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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Tucson Roller Derby’s Saddletramps trounce Montreal’s New Skids on the Block

    Alan Walsh / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Bianka Trohl, right, and Wrath Poutine wait for the whistle to signify the start of the jam at the Tucson Indoor Sports Complex last Saturday.
    Alan Walsh
    Alan Walsh / Arizona Daily Wildcat Bianka Trohl, right, and Wrath Poutine wait for the whistle to signify the start of the jam at the Tucson Indoor Sports Complex last Saturday.

    “”I don’t think we’re going to get in!”” The worried refrain can be heard along the entire line of anxious would-be spectators. It’s Saturday night, and it’s roller derby time.

    The parking lot of Tucson Indoor Sports Center, is full, and people are lining up around the arena hoping to get in. Those who purchased tickets early are the only ones guaranteed entrance through the door at will call. Tonight is Tucson Roller Derby’s first international bout, and the turnout far exceeds anyone’s expectations. Those selling tickets will turn away an estimated 200 fans when the arena reaches its 1,100 person capacity.

    The Tucson Saddletramps are the lucky team about to take on an international opponent. Hailing from Montreal, Canada, the New Skids on the Block are a neon pink and green skating machine. Ranging in ages from 18 to mid-30s, women in spandex and tights knock helmets and skate circles around each other in an attempt to score points. For a first-time spectator, the track looks like mildly controlled chaos. The competitors are, in fact, adhering to a strict set of guidelines set forth by the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association.

    Three positions on the team work together in the point-scoring process. Recognizable by the star on her helmet, the jammer tries to wriggle her way in between the other team’s players to lap them on the track to score points. The three blockers on each team are responsible for helping their jammer along while using their speed and strength to keep the opposing jammer from getting ahead. The pivot, who wears a striped helmet cover, is the leader of the pack and acts as an anchor. She is the last obstacle between the jammer and the points she tries to score. Each jam period last two minutes.

    Amid the stinging slaps as girls collide and collapse, the referees watch for misdirected elbows, aggressive fists and numerous other penalties that will earn the offending player some time in the penalty box. With player names like Beater Pan-Tease, Helen Wheels and Myna in Possession, it’s no surprise that the bouts can get a little rough. A skater by the name of Georgia W. Tush is called out on a penalty halfway through her first jam.

    A rogue toe stop from a player’s skate is loose on the track. It belongs to a skater who goes by the name of Pinky McLovin’.

    “”We’ve got Pinky McLovin’ with a wardrobe malfunction!”” shouts the announcer, and play is halted until she can put her brakes back on.

    By halftime, each cheer from the crowd grows louder and “”The Wave”” has rippled around track a few times. The Tucson Saddletramps have carried the lead and now stand 74-45 against New Skids on the Block. The announcers are wisecracking, and the crowd is full of energy, fueled in part by the cheeseburgers and beer available at the bar.

    Roller derby draws a diverse audience. The crowd is full of rollergirls from other teams, couples, rowdy cliques of teenagers, parents with children and those who’ve been watching derby bouts for years. One little girl sports a shirt with the slogan: “”Roller derby is for girls who took the heads off their dolls.””

    The Saddletramps just may have been those kinds of girls. They are relentless in keeping the lead, holding New Skids at bay through the second half as well. They move as a pack, and that coordination proves to be just what they need to stay ahead, although the margin narrows considerably in the final jam. The final score is 117-108, and Tucson now stands 2-0 in the league.

    Though the bout has ended, the night is just beginning. There are team meetings to be had, interviews to give, pictures to take and an after-party at the Surly Wench that both teams will be attending. Junior roller derby fans run across the track, pulling up tape and chasing each other around the arena. Others stop to chat with their favorite players before heading out to the bars. The Saddletramps break down the match to prepare for next month’s bout, and the fans are just as eager to return for another scrappy bout.

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