Recently during dusk at a South City roller skating rink, a quad-wheeled collective with international recognition is honing their strategies for an upcoming season of competitive play against other national opponents.
St. Louis-based Arch Rival Roller Derby’s team of All-Stars, current ranked fifth internationally by the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA), begins their journey with a road trip against a pair within the governing body’s Top 12.
On Saturday morning, ARCH meets #12 Atlanta and competes against #10 Jacksonville the next morning.
Arch Rival finished last season 8-4 and set a new personal benchmark by claiming their first-ever gold medal following their three-game sweep at the WFTDA playoff round in A’Coruna Spain held last September.
With those accomplishments achieved, the team prepares at high levels on select nights at their home base. Repetitive rotations between teammates are providing the foundation for another potential breakthrough later this year.
For the past four post-seasons, Arch Rival has competed at the WFTDA International Championships that are held in November. However during those appearances, the team had never reached the semi-finals.
The flat-track faction wants to reach that next level and in order to that, the team must go beyond what one would typically call a “practice.”
“We call it training,” declared ARCH co-captain Bricktator. “It speaks to the level of focus and purpose at each one. We are training to beat the best of teams.”
And the competition scheduled this year is mighty. After this weekend’s tilt, they’ll compete against #2 Victorian, #4 Gotham and #17 Helsinki at a Canadian invitational in June.
Arch Rival has maintained their Top 5 status over the past twelve months and will enter the weekend with the same mindset displayed during the gold-medal run last fall.
“No pressure, just confidence,” said Bricktator. “Most of the team has been playing together for years now and that experience is invaluable. Plus, the new skaters on the charter this season are also incredibly talented. We are really good.”
The charter’s mix of 19 athletes sports 15 skaters that competed at the world finale last November.
Alongside Bricktator, returning jammers this season include Loki Doki, Annie Swanson and The Jukes on You. Back in fold at blocker this season are co-captain Vicious Van GoGo, Smarty McFly, Shear-Ra Powers, Cloak n Dragher, Bolt Action, LuxFurious, Kayla Woodward, Ace, Jamheiser Bush, Thestral and Splatter.
New additions include jammer Jedi Knight-N-Gale and blockers Mya Pinion and Poptart while Cruella Belle-ville returns to the charter.
The co-captain gave her assessment of both opponents.
“New Jax had a large turnover from last year’s charter, but never count them out,” Bricktator said. “They are scrappy and determined. On the other side, Atlanta’s charter stayed mostly intact. They are big hitters with a lot of derby knowledge.”
This weekend also begins Jacksonville’s sanctioned play while Atlanta is 1-0 following their 320-78 triumph over #46 Detroit late last month.
Arch Rival plans to prove that their intense training immediately reaps huge rewards.
“Most of the teams in the WFTDA have already played so we are itching to play,” Bricktator said. “We plan to start our season making a statement.”
For more information on ARCH, go to their official website.