The primary travel squads of the Arch Rival Roller Girls and GateKeepers Roller Derby are set for a weekend trip to the Sunshine State and the two respective leagues look for a pair of victories against competitive Floridian counterparts.
Arch Rival, currently ranked #11 internationally by the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA), meets #9 Jacksonville Saturday night and #18 Tampa Bay Sunday.
Meanwhile the GateKeeepers, ranked second internationally by the Men’s Roller Derby Association (MRDA), faces #12 Magic City prior to Saturday’s aforementioned women’s game and tangles with unranked Tampa Bay Sunday.
For Arch Rival, it looks to keep its unblemished record intact following its 209-161 home victory over #21 Detroit this past Saturday at Midwest Sport Hockey. St. Louis (12-0 in WFTDA sanctioned play and 13-0 overall) utilized a second-period rally to collect the 48-point win.
Arch Rival was down two starters against Motown as high-scoring jammer Brickyard and top-flight blocker Shear-Ra Powers were out of the mix Saturday night. That being said, the locals’ overall roster depth kept the pesky visitors at bay.
“It was a little bit of a shock missing two important skaters, but to be able to grind out a win (against Detroit) showed that we do have the numbers and everybody is playing their part,” assessed Arch Rival co-captain Party Foul of this past weekend’s victory.
Both missing skaters from the Detroit game will be back in the fold for the Southeastern expedition. Alongside Brickyard, jamming will be paced by Bricktator, Mighty Mighty Boston, Annie Swanson and Harmony Killerbruise.
Blocking will be set-up by the aforementioned Foul and Powers, as well as Emily Rinehart, Mayor Francis Slayer, Shimmy Hoffa, Kayla Seiber, Chewblocka, Cloak N’ Drag-Her, Jamheiser Bush and The Ginger Assassin.
The Floridian trip against two Top 20 WFTDA squads primes Arch Rival as it prepares for the upcoming WFTDA post-season. As the third seed of September’s Division 1 playoff round in Tucson, Arizona, St. Louis is using the trek in order to be tournament ready.
“Last season, there was a really large chunk of time between the end of the season and playoffs and we felt going in a little unprepared,” said Foul. “So with these games coming up, we are really using them as an opportunity to fine tune everything and be totally ready for playoffs.”
“I think we’re taking all these games as a warm-up for the big show in September,” added Chewblocka.
Saturday’s opponent, #9 Jacksonville, sports an 8-1 record and is seeded third for its self-hosted WFTDA Division 1 playoff round in mid-September. Like Arch Rival, the New Jax City Rollers are using the flat-track tussle for future gains.
“Being ranked ninth (internationally) going into playoffs is huge,” said Jacksonville co-captain Fancy Schmancy. “We want to show that we deserve our ranking and have a well-matched game against a strong and respected team like Arch.”
Winners of two straight, Jacksonville posted a 163-94 victory over in-state sisters Tampa at its last game in mid-June. New Jax has also seen substantial growth the last couple of seasons and has rightly earned its Top 10 international status.
“You can’t rely on just great jammers or just great blockers,” assessed Schmancy. “All the top teams have a roster of 14 incredibly solid skaters. We are proud to have great strength on both sides of the spectrum. When you take the track, it’s a good feeling to have confidence and pride in your fellow teammates.”
Jamming is paced by Erin Jackson, the MVP of last year’s WFTDA Division 1 playoff round in Evansville, Indiana, as well as Jamsterella and Krispy Kreme-Her. Alongside the aforementioned Schmancy, veteran blockers include Stephanie Gentz, Legs R Us, Kat Von Skratchereyesout, Lucinda Knickers, Noam Bombsky, Shady Godiva, Eirinn Go Brawl and Atomic Mel-Down.
The two franchises have one prior meeting in the ledger with St. Louis collecting a 202-132 home victory in June 2013. The higher-ranked league Saturday is well aware of the Gateway City rollers that sit two positions behind in the WFTDA hierarchy.
“St. Louis is a team that has been highly competitive for a long time,” said Schmancy. “They have smart veteran blockers and jammers that are comfortable in their roles. They have also gained two veteran and respected jammers this season to their already solid roster.”
Arch Rival’s Sunday encounter against #18 Tampa will be an additional challenge. The Tantrums sported a 571-10 victory over Mother State (Richmond, VA) in mid-June to push its WFTDA-sanctioned record to 6-4. With its current global rank, Tampa is the fifth seed at the aforementioned Jacksonville WFTDA Division 1 playoff tournament.
Veterans PhDiesel, Little A, Panty Bandit and Smooth Operator is projected to lead the charge in jamming while blockers Krush Groove, Lily the Kid, Blaque Jac, Lunch Lady, Tic Tac Toni, Blondie Blitz and a host of others will formulate the walls.
“We really try to do our homework, but it’s really difficult to find footage for those two teams,” said Arch Rival’s Foul. “All we can really go by is the scores that have been posted of their games. A lot of scores were very similar to what we had, so I think their skills are going to be very similar to ours.”
Aided streams for evaluation or not, St. Louis expects a duo of derby donnybrooks this weekend.
“They’re both very mighty!” said Chewblocka of New Jax and Tampa. “We’re going in guns a blazin’.”
Meanwhile on the men’s side, the GateKeepers (5-1) aim to get back into the victory column after seeing its five-game winning streak snapped in early-June. Its combo of MRDA-sanctioned games is projected to prepare the squad prior to its self-hosted “River City Warm-Up” the following weekend in St. Louis.
“Solidarity, getting everyone on the same page and working together on the track to make sure everything’s tight and quick,” assessed blocker Double Excel of the trip’s missive. “Just making (us) a well-oiled machine and getting everything going.”
Jammers Corey Porter, Shane Bower, Magnum P.I.M.P., Screecharound and Hand Rail are projected to don the star during the course of the weekend.
Alongside the aforementioned Excel, blockers Percy Controll, Bled Zeppelin, Kyle Stark, Wrecking Bill, Inquadable Hulk, Spin Diesel, The Saint and Walker Hamilton are primed to lay down the foundation.
Saturday’s opponent, #12 Magic City, is making a late-season push into a potential MRDA post-season berth. The Misfits (7-2) opened eyes with its 745-0 thumping over unranked Hitmen of Manatee County (FL) in mid-June. No, that wasn’t a typo.
“They have a couple of guys back that they didn’t have last year and they’re dangerous,” said Excel of the Misfits. “They’re a dangerous team because they have all the tools and are extremely fast and dynamic skaters. A lot of fun to watch, but not a lot of fun to play.”
When matched against higher-ranked opponents, Magic City is 0-2. Losses to #1 Your Mom Men’s Derby (197-89) and #6 Texas (288-76) are the lone blemishes in the record book.
Despite the difference in rank, the GateKeepers’ Excel says that his squad is not about to take Magic City lightly and must perform its own wizardry in order to pick up its sixth win of the season.
“If we can focus on good wall work, slowing them down and getting them congested, it will keep their really explosive skating style under wraps,” said the blocker.
Sunday’s session with unranked Tampa Bay will be the first showdown between the two specific teams but not the inaugural game between the two leagues. St. Louis’ B-squad, the STL B-Keepers, topped the Gulf Coast Hurricanes, 135-132, at Midwest Derbyfest in late-June.
The match-up between the second-ranked team in the world and the unranked collective from Tampa Bay (3-2) might be a little overwhelming on paper. However, the opportunity presents St. Louis a chance for those making the trip to get quality performances.
“It’s going to be fun,” said Double Excel. “We’re going to use that game to work on fundamentals and have a blast playing derby.”