A pair of area roller derby franchises is set to embark on a Badger State road trip this weekend with the quest of keeping respective winning streaks within the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) intact.
The Arch Rival Roller Girls and the St. Chux Derby Chix, currently ranked #21 and #44 respectively in the WFTDA, will compete at Midwest BrewHaha 2014, held at US Cellular Arena in downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The fifth installment of the three-day invitational, which launches Friday afternoon, entails 25 teams that will compete in a total of 35 bouts that takes place on two separate tracks. WFTDA-sanctioned and regulated women’s bouts, men’s match-ups and junior derby exhibitions are scheduled.
St. Louis-based Arch Rival faces a pair of highly-ranked WFTDA Division 1 leagues: #10 Minnesota on Friday at 8:45 p.m. and # 13 Naptown (Indianapolis, IN) on Saturday at 11:45 a.m. Meanwhile, St. Charles County-based St. Chux meets a pair of hard-charging WFTDA Division 2 leagues: #54 Arizona on Saturday at 6:45 p.m. and the BrewHaHa hostess, #62 Brewcity, Sunday at 5:45 p.m.
In addition, the B-team of the Arch Rival Roller Girls, the Saint Lunachix, also competes at BrewHaHa. The developmental squad faces the Minnesota Nice on Friday at 4:15 p.m. and the Fox Cityz Foxz Saturday at 5 p.m.
(Live, continuous online coverage of the entire event is available for free, courtesy of the Brewcity Bruisers and WFTDA.TV Presents, beginning Friday at 1:45 p.m. Separate feeds from each track can be accessed by going to THIS MAIN LINK RIGHT HERE.)
The traveling Missourian A-teams are polar opposites when it comes to the BrewHaHa experience. As a participant in all four prior tilts, ARRG has amassed an overall record of 8-1 whereas this will be SC/DC’s first foray to the invitational.
“We love going to BrewHaHa and it is usually pretty good to us,” said Arch Rival co-captain Mayor Francis Slayer. “We are improving every week and I feel like ARRG is ready.“
“Getting into BrewHaHa has always been a goal and it is awesome to see it realized,” said St. Chux captain Whip L’ Ash. “We look forward to our first ever appearance and playing the host!”
Both squads are bound and determined to notch a pair of key victories this weekend in Milwaukee, continuing the current momentum experienced.
Arch Rival (4-1) sports a four game winning-streak after besting #28 Kansas City two weekends ago, 133-118. In a character-building moment, the 15-point road win was clinched in the final rotations.
“This bout was a challenge,” said Slayer. “We were missing three regular blockers but we had skaters step up and play a focused, consistent game. The last few jams could have went either way, but I am proud that we were able to perform so well under pressure.”
Friday’s ARRG roster against Minnesota features a trio of high-octane jammers. Brickyard, Mighty Mighty Boston and Annie Swanson will don the star with high frequency. Blocking with be paced by the aforementioned Slayer and veterans Eli Wallop, Party Foul, Downtown Dallis, Emily Rinehart, Girl Fawkes, Kayla Seiber and a host of others.
Historically, the annual BrewHaHa has provided a good barometer for the status of the franchise against other WFTDA leagues. This year’s docket is the most challenging yet as St. Louis’ opponents are nestled within the Top 15 leagues internationally.
#10 Minnesota (4-0) is arguably fielding its most dominant roster in league history and three of its four victories this season had winning differentials of over 200 points. This month, the Minneapolis-based squad posted wins over #15 Atlanta (175-150) and #33 Nashville (277-56).
Jammers Alex Lacey, Slambda Phage and Harmony Killerbruise are joined by blocking workhorses MEDUSA, Scarmen Hellectra, Second Hand Smoke and a host of other veterans.
“Minnesota is going to be very tough,” said Slayer. “We are going to have to play an incredible game to take a shot at them, but we will have our full roster and we will be looking to take advantage of any weaknesses we can expose.”
Arch Rival’s other opponent, #13 Naptown (6-2), comes to BrewHaHa with a two-game winning streak. This month, the Indianapolis-based rollers competed in a home donnybrook with #20 Ohio, where a late charge resulted in a 163-140 win.
Jamming will be paced by returning starters Maiden America, Amooze Booche and G-Rocket. Blocking will be anchored by Asian Sinsation, Mutant Jean and a seasoned corps of skaters.
“Naptown has lost a number of skaters since last year, but then again so have we,” assessed Slayer. “We saw them play a hangover bout against Madison in April and they definitely still look like a tough team. Their jammer talent is impressive.“
ARRG will go into the Naptown battle missing a pair of key components. Absent for Saturday’s game will be Brickyard, the team’s leading scorer, and Party Foul, a key cog of St. Louis blocking. The type of team unity displayed in the Kansas City win two weekends ago will have to be at the forefront again.
“We will be missing two major players for this game, so we will have to be creative with our strategy,” said Slayer. “We always look forward to playing Naptown and it will be interesting to see how this one pans out.”
Arch Rival’s BrewHaHa bouts begin the journey of a four-week sprint where six WFTDA-sanctioned bouts are scheduled, five of them against higher-ranked leagues. Its collective results and differentials will be mathematically applied to its current calculated ranking and when the league receives its final regular season rank at the beginning of July, it will precisely know where it will be seeded for September’s WFTDA Division 1 post-season tournament.
But let’s go back to the immediate future and simple formulas. Long story short, if ARRG sweeps its higher-ranked BrewHaHa foes this weekend, its current position of #21 will at least maintain, if not grow.
“Our goal is to go in, play as a team, and continue to strengthen the team,” said Slayer. “If we win, great. If we don’t, we still have four more games in June.“
Meanwhile, the St. Chux Derby Chix (6-0) looks to solidify its first-ever WFTDA Division 2 playoff trip with strong outputs. The teams that are ranked #41 through #60 internationally at the first of July are eligible for the D2 post-season tourney, scheduled for August.
The current undefeated streak by the #44 Pack in Black was punctuated by a three-bout sweep of its self-hosted Skate to Thrill invitational held in April. Although they have been idle in WFTDA-sanctioned play for six weeks, Whip L’ Ash says the squad eagerly anticipates the opportunity to showcase its talents on a high-profile stage yet approaches the weekend with a level-headed mentality.
“We always try to head into a game focusing on the fundamentals and processes of our game and less about our opponent’s…and playing one jam at a time,” she said. “I think this has definitely been our strongest asset this season.”
Jamming is paced by veterans Flash, GI Jamie, Jedi Knight-N-Gale and Vixen Ta Getcha. Setting up the walls are blockers L’Ash, Ninja Sass ‘Em, SlaughterHaus, Tara Eyes, Stabby McCutcha, Bobbi Slamher, Zombie Firebomb and Lisa Frank-N-Stein.
The opponents faced this weekend will be a handful. Just like St. Chux, both want to grab an August Division 2 playoff bid.
Saturday’s opponent, #54 Arizona, has been one of the most-watched leagues in the WFTDA this season. Based in Phoenix, the Tent City Terrors (6-0) jumped an eye-opening 28 positions in the most-recent installment of the international rankings.
Almost all results this season have been one-sided in its favor. In fact, when the team concluded its three-bout set at The Big O Invitational in Portland, Oregon earlier this month, it had outscored its respective opponents, 1334-417.
Why such the big jump rankings-wise and lopsided results? At the forefront of the Arizona attack is returning jammer Atomatrix, a member of Team USA that was out of the Tent City Terrors’ roster for an extended period, the result of transferring to another WFTDA league prior to the 2012 post-season.
The multi-sport athlete has competed and won medals at in-line skating events at the US Olympic Festival, the Pan-American Games and the X-Games. Undoubtedly, she is the most prolific opposing skater/athlete that St. Chux has ever faced.
“I think a lot of us are definitely in awe of Atomatrix,” said SC/DC’s L’ Ash. “I am excited just to be on the same track as her, but we have to just play the game as if it were business as usual. It is definitely all about teamwork and bee hive mentality, which we have worked towards mastering this season. As derby progresses, it becomes more about team play and less of an individual game.”
Atomatrix aside, Arizona boasts a plethora of top-notch skaters, including jammer Loco Lena, co-captains Maria Montoya and Pushy Tushy and returning veterans Luz Chaos, Deez Nutz, Amunisha and Sigmund Droid.
On Sunday, St. Chux battles the weekend’s host, #62 Brewcity, who are riding a two-game winning streak. Just like the Pack in Black, the Bruisers (5-4) have been idle in WFTDA-sanctioned play since April, where it finished the aforementioned Skate to Thrill Invitational with a 2-1 mark. Although the two teams did not play each other at the event, both certainly were able to assess each other in order to formulate a game plan.
“Seeing Brewcity at our tournament (last month) was my first exposure to them in person,“ said L’ Ash. “I saw a lot of power in their skaters, so our focus will be on building strong walls and working as a team to hold back those strong skaters. I anticipate it will be a great match on both sides.”
Brewcity jamming is paced by returning starters Skittle and Zo-tay, but at the forefront is a powerful blocking line, anchored by veterans T-Lo, Latina Heat, The Other White Meat, Lady Pulverizer and others.
“They have really great walls, and as per usual, SC/DC is definitely outsized, as we tend to be a much smaller team,” said L’ Ash. “We will rely on the use of our quickness and ‘heads up’ play to counter the size and strength difference.”
The first-time BrewHaHa trip for St. Chux will be a challenging one, but it’s a journey that L’ Ash feels will be imperative for the Pack in Black’s continuous rise in 2014. Solidification of an August WFTDA post-season trip is the missive.
“A pair of wins would definitely help our upward progression in Division 2 and help to further solidify a position in the playoffs, which has been our goal for the entire season,” she said.
Another recurring St. Louis-based team also anticipates the BrewHaHa weekend. Arch Rival’s B-team, the Saint Lunachix, returns to the invitational for its fourth time. The 2-2 developmental squad has won two straight, including a 176-137 victory over Kansas City’s Plan B two weekends ago.
“I am extremely proud of this team,” said co-captain Vendetta VanGo. “We started off in March against Windy City with 14 skaters who hadn’t had much track time together. Now we are playing as a cohesive unit.”
The Lunachix jamming rotation consists of multi-year veterans Sleazy E, AKA Rogue, Molecular Mayhem and Chokehold Chanel. The blocking is propelled by co-captain The Ginger Assassin, Morgan LeFaetal, Science Friction, Sp!ce Rack, Artemischief, Carrie Coonrod, Jamheiser Bush, Cloak N’ DragHer and a host of others to supplement.
“Our jammer rotation is deeper and our blockers are all strong,” said VanGo, who will be out of the weekend line-up due to injury, but will still serve as a bench coach. “We will be missing several of our veteran skaters this weekend, but there is no bottom tier on this team. Everyone is a contributing member at this point and we are taking 14 solid skaters.”
Friday afternoon’s tilt against Minnesota Nice (3-1) involves an opponent that has won two straight. A pulverizing 214-39 win over the No Coast Road Warriors in April was recorded in the Gophers’ ledger.
“To pick up the win, we need to play as a team, keep our walls tight and execute the St. Louis strategy that we have been drilling on over the past few months,” said VanGo. “If we do that, we will take home a Nice win.”
Saturday’s tangle features an interesting, but not uncommon, backdrop: a larger league’s B-team versus a smaller league’s A-squad. The Fox Cityz Foxz (2-0) is currently ranked #192 in the WFTDA. Classified as a Division 3 team, the Appleton, Wisconsin league is 2-0 on the season.
Although the Lunachix desire to play comparable Division 1 B-teams, there are personal benefits to playing smaller A-teams at BrewHaHa.
“I am actually really excited to play the Foxz,” said VanGo. “They are one of the few teams available to play this weekend which we haven’t been able to bout against before. I think you can always pick up new strategies and ideas by playing against a new team.”
For more information on Midwest BrewHaHa, which includes a complete schedule of the event, go to the event’s official webpage.
For more information on the Arch Rival Roller Girls, go to archrivalrollergirls.com.
For more information on the St. Chux Derby Chix, go to stchuxderbychix.com.