Close scoring bouts leave me with a tingle and a feeling of elation no matter the outcome. As a fan, this is what you want to see, two teams squaring off on the track with near equal abilities. A blowout is no fun for anyone. Teams want to be challenged and they want the scores to be close. This is what fuels them and makes the play much more intense. In turn the fans can get easily bored by a blowout. If your favorite team is leading by a large margin or struggling to make up a huge point gap, it becomes dull and discouraging no matter which side of the fence you find yourself.
This was the first home bout of the season for Lehigh Valley’s B team, the Special Vixens Unit. I was interested to see how they would perform and wasn’t sure what expectations to have coming in to it. B teams are akin to farm teams in other sports; they are the newest skaters and generally the least experienced.
Often a B team is actually a blend of newer A team skaters and fresh meat depending upon the overall size of the organization. Lehigh Valley’s B team the Special Vixens Unit (SVU) was primarily fresh meat sprinkled with a small number of skaters that have played A level games. The majority of players for Lehigh Valley were making their home debut during this bout.
I was curious to see how some of the B skaters would perform, many whom I recall only a few short months ago being complete newbies and as unsteady on their skates as a newborn foal, and here they were about to battle a visiting team in front of a large crowd of fans.
And battle they did, this bout was aggressive and fast paced. There is a distinct difference that I have noticed between A teams and B teams. B teams seem more aggressive actually than their expeienced counterparts there are numerous hits and even some questionable moves.
I attribute the high aggression level to the fact that B teams are newer and very eager to prove themselves on the track. They also are not mature enough yet in their bouting to know all the strategies and subtleties of the game so they rely more on hits and slams to get the job done. That is ok and expected at this point in their derby career and it makes for a thrilling spectacle for those on the sidelines. Basically B teams are fun to watch.
This recent bout on Saturday, September 24th between Lehigh Valley’s Special Vixens Unit and Roanoke VA’s Star City was no exception to the rule. The skaters from both teams came out of the gate hard, fast and furious. At times piles of them went down like dominoes. But they quickly sprang back to their feet and kept plugging away. I was astounded by their resilience. They scrambled quickly from being knocked down, slammed out-of-bounds or into walls yet regained their momentum in record time. They seemed almost spring-loaded.
Starting off the bout was an a cappella performance of the national anthem by the Muhlenberg Dynamic Group. The Muhlenberg singers were in perfect harmony and gave new life to this difficult and often botched song. The fans would hear more from them later in the evening during the halftime break.
The match started with Star City taking a brief single digit lead on the scoreboard. The Vixens would not be vanquished though and they kept the pace fast and the score fairly close the entire bout.
Jammers Ginga Railed U, Lauranimal, Levi and AristaCrash worked in quick succession to bring the score within 3 points by the fourth jam with a 7-10 score on the boards in favor of Star City.
Fresh face Catalina Spine Mixer was next to jam and posted a grand slam plus 2 to place the Vixens ahead of Star City for the first time with a lead of 14 – 10.
I recall Catalina Spine Mixer when she first joined the organization this past June and her progress has been tremendous, she along with her peers are the new faces to watch, they are future stars in the making.
During jam 6 the score became tied at 14 apiece and Happy Feet got a beautiful hit in for good measure. I wasn’t kidding when I said these B team ladies play hard and play to win.
Star City pulled ahead by the 8th jam, and we noticed that Catalina Spine Mixer was tripped and elbowed. We screamed from the sidelines our dismay but the show went on with the score at 14-24 for Star City.
Lauranimal was able to push through the cluster and pick up a couple of points pushing the Vixens a bit closer to narrowing the small gap. The next jammers were Levi and then Arista Crash who also impressed me with her vastly improved skills. By the end of the 11th jam the score was 34 – 25 in favor of the Vixens.
Lauranimal was up once again and tacked on an additional four points before wisely calling off the jam with 1:23 of the 2 minutes still remaining, halting Star City from gaining too much ground and preserving the Vixens 9 point lead with a score of 38 -29 on the board.
The blockers for both teams were exceptional and the Vixens certainly put a hurting on Star City at times while at other moments Star City returned the favor sending the Vixens falling to the ground like a jenga tower.
The amazing thing about the Vixens was their ability to upright themselves swiftly after being knocked over, tripped, pushed and shoved. Considering that the majority of the team on the roster that day had only a scant few months on skates in derby this feat is all the more impressive.
The Vixens continued to add points although Star City trimmed their lead as the first half neared its conclusion. Star City was within two points by the 20th jam and then tied the score at 52 apiece in the 24th jam where it remained tied until the final whistle for the first half blew after the conclusion of the 26th jam.
Halftime entertainment was provided by the Muhlenberg Dynamic Group who performed several pop hits in precise harmony. Their vocals needed no additional musical accompaniment to keep the fans entertained and it was a surprising and refreshing change in halftime entertainment.
Raffles and the selling of swag also took place during the half. I was a bit disappointed that there was no swag table for Star City; I have grown accustomed to adding to my koozie and T-Shirt collection from the visiting teams.
Once again I entered the raffle for the painting and door prizes. While I did not win the painting, I was happy to learn that our senior photographer Ruth Rohrer was the lucky recipient.
I did not walk away empty-handed this time though, I was pleasantly surprised when I found out I held a winning ticket for a door prize. I received a goodie bag filled with 8 salon products from the framesi line valued at well over $100. I love salon quality products and will make good use of these items. This was a generous gift donated by a sponsor to help the rollergirls raise money.
As per usual, a portion of the proceeds from the bout and raffle was donated to a charitable cause. The worthy beneficiary this time was Turning Point of the Lehigh Valley. Turning Point is a wonderful organization that provides a safe house and advocacy for victims of domestic abuse and their children. They provide services to over 5,000 individuals in both Lehigh and Northampton Counties which is a staggering number of people to serve. Their goal is the ultimate elimination of domestic violence by increasing community awareness and empowering victims of abuse.
With the halftime festivities complete, it was time to begin the final half of the bout. The score remained tied into the first two jams with Arista Crash and Lauranimal both quickly calling off their respective jams before the opposition could score any points.
KTO was able to grab 4 points in the 29th jam breaking the tie and setting the stage for a huge points gain by the Vixens courtesy of Arista Crash. Arista blazed through the pack like she was threading a needle. Earning point after point the score keepers could hardly keep pace. Lauranimal followed and when all was said and done the score board showed the Vixens up 83-52 on Star City.
The jammers were incredible as always but if not for the work of the blockers, their points gain would not be as great. Stella McHurtye was uber aggressive throughout and even more so in the second half. Good Time Charlie, Cagey Rage, Wayward Stay, Hits It Van Gogh, D TainHer and Tortellina Temmptress and Happy Feet all applied the heat on Star City and kept their jammers from bridging the deficit. The B gals of Lehigh Valley were a well oiled machine, a virtual concrete wall.
Fast forward to the 45th jam the score was 103-102 with one point in the Vixen’s favor and 5:43 remaining on the clock when disaster struck. A member of Star City went down and lay prone near the wall as the arena drew a deadly silence and fans stared in disbelief with mouths agape. At all LVRG bouts there is a crew of EMT’s with an ambulance standing by and they (the EMTs) quickly sprang into action attending to the downed skater immediately assessing her overall condition, asking questions to determine her level of consciousness.
Ruth and I were positioned on opposite sides of the arena at the time and we immediately snapped pictures. When you cover news and attempt to tell a story, the triumphs as well as the heartaches are equally a part of the story.
We snapped pictures until we were asked not to. I have decided not to include those pictures that show the injured player from Star City out of respect to her and also to honor the wishes of the officials. I will note that skaters from both Lehigh Valley and Star City dropped to one knee and formed a wall around their downed comrade to protect her privacy and I found that quite moving and frankly a lovely sight.
The injured skater #912 Darth Zombie was able to sit up and then rise to her feet to the cheers of the skaters from both teams as well as the crowd. The match then proceeded onward remaining closely scored for the final jams and even tied a couple more times before concluding with an official score of 110 – 114 and a victory for the belles of Roanoke, VA Star City.
MVP awards were given out following the bout and if I were to call it I would have guessed the winner as either Arista Crash for her impressive points grab as jammer or Stella McHurtye for her relentless aggression while blocking.
MVP for Lehigh Valley was Stella and winning the coveted award for Star City was #214 Massacre Marie. Trophies were again courtesy of Jaime Dean and his fantastic metal work.
The teams congratulated one another on a bout well-played and everyone headed to Grumpy’s BBQ Roadhouse for the official after party and a delicious spread. Another successful matchup was recorded and fans and players alike left satisfied.
Your next opportunity to see the Special Vixens Unit will be October 22nd in Lancaster, PA where they will face the always tough Dutchland Derby Rollers. The next home bout will be a triple header event dubbed the Battle in the Valley starting at 11:30am on November 5th at the Independence Family Fun Center, and then the 2011 season will wrap up November 19th with the Hissy Fits taking on the Rocktown Rollers at IFFC.
All photographs in the slideshow courtesy of Ruth Rohrer unless otherwise credited.
Lehigh Valley Rollergirls: www.lehighvalleyrollergirls.com
Turning Point of the Lehigh Valley: www.turningpintlv.org
Grumpy’s BBQ Roadhouse: http://www.grumpysbbq.net/