Top Ten For Eight Wheels
The Roller Derby year reviewed, plus some Texas Rollergirls' honors
By Richard Whittaker,
3:44PM, Fri. Jan. 6, 2012
Another year, another year-end, another Roller Derby top ten list. Line up on the jam line, and wait for the whistle.
1) Decade of Aggression Jan 21, 2001: Rare you can point at a single moment in time and say, "That's when this sport began." But it's been ten years since the near-legendary initial meeting at Casino el Camino, and by pure grit and DIY determination, roller derby has become the biggest and fastest-growing underground sport on the planet.
2) The Dynasty Ends Want to know when the Hotrod Honeys' three year domination of the Texas Rollergirls ended? It was not at the championships, when the Hustlers smashed the concept of a fourpeat into the dust. It was during February's season-opener round robin, when the purple terrors broke that pink and black winning streak.
3) Rhinestone Revolution Over in TXRD Lonestar Rollergirl land, the Rhinestone Cowgirls beat down reigning champs the Cherry Bombs and squashed any thoughts of multi-year domination before they could begin.
4) Downtown Derby Everyone knew that the Texas Rollergirls had outgrown Playland for bouts, but there were still some nervous moments about moving to the much bigger venue of the Convention Center. Cue capacity crowds and the biggest boost in interest and attendance the league has ever seen.
5) It's a Derby World No-one doubted that Team USA was going to dominate at the first ever Roller Derby World Cup, but that was not what mattered. Teams from Argentina to New Zealand to Scotland made the trek to Canada: Some skaters had never played a full bout in their lives, but they laced up their skates, tightened their chin straps, and showed that derby is a truly international experience.
6) Good Enough to Pick, Not Good Enough to Play OK, time to call out a little bit of ugliness. Over the last year I have seen (and this goes for many leagues and many levels of play) players get drafted but then never see a moment of play on the track. This is still an amateur sport, and it sure as god-damn was never intended to just be for the cool kids. You pick 'em, you play 'em or you refund their dues. Here endeth the lesson.
7) The Return of the Texecutioners No-one can pretend that the last couple of years have been days of wine and roses for the Texas Rollergirls' travel team. But a heavy travel schedule, a big win over Cincinnatti and a nailbiter against the Denver Rollerdolls were part of a rebuilding year that produced bronze at the 2011 Womens' Flat Track Derby Association Nationals.
8) Merby Emerges Nothing splits the derby community more than men's roller derby. Some see it as an inevitable evolution, others as a bullheaded intrusion on a uniquely female (others still as just plain ugly.) Either way, it seems like the experiment is continues and gets more contentious.
9) The Transfer Heard Across Austin Flat track is flat track and banked track is banked track, and never the twain shall meet. Well, that was the thinking, until Smarty Pants took the bold leap from Lonestar to the Texas Rollergirls' benches. Seems like the old cold war has finally defrosted a bit more.
10) Retaining Some Modesty Gotham's Suzy Hotrod broke the golden rule of ESPN The Magazine's body issue: She was not completely naked. But skates or not, she provided yet more proof of how seriously skaters take their sport and their athleticism.
And in case you were wondering, here's my quick list of my end of year awards for the Texas Rollergirls (no justifications, no explanations, no refunds).
Bout of the Year Hotrod Honeys versus Hustlers, season opener round robin.
Team of the Year Hustlers
Most Improved Hell Marys
Skater of the Year Molotov M. Pale
Pack Player of the Year Belle Starr (with two R's)
MVP Olivia Shootin' John
Breakout Performance Kitty Karnage, Honky Tonk Heartbreakers versus Hustlers
Honorable Mention The "every skater gets a poster" press campaign
Richard Whittaker, April 11, 2015
Richard Whittaker, July 13, 2014
Feb. 20, 2020
Feb. 21, 2020
WFTDA, Women's Flat Track Derby Association, Texas Rollergirls, TXRD Lonestar Rollergirls, Team USA, Roller Derby World Cup, Rhinestone Cowgirls, Hell Marys, Hotrod Honeys, Hustlers, Cherry Bombs, Calvello Cup