Saturday night we attended the final bout (for this year) of roller derby, featuring the local Renegade Rollergirls. Interesting experience; the crowd was bigger and louder than I would have imagined. It was at the Indoor Sports Center, but apparently they had to turn something like 300 people away at the door, so next February when it starts up again they’ll be holding bouts at the Deschutes Expo Center (that’s the rumor, at least).
I’m finally clear on exactly what these roller derbies are about, and how they’re played and scored. The pack skates around the court, doing laps, led by the pivot from each team. (Two teams are on the court at the same time.) The pivot sets the pace for the pack. The pack is made up of six blockers, three from each team. Behind them all are the two jammers (again, one from each team); their role is that of the actual point scorers. In order to score points, they have to out-skate the pack and lap them; when they successfully pass the pack (break through or around), that team gets a point.
The gimmick, of course, is that the blockers have to try to stop the jammers from getting through… and, it seems, anything goes in doing this. Grab the jammer and pull her down, trip her, grab feet, throw an elbow, or whatever. There’s a lot of falls, crashes, and fights being started, although the coach and the refs are quick to break up the fights. Each match is ten or 15 minutes long.
It was a lot more fun than I expected it to be, quite frankly, although we had VIP tickets and were able to avoid the general admission crush. VIP is the way to go; you get reserved seating in the best area, and two drink tickets. Beer and wine is served, although when I went back for our second drinks, they had completely sold out of wine (this by 8:30, doors were open by 7pm). If you don’t drink beer, then you’re out of luck when this happens.
Food was pretty reasonable, too; $2 for a hot dog, $3 for nachos, $1 for cookies, chips, and candy. Bottled water and pop was available, too.
Overall, the general atmosphere of the audience and everything once the matches started reminded me, of all things, of professional wrestling—there was that much intensity and mania from the audience. People would be cheering and yelling and just go nuts when a fight broke out or skaters went down. No serious injuries, though, much to the crowd’s disappointment.
It looked like a lot of fun, though there’s a lot of practice hours on skates to get as good as some of these girls; those jammers in particular are fast (they have to be). It’s definitely a fast-paced sport once they get a match going. And confusing—I was wondering sometimes how they can keep track to keep score accurately.
And we were finally able to see Shannon in action and mixing it up. She’s been bugging us for ages to come to one of these bouts and I told her when we finally did she had to kick some ass. She had a few sketchy moments but I’d say she pulled through.