On Saturday, April 19, a midst the redwood trees and a cool ocean breeze, Humboldt's A team, The Redwood Rollers, currently ranked 98 in WFTDA, welcomed Shasta's Assassins, a WFTDA apprentice league, onto their home track at the Redwood Acres Fairgrounds.
Shasta came with the disadvantage of a long drive on a windy road and missing four of its seasoned veterans. Regardless, Shasta and its four rookies with a huge opportunity were pumped to face the Rollers and play some roller derby. Humboldt's venue was a little atypical. It had a polished concrete floor (perfectly normal) with dim lights and a disco type atmosphere, forcing Shasta to change or remove armbands with certain color combinations and jammer panties in the name of visibility.
The first jam
In the first jam, Lil Beez Neez for Shasta took the jammer line against Ole Chole. Though both jammers met with ample resistance from fresh full packs Ole got through first and Beez was sent to the penalty box for a back block, followed shortly thereafter by Bad Astral for an out of play hit on the jammer. With a 4 on 3 power jam advantage, Ole made quick work of the Shasta pack and scored 11 points in the first jam. 11-0, Humboldt.
After the first jam Shasta immediately called a time out to have a conference with the refs. Throughout the bout questions of legality would plague the game. The Redwood Rollers as a league don't travel much, preferring to bring teams to play on their home track. As a result they function in isolation, without much exposure to alternate reffing styles and rules interpretations, which vary by league and by region. In short, Humboldt plays by Humboldt's rules, putting any visiting league at a double disadvantage.
Pressure Cooker was the next to jam for Humboldt, breaking through the Shasta three wall without resistance. Beez returned from the penalty box only to get lit up by Villain Thomas on the inside. On her second pass, Cooker is slowed and forced to call off the jam by Betty Bolts and Swift D Mize. In the third jam Slappa Ho for Shasta gets lead and manages to score Shasta's first two points before calling it off. 40-2, Humboldt.
With a commanding lead in the first three jams it was simple work to maintain a large point spread throughout the remainder of the bout. Goody Two Screws and Rah Rah were aggressive blockers for Shasta, chasing and knocking down equally powerful Humboldt blockers like Rust E Machete. Swift D Mize was effective at impeding Humboldt jammer progress with quick and deadly hits to the outside.
Score at the half: 110-51, Humboldt
The physicality of this bout was intense, hearkening back to earlier days of the Flat Track Revolution. The pack moved at a break neck speed and profanities flew from players mouths. While the refs generally make the calls, skaters on the track from both teams were offering their suggestions and opinions. A practice generally frowned upon by officials.
Even though it took Shasta eight minutes to score in the second half, they managed to keep the point spread smaller than in the first. Humboldt’s blockers were powerful and able to neutralize Shasta jammers. Shasta blockers were able to slow Humboldt jammers but they were usually out first and had more power jam opportunities.
In the hopes of breaking the 100-point barrier, Shasta coach Hyde Jobe Itch sent out aggressive blocker Goody Two Screws to take the jammer line against Drone Maiden. Goody burst past a three wall on the outside to take lead while Vonda Kut-A-Vitch single-handedly contained Maiden for an entire lap. She eventually broke free but not before Goody could collect four points and the 100-point marker.
The final jam was taken by Slappa Ho and SUMbody for Humboldt. SUMbody pushed out to get lead but was instead sent to the penalty box for a back block, putting Slappa Ho in a power jam situation. Power jams aren't what they used to be, as penalties are only 30 seconds long with the new rule set. Slappa only got through once before SUMbody was back on the track on her scoring pass and Slappa was in the penalty box for a high block. But Slappa was back on the track in the last few seconds, time enough to score three last points.
Final score: 198-107, Humboldt