Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Razor Girls, for the win!

My team won! I didn't think it would feel this good, or that I could possibly be this proud. After all, it's "just a game", and I didn't even play! But when the whistle blew indicating the end of the bout and the score was in our favor; none of that mattered...

Last night (Jun 11th, 2011) was kind of a big deal. It was the 2nd home game of the season, 3rd game of the season in total, but most importantly; it was the first time this year that our two home teams went head to head. This was a long time coming...the last time Scarlet Swarm and Razor Girls duked it out was in September of 2010. At that point our league was only about 5 months old, the game was basically a "test drive" for what was to come the following year in our first official season, and in the end, Scarlet Swarm was victorious. In a small exhibition bout the month before, Scarlet Swarm also won.

In the several months that followed, our entire league worked and trained really hard. Both of our teams made tons of progress, and the League itself grew stronger and stronger every day. Not only physically but as a whole. Everything we learned; both on and off the track, was through a trial and error basis. We turned into an extremely close-knit family, developing strong bonds between the skaters, ref's and coaches. We picked up some sponsors, had some great media coverage, hosted some pretty rockin' events and fundraisers, and we celebrated our one year anniversary. Eventually the thing we worked so hard for was finally here: our first official season!

We started it off with a double-header in Moncton, against their league, Muddy River Rollers. This is when I first realized how difficult being a derby girl on Maternity Leave would prove to be. It was SO HARD to watch that bout, thinking about how hard I (personally) worked in order to be up there with my team; but instead I was watching from the side lines. And that sucked. Ya, I know it's my own doing and I know it will be more than worth it in the end when I get my adorable bundle of joy and cuteness, but it still sucked! Anyway, my sob story aside and making a long story short; Fog City played hard, but Muddy River took both games. Two weeks later, we took them on again in another double header; this time on our home turf. Although Razor Girls and Scarlet Swarm both played even harder this time and the score was significantly closer, Moncton once again took the title of champions.

Now, Razor Girls have continuously prided ourselves in being good sports, taking our losses in stride and keeping all of our feelings "on the track", as they say in the derby world. However, a team can only lose so many times before they have had enough. Although we were rocking our "Underdogs" status with pride, we knew we deserved to win, and we knew if we gave it our all and played as hard as we could possibly play, that win would come eventually, fair and square.

Most of the bout was extremely close and it could have been anyone's game at any given time. The score was constantly neck and neck, and more than once it remained at an exact tie for more than one jam. I found this to be very nerve racking, especially considering that my particular NSO (non skating official) job was score keeper; which didn't really allow me to pay very close attention to the game since I had to keep a very close eye on my jammer ref at all times, and also because as an NSO; you are not really allowed to show any biased opinion and have to remain neutral at all times. So I kept all of my feelings hidden, but on the inside I was screaming, had major butterflies and a lump the size of a tennis ball in my throat, and at certain times I was visibly shaking no matter how hard I tried to hide it. Having Rogers Cable there to record the whole thing for television made the night even more edge-of-your-seat exciting!

Going into half time, Scarlet Swarm had a 10 point advantage on us. The atmosphere in our locker room was a lot more positive than it has been in the past. Ten points is no big deal; you can get that back in one good jam! Points aside though, the girls knew they were giving it their all and putting up the best fight they could; so win or lose, we would be victorious anyway. After all...the old saying goes; "it doesn't matter if you win or lose, it's how you play the game."

The second half was obviously even more exciting. Not just for the teams and our coaches, but for the crowd too. You could see people literally on the edge of their seats, biting their nails and holding their breath. 102 (RG) to 76 (SS) was the score going into the last jam. We had Tacky Tammy; Scarlet Swarm had Fancy Nancy. Two of the leagues "star jammers" going head to head. Obviously at this point, we basically knew we had the game in the bag but Roller Derby is full of surprises and unlike a lot of sports; you can gain a LOT of points in a VERY short amount of until the final whistles blow, you never really know for sure. Alas, even though Tacky Tammy ended up in the penalty box half way through this last jam (love you T.T!) ; the final score was 109 Razor Girls to 80 Scarlet Swarm!

My eyes immediately filled up with tears, my clip board flew to the ground and I raced across the track to hug my big group of  (really smelly) ladies who I love so much. I never expected to feel the way I did, but watching my team win that game was only comparable to when I saw my first born take her first steps. The joy and the pride was overwhelming.

Weather or not this is the beginning of a winning streak, or we don't win again for a very long time; I'm so glad we got to experience that feeling. I have never played sports before so I never really knew what it would feel like, but in the words of Alien She, "winning feels different than losing" and its definitely not a bad feeling!

As great as it was to see us win, I would have been happy whatever the outcome. Scarlet Swarm played just as hard and when it all comes down to it, you have to put the rivalries aside and remember that we are all one BIG family who has come a very long way, and everyone should be proud of their accomplishments. We are all in this together, even when we have to play against each other.

Fog City Rollers are just plain awesome. Sometimes I forget that this started as a silly idea that Suzie SkinHer and I had while we were watching movies in her old apartment on a night that now seems like a million years ago. So much has changed, I've met so many amazing people. I can't even imagine what's in store for us next! I guess only time will tell, and I am more motivated than ever!

Once I have this baby, I'm ready to get back in there full force and give it my everything. I love this sport, everything about it, and everybody I have met through it. I can not describe the awesome feeling it gives me; but I can suggest that if you don't play Roller Derby or have never been to a Roller Derby bout...get out there and CHECK IT OUT, because it will change your life forever.

What's next for Fog City? Scarlet Swarm takes on Fredericton's Daisy Cutters in ROLLER DERBY - Scarlet Swarm vs. The Daisy Cutters on June 25th at the Lord Beaverbrook.

- Darla Derringer #22
   Razor Girl

Friday, 27 May 2011

Saint John vs. Moncton—it’s been a long time a comin’!

So Ryder Wrong asked me to guest blog about the double-header Saint John had against Moncton on Saturday, May 14th.  Being an ex-FCR member (I’ll be returning in the fall—yay!) I was happy to help a kindred spirit!

So where do I begin?  Ah yes—the venue.  The event was held at Moncton’s Red Ball Internet Centre in the Caroll Rink.  Having never been in the Centre before, this rink seemed like it was more of a practice rink since it did not have any seating. “No seating?”, you ask.  Yes, no seating.  Do you know who usually has the most fun at a derby bout?  Those individuals in the ‘suicide seating’[i] do—and this was like one large suicide seating section.  Seats?  We don’t need no stinking seats!  (Well, technically, I did so I brought my camping chair, but I digress…).

The Muddy River Rollers were top class in how they helped out at the door making sure everyone got pumped up for what they were about to watch and that the line-up was moving fast so that everyone could go in and claim their spot on the floor.

This was the very first intercity roller derby bout held in New Brunswick! This was exciting!  This was sold out!

My mother and I (affectionately known as “Derby Mom”) managed to get a great position between turns 1 and 2.  The atmosphere was super charged as you not only had family and friends of the Saint John and Moncton teams but you also had members of the Capital City Rollers from Fredericton, the Halifax Roller Derby Association and the PEI RollerGirls in the house to check out the competition (aka “reconnaissance”).

Photo credit: Katie Hopkins

While we waited for the first whistle to be blown you could feel the crowd’s excitement as they waved their hand-made signs about how “my derby mom skates faster than yours”.  People were asking each other about the rules, how the game is played and what do the “panties” mean.

Then the rivalry began—not on the track—on the floor and in the crowd.  I was (of course) wearing my FCR hoodie with my derby name and number on the back and “Razor Girls” emblazoned on the hood when a Moncton fan felt the need to pull my hood off my head.  This was his way of saying: “your team sucks and you shouldn’t even bother”.

Oh. No. He. Didn’t!

Oh yes he did—and it was awesome!  The whole evening you had fans against fans and that’s the way it should be.  The fans are what, ultimately, keeps derby alive.  If the stands are empty then derby dies so bring on the rivalry!

Being a double-header, this night had Moncton’s Daughters of Anarchy against Saint John’s Scarlet Swarm in the first bout and Moncton’s Lumbersmacks against Saint John’s Razor Girls in the second bout.

Although there was a lot of pomp from all four teams I know that there were also a lot of nerves rumbling in the bellies of these amazing women.  They’ve all fought really hard to get where they are today.  Months and months of practicing, months and months of questioning whether they could do this, months and months of learning their own individual strength.  Tonight was the night to prove to themselves that they’re all good enough and they all deserved to be there.

Scarlet Swarm
Photo credit: Maria Von Smashburg

I think, for me, my favourite moments were seeing Saint John’s teams cheer each other on.  Saint John has already had 2 public bouts pitting the Razor Girls against Scarlet Swarm so that rivalry has already been built and it’s strong.  This night, however, was about the league being there for the league.  Razor Girls were there in full force cheering on Scarlet Swarm and vice-versa.  In fact, when our very own Ryder Wrong suffered a skate malfunction while jamming, Scarlet Swarm did exactly that—they swarmed over to Ryder, found out what the problem was and immediately ran to her rescue and got her another pair of skates.  Fog City Rollers are an incredible bunch of women and, for the skaters, it’s not really about the teams—it’s about the league.  This moment was proof of that.

Razor Girls
Photo credit: Maria Von Smashburg

In every game there’s a winner and a loser.  True, but derby is the only sport that adds an asterisk and a footnote to that.  Both Scarlet Swarm and the Razor Girls lost their bouts that night but, in derby, even the losing teams feel like winners.  They get the same applause, the same victory skate around the track and the same recognition that the winning teams do.  That’s the best part about derby—this sport helps people really understand that there’s nothing wrong with being second best.

All in all, the evening was a great one!  Moncton played beautifully and Saint John came together to support each other like they hadn’t been able to do before.

For these girls, derby is a life not a lifestyle.  They put their all into this sport and they give up a lot to make sure it succeeds.

Moncton and Saint John meet up again this Saturday, May 28th, at the Lord Beaverbrook Rink in Saint John.  This is Saint John’s home-opener so be sure to support YOUR local roller derby league!  Moncton sold out so we’re looking for a big Saint John showing!

For more information, search “Rock Out with a Knockout!” on Facebook or contact Fog City Rollers at

Roller derby is the fastest-growing sport in the WORLD right now—you’re not going to want to miss this action.

See you there! Look for me—I’ll be (of course) wearing my FCR hoodie.

Maria Von Smashburg #75, Razor Girl

[i] Suicide seats are located on the floor just 10 feet from the roller derby track. These are the best seats for up-close derby action and, if you’re lucky, you might end up with a roller derby girl in your lap! For safety reasons, most leagues have a minimum age requirement to sit here. You are sitting on the hard floor, so consider that before claiming your spot.

Monday, 9 May 2011

It's Love, Baby - Derby Love!

"Ok, it's time for tub thumping....gimme 50!"
This statement? Right here? Makes me hate my coach. (see foot note #1)

But damn it, it feels amazing when I not only get through the dreaded tub thumping drill (see foot note #2) but the entire practice. I am never in a bad mood by the end of practice, ever. Regardless of the mood I started off in! Yes, it’s the adrenaline, but it’s so much more than that.

Derby has, at the risk of sounding dramatic (I prefer “passionate”), changed my life. And I'd bet my Riedell's that every girl on our (and any other) league would say the same.

I am so incredibly proud of my (and all of the girls') accomplishments so far. I love seeing each and everyone of us improve with every practice. Better still, I see confidence being built and relationships growing. And that right there? Is the icing on the super duper awesome derby cake!!

And the cherry on that cake is knowing that derby is the reason these girls from all over the cultural and social map, have built these relationships. I can honestly say that 95% of the girls I now consider family, would have remained strangers in PD (post derby) life - even my derby wife (see foot note #3)! She and I are an unlikely but perfect pair that never would have met had it not been for our love of skates and smashin'!

I am in love, and like Ron Burgendy, I want to shout it from a mountain top “I LOVE ROLLER DERBY! AND I  DON’T CARE WHO KNOWS!"

Foot Notes

1)Don't worry Zen Master Dan, I could never hate you for long. :) 

2) It's a drill that I thought would be a good idea. I mentioned to my coach one day, knowing my team mates would curse me, but also thank me for it later. It consists of skating at a sprint for about 10 minutes while doing various falls quickly and on command. If it doesn't sound brutal, it is.

3)Derby Wife: A roller derby soul mate, the woman who you knew from the first second that you'd been separated at birth, who will hold your hair when you throw up after drinking too much, arrange bail, ride in the ambulance with you and set your real husband straight on the Derby world. (Urban Dictionary)