Monthly Archives: June 2012

ECDX 2012 Impressions & observations

(Photo: Deb Boylan)

The sixth annual ECDX has ended and now resides as a wonderful memory that participants and spectators will fondly recall while they await next year’s event. I will say it was everything that it was hyped up to be and then some. I am glad that I decided to attend this year and will mark it down as a new tradition to be repeated. I met some fabulous new people and saw tons of familiar faces. I never felt alone while there.

Now that I have gotten my first ECDX under my belt, I feel I am well prepared for future years. I ended up staying at the Crowne Plaza instead of the Red Roof Inn as originally planned and that turned out to be a huge plus. I would highly recommend staying at one of the three ECDX hotels on the bus shuttle route. They may cost a few dollars more but the amenities and convenience is priceless. The Crowne Plaza boasts an indoor pool, hot tub and sauna along with two full service dining options. They offer a breakfast buffet each day where for 10.99 you can have unlimited orange juice, coffee and a nice selection of hot items such as French toast, scrambled eggs, bacon and sausage. There are also healthy options available as part of the buffet like fresh melon and yogurt. In the evening Brady’s Pub and sports bar serves up pub fare and even live entertainment. If you prefer to step outside and enjoy a pleasant evening, there are tables and chairs available along with wait service.

(Photo: Deb Boylan)

In my opinion being on the bus route is key and it is well worth the extra money to stay in one of these three hotels compared to other lodging options. The Philly Roller Girls have an arrangement in place for shuttle busses between the three afore mentioned hotels and the SportsPlex venue.

The SportsPlex is located within a small industrial park and parking is at a premium. Over one thousand roller girls, their friends, families and partners, plus fans in attendance make for many hassles if you insist on bringing your vehicle to the site. Several parking spots are reserved for Volunteer staff and Emergency Medical personnel throughout the duration of the event which further limits available parking. Unless you plan on getting to the complex at the crack of dawn expect to battle it out for a place to park. The busses run between the three hotels and deposit riders right at the end of the street where the SportsPlex is a very short walk away.

I had to run back to the hotel on Saturday because I ran out of space on my memory card mid-way through and needed to dump photos on to my computer’s hard drive. It was as simple as picking up the bus and running back to the Crowne Plaza and then hopping on another bus when I was ready to return. The bus service is fairly efficient but if you are looking to go to a “must see” bout plan on grabbing a bus early enough because there can be huge lags in pickup time. The bus pass for the weekend costs an additional $20 ($30 if you want the after party bus on Sunday night). It is well worth this additional charge to save gas and the aggravation of driving to the arena and parking. The only driving I ended up doing was to the hotel and then leaving to return home.

The bus is also great if you want to let loose and enjoy a few cold beers at the SportsPlex. Unlike LVRG home bouts, at ECDX you are not allowed to bring outside beer into the arena. Many people attending had coolers at their cars and that is acceptable. Inside the arena and at poolside they had Cricket Hill Lager and Summer Ale available for $5. Be sure to spend an initial $3 on an ECDX plastic souvenir mug, you will get 22 ounces of beer as opposed to 16 in the paper cups, plus it is eco-friendly. Beer was vended at two places, in between rinks two and three along the concourse and in the pool area. I found going out to the pool was the best to avoid long lines. The bathrooms in the pool house are also a better option to get in and out quickly vs. the arena restrooms.

Gotham Superstar Suzy Hotrod

ECDX is very well run, the Philly Roller Girls plan an entire year to bring a top notch event to fans and skaters. The SportsPlex is a beautiful complex featuring three air-conditioned arenas as well as an outdoor pool and pool house. Bring a lock and you will have access to a locker all day. I was lucky my roommate had a Master lock with two keys. We were able to keep bathing suits and my camera gear locked up when wanting to walk around unburdened.

Once inside it can be difficult to decide which bouts to see. I had some in mind that I wanted to catch and many times I would bounce around from rink to rink to see a little of one and then some of another if there were two I wanted to see at the same time. You will never be able to see it all so decide what you want to watch and stick to that or jump from track to track catching a sampling of each.

If you are really unsure which bouts to see, ask a more expereinced friend what they suggest. More often than not, they will steer you in the right direction. I owe it to a friend that I saw Gotham v. Rose City rather than another bout going on at the same time. If you don’t know anyone there don’t be afraid to approach other fans and ask for their opinion, they will likely give it to you.

I was glad that I requested a photographer’s pass early on; the bouts between highly ranked teams could get quite crowded and being able to slip into a designated photographer’s spot on the floor was a big help. If you plan on taking photos using anything beyond a point and shoot camera, PRG requests you register as a photographer.

Speaking of photography, shooting at ECDX is fun! They have a small box marked off for one photographer to stand in the center of the rink with the referees and NSOs. It is approximately 2’x 2′ and you cannot leave the marked off zone unless you want to get yelled at or run over by a ref. The box is available for any registered photographer to use on a first come first serve basis. Basically if you are in the box you stay for a little while then hop out and allow someone else an opportunity. It’s about sharing and not getting too greedy. I liked being in the box because it was such a unique perspective and I felt like I was part of the bout in a way.

I talked to a few of my fellow photographers at ECDX and some liked the box and others preferred to stay along the perimeter. To be honest after my first time in the box, I thought it was limiting on the photos I could take since you have refs in your shots a lot and only a partial angle you can shoot from with no obstruction, but after reviewing some of my photos I think the best ones that I got ended up being from inside the box.

The lighting seemed better inside the box too. I spent a lot of time hopping into the box during bouts simply because it was so much fun. It is interesting to be in the center of the action and to see the bout unfold around you. I have even more respect for the Referees and NSOs than I already had before because the game play seems faster looking at it from inside. I don’t know how they keep track of it all. Also to their credit, not a single ref or NSO bumped in to me while I was standing there.

Derby photographers just like most derby folk are very friendly. They are willing to share tips and tricks with you and will make room in an already tight floor area so you can have a seat. One photographer even lent me his lens to shoot pictures when I was in the box because my zoom was too much and I felt my prime (fixed focal length) offered too wide of a view. Another offered me lenses too, but his were Canon and mine were Nikon and they unfortunately don’t interchange.

As for the derby, there is plenty of it on all levels. From challenge bouts made up of a mixed bag of players having fun to sanctioned WFTDA events there really is something for everyone. Teams playing in bouts are often tested to their limits by being paired up with higher ranked teams. Sometimes this can end up in a huge points disparity as seen in bouts like Lehigh Valley v. Dominion and Harrisburg v. Toronto, but regardless win or lose all the teams played with incredible heart and I’m sure they took lessons away from their bouts that will make them even stronger. I know Lehigh Valley turned around and gave Hudson Valley a beating the following day. ECDX is an opportunity to play against opponents that might otherwise not be on a team’s regular schedule.

ECDX is also a chance to see the highest ranked teams face off against one another. One of the most thrilling bouts I saw that weekend was the last bout I watched before heading home, Rose City v. Gotham. The level of skating and play was unlike anything I have ever been exposed to. It was women’s flat track roller derby of the highest caliber. The blockers made the jammers seriously fight to get through and once they broke through the pack you could feel the breeze from their incredible speed.

(Photo: Deb Boylan)

The fans at ECDX are hard core derby fans; they cheer loudly, wear crazy costumes and further electrify the energy inside the rink. I have never seen such intense and enthusiastic crowds at any other sporting event. I suppose it could be compared to the intensity of European Soccer fans. Another amazing thing about ECDX is that people are allowed to bring dogs there. I saw everything from pink dyed Paris Hilton dogs in tote bags to large loveable mutts outside and also trackside. I’ve always said that roller derby is all inclusive; well this just further proves my point.

Another exciting aspect of ECDX is the chance to meet and mingle with some of the sport’s biggest celebrities. Seeing so many experienced and well regarded derby photographers that I admire, well known announcers like Dumptruck and Axl Rolls and local and national superstars like V-Diva and Suzy Hot Rod all under the same roof is awe inspiring. The only real complaint I have and it is a minor one, was the sound on the announcers was inconsistent the first day and a half. I enjoy derby announcing, but it was really difficult to hear some of the commentary at times. It did improve markedly as the event wore on.

To summarize, ECDX is an incredible experience whether you are a seasoned derby fan or new to the sport. To skate in such an environment must be thrilling as well. I’ve learned so much this past weekend, both in how to manage my photography as well as my overall trip. I’ve seen derby moves that astounded me and hits that scared me out of my knee socks. The level of play ranged from fun to fierce. As cliché as it may sound, I will never forget this first ECDX weekend am already dreaming of ECDX 2013.

(Photo: Deb Boylan)

If you missed any of the ECDX action be sure to check out the archives on WFTDA TV.

We will be posting more photos shortly on Flickr!

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Filed under Lehigh Valley Rollergirls, Roller Derby, Sports

ECDX 2012

(graphic: Philly Rollergirls)

I’m spending my day preparing for tomorrow’s trip to Feasterville, PA to experience ECDX. This will be my first venture to this annual roller derby tournament hosted by the Philly Roller Girls and I’m really not sure what to expect or what I’m in for. What I do know is this event is a biggie and I’m happy I made the decision to attend and report on my experience there. I also know that over a thousand roller girls and at least 100 teams from across the US and Canada will converge upon the Philadelphia area to battle it out, learn from one another, and have an all out great time. There will be bouts on three rinks inside the massive sports complex as well as pool parties and other opportunities to socialize and raise hell derby style.

The main challenge for me will be deciding which bouts to go and see since there will be action occurring simultaneously on three rinks. I know that seeing Philly v Gotham is a must. Gotham is a legendary team who continuously hold firm on to the top spot in their WFTDA division. Philly is another top team boasting super stars such as former LVRG jammer and Team USA gold medalist, V-Diva. I haven’t seen Diva skate in some time, but I have heard through the derby grapevine that she has gotten faster (is that even possible??).

The primary strategy I have devised for myself is to make a point of seeing teams I would otherwise not have an opportunity to watch bout, teams from Canada, Boston, and of course my home town Long Island. Lehigh Valley will be competing on both Saturday and Sunday, so of course I will make a point to stop by their bouts as well. There are WFTDA bouts (Sanctioned) and unsanctioned challenge bouts comprised of teams with silly names such as Zombies, Vampires and Sasquatch. I’m not sure which skaters are on those teams but I’ll have to check a little of that out as well.

Friday is the day to ease into the fun; there are only two bouts that evening, so I will have plenty of time to get settled in before the derby mania hits me head on. Make no mistake, as much as Friday will be a relaxing day, the two evening bouts serve as a fitting kickoff to the festivities. At 6pm Philly takes on Gotham and at 7:30 Montreal meets up with Texas. That should put me in “derby mode” immediately.

Once I arrive I plan on heading to the hotel, grabbing a bite to eat and a cool beverage in the hotel sports bar and then I’ll hop on the hotel’s shuttle to the Sports complex. The great thing about the hotel I will be staying at is they provide shuttle bus service to and from the arena. I plan on parking my car and staying self contained between the hotel and the facility. Everything I can need will be at both sites. I will have to bring plenty of cash as there will be vendors aplenty at the arena. I hope to pick up some ECDX merchandise as well as shirts or hopefully tank tops and Koozies from some out of town teams.

I will most likely over pack but I am going to attempt to do my best to travel light enough. I will have to bring my laptop in order to dump pictures every so often. And of course the camera gear. I think I will go light on the gear bringing my favorite sports lens and my prime and maybe a flash. I’ll also have my point and shoot for party pics and basic snapshots.

I look forward to seeing the familiar faces of LVRG as well as meeting and talking to derby skaters and officials from all over. Although I am bit overwhelmed at the sheer number of bouts taking place, I am sure this will be an unforgettable weekend.

Look for some live tweeting by me during the event (if I can take my eyes away from the action that is), so be sure to follow me on twitter @thecornerseat and I’ll also be posting on facebook.

See you there, I’m off to pack!

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It’s back! Lehigh Valley Rollergirls to bout Saturday, June 9th

It’s baaack. After what has seemed like an eternity. The Lehigh Valley Rollergirls will be back bouting it out in an intra-league match. Come out and watch the pink squad take on the black Saturday June 9th at Independence Family Fun Center in Schnecksville. As I have mentioned here in the past, this season the ladies have really upped the ante by employing a more aggressive and ever adapting set of strategic maneuvers. It will be quite interesting to see how this plays out as teammates battle one another. Expect the action to be fierce as the girls vie for bragging rights.

Also returning are our regular posts here at the Corner Seat. You may have noticed it was a bit quiet around here since the last match; rest assured we still have roller derby on our minds. Apologies for not being as prolific of late, but I had been pursuing some employment opportunities. We will be getting you caught up in the coming days leading up to Saturday’s bout. Look for a May wrap up from none other than Coach Rose Beef amongst other things.

Doors will open for the bout at 5pm and the first whistle will blow promptly at 6pm. Get there early for a sit in the suicide section. BYOB, proper ID required if consuming alcoholic beverages and no large coolers or glass bottles will be permitted in the facility. Chairs will be provided so leave the lawn furniture at home.

Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door, children are half price admission. The bout is only days away so be sure to catch up with your favorite rollergirl or order online prior to Saturday. Visiting rollergirls can receive half off admission by presenting either a USARS identification or WFTDA uniform patch.

Independence Family Fun Center is conveniently located in Schnecksville, PA close to major roadways. For directions click here.

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Filed under Lehigh Valley Rollergirls, Roller Derby, Sports