Battle in the Valley proves to be a triple treat

(Photo: Joe Rob)

Apologies for the late report, I took a brief hiatus, but am now back in full gear. Let’s get caught up on the local roller derby scene.

If you weren’t aware or you were not there the Lehigh Valley Rollergirls hosted a triple header event on November 5th dubbed the Battle in the Valley. Featuring 4 teams from the region, this elimination match consisted of three matches with one winner taking home the coveted title of Valley champion. Teams traveled from Happy Valley (aka State College), Pottstown and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to the Lehigh Valley in order to vie for the bragging rights and some derby girl camaraderie.

The day started early as far as derby time goes. Doors opened at 11:30am and first whistle blew promptly at 12:30pm. When I arrived at 11:00am there was a lively crowd tailgating out back and the crisp fresh fall air was absolutely electric even before any competition had taken place. I spied familiar faces amongst the early morning pregame fans. The fellows from Noise nation were present, accountable and bright eyed. Saw Jimmy T, Jay Gatsby and Dan Kehl getting their groove on. Also saw many of the fine ladies of LVRG relaxing beforehand (they had plenty of time to do so as they were the second match scheduled). Considering it was an early start on a beautiful Saturday, there was a decent crowd on hand for the first whistle.

Round 1 State College vs. Pottstown

The first match-up featured a battle between the State College Area Rollers (SCAR) and Pottstown’s Roller Derby Rockstars (PRDR). Right out of the gate State College took an early lead, amassing 14 points in the first jam. They continued to shut out Pottstown through the first 6 jams with a score of 89-0 by the end of the 6th. Pottstown got their bearings though and slowly started to collect some points. Pottstown was down the entire bout but they never acted like they were out. They battled with their hearts and the crowd cheered heartily for the underdog. PRDR still needs to work on their fundamentals but that will come in time with more coaching and practice. They have the potential for great improvement, and they are a gutsy team.

SCAR was the more skilled team by far; #21 Sounds Like Magic was an outstanding jammer for SCAR and #108 Little Mz. Nasty for PRDR helped her team accumulate points on the big board. Pottstown ultimately got creamed on the scoreboard, but they are a wonderful group of women and I expect a lot from them and look forward to seeing their growth next season and beyond. The fans enjoyed this bout and by the end of the first half the score was 147-26 in favor of SCAR.

The fans headed back outside to resume their earlier tailgating and discussion about the match. Everyone was pretty confident that SCAR would advance to the final round. It would take a herculean effort on the part of PRDR to overcome this massive a deficit. Nonetheless, the fans were having a great time and enjoying the match. One couldn’t help but root for PRDR at least to close the gap a bit tighter if anything.

The 15 minute halftime passed quickly and the fans filed back into the Independence Family Fun Center and took their seats for the final half. SCAR once again put a hurting on PRDR. PRDR never stopped fighting though. They tried to get their groove on but they were no match for SCAR. With 16:32 remaining on the clock one of their standout performers #20 Sun Drop went down and the crowd waited in hushed silence. The last few bouts at IFFC have seen skaters go down hard. The medical personnel on site attended to Sun Drop and she eventually rose to her feet and was able to skate off the track. I always mention this and the announcers make sure to inform the crowd, that roller derby is serious business. It is a full contact endeavor and injuries do occur on a regular basis. Some of these girls may have funny names and wear flamboyant garb, but out on the oval its serious business.

The bout resumed but PRDR was never able to overcome the huge points gap. The final score was recorded as 290-50 with SCAR advancing to the final round. Well deserved MVP awards went to State College jammer #21 Sounds Like Magic and Pottstown’s #108 Little Mz. Nasty. I would have to say Pottstown had a lot of heart, because even though they were so far behind in score, they never gave up and they fought to the final whistle. Let’s see what next year brings.

Round 2 Lehigh Valley Rollergirls Special Vixen’s Unit vs. Wilkes-Bare Scranton Roller Radicals

(Photo: Joe Rob)

This second match is what the home town fans were waiting for. I noticed more fans in attendance as the afternoon wore on. After another 15 minute break and tailgating it was time to see the host team take on rival Wilkes-Barre. This promised to be a great match up as Wilkes Barre has some formidable skaters on their roster. We already know Lehigh Valley’s SVU has shown amazing promise as a B team; but would they be able to advance to the finals against those ladies from the north? The fans got louder for this match cheering decidedly for the home team. But the Roller Radicals had their supporters amongst the crowd as well.

The bout started off with jammers Lauranimal and Veronika GettsBurger facing off. Lauranimal would grab 5 points to VGB’s 8, starting the game close. Lehigh Valley and Wilkes-Barre were neck and neck and no one team ran away with points. This was an exciting match-up of two equally skilled teams; a stark contrast to the first round. The Lehigh Valley Rollergirls B-Team is continuously showing signs of improvement from bout to bout. Wilkes-Barre is a great team, they hit hard but Lehigh Valley returned the blows. There were more great performances by Lehigh Valley’s #331 Arista Crash, #26 Catalina Spine Mixer and #47 Happy Feet in addition to all the positionals; #189 Mebust U Up, #2 Scary Clam, #88 Phish Tahko, #13 Hits It Van Gogh, #66 Good Time Charlie, #7 Cagey Rage #4b D. TainHer and Captain #29 Tortellina Temptress. These gals worked it and worked it well. They employed strategic maneuvers to keep the point spread close at all times. The team is really gelling as a unit and I am sad that the season is about to close, I want to see more of the B-Team’s growth.

Lehigh Valley was down a few points until the 5th jam when Catalina Spine Mixer brought the home team to a 21-19 lead. Lauranimal came in next for LVRG and got knocked out of bounds, calling off the jam with Lehigh Valley up 25-19. #624 Ginger Railed U tacked on a couple more points in the 7th jam preserving Lehigh Valley’s lead at 27-21. Happy Feet was next up and she battled the formidable Veronika GettsBurger (VGB) with each managing to grab a point a piece. Excellent work by both sets of blockers prevented the score from getting any higher. Lehigh Valley hung onto their lead until the 13th jam when #16 3/4 Stevie NixHer fought through the pack and managed to change her team’s fortune putting Wilkes-Barre back on top 45-31. Prior to that amazing jam by Stevie NixHer, the LVRG incorporated a move I was previously unfamiliar with; the star pass. It didn’t do anything for the points but it looked cool as heck and I enjoyed seeing it utilized.

By the 17th jam Ginger Railed U and VGB managed to even the score at 50-50 and the crowd went nuts. The winner of this match was TBD to the bitter end. The curtain came down on the first half with Lehigh Valley ahead one point 77-76. Who would win was anyone’s best call. The hearty crowd once again proved their endurance by continuing the tailgate outdoors.

Once again 15 minutes passed in the blink of an eye, and before we knew it we were back in our seats from more action. The bout picked up and Wilkes-Barre got down to business, snatching the lead from Lehigh Valley and never looking back. Lehigh Valley kept nipping at their heels though and refused to let the points get too far away from them.

It should be noted the announcers did a bang up job calling all the play by play action. This was a challenge as it was three matches compressed into one full day. Hats off to them for keeping the crowd entertained and informed as always. Whether a neophyte or veteran fan, you will learn something new or at minimum be entertained by their commentary. Many kudos to Shasty McNasty and Philly Cheezteak as well as the various guest announcers for their play by play during this triple header and throughout the season. We often forget them when recapping the bouts, but they are an integral part of the experience. They need to always be on top of events as they happen and they must be well versed in the rules so to better call the bouts.

As always the second half of the bout proved to be more intense. Both teams wanted to win and advance to the finals. The hometown fans certainly wanted LVRG to continue forward, but Wilkes-Barre has other plans in store for them. Veronica GettsBurger was a mighty jammer but so was Levellin Levi and the rest of the Lehigh Valley Crew. #1200 Liberty Violence for WB and #1337 FR3AK N’Rabbit (complete with rabbit ears on her head) were forces to be reckoned with and they kept the LVRG girls at bay. The final score for the bout was 156-121 with Wilkes Barre emerging victorious. MVP’s for the bout were Lehigh’s #28 Levelin Levi and Wilkes-Barre’s #1200 Liberty Violence.

Round 3 Final Bout- State College vs. Wilkes Barre

The final bout was a meeting of the winners of the first two rounds. SCAR would be against WBRR for all the marbles, the cannoli and the bragging rights. Another question mark was who would win? Both were great teams. One had a somewhat easier battle to get to this point while the other fought tooth and nail for their spot. Did any one team come in with an advantage? Not necessarily since both teams played vastly different games against vastly different teams. Based on overall impressions, I had WBRR to be the overall favorite to take it all.

(Photo: Joe Rob)

Right out of the gate Wilkes-Barre started amassing the points, but State College wasn’t exactly playing dead either, they were able to add on to their points through most jam periods. While never being able to overcome Wilkes-Barre, they kept forward momentum and played a fine game. Wilkes-Barre has some tough players on their roster, notable is Veronika GettsBurger, she is a solid performer and hard to keep penned into a pack but SCAR did their best to keep her contained. State College played with a blue collar toughness that you would expect from the central PA region. Both teams were likely pretty fatigued from the long day and their earlier bouts but they sloughed that off when the whistle blew.

Another formidable player from WBRR was #1200 Liberty Violence, the earlier MVP proved again why she earned that distinction; she was a virtual purple brick wall that State College had to navigate past. State College’s #21 Sounds Like Magic (also an earlier MVP winner) in turn was a tough obstacle for SCAR to overcome as well.

All in all both teams battled hard for a victory, it was a long day and each had played in a prior bout, one team (SCAR) had a longer rest period before this match and the other (WBRR) was running on pure adrenaline. Both teams tried to correct past mistakes from their earlier bouts which made for an exciting end of the evening for the fans in attendance. The final score was a victory for the Wilkes-Barre Roller Radicals at 159-128.

Well deserved MVP’s for this final championship bout were SCAR’s #21 Sounds Like Magic and WBRR’s #81Veronika GettsBurger. This would be the second MVP award for Sounds Like Magic for the day!

Final Thoughts and Comments

(Photo: Jim Rhoades)

This triple header was a chance for the host organization, Lehigh Valley Rollergirls to raise some much needed funds through ticket sales and raffles, as well as broaden their fan base on a larger regional level. I think they succeeded in their goal, there were friends and fans of all the other participating teams in the house. It was also exciting for the current Lehigh Valley fan base to see how rich the state of PA is in roller derby talent. Perhaps next season some fans will venture a few miles outward and catch these wonderful athletes in action. All the teams were great sports weather they won or lost. We had fun during the break with the ladies of Pottstown. Although they lost their bout, they were winners in attitude and they stuck around for the entire event. We look forward to venturing out to see them next season.

Of course no roller derby match is complete without the swag tables and each team did not disappoint, we were able to add to our collection of stickers, koozies, shirts, posters and cowbells from all the teams involved in the match. Remember to support not only the home team but the visiting opponents as well. The sale of team items helps each team with their operating expenses. If you enjoy a vibrant roller derby community, you will buy something every bout, even a $1 sticker or button goes a long way in keeping the teams going. They appreciate your support.

The  NSOs and Refs did an incredible job as well. The Referees and NSOs make sure the scoring is accurate and penalties are swiftly handed out. They keep the sport honest and legitimate. They are amazing and I am positive they have another set of eyes in the back of their head.

As always the Lehigh Valley Rollergirls hosted a raffle for the 50/50 and for door prizes. What was odd was I didn’t see a painting being offered. I was more than a bit disappointed. I am happy to report that Dan Kehl my Noise Nation buddy scored a Lehigh Valley Rollergirls gift basket which consisted of two tickets to the final bout of 2011 (Nov. 19), a framed and autographed team photo and other cool swag. To say he was beaming with joy would be putting it mildly.

The match concluded and I and the rest of the Corner Seat staff (Joe Rob and G-Child) packed up our gear and to get ready to head over to Grumpy’s BBQ. Before I left I was summoned by Rose Beef from the Lehigh Valley Rollergirls and was presented with a Mandy Mills original painting. I was brought to tears by this act of kindness from the Lehigh Valley Rollergirls. The painting now hangs proudly in the HQ of the Corner Seat. Thank you Lehigh Valley Rollergirls for your kindness and enriching my life in so many ways through the sport of Women’s Flat Track Roller Derby. If my house ever catches on fire, this will be the first thing I grab as I am running out.

If you are interested in finding out more about the teams that participated in the Battle of the Valley you can follow the links provided below. I have also included  links to additional photos and a great write up on this event.

Links

Lehigh Valley Rollergirls

Pottstown Roller Rockstars

State College Area Rollers

Wilkes-Barre Roller Radicals

Kristie Grey -Examiner.com

Deb Boylan’s Photos

Joe Rob’s Photos

Jim Rhoades Photography

Follow the Corner Seat on Twitter and never miss a beat! @thecornerseat

Next up results and highlights from the final bout of 2011 between LVRG and Rocktown!

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Filed under Lehigh Valley Rollergirls, Roller Derby, Sports

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