Pick Your Team: The Hustlers

Babe Ruthless talks impact and tactics for the TXRG 2011 season

Babe Ruthless:
Babe Ruthless: "We've got enough blockers to really scare anyone on the jammer line." (Photo by Nadia Caffesse)

So it's four days and counting until the Texas Rollergirls make their big move to the Austin Convention Center. It's also a chance for 2010 silver medalists the Hustlers to start the long roll to the title. Before that first whistle blows, team captain Babe Ruthless stopped by to talk tactics, playbooks, and the biggest rivalry in TXRG.

The Score: So, looking back on 2010, what was it like for the Hustlers and the league?

Babe Ruthless: The Texecutioners were pretty split up between the Hustlers and the Hotrod Honeys, so that was definitely the strongest rivalry throughout the season. Every time we would go to play another team, there was nervousness about, 'Oh my god, what if we lose? We have to plan against every little thing they can do.' But it kept coming down to the Honeys, we want to beat the Honeys, we've got to beat the Honeys. So it seemed like the teams were a little unbalanced, like the [Honky Tonk Heartbreakers] lost about six skaters through injuries and pregnancies and moving. There's not a lot you can do about that, but they still had their big threats and they still had their good coach. It was plain to see the [Hell Marys] and the Heartbreakers got to a point where they said, 'We just don't want to take it any more,' and they started getting their shit together, for lack of a better term. Last year was a foundation year for them, so this year you're going to see the teams are very well balanced.

TS: The Hustlers also had their big trip to England last year: How was that?

BR: It was a double edged sword, because it was an amazing opportunity, and of course we had fun in London, but there was a lot of work, too. We're talking about going to play this really intense, high-stake game where we have to win, because we're also throwing a boot camp for 180 girls. Who wants to go to boot camp with the team that can't win? So it was a lot of pressure, and the game was a lot tougher than we really anticipated. You always think it's going to be tough, but they really gave us a run for our money.

TS: Did that trip change the season much?

BR: We came back, and we were thrown right into the season, and we weren't really able to get grounded. It's kind of funny, because we just got back from Arizona. We kind of did the same thing on a much lower level. It's like we took the good from what we did, but didn't take the bad.

TS: You beat Arizona, but how did they compare to the Texas teams?

BR: Oh my god. It was so different. With the Texies, we play these high-stakes games against top-tier teams, and playing against jammers like Joy Collision and Bonnie Thunders and Atomatrix, you can't really go for hits, because you miss, they're gone. So you've got to contain them. On top of that we don't tend to hit a lot because you tend to accrue penalties that way. Some times a big hit is clean, but it just gets seen as a big hit and you get a major. So our league has become not as physical, and I definitely think we were a better team, but they threw us off. I have never had so many cuts and bruises all over my body. They rocked us so bad. We were all just looking so tired and beat down, we were like, 'What is going on here? Man, they just don't stop hitting.' It made me remember, gosh, that really is a strategy in itself. It wears people down and it takes a lot out of you, and you don't want to go up against that girl again.

TS: So what's the Hustlers' approach to the 2011 season?

BR: Our angle this year is that we have to win in our heads. The field is so even right now, that I definitely think it's anyone's game. Every team is physically capable of doing great things, so we're going to have to step up in other realms, which to me is strategy. I think everyone's kind of dogged the idea of plays, because derby's so circumstantial. You might start off with a play, and literally ten seconds go by and you're on to a different one. But I still think that you can do it.

TS: The Hustlers fielded a powerful team last year, and now you're adding big-name returnees like Bullet Tooth Tracy and Cheap Trixie into the mix.

BR: Between Belle Starr and BTT and Curvette, we've got enough blockers to really scare anyone on the jammer line. Because I jam, and I know when I'm on the line I look up at who I've got to face. When I jam against the Honeys and I see a pack of Lucille Brawl and Crackerjack and Shank, I'm like, 'Here we go.'

Texas Rollergirls season opener, Feb. 20, 5pm (doors 4.3opm.) Austin Convention Center, 500 E. Cesar Chavez. $12-$15, kids under 12 free. www.texasrollergirls.org.

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Babe Ruthless, Hustlers, Honky Tonk Heartbreakers, Hell Marys, TXRG, Texecutioners, Bullet Tooth Tracy, Belle Starr, Cheap Trixie, Curvette, Crackerjack

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