The East Coast hasn’t been visited by any Belligerents this year.
Coming into the MRDA Championships as the #8 team, the Deep Valley Belligerents are a bit of an unknown force to the skaters of the east. Making appearances at The Big O and in MRDA bouts against Bridgetown Menace and the St Louis Gatekeepers, the Belligerents made it clear that they were not afraid to fight.
The team is from Ukiah, California. They have no skaters representing on Team USA and they have about 16 consistently active skaters, so they often skate short on the road – a trait not uncommon in MRDA. Even more impressive about this league is that they hail from a town of roughly 15,000 people. Luckily, skaters from as far away as Southern Oregon make the trek to wear Belligerent red since they will be competing against teams from some of the biggest cities in the United States.
I have not seen this team skate in person. From looking through photos of their games against Bridgetown, Puget Sound and Drive-By, and from watching some YouTube footage, I can see that they are not afraid to play hard-hitting roller derby. There is more than one photo of opposing jammers getting cracked in the sternum or being taken off of their skates.
Jonas Downer says that, “Whether the opposing team wins or loses, one thing is certain: the opposition always comes out of the bout thoroughly Belligerized.”
Downer is one of the skaters on Deep Valley that consistently stood out in photos; mostly because he is very rarely appears to have a hard time breaking through a pack. While his team seems to be centered on physicality (even their other jammers show a measure of brute force in photos – I’m looking at you, Mr. Dick**), Downer displays a lightness of foot that will be very important for cracking into the higher ranks at Champs.
**That sentence sounded so much better before I knew what his name was. I should have edited the sentence. Instead, I gave you an absurd footnote.
Graves, a blocker and occasional jammer, will be able to support Downer in the “crafty-sneaky-ninja-how-did-he-get-through-the-pack?” factor. He is killer on his toes and quick with his hips. Blocking or jamming, Graves is a blast to watch. Confession time: I’m a fan of Graves… Thanks, Rollercon: You just made me fangirl all over a serious article.
In the world of punishing hits, the territory seems to be guided by Sloppy Joe, JB the Rockstar and #16 & #44 (whose names I could not find – Sorry guys, I Scoured photos, but you were so awesome blocking, that there was never a spare photo of you standing idle with your back to the camera). Time and time again I saw these skaters dealing blows on the floor and leaving marks on their opponents.
Downer remarks that there are not superstars on the team: they focus on being a team by win and by loss. There are a lot of very strong, well-rounded skaters on the Belligerents and it should be interesting to see how far they've come since Quadtastrophe. As a team, they have had a rough 2-5 season against some of the hardest leagues in the country. Downer does not let the 2013 record bother him though.
“We feel like our time up until now has been a preface, the real story will start in October in Sioux City.”
To learn more about the MRDA Championships, visit the event website.
Did you like this article? Want to get notifications of new articles when they are published? Hit the SUBSCRIBE button at the top of the page to subscribe to this Examiner.com!