As many of you know, I’m totally hooked on roller derby. Gerd and I were huge fans last year and went to almost every bout at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium. Every region has a championship tournament and this year, it was held in Minneapolis – The Brawl of America. The Twin Cities has two roller derby leagues (Minnesota Roller Girls and the North Star Roller Girls), and both of them made it to the regional championships.
The tournament was three days of derby, but I had things going on during Friday’s bouts and also during Saturday’s bouts. But Sunday was my day of derby – plus it was the final day, so there was going to be excellent derby. I will try not to go into too much detail so I don’t blow way over people’s heads, but I get excited talking about it, so I’ll try to reign it in.
First bout – Minnesota Roller Girls vs. Grand Raggidy (Grand Rapids, MI) – for 9th/10th place
This bout was extremely close with lots of lead changes. It’s been a few months since I’ve seen MNRG skate, and they looked really solid. Honeydew Fellon laid some serious smackdown on Grand Raggidy which is always nice to see. MNRG saw some serious penalty box activity which hurt them, but not enough for them to blow their lead. MNRG wins over GRRG (91-75).
Second bout – North Star Roller Girls (MN) vs. Arch Rivals (St. Louis, MO) – for 5th/6th place
This bout started out all North Star. Lots of big point jams (two 19-point jams) put NSRG up 51-8 at the half. After the half, ARRG looked like they had more of their act together, but the point spread was too great for St. Louis to come back. This was the first time I’ve seen North Star skate – they’re REALLY good. I can’t wait to catch them this season! Plus my friend Ginger McInjure skates for this league, which will be fun to watch. NSRG wins over ARRG (85-43).
Third Bout – Detroit Derby Girls vs. Cincinnati Rollergirls – for 3rd/4th place and trip to Nationals
This was a bout I was seriously looking forward to. I had heard Detroit is a great team, but they can play dirty. Since they have certainly all lost their jobs, I assumed they’d be extra pissed off, but that wasn’t the case. It was the exact opposite – Cincy played kind of dirty and Detroit walked all over them and had fun doing it. I started out cheering for Cincy (as the underdog), but then when I saw the skill that Detroit had, I quickly changed. I saw my first ever (HAS to be a league record) 30-point jam. Also known as a sextuple slam. Detroit was up 73-18 at the half. Detroit kept mopping the floor with the Cincy girls throughout the remainder of the bout. DDG wins over CRG (126-62).
Final bout – Windy City Roller (Chicago, IL) vs. Mad Rollin’ Dolls (Madison, WI) – for the championship
I was really surprised there weren’t more people watching this bout. It was for all the marbles, and two of the best teams in the northern region. It was amazing to watch. Chicago was on fire, claiming lead jammer on almost every jam. Madison showed great blocking, but couldn’t stop the amazingly fast Chicago jammers. The score of 90-19 at the half seems like a blowout, but it wasn’t boring derby, like you’d think. It was still full of really hard hitting blocking and finesse jamming. I was fortunate to be sitting trackside with some of the skaters from St. Louis and North Star, so they were giving me updates on things to watch and screaming right along with me. Super fun sitting trackside with derby girls – I would highly recommend it. We had to save our drinks a number of times as skaters flew into the crowd (rule number one of derby is NEVER spill your drink). Second half was more of the Chicago domination. Again, still worth sticking around for. WCR win over MRD (150-56)
I still think the Roy Wilkins Auditorium is one of the best venues I’ve been to for roller derby. Perfect size, amenities, and it’s easy to get to. They have a great EMT staff (which came in handy a number of times as things got super competitive out there – blood all over the track is never good) and they are genuinely glad you’re there to watch derby. Kudos to those people.
Top 5 things about Brawl of America
1. Seeing a 30-point jam was awesome
2. Watching Chicago’s top-level skill, made even more awesome because you can clearly see how good Madison is
3. Changing my mind about the Detroit Roller Girls (my throat still hurts a little)
4. Best venue ever for roller derby – The Roy
5. Sitting trackside with smoking hot roller girls
Bottom 5 things
1. Roller derby will never be the same without Gerd. I get really sad at these bouts thinking about her screaming along with me and making fun of the fans (who were probably making fun of us)
2. The concession stand had a beer leak and my shoes were sticky and noisy all night
3. My thumbs actually hurt from sending regular updates to ChickenLittle and Slutnik in Seattle, and Callous-un in Chicago, and PalmMapper in Michigan
4. The trackside cement doesn’t get any more comfortable after 2 full bouts
5. I know Saturday it was a full house (without John Stamos), but Sunday’s crowd was WEAK!