Whose House? Texies' House
Texecutioners send a message with victory over Cincinnati
By Richard Whittaker,
1:52AM, Tue. Apr. 19, 2011
September 30, 2007. That was the last time the Texecutioners skated in the Austin Convention Center. On Sunday, with a convincing win over the Cincinnati Black Sheep, they proved this is really their house now.
In hindsight, that bout at the Women's Flat Track Derby Association 2007 national championship was part of a pivotal weekend. It was an opportunity for the Texas Rollergirls to try out what is now their permanent home, but it was also a turning point, as Seattle's Rat City Rollergirls proved the value of a real speed game.
As the first travel team bout since the big move, this was a real test for Texas. A solid win at home over Cinci (currently ranked #5 in the WFTDA North Central region and #16 in the Derby News Network power rankings) would help exorcise the specter of their disappointing 2010 season.
Olivia Shootin' John opened the bout with a brief scare for Texas, heading straight to the box while Cinci's K Lethal put seven on the board. To make up for that moment, OJ came out of the box and scored 19 while Cinci's Hannah Ouchocinco was sitting it out for a major penalty.
That kind of massive, game-changing jam was a rarity all night. Truth is, the first period was one of those rare occasions when Texas did not control the front of the pack. Cincinnati have one of the best walls in the game and made it a key part of holding the Texies down. Anchored by Sk8r-Kinney and Nuke'Em, those last few feet out of the pack were a consistent nightmare for the Texas jammers.
There had been a tactical trade-off. Belle Starr, who normally frustrates jammers by making the front of the pack her own, was being used at the back a lot, exercising her control over slow starts to Texas' advantage. For the first period, Texas was pushing that slower game, grinding points out and giving their jammers a fighting chance to get through a hard-hitting Cinci pack. It may not always have been pretty, but after the third jam Texas never dropped below a 21 point lead, closing the period 58-36.
Part of the home team's success was fast feet. Short Cut, Molotov M. Pale, Luce Bandit and Vicious Van GoGo all showed a style that has adapted well to the new slick floor at the Convention Center, but it is a style that could pay big dividends later in the year at regionals and nationals. As much as the brute force of their blockers, that was what got them through the pack.
But if the first period was about defense, the second was all offense. After Hannah put two points on the board in the opening jam, Cincinnati stalled out at 38 for the next ten jams. Texas' response was to prove how deep their jamming roster is. Bringing Bloody Mary out of the pack, the Texies used her, OJ and Vicious as the core for the second period. This is a squad that can field seven top-tier or rising jammers, while Cinci kept to its core rotation of three. The fresh legs made a serious difference, and when OJ, Bloody and OJ again had consecutive double grand slams, it was clear that Texas had total control of the bout. With a grand total of ten grand slams in the second period, they opened up their lead to a definitive 149-61 victory.
Did the new venue help? Maybe. What is obvious is that, as a league, Texas is definitely filling this bigger stage. With complimentary thundersticks and young fans lining up to get their tickets and posters and even skates signed, this feels like a more serious Texas Rollergirls. That said, there is still that devious fun side which came out to play as the Ramonas took on (and ultimately out) the Heathers in a 30 minute pick-up game.
The punks versus preppies mini-bout was an opportunity for non-Texies to get some track time in what would otherwise have been an off week. For much of the first half it looked like captain Olympia's well-dressed Heathers were rolling away with the bragging rights, but Babyface Assassin upset the order like a good punk should with a triple grand slam for the Ramonas. Hauss the Heather may have returned the favor to close the first half 30-41, but the Ramonas coalesced as a team faster. Finally taking the lead (courtesy of a rare sighting of Bullet Tooth Tracey sporting the jammer's star) they held the Heathers to only nine points in the second period, finishing the night 72-50.