The St. Louis representatives of flat-track roller derby are set for an annual, high-profile invitational this weekend and both squads aim to keep their respective records spotless with sweeps.
Arch Rival Roller Derby, currently ranked ninth internationally by the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA), and GateKeepers Roller Derby, the defending champions of the Men’s Roller Derby Association (MRDA), compete at Midwest BrewHaHa in Milwaukee, Wisconsin beginning Friday.
The three-day, two-track event, held at UW-Milwaukee Panther Area, features 43 games that showcases women’s, men’s and junior derby.
For Arch Rival (3-0), a pair of tussles takes place against #19 Team United Women’s Roller Derby and #28 Detroit while the GateKeepers (3-0) has games against Texas Men’s Roller Derby, who finished third at last year’s MRDA championships, alongside current #12 Twin Cities and #21 Drive–By City Rollers.
Both St. Louis squads launched their respective 2016 campaigns with three-game sweeps at the Big O invitational four weeks ago and the fast starts have resulted in high intensity preparations for the Wisconsin trip.
“Our practices heading into BrewHaHa have been focused on proper execution of our offensive and defensive strategy,” said Arch Rival co-captain Bricktator of the squad’s recent scrimmages. “While we performed well at Big O, we saw there were certain areas we could tighten up to make us an even better team.”
Meanwhile, the GateKeepers recently tussled with Team USA, who will represent North America at the Men’s Roller Derby World Cup in July, and scrimmaged against the Arch Rival All-Stars at the St. Louis squads’ practice facility in South St. Louis.
“Both gave us a great, final tune up and a chance to train hard with time to recover before the event,” said GKRD co-captain Magnum P.I.M.P. “Our practice space was very hot and muggy over those two days, so BrewHaHa’s venue will be welcomed!
Imperative to a potential dual win achievement will be the solid blocking provided by veterans Party Foul, Chewblocka, Shear-Ra Powers, Shimmy Hoffa, Jamheiser Bush, Cloak N’ Drag-Her, Kayla Woodward, Smarty McFly, Salty and Molotov that helped ARCH collectively outscore its opponents, 662-411, at the Big O Invitational.
“Our success so far can be attributed to our smart game play and positive team attitude,” assessed ARCH’s Bricktator. “Of course, we cannot forget our incredible coaches, The Saint and Percy Controll, who are so good at what they do.”
Arch Rival’s BrewHaha opponents have made impressive strides within the WFTDA hierarchy early in the season and look to post rankings’ upsets against the locals. Des Moines, Iowa-based Team United (7-1) swept its three-game ledger at its self-hosted “80/35 Invitational” in mid-May while stubborn Detroit (3-3) possesses a two-game winning streak heading into the weekend.
“Both Detroit and Des Moines have different rosters since the last time we played them,” said Bricktator. ”I expect both teams to show us things we haven’t seen from them before. We will need to dictate the game and not let any surprises throw us off.
On the men’s side, the GateKeepers have a BrewHaHa trifecta set in its sights. Jamming is paced by the aforementioned Magnum P.I.M.P., Screecharound, Corey Porter and David Metcalfe while blocking is anchored by lynchpins Controll, Spin Diesel, Bled Zeppelin, Wrecking Bill, Inquadable Hulk, Kyle Stark, The Saint, Uttendorf, The Doc, Monster Jam and others.
At its three-game Big O sweep, GKRD collectively outscored its opponents 644-254 and exhibited the characteristics of a lethal defending international champion. A year-round schedule is attributed to keeping all members of the team in top physical form.
“We don’t really have an off-season,” assessed Magnum of the continuous pace. “As soon as our MRDA travel season is over, we start our St. Louis local season. It keeps our guys sharp and continually progressing in their game play. Constant training has brought our play to where it is today.”
The GateKeepers’ weekend agenda is highlighted by Saturday night’s tangle with Texas Men’s Roller Derby, who finished last season’s MRDA playoff run with a bronze medal and currently sports a 5-0 sanctioned mark. The Lone Star State does have a potential “ace in the hole” as they served St. Louis its lone loss last season at the 2015 edition of the invitational.
“Texas is a hungry team that is deep at all levels of their roster,” said Magnum of the anticipated match-up. “We took two out of three games against them last year, but the one we lost was at BrewHaHa. They are going to be coming in confident and ready to scrap. This will be our hardest regular season game of the year.”
Minneapolis, Minnesota-based Twin Cities (3-2) was a MRDA Championships entrant last season and Los Angeles’ Drive-By City (2-3) has raised its level of play.
“Twin Cities is a team that has a rich history with the sport and who we go way back with,” said Magnum. “Their roster was missing some familiar faces at Big O, but I am sure they will have their full squad playing so close to home. Drive-By is a team on the rise. They have steadily been climbing up the MRDA rankings. They added (former New York Shock Exchange skater) Abe Drinkin to their charter. He is a huge pick up for any team and will surely further their progress.”
The goal for the St. Louis squads is five wins collectively and the continuation of a solid 2016.
The entire weekend of Midwest BrewHaha 2016 will have free, live coverage online AT THIS LINK.
For more information on ARCH, go to archrivalrollererby.com.
For more information on GKRD, go to stlgatekeepers.com.
ST. LOUIS DERBY AT 2016 MIDWEST BREWHAHA
4 PM – GATEKEEPERS VS. DRIVE-BY (Track 2)
8:30 PM– ARCH RIVAL VS. DETROIT (Track 2)
3 PM – ARCH RIVAL VS. TEAM UNITED (Track 1)
8:30 PM – GATEKEEPERS VS. TEXAS MEN’S (Track 2)
12:30 PM – GATEKEEPERS VS. TWIN CITIES (Track 2)