The Austin Chronicle

Night of the Rookies

By Richard Whittaker, March 1, 2010, 11:18pm, The Score

Call him Mayor Maynot. Yes, city chief Lee Leffingwell, complete with was as good as his word last night and blew the first whistle on the first bout of the first night of the Texas Rollergirls 2010 home season.

Council has finally started paying real attention to the Texas Rollergirls and, if the jam-packed and boisterous Playland was any measure, so have more Austinites than ever. Like the kick-off to the 2009 season, this was a round robin system, so all four teams – The Hell Marys, the Honky Tonk Heartbreakers, the Hotrod Honeys and the Hustlers – played each other in ten-minute mini-bouts.

If the format was the same as last year, a lot had changed. A heavy draft of former rec league rookies meant a lot of skaters were making their debut on the big rink. There were also some shifts amongst veterans (it will take a while to get used to the inimitable Belle Starr in the purple of a Hustler instead of the Honky gingham, which 2009 breakout star The Angie-Christ now dons), plus there were some big returning names like Pussy Velour. There was also a slight twinge of sadness at seeing Rice Rocket as a spectator and guest speed skater, instead of sporting the trademark pink and black of the Hotrods. Rice defined the role of the small, fast jammer in the sport and the sensation of seeing the team without her was what Miami Dolphins fans must have felt the first season without Dan Marino.

What was a re-run of last year was the Hotrods sweeping to victory through all three of their bouts. After last year's straight season and championship, they remain the team to beat, but the 2-1 Hustlers could be the ones to do it. The Hells are on a rebuild year, so while last night the indomitable Muffin Tumble did a lot to hold the line to keep up the 1-2 result, they have some serious talent that could pull a some major upset. The wild card will be the Heartbreakers: Even though they went 0-3 for the night, if the parts gel together fast enough in the season, then the resident cowgirls could up-end the apple cart.

So what about those rookies? New Mary Luce Bandit may be the youngest skater on the track, but the lean jammer from Tucson lived up to the buzz about her speed talent. Her team mate The Killa' Sal Monella doesn't come with the same word of mouth, but has her own turn of speed and a scrappy attitude to getting through the pack that will turn some heads.

The Honkys got a big win when they recruited Angie in her sophomore year, but keep an eye on Short Cut. Off the track, quiet and polite: On the track, fast and focused. With the right pack, she'll be deadly, a mix of Morphine and Bloody Mary.

The Hustlers had the smallest draft this year, and played their veterans heavily last night. Expect to see the rookies out in full effect at the first regular bout on March 28. Long term, there has to be speculation about what they'll be able to do when they can pair Belle with her fellow Texecutioner Cheap Trixie once she's fully recovered from a pre-season leg injury. Plus, watch for Molotov M. Pale, who becomes more impressive with every bout.

That leaves the Hotrods, who opted in the rookie draft to go for blockers and pivots rather than first-string jammers (with point machines like Morphine, Bloody Mary and Olivia Shootin' John on board, jammers were not their main concern.) Out of the three freshmen, Haus the Boss seems most likely to jump to point scoring first, while the pivot's stripe suits former Austin Chronicle intern Vargas Grrl well. The literal impact player may turn out to be Olympia: A couple of trips to the penalty box could not overshadow a potent mix of speed, size and good-natured aggression of the type that makes jammers think twice.

Full scores below (read from top to bottom):

Team win/loss vs. Hell Marys vs. Honky Tonks vs. Hotrods vs. Hustlers
Hell Marys 1-2 / 16-10 2-30 8-36
Honky Tonk Heartbreakers 0-3 10-16 / 3-36 1-20
Hotrod Honeys 3-0 30-2 36-3 / 16-13
Hustlers 2-1 36-8 20-1 13-16 /

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