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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

milwaukee adventures: roller derby championships

The Brewcity Bruisers are one of Milwaukee's greatest hidden entertainment gems.  I discovered them through a friend a few years ago (after watching Whip It), attended a few bouts here and there, and have since progressed to a season ticket holder and a derby rec leaguer.  I'm officially hooked!!  

This weekend I attended the Brewcity Bruisers' championship bout.  The championship bout comes at the end of a four month season of monthly "bouts" or games..  I've attended almost every bout this season and as has become our tradition, I got a couple of delicious slices of pizza before this bout with my friends. 

The championship bout was battled out between the four lteams that make up the Brewcity Bruisers local league. [The Brewcity Bruisers also have two travel teams called the All Stars and the Battlestars that compete regionally.] The first match was between the Shevil Knevils and Rushin Rollettes who competed for third (and fourth) place, and the second between Maiden Milwaukee and the Crazy 8s who fought for first (and second).  

These games were so intense!!  The Rushin Rollettes (the orange team) hadn't won a game yet this season, and they seemed extra inspired to bring it all to the track (that's derby talk for "worked really hard").  Their hard work paid off and they "rushed" to first place.  (Too much??)

For those of you new to roller derby, here's a quick intro to how the game is played.  Each bout is made up of two minute jams with five skaters playing from each team.  The two jammers -- the skaters who can score points -- line up behind the eight blockers.  The whistle blows and each jammer tries to fight her way through the pack (the eight blockers).  The jammer that breaks through first is named lead jammer and has the right to call off the jam whenever it is best strategically for her.  The next time she breaks through the pack, she'll score one point for every player of the opposite team she passes.  If the second jammer is getting close to scoring points by breaking through the pack a second time too, the lead jammer will call off the jam as quickly as she can by doing a tapping movement on her hips.  

I've learned over the past few years that roller derby is a highly athletic, competitive sport.  I've been working hard to learn all the basic derby skills, but it's been a really big challenge.  The skating move you see above is the skill I'm trying to perfect right now - the crossover through the track apex.  You have to learn to shift your weight from skate to skate while crossing your right leg over the left and pushing your legs out to gather speed.  It's hard work!!  

The big bout, the championship, the one for all the marbles -- had me sitting on the edge of my seat for about an hour.  You could compare the rivalry to the Boston Red Sox (Maidens) playing the New York Yankees (Crazy 8s).  The Crazy 8s have won the championship the past four years and seem to be unstoppable.   

Since my friend was drafted by the Maidens, I had to cheer them on (while wearing my pink!!).  This bout was soooo fun to watch because each team had to keep adjusting their strategy and each player was clearly giving it everything she had.  The Maidens lost to the 8s by just a few points in the first overtime I had seen.  It was super interesting and pretty similar to penalty kicks in how quickly and dramatically the winner is decided.  

No bout is complete without ice cream!!  Clearly roller debry has become my favorite sport.  It's the only sport I've ever bought season tickets for, and the only sport I'll go out of my way to watch.  It's also the only sport I know of that people can start as adults and have a decent chance of making it on a team that people will pay to watch.  I've never felt stronger or more empowered in any sport I've played.  So who knows, maybe someday I'll be blogging about how I competed with my roller debry team in the championship!  

For more info about the Women's Flat Track Derby Association, click here.

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