Lehigh Valley mounts formidable challenge to Richmond in thrilling double header event

(photo: Ruth Rohrer)

They wanted it. If I were asked to sum up Saturday’s bout between Lehigh Valley’s Hissy Fits and Richmond, Virginia’s Poe’s Punishers that is what I would say in regard to the Hissy Fits. They were hungry, they were prepared and yes, they wanted it (a victory).

I was not prepared for the bout I saw Saturday at the Independence Family Fun Center in Schnecksville, Pa. I will get into more details about this amazing match up but first I would like to recap the day.

On Saturday August, 20th the Independence Family Fun Center (IFFC) and the Lehigh Valley Rollergirls played host to their first ever home arena double-header. Once again kudos to the bout production staff for making this event another organized, and thrilling night of roller derby.

Fans are getting accustomed to the new procedures regarding entrance and chairs. Pre-purchased ticket holders have a separate line to enter the facility and personal chairs are permitted after all available seating has been exhausted.

The Lehigh Valley Rollergirls were very accommodating toward disabled fans needs, providing a separate reserved section for handicapped seating. Thanks to the entire LVRG organization for taking into account the needs of those fans that are not one hundered percent able-bodied.

A beautiful rendition of the Nation Anthem was performed by LVRG’s own KTO – Kathleen Turner Overdrive. She raised her voice to the rafters and nearly brought the roof of the IFFC down with her strong vocals. Who knew Lehigh Valley had so many talented singers on one team?

(photo: Ruth Rohrer)

First up on the bill was a bout between New Jersey’s own Skyland Rollergirls and Richmond’s Uncivil Warriors. This match was brutal, and I mean that in the most positive manner. Bodies hit the floor throughout and the carnage was evident. The sound of human flesh hitting polished wood was continuous. I liken the sound to fresh fish being slammed on the counter of a busy city market.

At one point in the bout there was serious concern as a member of Skyland went down after being on the wrong end of a devastating hit and she lay motionless for what seemed an endless amount of time. Once again fans; roller derby is a full contact sport and these things are fairly common. This is a highly athletic and authentic sport, played under a sanctioning body with rules and regulations. The skater from Skyland managed to re-orient herself to her surroundings and stood up to the appreciative applause of the crowd.

The bout continued forward and a final score of 177-101 in favor of Skyland was posted. While it looked like a massacre on the scoreboard; the hurt was felt on both sides and the fans were treated to roller derby at its body slamming best (and there was still the headline bout to come).

MVP’s for the match were Skyland’s #19 Stonehouse Becca and Uncivil Warrior’s #7 Stiffy. Each of these lovely ladies was presented with a custom-made trophy courtesy of Jamie Dean at Xtreme Lowz. For all your metal work needs be sure to contact him at: 484-225-7504.

(photo: Ruth Rohrer)

Halftime entertainment during the first bout was provided by the Embers & Emeralds American Belly Dance Troupe. They performed traditional Middle Eastern belly dancing with an American flair. Their act became even more interesting when they asked spectators to join them center stage to try their hand at the fine art of belly dancing. Visit Embers & Emeralds website for more information  on these wonderful dancers: http://www.embersandemeralds.com/

There was an hour intermission between the first bout and the headline bout between the Hissy Fits and Poe’s Punishers. What to do? No worries, LVRG scheduled seminal hard rock band Beyond Eden to perform for the masses. Beyond Eden is a top notch female-fronted hard rock band who never disappoint. Their music with a message brand ofhard rock always entertains. Lead singer Phoenix has the pipes to deliver roof blowing vocals, and the band is as tight as any I’ve heard.

Beyond Eden was well worth the ticket price for music fans. Many in the crowd congregated around them to rock out to their loud and strong music. If you enjoyed Beyond Eden at last week’s bout, consider nominating them for a Lehigh Valley Music Award in the best loud rock category. Fans as well as folks in the music business can cast ballots by going here: http://lehighvalleymusicawards.org/LVMA_Forms.htm

If you are interested in seeing where the steady touring band Beyond Eden is appearing next, keep up with them by checking out their website at: http://www.beyondedenrocks.com/  they can be seen live locally as well as the surrounding areas of DE, Philly and NYC. Check them out it is worth the trip from anywhere. Beyond Eden totally rock!

(photo: Ruth Rohrer)

The hour intermission passed quickly thanks to Beyond Eden, but soon it was time for the main event. The Hissy Fits were about to take on Richmond’s A-team, Poe’s Punishers. Last time these two teams met it was a bloodbath with LVRG on the receiving end of most of the punishment.

The roller derby odds makers (yes there are such a thing…Vegas sports books next?) had the Hissy fits losing by an 80% margin to Poe’s Punishers. This was based on past performance as and other factors.

Individual MVP’s were named following this bout but truthfully all of the LVRG skaters were MVPs. Never have I seen a team band together and re-group like the Hissy Fits did for this match up. All odds and opinions had them losing by a cavernous margin. It was supposed to be ugly and yet it turned out to be quite beautiful.

“Some people come in and others go, we will survive it, we have in the past, individuals will step up into new roles,” was the response I received when I asked if recent roster movements would affect the Hissy Fits performance in this bout. Roster changes are inevitable in any team sport and especially in such a time intensive and financially costly sport as roller derby.

(photo: Ruth Rohrer)

As noted LVRG has been beset by some roster movement with established players departing to pursue other opportunities and fulfill personal goals outside of LVRG. Two notable long time members that have decided to retire for the time being are Rose Beef and Parker Paxa Punch who are both taking leave to pursue other personal endeavors.

Rose Beef and Parker showed exceptional heart and passion in their final bout. Always aggressive players, it seemed to me that they gave even more in their respective swan songs. I wish them the best; they have given us their all every bout and we will never forget them and their love for roller derby

With every departure there is someone who returns and this time was no exception. Helen Darink, team president and a jammer extraordinaire returned to active play this bout following a collarbone injury. Helen, who I interviewed not too long ago is by day is a stay at home mom of four kids; but come bout day she is one tough mama jammer.

Helen, besides leading the business aspects of the league she is also a purist in the sport down to her outfit of derby skirt as opposed to panties or booty shorts. She glides around the track with ease, and is an inspiration to those of us who wonder if we can juggle kids, husband, and other commitments along with the sport of roller derby. Helen and many others on the team are proof you can have it all!

(photo: Ruth Rohrer)

The odds were against LVRG from the onset, no one expected them to even end up close in the points when all was said and done. Although the Hissy Fits lost this match it was by a slim margin of 2 points, and actually one of those points could be disputed because many have noted that they believe the last point was scored even after the lead jammer called off the final jam. Regardless, this was a phenomenal match by LVRG and Richmond’s Poe’s Punishers.

This match sent chills down the bodies of veteran derby fans as well as new spectators. Speaking of fans there was a lively contingent present from our friends at Noise Nation, normally the Noise Nation gang can be found bringing the noise to Coca Cola Park and Steel Hawks games but they came out in force to cheer on LVRG with many of their members attending for the first time. Expect to see them back in the crowd again.

I will say I blamed my next day headache on their bells and horn blowing, but in all honesty I think the tailgating and Intern Liz’s after party had a bit to do with it…but I’ll blame them anyhow; that’s my story and I’m sticking to it! If you would like to learn more about Noise Nation and their activities, be sure to visit their official blog, The Horn and Bell at: www.lvnoisenation.com, tell ‘em the corner seat sent ya!

The capacity crowd was definitely charged up for both bouts and toward the end of the match an impromptu cheering section comprised of derby husbands and family members sprang up. They chanted “LVRG” as well as individual players names which further energized an already excited fan base. It was reminiscent of Yankee Stadium’s legendary bleacher creatures.

(photo: Ruth Rohrer)

Normally I would recap scoring highlights, but to be honest the entire match was so even in score, no one team ran away with the points. This is as close to a perfect bout as one can witness. When no single team takes off in the points, you are left on the edge of your chair. Lead jammer status was consistently swapped between teams. Lead jammers on both sides wisely called off jams before too many opposing points could be tallied; it was brilliant strategic play all around.

Blockers and pivots were so effective that the jammers really had to earn those points. The blockers were a virtual wall which at times was impenetrable. Human nature tends to want the eye to follow the jammers, but the heart of every bout lies in the postionals and how they meld to become one while preventing jammers from scoring points. Blockers and pivots from both sides deserve a huge round of applause for their game play.

When the match concluded, a hush came over the arena while all waited for the official score to be posted on the board. A few seconds seemed eternal until the ever popular LVRG announcer Shasty McNasty announced Poe’s Punishers had emerged victorious by a razor thin margin of 108-106.

(photo: Deb Boylan)

MVPs were Poe’s #XO Magic Spell and #10 Vanilla CreamHer for the Hissy Fits. They were also awarded hand crafted metal trophies created by Jamie Dean.

While LVRG didn’t snag the win, fans and players alike walked away from this bout satisfied with the outcome and I’m sure they will talk about it for quite a long time to come.

Once again I failed in my bid to win the Mandy Mills roller derby painting (insert my sad face here).

Your next opportunity to catch a home LVRG bout will be on 9/24 when the Special Vixens Unit take on Star City from Roanoke, VA.

Please enjoy the slidehsow most pictures courtesy of Ruth Rohrer, others Deb Boylan.

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Keep checking back regularly for the latest LVRG news. Follow us @thecornerseat on Twitter!

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Filed under Lehigh Valley Rollergirls, Sports

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