Holly’s level of dedication, drive, and determination of the 2013 CCRG co-captain. Holly is an absolute monster blocker on the track; I have never met someone who can hold her balance in such awkwardly appropriate ways while still being completely effective against opponents. When her walls are as strong as her, she is solid block that doesn’t move. When her team is not as experienced, she can arrange blockers into walls, and direct and brace as the game progresses. Her body awareness also allows her to use her hips in ways that many people have not figured out yet. She is able to make herself long across the track as she drags opponents to an edge, or knocks them out of bounds with a bursting, backwards strike. Now again she puts on the star, usually for funsies, and she spins and maneuvers around blockers; always when they think they have her in their trap.

Holly is never afraid to push herself to failure. She falls. She’s struggles. She improves. She never goes 50%. She never backs down. Yes she can be a little intense and overwhelming when you’re in a high stress situation, but yes, I admit it: I may have a bit of a derby crush on Holly Go Hardly. And I’m super stoked that I got to play with her on Team Maryland.

Holly Go Hardly uses her assest, Hittsburgh is coming up to help. Photo by Tyler Shaw
Holly Go Hardly uses her assest, Hittsburgh is coming up to help.
Photo by Tyler Shaw

 

Backwards blocking is this thing she does VERY well. Photo by Tyler Shaw
Backwards blocking is this thing she does VERY well.
Photo by Tyler Shaw
So … About those 2013 All Star Articles….

So … About those 2013 All Star Articles….

So about 7 months ago I began writing All Star Articles for 2013 for several regions of the world. Then as I began writing them several things occurred: I realized I bit off FAR more than I could chew, the platform I was posting on (Examiner.com) changed a whole bunch of policies and it became miserable to post on (and unenjoyable to read), and the site also lessened the quality of photograph appearance, so many of my photographer friends were very upset at how their work was presented. For these reasons the articles fell to the wayside. I was frustrated and angry with the site and with the whole process.

Forty Ounce Bounce of River City Rollergirls
Forty Ounce Bounce of River City Rollergirls

 

I am not going to write articles for each individual skater, but what I WILL do is release all the lists and include whatever pictures and quotes and snippets I have for those folks. I’m loaded up with Sugar Free Monster (ran out of my Herbalife LiftOff….) and have energy to burn so hang tight.

Cloudkicker Photo by Jeffery Kerekes
Cloudkicker
Photo by Jeffery Kerekes

This might be the way I release them next year too. I don’t want to let the All Star vote fall away completely, but I don’t know if I can handle the full shebang next year. I may do some pre-votes as well to help narrow down choices and actually get a lot of people voting. If you have recommendations on how I could streamline the process or increase voting numbers , please let me know! Last year I simply posted a lot on different social sites asking people to send me an e-mail with their list of favorite skaters. I know there is going to be a better way.

 

 

Wags of the PJRD Hooligans by David A Carter
Wags of the PJRD Hooligans by David A Carter

Thank you again!