Ad Astra Radio takes a look at the 2011 WFTDA South Central Regional Playoffs for an inside look at the world of roller derby.
By: Rebecca Fensholt
2011 WFTDA South Central Regional Playoffs
Kansas City is not well-known for spectacular athletic performance from its sports teams. However, one alternative sport with strong cult appeal is changing the national perception of Kansas City area athletes, at least among the daring crowds that venture into the mysterious world of roller derby.
The Kansas City Roller Warriors is a women’s flat-track roller derby league, and it is the only league in Kansas and Missouri that belongs to the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA). Founded in 2004 by Dirty Britches and Princess Anna Conda, KCR-dub is regarded as one of the nation’s top derby leagues after seven hard-skated seasons, drawing about 2,000 supporters to home bouts. WFTDA’s South Central Region Playoffs took place last weekend, hosted by the Kansas City Roller Warriors at Municipal Auditorium. Ten regional teams qualified to compete in “Show Me Der-B-Q” earlier this season.
KCR-dub was represented by their All-Stars, one of two travel teams in the league. These ladies all played for one of Kansas City’s home teams before being drafted to play for one of the country’s top derby teams. Captain Bruz-Her and Co-Captain Hall Balls led the women in their efforts to re-claim the regional champion title after last year’s victory over friendly rivals, the Texas Rollergirls.
Roller derby “games” are called bouts. In each bout, five women from each team battle their opponents on quad-skates for two thirty-minute periods. Four defensive Blockers assist their team’s Jammer in her effort to scores points on the other team by lapping the “pack” of blockers on the track. Points can only be scored by the “lead jammer,” the first jammer to break through the pack.
Derby began in the US during the Great Depression, but was most popular in the 1970’s. The recent comeback of kick-ass women on skates started with a revival in Texas in the early 2000’s. The competition is as fierce as the women who dominate the track, but this nearly underground sport has produced a warm and lively transnational community of players and spectators. Flat track derby provides women with a unique outlet outside of work, school or home to express an alternate ego under fishnet tights and distinctive derby names.
The “Show Me Der-B-Q” showdown began on Friday morning and continued until into Sunday evening. Ten teams played seventeen bouts total, vying for one of the top three spots that include an invitation to the 2011 WFTDA Championship next month in Denver. The Kansas City Roller Warriors were the returning champs this year and dominated in the first two days’ bouts, defeating the Gold Coast Derby Girls 274-36 on Friday and the Atlanta Rollergirls 220-96 on Saturday, earning a spot in the final bout re-match against long-time friends and rivals, the Texas Rollergirls. The first round, or “jam,” gave the Texacutioners a four-point lead that was quickly squashed by KCR-dub, yet penalties against the All Stars at the close of the first half gave Texas jammer Vicious Van-GoGo an opportunity to regain a six-point lead. Intensity grew in the second half, as the two teams continued to swap the lead back and forth. At one point, Roller Warrior co-captain Hall Balls looked as though she was “down for the count” after taking a hard hit but Hall, a true warrior, made it back up on her quad skates to keep the heat on Texas’ lead jammer. KCR-dub jammers Track Rat and crowd-favorite Case Closed helped keep up the points, while blocker-extraordinaire and blockers Buz-Her and Eclipse refused to allow Texas many high-scoring jams. Unfortunately, more penalties against the All Stars and an exhausted offense gave Texas jammers lead position for the last five minutes of the bout, and the game ended in defeat for the Kansas City Roller Warriors with a final score of 92-132 to the Texas Rollergirls.
Despite the loss, these fierce, Midwestern women are far from “down-and-out” as they prepare for their trip to Denver, Colorado for the WFTDA Championship, “Divide and Conquer,” from November 11th-13th. The Texas Rollergirls, Kansas City Roller Warriors and third-place team Nashville Rollergirls have an opportunity to skate their stuff against other top teams in the nation.
Kansas City Rollers’ will be back for a new season in February. You can support them by getting out to Municipal Auditorium and cheering their four home teams: the Black Eye Susans, the Knockouts, the Victory Vixens and the Dreadnaught Dorothys.
Keep up with the KCR-dub All Stars at the 2011 “Divide and Conquer” Championship this November on the Women’s Flat Track Derby Assocation website, wftda.com.
*The audio story can be found under Ad Astra’s online archives. While you’re there, you might as well check out some other stories as well!