Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Monday, November 23, 2009

Co-Ed Roller Derby - The Champions and the Challenges

First off, congratulations to Man's Ruin Roller Derby for winning the 2009 Old School Derby Association Co-Ed Championship.

Secondly, since we're on the subject, I thought I'd take the opportunity to discuss this interesting and relatively small niche in the derby world. Co-ed roller derby is a quirky little variant that gives chicks and dudes on skates the opportunity to bang each other. (See what I did there? Tee hee hee!)

It is rare that men and women take the field of play in any contact sport on equal competitive footing. I haven't had the opportunity to see a co-ed game yet but I can see where there would be some serious pros and cons to it. The possible huge weight differentials, the agonizing over the social stigma against boys hitting girls, the problems with finding uniforms with extra room around the chest AND in the crotch, all in all I can see where it would be a uniquely challenging enterprise. So we salute you, co-ed roller derby warriors. I can't wait to see what it looks like when you line up!

I'm hoping it looks like this.

Friday, November 20, 2009

New and Improved...

New Derby Helper t-shirt design now available at Wicked Skatewear! Now with 30% bluer fabric and 100% less foul language!  Click the picture to adorn yourself with 100% cotton awesomeness!

Also for you dangle derby players out there, Wicked has a cure for merby hotpants.  *shudder*

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Old School Derby Association - "We Got Next"

This is one hell of a week in the world of roller derby.  On Sunday, the WFTDA crowned their new champion, the Oly Rollers from Olympia Washington.  Now this Saturday, the OSDA will do the same in a one day tournament for all the marbles.  (Or bearings.  Whatever.)  Whereas the WFTDA runs purely on girl power and flat tracks, The OSDA brings variety to the table in the form of banked tracks, co-ed teams and gameplay that hearkens back to the 1930's.

Having covered the WFTDA Tournament through the eyes of volunteer correspondents, we would love to do the same for the OSDA so if you plan to attend the OSDA Tournament and have basic literary skills, please email us at to offer your services and earn your place in internet rollerderby journalism history!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Crotch Rock-It's WFTDA Finals Wrapup

Today's wrapup of Day 3 of the WFTDA National Tournament is not late.  I mean, yes it could technically be considered late since an entire calendar day went by with no information whatsoever.  But let's be realistic here, we know what goes on after roller derby bouts and it goes double for roller derby tournaments.  Crotch ( I love calling him Crotch!) dutifully attended the post tournament afterparty but being the loyal correspondant that he is, he found a nearby computer and tried to promptly compose and submit his report.

That didn't work out so well.

But at last he has sobered up and found his pants and has sent in his post for day 3 of Declaration of Derby.  Thanks for all your help Crotch and remember, hair of the dog dude, hair of the dog.

Sorry this last one is late but I was a little hungover this morning.

Well folks, the tournament is over now, and I'm still in recovery mode from absorbing 12 amazing bouts and an afterparty in one weekend. That's a lot of derby! Big thanks go out to the Philly Rollergirls for putting on an incredible tournament. Everything was first class, and I'm guessing that attendance was somewhere north of 2000 fans.

Now, on to the Finals. The first bout pitted Denver against Rocky Mountain for 3rd place. This was a rematch from Western Regionals where Rocky edged out Denver. Today though, Rocky had to play without one of their stars, DeRanged, who earned her name yesterday by getting suspended after taking a swing at a Texas skater during a bout. Her absence was definitely felt, because Rocky never could get into a groove, and Denver was able to control the pack and the scoreboard the entire bout. They were up by 40 at halftime and cruised to a 151-103 victory. One notable event that I'm sure everyone has already heard about was the injury of Catholic Cruel Girl. She and the pack had been forced to a standstill by the Denver blockers (again!) so that their jammer could catch up. When the Denver jammer came into the pack at full speed, she was unable to avoid CCG and back blocked her so hard that she fell forward and slammed into the ground and didn't get up. The EMT's strapped her to a stretcher as a precaution, but luckily it turned out to be just a shoulder injury. This accident reinforces my opinion that frequently stopped or backwards moving packs make for bad (and potentially unsafe) derby, even if it is legal. Hits become much more severe when one player is stopped, because the relative speed differential is so much greater. It's simple physics. Anyway, I'll get off my soapbox now and congratulate Denver on their 3rd place finish. They do have a sense of humor at least. At the afterparty, I approached Denver's captain while she was dancing and jokingly asked her how come she didn't move as much on the track as she did on the dancefloor. I was half expecting a punch to the face but was instead rewarded with a laugh and a thumbs up.

The championship bout was Oly vs. Texas, which involved 60 minutes of fans yelling "Texas Texas kill kill kill!" and "Oly Oly Oly! Oy oy oy!". I enthusiastically participated in both chants. A few minutes into the bout I stopped cheering for just Texas and started cheering for anyone who made a good play, and there were many of them from both teams. Yet this bout played out similarly to the Oly/Gotham bout the night before. Texas couldn't find an answer for Oly's impressive combination of speed, agility, and strength, so Oly was in the lead for just about the entire bout. 95-40 at halftime and 178-100 at the end. I'm actually a little relieved that they did win, since I went out on a limb and called them the new Gotham in my previous blog. I'd have felt a little foolish if they'd lost after saying that.

However, Texas aquitted themselves well later on that night by convincingly winning the afterparty.

One more note. I gotta mention that the West has definitely become the top region in all derbydom by finishing 1, 3, and 4 in the tourney. They've set the bar high for next season, and I can't wait to see the other three regions try to top it. Peace, love, and derby y'all!!!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Upset Mania! Declaration of Derby - Day 2

Once again bringing you a wrapup of the days events at the WFTDA Nationals, it's everyone's favorite crotch, Crotch Rock-It!

Oh. My. God. Today completely made up for Friday's lack of surprises, as half of today's six bouts resulted in upsets when two number-one seeds and a favored number-two seed lost their chance at the Hydra. I'll leave the play-by-play action to Justice Feelgood Marshall at Derby News Network, but I will give you my impressions on each of these intense bouts.


Boston showed everyone today that they are a team on the rise as they played very competively against Texas. The Massacre had a rough time in the first half as they trailed 60-26, but they actually outscored Texas 46-41 in the second half to lose by a respectable 111-72. Some may argue that Texas was saving themselves for the semifinals, but I've never heard of the Texacutioners doing anything less than racking up as many points as possible against their foes. Even though this was the only matchup in the quarterfinals that went as I expected, Boston will be a team to look out for next season.

Philly vs. Rocky Mountain. Now here is where things get interesting folks. I find it a bit ironic that Philly entered the track to the Rocky theme song, because tonight was certainly Rocky's night to shine. For the first 16 minutes of the bout, they completely shut down Philly's offense and led 28-3. Philly was finally able to start putting a few points up as the score reached 65-44 to Rocky at the half. Then Philly finally realized that the Hydra wasn't going to just be handed to them as a gift from the derby gods for beating Gotham a few months ago and for hosting this whole shindig. They kicked it in gear and lead for some of the second half but as the bout drew to a close, they were tied at 111. I've never seen an overtime jam before, and this one was quite thrilling to watch, but unfortunately for Philly, it didn't end as well for them as it did in Regionals, as Rocky was able to score a grand slam and put the game away, 128-121. Rocky's cinderella hopes were still alive.

Next up was Windy City vs. Denver. I was really looking forward to watching Windy beat the snot out of Denver, as was most of the audience, but alas, it was not to be. Denver continued with the excruciating-to-watch strategy of taking smoke breaks on the track, and I was horrified that Windy fell into the trap just as badly as KC did, falling behind 101-52 at halftime. Windy was able to close the gap later on, but couldn't seal the deal as Denver held on to win it 157-125. I'm gonna take a moment to editorialize here, because it's my blog and I'll say whatever the hell I want. Plus, that's what blogs are for. I hope that Denver's slow pack strategy of often stopping and sometimes even going backwards, dies a slow and painful death in the bowels of derby hell. Nobody likes to watch it, and I don't give a rat's ass if it is effective sometimes, as it was for Denver twice (note that I didn't say three times!!!) in the tournament. Any sport is ultimately about pleasing the fans, and the fans all voted tonight with deafening boos directed towards Denver. Mile High ladies, I've got nothing against y'all personally, but please cut that shit out.

A halftime show highlighting all that was wrong with the 80's

The final bout of the quarterfinals pitted Gotham against Oly. I was impressed with Gotham last night, but I was floored by Oly tonight as they slammed the door on Gotham's hopes for a title repeat and forever shut up the naysayers that they were just a bunch of speed skaters who couldn't play derby. This bout was everything the WC/Denver bout wasn't: fast, physical, fun mutha-f'ing derby! They exchanged blows and the lead for an entire 60 minutes, but in the end Oly pulled what I consider to be an upset with a 136-105 win. As I watched this bout progress, I couldn't help but feel that a torch was being passed. As Gotham has lost two out of their last three, Oly is now the standard-bearer. Oly is the new Gotham. Oly is for real folks. Be very afraid, especially you, Denver!!!

Rocky Mountain is another up-and-comer like Boston that everyone should beware of next season, but Texas showed that they deserve a shot to bring the Hydra home to Austin by turning Rocky's cinderalla hopes into rags, a pumpkin, and a bunch of mice. Rocky stayed in the hunt for the first half, trailing only 76-49, but the Texacutioners pulled away in the second and finished ahead 139-82. DeRanged and Psycho Babble are a great addition to Rocky, but Texas frustrated the hell out of them to the point where DeRanged actually took a swing at the back of a Texas helmet, and she was rewarded with an expulsion and suspension from the consolation bout tomorrow. As DeRanged was escorted off the track, Psycho Babble looked mutinous, but her bench coach was able to calm her down enough to finish the bout. It's a shame that hot tempers cast a shadow on an otherwise stellar tournament season for Rocky, and they may have their hands full tomorrow against Denver without DeRange's help.

The final bout of the night was Oly vs. Denver. This was an immensely fun bout to watch as Oly made a laughingstock of Denver's previously successful strategy. Every time Denver attempted to stop the pack, Oly's ridiculously fast and agile jammers just whipped right on by and thanked Denver for making their job so easy. Eventually Denver gave up going slow and were forced to go at Oly's preferred high pack speed. Oly cruised to an easy 178-91 victory and earned a spot in tomorrow's championship bout. I said originally that I hoped Texas wins the Hydra, and I still do, but I wouldn't mind one bit if Oly won either, because they are a stellar team and a complete package now that they have their pack strategy down and have mostly sorted out their previous penalty issues. Plus, Hazmat and I both have a derby crush on Atomatrix now. I can't wait to see two of the most entertaining teams in all derbydom duke it out for the championship tomorrow!!!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Declaration of Derby - Day 1

Your guest correspondent for the WFTDA National Tournament is Crotch Rock-It from Red Stick Roller Derby.  We hope that you enjoy your Crotch. 

This morning we woke up early enough to get all the requisite touristy crap out of the way before the tournament started. So we walked about a mile to the historic district and saw the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. After getting our fill of history, we went to the Reading Terminal Market and stuffed ourselves with yummy cheesesteak.

After lunch, it was derby time! The first day's bouts involved all of the 2nd and 3rd ranked teams, and while there was lots of great derby, there weren't any big surprises as I managed to correctly pick all four of the opening bouts. The first bout, Madison vs. Boston, was the most competitive and entertaining of the day. Boston gained an early lead and seemed to be taking control, but Madison stormed back and took the lead about halfway through the first half and held on until halftime, Madison 76, Boston 62. The second half was more of the same as the teams swapped leads several times, but the Massacre was able to pull out a narrow 104-96 victory.

The second bout was Rocky Mountain vs. Houston. Rocky shocked everyone in the West Regionals by coming out of nowhere and claiming 2nd place in the tournament. Today they proved that they deserve to be here by pummelling Houston for 60 minutes straight. By halftime, they were up 142-5, and by the time the dust had settled, Houston was staring at the wrong end of a 239-46 blowout. Even though Houston has a ways to go to become competitive with the top tier teams, I give them credit for giving it their all the entire bout.

Next up was Denver vs. Kansas City, and I've got to say that this was the most irritating bout I've ever watched, and the frequent boos from the crowd back me up on this. Denver seemed to be confusing the pivot line for a water cooler, because they hung out there for a while at the start of almost every jam. I half expected them to break out some cigarettes and start puffing away right there on the track. I've never seen such a slow-paced, frequently stopped pack before. But to Denver's credit, it seemed to be working for them, as they were ahead comfortably for most of the first half. KC had gained some momentum with a 20 point powerjam with about 9:00 left in the half that brought them within 10 points, but Denver then countered with a few 20+ point powerjams themselves to go up 100-49 at halftime. The second half continued the trend of players stopping for power naps on the track, and Denver cruised to a 175-89 victory. The high point of the bout was when KC called a timeout with 1 second left. Then they put their big bruiser Eclipse in as jammer for the first time that night. Denver tried their usual tricks, but I could almost hear Eclipse humming the song "Move bitch! Get out the way!" as she repeatedly brushed Denver's blockers aside to score 15 points. Perhaps KC should've tried that strategy sooner.

The final bout of the night was Gotham vs. Detroit. There's not much to say about it. Gotham did what they do best, win convincingly. They were up 86-25 at the half, and the lead had grown to 187-38 by the time the final whistle blew. I've never seen any of these teams in person before except Boston, and Gotham really impressed me out of all of them. This win earns them a spot against Oly in Saturday's quarterfinals, and I'd wager that it will be the most anticipated bout tomorrow, as Oly attempts to prove once and for all that they are the real deal. A win against mighty Gotham would do just that. I can't wait!

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Calm Before the Derby Storm

Thursday morning I excitedly started packing my suitcase to prepare for the drive to Philadelphia to watch the WFTDA National Tournament. Then I remembered that my police ankle monitor would immediately notify my parole officer. So instead, images and observations on this weekend's quest for the Hydra Trophy will be brought to you by a referee and derby lover from Baton Rouge Louisiana's Red Stick Roller Derby. Ladies and Gentlemen, put your hands together for Crotch Rock-It. Take it away, Crotch!

If the saying is true that “roller derby saved my soul,” then today I’m making a pilgrimage to the Mecca of derby, the WFTDA Nationals tournament. This weekend I get to watch the 12 most badass groups of wheeled women on earth beat the hell out of each other for fame, glory, and love of the sport. God, I love roller derby.

There has been much speculation about who’s gonna take home the Hydra trophy this year, so I’ll throw in my $0.02. If I were a betting man, I’d have to go with Philly for two reasons. One, they are the host team and will be enjoying the home crowd advantage. Two, at Eastern Regionals they did what some thought was impossible by flinging a stone square into the temple of the Goliath of the sport, Gotham . If they can maintain the momentum gathered at Regionals, Philly will be a tough team to take down.

But, my heart lies with my South Central sisters, Houston and Texas . Houston admittedly has a tough row to hoe, taking on the West upstarts Rocky Mountain , and then facing Philly should they manage to survive their first bout. Texas , on the other hand, has a much better shot at winning it all. They are the Virgin Mary of the sport, having birthed the current incarnation of flat track derby way back at the beginning of the decade. (Am I going to hell for all of these non-PC religious references?) They are clearly at the top of their game right now and would love to take home the trophy named after one of their founding members. Go TXRG!

Anyway, it's 1:00am Thursday night right now, and I've finally landed in Philly. Me and my better half Hazmat are sitting in a taxi headed to the hotel next to the convention center so we can crash and be ready for tomorrow. Goodnight!

Crotch Rockit
Red Stick Roller Derby

Monday, November 9, 2009

Superfan of the Month - "Our Boy George"

It takes an odd breed of person to put on rollerskates, roll out onto a rock-hard surface and intentionally smash into other people. But it takes a whole other level of crazy-ass to paint themselves fluorescent yellow and follow those people around the country like they were the Grateful Dead. So we here at Derby Helper have decided to start occasionally taking a break from alternately supporting and making fun of roller derby players in order to support and make fun of of their most ardent supporters, the roller derby Superfans. This month's winner was nominated by Sander Smith, a self-described Superfan of Portland, Oregon's Rose City Rollers. In order for a Superfan consider you a Superfan, you have to have done something awesomely horrifying to earn that honor. Hey winner, have you done anything awesomely horrifying?

Yup, that'll work.

Alright Sander, take it away! (Seriously, take that mental image away. Now. With a fork if necessary.)

Though I would consider myself a Roller Derby SuPeR FaN, where I come from my name would simply be one of many. The are tons of hardcore derby fanatics in the lovely Rose City. To say one is a bigger fan than another would not only a bold statement it would be just plan wrong. I will say there are Super Fans that Super Fans like me admire and respect (using that word loosely in this case). I submit RCR SuPeR
FaN, Heartless Heathers Hardcore and Roller Derby Gadabout..."Our Boy George".

 End result: emergency surgery and a bitchin' scar.

Most bout nights at any number of the NW leagues bouts, you will find our boy George sitting on the Jammer line, usually joined by his Derby Wife Kanna, well on his way to sloshed and generally sporting a witty Derby T shirt or holding some equally witty signage. He is a fixture and someone who's attendance you notice...when he is NOT there.

I admire George's fandom because unlike socially awkward me, who sulks into the venue, grabbing a supply of PBR and finding my spot, George arrives. While I knod sheepishly at the skaters I love, George let's them know where he stands. I quietly go home post bout to blog about the players that thrilled me and shroud my dislikes in some thinly veiled passive agressive bullshit and George is at the After Party giving them his thoughts to their faces. Skaters know George...
 Oh they know him alright.  This picture and the restraining order prove it.

George and I share several passions, a deep seated love for the Heartless Heathers, we pray at the Church of Sol Train's Ass and we both love our Rose City Rollers. Though I occasionally see some of their away games, George almost always makes the trip. George supports the league in a variety of other ways to...there was the ebay auction of Vominatrix 2nd half Bikini and the Silent auction where I am quite sure I was out bid on Sol Train's WoJ jersey by our boy. George isn't just a fan, he is a part of the Rose City Rollers icon in our community of misfits.

 Vampirism or garlic belch attack?  You make the call.

Our Boy George is not just a Super Fan, he is my Roller Derby SuPeR Fan Hero!


Does your league have a Superfan who deserves recognition?  Send an email to with a description and pictures that prove it and you could see them here!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Calling All Rollerderby Superfans!

Does your roller derby league have one or more "Superfans"? Not just someone who shows up for every home game, we're talking about people who get your logo airbrushed on their van or drive to see you play every away game or name their kids after your players.

"We hereby christen thee Victoria Ho-Smacker Willingham."

If you have exactly that caliber fan and want to show them your appreciation by giving them their moment in the sun, send an email with their name, a picture and a description of what they do that qualifies them for Superfan status to us at  We'll happily give them the props they deserve for being the kind of fans that we were prior to that pesky anti-stalking cease and desist court order.  (If YOU are the superfan then yes you can submit yourself and no we can't get you tickets and a hotel room for Declaration of Derby.)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Diary of Derby Fresh Flesh

(This post is the first in a series about being a roller derby n00b by our new contributor, Anne Frankenstein.  Enjoy!)

This is the diary of a rinky fresh baby dink meat doll. As in, I've been skating with my league for mere weeks. The story goes, I went to a bout, fell in love & got on my first pair of quad speed skates this summer, did a derby boot camp and skated along the trails of my city as often as possible this desk-busy summer. At the end of the summer, through the whiskey aches from the Friday before and on two hours of restless sleep, I somehow, miraculously, made it through tryouts. Now I skate in the pool trying to prove my dedication and devotion to this phenomena known as the roller derby to the teams and to myself.

The rinky meat rotates through the league’s three home teams–and today, my group of fresh dolls skated with the home team with a wrecker reputation. We began a paceline, hitting the apexes of the track, cutting a diamond into it. I struggled to keep up, huffing and puffing, stomp-skating, the pace feeling more like a sprint than a casual jaunt. Weaving through the line cut the last bit of oxygen to my brain, so when I got to the front, I began skating in a vague lateral motion around the track, cluttering up the line.

There’s an art installation on the stairwells of my school, called “It doesn’t matter how slow you go, as long as you don’t stop.” I like to slowly meander and look around me as I decline or ascend the staircase—this week its about health care, with photos of mid-century hospitals, creative demonstrators in costumes, and lots of charts. Its graphics remind me of the vintage-mechanical potential of roller derby and the demonstrators, with some slight modifications to signs and costume color, would fit right in rinkside at a bout.

I excused myself, red in the face from mortification and exertion, and skated in circles as fast as I could without cutting off brain circulation around the outside of the track. "Roller derby is a metaphor in life,” the pack, the movement, the flirting with danger, the challenge, the control, the fleshy-shell dramas and politicking. This metaphor has been joined with the platitude “It doesn’t matter how slow you go, as long as you don’t stop," echoing through my helmet in practice. I've been picking up speed, and sometimes I slow down, but I won't stop.

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