Saturday, January 26 2013 I attended the Naptown Roller Girls bout vs The Cinncinatti Rollergirls at the Indiana Convention Center in Downtown Indy. Accompanying my girlfriend Erin actually since she is my own derby girl and proud member of the Terrorz of Tiny Towns Diesel Dollz out of Columbus, IN. It was our first time watching Naptown and we got to not only watch one but two bouts. Naptown’s junior-varsity Warning Belles taking on Cinncinatti’s junior-varsity team The Silent Lambs followed by Naptown’s veterans the varsity team of The Tornado Sirens as they hosted the Cinncinatti’s varsity team The Black Sheep in what was billed “Brawl of the Wild”
According to a skater walking outside before the event I over heard her say the attendance was expected to be around 3000. I would have said 1500-2000 people was easily believable but it could have been more. I see that as a good number of folks turning out to watch, especially when I compare it to a local wrestling company Hoosier Pro Wrestling. HPW has existed going on 15 years running shows once a month in the Columbus, IN area with an average of 200-300 paid at each show sometimes bringing 400 plus with special appearances. Where as HPW promoter Jerry Wilson is known for not paying wrestlers a lot and sometimes not at all, the roller derby girls are all volunteer from the performers through the refs and announcers. The teams are usually owned by their own skaters as well and I feel personally to me this is the future of team ownership. Better yet, roller derby is the future of team sports.
Once we had taken our seats, next to my cousin Nat, his wife Kim (Bleeding Heartland Rollergirls out of Bloomington affiliated) and their daughter Maya and a couple they knew, we noticed a few familiar derby faces from the Diesel Dollz sitting next to the track across from us and a couple Cornfed Derby Dames Slipper E. Noodle and Elizabeth Tailher from Muncie also in attendance. Though it appears that Noodle has since retired from the Cornfed Derby Dames and Elizabeth has transferred over to Naptown.
There was a large stage where NSOs (Non-Skating Officials), a DJ and three mic’d men sat for announcing but with the background of music and crowd noise it was next to impossible to hear anything they were saying even though it did seem as if they were having a good time themselves. The music seemed key to maintain the energetic atmosphere and consisted of some Beastie Boys and that is all you need to do to please me. Also vendors for merchandise were aligned on the opposite side the track as the stage which created a large mass of humanity occupying and giving a larger feel to the event all together.
The Star-Spangled Banner was played as everyone took the time to honour our country, then the junior-varsity team introductions and the first bout was underway. Naptown’s Warning Belles were quick to gain a lead and never looked back squashing The Silent Lambs 313-62. Now this was an enjoyable bout and one of the best I’ve ever watched but I haven’t watched that many. Though this was the B-Teams it was still good entertainment. Also Erin had recently skated with one of the girls Itsy Gitsi from the Warning Belles during a Bleeding Heartland scrimmage and payed a particular amount of attention to Sista Shove Child from The Silent Lambs.
Next came the introductions for Cincinnati’s The Black Sheep, then coming out to some AC/DC (the only thing I could really complain about) Naptown had some real fan presence as each player was thoroughly cheered as their names were announced when they came cruising out through the curtains. The bout was off without wasting anytime with the Tornado Sirens gaining a lead. It was obvious why the veteran Tornado Sirens recently participated in the WFTDA Championships even though losing to tournament winners Gotham Girls Roller Derby in the opening round.
I discovered the true skill level as I watched the ladies juke, jive and jump all over the place to the pleasure of the audience. Oohs and awes were heard as monstrous hits were applied and bodies slammed down with more force than I have been use to seeing with my experience while watching roller derby. The team work was as precise as I have seen. It is amazing and somewhat humiliating to watch a jammer be whipped right off the starting line to gain a lead while the other jammer is stuck behind the pack as it crawls at a snails pace just for the jammer to already be around and back behind them ready to score points. The jammers were fast and elegant on both sides with Naptown’s girls having the clear advantage.
Naptown’s defense was excellent creating incredible walls and putting beatdowns on the CRG jammers until they were exhausted at the end of each jam. This is what I believe makes roller derby so great is when a team is receiving a beatdown, as a fan/spectator I can feel it. Every time a jammer gets knocked down during a jam it knocks me down some even if I’m routing for the other team. I see the human spirit fighting through what seems would be a horribly crushing feeling constantly being knocked down and around each time a jammer/blocker rises to their skates.
Mike Tyson once said “You can’t last two minutes in my world bitch.” while speaking to a heckler in the crowd. Only I feel this quote is much more appropriate in Roller Derby and perhaps should be a rallying cry for all whom throw-down in a jam. The jams comprising two minutes of intense athletic performances and some times down-right brutal displays of power and agility are truly awe-inspiring and worth the experience from my seat alone.
With a final score of 231 for the Tornado Sirens and 107 for the visiting Black Sheep, it was an excellent performance from both sides. Roller derby is for me and maybe it’s for you too, so ch-check it out!
“Roller Derby, it’s like filming a wild bunch in a convoy…” – Bloody Sam Wreckinbah