Indiana welcomed a new team to its roller derby bouting world on Saturday, March 12, 2011 as The Dire Skates of Richmond, IN took on the Lake City Roller Dolls from Warsaw, IN. Although they’ve only been practicing as a team since February 2010, the Skates brought professionalism, strategy, athleticism and skill to their inaugural bout. Observing from tables in the snack bar and suicide seats, the crowd got their first glimpse of what is sure to be a powerhouse team and a force to be reckoned with among opponents.
Many derby first-timers were in attendance and thanks to the Skates’ performance, it’s safe to say Richmond was swept off its derby feet just like Lake City’s jammer in the first half when a huge hit from the Skates’ Stubborn Itch sent her flailing and flying into the crowd. As both a derby and a Dire Skates fan, this author was honored to be in attendance and brings readers a different kind of “Top Five,” so to speak. As observed from my suicide seat in turn one, here are the Top Five Most Awesome Things at the Dire Skates’ Inaugural Bout.
5. The makeup. I’m not just talking about sparkly eye shadow and black fingernails here. These women went all out. Foxy Hellrider sported an amazing creation on her face and “skull” just doesn’t cover it. When asked about the paint, Foxy replied, “I’m NOT talented; my husband is!” Foxy’s bright red eye makeup was in stark contrast to her black-and-white skull makeup. She complimented her look with a yellow flower painted on her chin.
Not to be outdone, Dire Skate RollHer Zombie’s look was both ghoulish and fascinating at the same time. Her gray and white face makeup was highlighted by bright green eyeliner and the spookiest contact lenses this writer has ever seen. She capped off her look with a mouth covered in blood…from brains, perhaps? Check out the photos, because words just don’t do these women’s faces justice! Two more Skates were all painted up with black stripes over their eyes – Broad of War and PMaSsacre – to add a sinister look and telling Lake City to back off. And it worked.
4. The teamwork. It obviously goes without saying that in order to win as a team, you must play as a team. The Skates are no exception. Throughout many jams, the ladies were so in sync that communication wasn’t even necessary. Pivot Malice B. Stopless was so intuitive at holding back the other team’s jammer that once that jammer broke free, the other Skates were right there to continue the block. The team moved as one, both aiding their jammer through the Lake City pack and then turning up the defense to keep Lake City’s jammer trapped and unable to score. When speedy Skates Foxy Hellrider and RollHer Zombie flew off the jammer line, their support from their pack was immediate and powerful. The Skates definitely had their rhythm down, making it extremely difficult for the other team to plot their next move.
3. The score. Although the Dire Skates fell to Lake City, 140-127, this was by no means a blow-out. This writer was quite impressed at how many times the lead changed throughout the bout. Going into half-time, the Skates were up 76-57 and both teams kept the score very close. As derby fans know, a single jam can completely change the outcome of a bout but when faced with a grand slam or two (one team’s jammer laps the opposing jammer and scores five points) by the opposing team, the other answered back with points of their own. The Dire Skates were always aware of the score, played their kind of game and worked hard to bring a win home for their fans. An observer would never know this was the Skates’ very first bout and the team put their hearts on the flat track to show the crowd how much they all love this sport.
2. The crowd. Although roller derby is relatively new to Richmond, one certainly couldn’t tell that from the number of fans and supporters that came to cheer their Dire Skates to victory. The Skate, a roller rink in Richmond, served as the Skates’ venue and it was absolutely packed. The standing-room-only crowd was shoulder-to-shoulder, watching from booths, tables, suicide seats and lining the entire area around the track. As the announcer noted, there were numerous people at the bout who had never before experienced roller derby and that fact goes to show the popularity of the Dire Skates. The crowd remained lively the entire evening, screaming and clapping for both the Skates and their opponents. There were audible gasps when skaters fell into a pile-up and the audience jumped to its feet to applaud for amazing jams. Fans kept the teams pumped up and provided a positive atmosphere throughout the night.
1. The derby love. Derby love is not just the act of loving the sport. It is a feeling felt through and through by skaters, referees, NSO’s (non-skating officials) and fans. Derby love is being part of a team. It is that fluttery feeling in your stomach when your team is announced. It is going hoarse from cheering but not caring. Derby love is being proud of your derby sisters as they complete a jam and come back to the bench. It is a feeling of camaraderie and belonging. It is making new friends at bouts by sharing information on game play. It is not being embarrassed about shedding a tear if your team loses.
Derby love is a hug from your coach. It is going down on one knee out of respect for an injured player. It is the feeling of flying as you sprint to score a grand slam. It is going down hard…and then getting back up. There is no true definition of derby love…but if you feel it, you’ll know it. And the Dire Skates have it…all of it.
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