Thursday, October 23, 2008

Minnesota Roller Girls – Roy Wilkins Auditorium – St. Paul, MN

This summer, I went to Seattle for a nerd convention (don’t ask) and while there, got to see my friend Nina do/play/participate in (what adjective is the right one!!!???) roller derby. It was super awesome. Like many guys, I went to see how women on roller skates knocking each other down (and because I was always fascinated by the hot pants and gold lamme back in the 70’s when it was on tv). However, once you know the rules and scoring system, the whole thing makes perfect sense and I was yelling like an idiot along with everyone else. Nina came to visit us this summer and we drove her to her traveling team’s bout in Milwaukee – yes, these people are dead serious about this sport. Gerd and I had a great time. And kind of got hooked…

So the season opener for the Minnesota Roller Girls was this past weekend. We knew we were going and we got the added benefit of having Coach and Toach come up from Illinois to visit us and watch roller derby. We especially knew we were going when we found out the bout was a “zombies vs pirates” theme. For background, Minneapolis does this zombie pub crawl which a few thousand people attend – hilarious.

The roller derby people adopted it and got fans to dress like their favorite. Then the zombie vs pirate bout consisted of rookie roller girls to give them some competitive track time. Great idea and tons of fun. And yes, Nina, I did wear my Rockets shirt from your Seattle team…

The first bout was zombies vs pirates. Great fun, and great action. The girls are hard workers and you can see they’re way engaged and also way green. Some skating mishaps and hilarity ensued. If you get a penalty, you skate to the penalty box and since there aren’t brakes, you slide into the box on your knees (ba-dum-bum). When the adrenaline is up, sometimes they skate in there too fast and fly over the chairs and ropes and into the crowd. Hilarious (and yes, dangerous of course – but whatever).

Second bout was the MN Roller Girls (MNRG) vs the North West Arkansas (NWA) somebodyorothers. These are the skilled girls with experience and a super competitive nature. It was amazing watching them skate VERY skillfully and avoid getting boxed out by the blockers. Two girls really stood out: Jawbreaker and Suzy Smashbox. Both from different MN teams, but since it was an all-star match, they were on the same team. They really tore it up.

Between halves, and ELO tribute band, name E.L.No, played for the crowd of like 2,500 people. Everybody out on the track getting crazy. It was a great time. They were really good musicians and were able to pull off a couple of really difficult songs (while Coach screamed requests from the balcony where we were seated).

The third bout was the second half of the zombies vs pirates. They were evenly matched and looked like they were slowly getting their skills together. Fun to watch and the announcers were very amusing with their one-liners and double-entendres.

The night ended with the second half of the MNRG vs NWA. NWA skated better than they did in the first half, but still got their asses handed to them by like 112 points. It was kind of a slaughter, but you could tell they were trying. They didn’t give up (like I would have done), and there wasn’t a run-rule where they just call the game, so they stuck it out.

Seriously, if you get a chance, go watch roller derby in your own home town or come up here to visit us and we’ll take you to a bout. MNRG has four teams, and of course, we picked our favorite team based on the color of uniforms, not based on which one had either Suzy Smashbox or Jawbreaker on it. Gerd is a Cubs fan, so she’s used to cheering for a losing team (burn)…

Top 5 things about MN Roller Girls
1. Girls on skates wearing tights and knee-high socks (come on, seriously)
2. 2,500 fans watching
3. Zombies vs Pirate theme - brilliant
4. Skating is now an actual sport in my mind
5. Girls flying into the crowd periodically
(I could make this list 15 things long if I wanted to…)

Bottom 5 things
1. Parking isn’t the greatest (or cheapest)
2. It’s hard to find the actual entrance to The Roy
3. Seemed like a long night of roller derby
4. My Seattle roller derby friends weren’t there to help cheer
5. My throat and head hurt from all the yelling I did (yeah, I’m one of those people)

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