It was a dark night for Connecticut Roller Derby in Pittsburgh on Saturday, January 24th. Eleven of CT’s finest jumped on a bus for a nine hour ride to Western Pennsylvania for a bout against Pittsburgh’s Steel Hurtin’. I happened to be working in Ohio that weekend, so I took a drive into Pennsylvania for the night to support my favorite Roller Girls. Unfortunately, things looked grim for CT’s Stepford Sabotage right from the start. Ether Bunny (along with CT ref Major N’fraction) got food poisoning on the trip out. The team was down to 10 players.
The game was played at BladeRunners in Harmerville, PA. The arena is typically used for hockey, but for the night a hard floor was set down. The crowd was anxious to get started and stood to their feet as the announcers introduced the crowd to Buddy Nutt. Buddy Nutt plays the saw and treated us to a fantastic version of the National Anthem.
Our girls were playing in the second half of the night following a bout between Pittsburgh’s B team (B Unit) and a derby team from Akron, OH (Northeast Ohio Rock’n’Roller Girls). Pearl Jammer started the show as jammer against The Crippler. Right away our team had a violent introduction to Steel Hurtin’s captain: Athena. Athena was a dominant force on Pittsburgh’s team. She worked as a blocker in Pittsburgh’s pack and might be best likened to a bull-dozer. She had a devastating ability to knock jammers out and then brake hard to force the fallen jammer back towards the rear of the pack. Pearl’s untimely introduction to Athena resulted in a quick triple grandslam from Pittsburgh. It was the first lapping of the Sabotage, and sadly not the last. Pittsburgh was rotating their jammers between The Crippler, Hurricane Heather, and Cheeseburger whose helmet was adorably painted exactly like a cheeseburger. All three girls skated hard and were well supported by the beefy Pittsburgh pack.
Meanwhile Sabotage was weakened further by the fall of Girl Fawkes who got hit hard and hurt her knee early in the first half. The team was down to 9 players and the points kept adding up for Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh’s blockers were brutal. They were doing an impressive job of keeping Sabotage’s jammers in check. Three quarters into the first half, the score was 72 to 3.
Eleanor Bruisevelt rolled up to the jammer starter line.
I give Eleanor a huge amount of credit for her work in this bout. From a fan’s perspective, she seems to be an extremely optimistic player. Even as Sabotage faced an increasingly challenging derby environment, Eleanor came to the jamming starting line with a smile on her face. After coming back from a track cutting penalty, Elle snuck through the pack and got the first lead jamming status for Sabotage in nearly 10 jams. Coming off of Elle’s momentum, Pearl came up and pulled four points away from Cheeseburger. C. Mya Rage came next and grabbed two points away from The Crippler. Pearl came up once more and had a beautiful jam against Hurricane Heather and put 4 more points on the board. The Connecticut section of the crowd was going nuts. With a score of 88 to 15, CT didn’t have much hope for a victory, but the string of successes that started with Elle’s drive did a great job showing Pittsburgh that our team had some life.
After the intermission, the girls came back in. Pearl was jamming again and did a commendable job pulling two points against Hurricane Heather’s 8 point drive. The blockers for both teams were brutal.
Perhaps now would be a good time to take a short pause in the action to applaud the work of Miz ConSepJen. Stepford’s blockers were both outnumbered and outweighed by their Pittsburgh opponents, but that didn’t stop Miz from quickly gaining a reputation amongst the Pittsburgh crowd for her ability to hit hard and brutally take down the Steel jammers. As the first few jams proceeded, Miz came out to completely and utterly flatten Cheeseburger. The hit was devastating and effectively removed Pittsburgh from contending in this jam. Miz’s fantastic blocking coupled with Pearl’s speed brought in ten points for our the Sabotage. It was the highest point jam for CT.
Just three jams later the whistles were blown to stop play mid-jam as Milla LowLife lay prone on the track. Another CT girl had fallen. Sabotage was down to 8 girls. With 5 women on the track at any time, it was clear that Sabotage was stretched and stressed.
The bout continued much as it had with Pittsburgh consistently dominating the track. Sadly, the end score of 149 to 32 doesn’t seem to act as a testimony to the hard work of our Connecticut girls. I had a great time watching the girls skate. At least for me, no defeat will ever dampen the excitement of Roller Derby. The next internal bout is on February 21st in Woodbridge. For more information check out their website here.
Kudos to the all the players and participants who took the trek westward.