Texas Rollergirls: The 2012 Championship
Saturday's bouts will bring emotion and resolutions
By Richard Whittaker,
9:44AM, Fri. Sep. 7, 2012
So it's the Hell Marys versus the Hotrod Honeys for the Texas Rollergirls 2012 championship. And before the big bout on Saturday, what was the lesson of last month's flat track Roller Derby play-offs? Teamwork is everything.
The August double header set the scene for this weekend's title clash. The #1 ranked Hells completed their perfect season with a 194-109 win over 2011 champs the Hustlers, taking them into the championships as the undoubted favorites. But, after a stunning 137-122 upset victory over the Honky Tonk Heartbreakers, the Hotrods are giving them the challenge they deserve.
Looking at the Hells, they have the most solid bench of the year, and coaches Punk Rock Phil and Dagger Deb have utilized it to its greatest potential. This isn't a team of superstars, but it is a well-oiled machine. Because, you know what? If superstars won everything, then Dan Marino would have walked home with a fistful of superbowl rings.
And I'm not saying that the Hells don't produce stand-on-your-seat moments. I don't think Muffin Tumble has had a better season in the pack: Frankly, I think she stole the impossibly accurate radar from her old team mate The Angie Christ. Seriously, how does she measure that 20 feet rule so perfectly? Luce Bandit, back on the jammer line for the first real roll this season: Sinnerfold, who has soared as a jammer this season while helping build an incredible PR campaign for the league; And Polly Gone, who missed the June bout with a concussion, back like a wrecking ball.
But the August Hotrods. There are few words beyond 'wow.' They came in with a 12 player roster, not the standard 14. They took two big injuries and two ejections. And they won. That's insane. But they did it. They had the discipline, the endurance, and the determination. You look at Haus the Boss, jamming five jams in a row, just because they were so short of players. By the end, they were forced to double up, because they didn't have enough skates on the ground to even swap out packs. And they won. Every time the Heartbreakers opened up the inside line, Olivia Shootin' John took it. And Olympia played her best game to date, locking down jammers and distracting Heartbreaker blockers.
On paper, the Heartbreakers should not have lost, and they were disappointed afterwards. Rightly so. Yes, the Hotrods took advantage of every opportunity they were given, but the Heartbreakers gave them opportunities. It was like watching the Heartbreakers in their season opener – so much talent, so much expertise, but falling prey to simple issues. Again, they were caught playing kitten in the basket during power jams, rather than exploiting the opportunity. It was frustrating, because you knew how good they can be.
And now they have one last chance to prove how good they can be in the night's opening bout. One last dance for 2012 with the Hustlers, and it will be a bitter sweet affair. By the end of the night, we'll know for sure who will retire. The odds are good that there will be some big names, founding names, defining names in the sport, both local and national. And last month's Hustlers were the best they've been all year. This isn't much of a different team from what won them the championship in 2011, and if they can get the heart back (I definitely heard it beating in August) then they have a real shot at the bronze.
So now we head into the title bout. The Hotrod Honeys have been here before, so many times. Sometimes they've come out ahead, sometimes they've come out behind. The Hells are just trying to complete their Cinderella season – yeah, no small achievement. After the Hotrod's remarkable game, that may seem like a huge challenge. But, then again, no-one saw the Hells rebuilding so fast and so effectively. Can the Hotrods rise to the top with a team that relies less on veterans and gives the rookies and sophomores their best shot? Maybe so, Stopping those fresh legs and smart veterans is the challenge for the Hells. If they can nullify Olympia, if they can lock up the inside straight, if they can wear down Haus. If, if, if.
Texas Rollergirls championship bout. Sat., Sept. 8. Doors, 5:15pm: Hustlers vs. Honky Tonk Heartbreakers 6pm; Hotrod Honeys vs. Hell Marys 7.30pm. Austin Convention Center, 500 E. Cesar Chavez. $15, tickets cover both bouts: Children 12 and under free. www.texasrollergirls.org.