Shasta Roller Derby rolled out of bed at 5:00 a.m. to make the 8-hour drive to Los Angeles in order to face ACDG’s Rocket Queens on their home track at the Culver City Veterans Auditorium on Saturday, March 22, 2014. The venue, which seats approximately 600 spectators, had a full house for the bout which began at 6:30 p.m. Shasta’s bout was the first of the night in Angel City Derby Girls' season opening double header.
The Rocket Queens, aptly named girls from the big city lined up for gear check opposite a team of country girls from the little known mountain town of Redding. Who were these strange mountain girls on the verge of graduating into full WFTDA status and what were they doing in the City of Angels? They were there to play roller derby and to prove that they could play it as well as anyone.
The first jam
Shasta’s Lil Beez Neez took the jammer line against Stormy Heather for the first jam of the night. Heather got out first for lead, with a quick pass through the pack to score 4 points and call it off before Beez had an opportunity. ACDG drew first blood on their home track: 4-0, ACDG. Slappa Ho of Shasta jammed next, getting lead immediately after the whistle. Darby Dagger wasn’t far behind her and both struggled with the pack. Slappa called off the jam after scoring the first 3 points for Shasta, but not before Darby snuck in a point just as the fourth whistle blew.
Score after Jam 2: 5-3, ACDG
Vonda Kut-A-Vitch, who has been primarily blocking for Shasta, took the jammer line for the third jam of the bout. She had no trouble getting lead and scoring 4 points while shutting out ACDG. With Vonda’s jam Shasta took the lead (7-5, Shasta) and marked the last time the lead would change for the entire bout.
A note on officiating
Though it is not yet April 1, 2014, the official date for the new rule changes to take effect, ACDG and their reffing crew instituted the changes for the March 22nd bout. The most significant rule change in the latest set is the change from a 60-second to a 30-second penalty time. This change is meant to neutralize the power jam so that games stay closer in point spreads. Certain concerns about this change include the shorter time period for referees and NSOs to register and respond to penalty requests. During this bout, even with the new rule requirements, the reffing was exquisite and seamless. There seemed to be no bad calls, no hang ups in the penalty box, and no egregious miscommunications. It was as if the ref crew was invisible. Whatever ACDG’s ref crew was doing, they were doing an excellent job at officiating a bout.
The second quarter
The second quarter of the bout introduced an answer/answer back point situation. Shasta had a 20-point lead for a minute until Slappa Ho went to the penalty box while wearing the star: power jam for ACDG and Knockturn Ally. This power jam could have been more devastating but with the new rule set in effect, Slappa Ho was out of the penalty box and back in the mix putting pressure back on the ACDG jammer in just 30 seconds. With another power jam for ACDG, Stormy Heather easily and continually passed through Crunch Yo Numbaz and Goody Two Screws' two-wall to bring the score the closest it had been since Jam 3.
Score with 14:00 left: 48-43, Shasta
Meanwhile blockers like Betty Bolts (formerly of ACDG, now a member of Shasta), Lexus Holdem, and Crunch Yo Numbaz were putting the hurt on the Rocket Queens. Perhaps big city girls don’t know what it’s like to get hit by a pick-up truck on 8 wheels. Crunch, living up to her name, was putting Queens on the ground with a thwack again and again. At one point she hit Stormy Heather so hard that her legs swerved back and forth, making a squealing sound, until she fell down just outside the track boundary. Lex made a habit of hitting girls hard and to the inside just as they turned their attention elsewhere. Rah Rah, as Crunch’s partner, was excellent at finishing off a waterfall on any number of Crunch’s targets. In ACDG’s twitter feed, they said of their former teammate, “As nice as it is to see Betty Bolts again, it’s tough to like seeing her formidable blocking talents working against ACDG.”
Score at the half: 106-46, Shasta
After the half Coach Hyde Jobe Itch changed up the jammer rotation, sending Vonda Kut-A-Vitch back to the pack and putting Swift D Mize on the jammer line. Swift blew through the pack and put up 4 points. The Rocket Queens came back from halftime with a new fire in their belly, determined to take the lead back. After all, in roller derby a 60-point lead is only two power jams away from a tie; at least it was with a 60-second penalty. Lil Beez Neez, who was noticeably fatigued at the end of the first half, went to the penalty box while Dee Lorean of ACDG took lead jammer and went on a second scoring pass. Vonda also went to penalty box as a blocker, inspiring Coach Hyde to put her back in jammer rotation.
Score with 15:00 left: 137-71, Shasta
As the bout wore on it became more and more apparent that the way to win was by a point at a time. Each jam Shasta played was with the sole purpose of getting lead, getting 1-4 points, and holding ACDG at 0 points. The Shasta pack practiced excellent point protection by getting to the front as the opposing jammer came up and the Shasta jammer deliberately and consistently called the jam off before the ACDG jammer could score, even if it meant that Shasta couldn't score a single point. Shasta's mantra: one point at a time.
ACDG, visibly depleted by constant hard hits was also surprised by how quickly Shasta recovered from equally hard hits. Often the Rocket Queen blockers would consider a Shasta player down because she was hit to the ground, but her quick ups and Teflon attitude put her back in play quickly enough to startle. After months of practice and years of team building inside a tiny demographic Shasta showed up in Los Angeles to show the world (and themselves) what a group of girls from a little mountain town can bring to the track with little more than a whole lot of determination. Victory.
Final Score: 176-87, Shasta