Coverage of professional women’s athletics at Arch City Sports during 2016 saw numerous breakthrough achievements. Within the span of the calendar year, the quartet of squads featured – which encompassed the sports of football, basketball and flat-track roller derby – had a combined record of 33-12.
In the process, two teams claimed national championships while another reached a newfound benchmark in international play by recording its first-ever win within a global tournament.
Here is a look back at the seasons for the respective women’s franchises perpetually covered at this website.
ST. LOUIS SLAM
After returning to the post-season complexion of the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA) in 2015, the professional tackle football franchise reloaded early in the year with tryouts that resulted in a roster containing plenty of tenured veterans as well as hard-charging newcomers.
The WFA conducted this past season under a new-tiered complexion where individual rankings were determined based on algorithms that incorporated a team’s performance on game night combined with its overall strength of schedule against opponents.
Sporting a 1-2 record midway through its campaign, the SLAM recorded three straight victories to finish the regular season 4-2. The newfound rankings’ component proved beneficial for the locals in the latter stretches as triumphs over Indianapolis (35-18 in late-April) and Kansas City (32-0 in late-May) helped St. Louis net the top seed in the WFA Tier II summer playoff bracket.
Capitalizing on momentum, the SLAM displayed its best football with the ensuing post-season. A 53-0 home victory over Houston in late-June set the tone and July’s 44-6 topper over Sin City (Las Vegas, NV) in the Tier II national semifinals resulted in St. Louis’ first appearance in a WFA title game since they last hoisted national hardware in 2009.
On July 22 at the WFA Tier II National Championships held at Imperial, Pennsylvania, the SLAM scored 31 uncontested points from the opening kickoff and romped to a 38-7 win over then-undefeated Tampa Bay Inferno that resulted in a second national trophy. Overall in three post-season games, St. Louis out-muscled their opponents 135-13.
As defending champs, the SLAM will have their work cut out for them in 2017. Early team tryouts conducted late this year saw a plethora return and new additions will help solidify a squad that will take to the turf for its fourteenth season come April.
For more information on the SLAM, go to its official FACEBOOK PAGE.
ST. LOUIS SURGE
After winning the Women’s Blue Chip Basketball League (WBCBL) national title in 2014, and after placing runner-up in 2015, the hard-court collective were primed to reclaim a trophy. Even with a 2016 roster that contained almost 50-percent newcomers, many felt that this was the most-talented collective ever fielded in the franchise’s 11-year history.
Those early calculations were on-target as the Surge concluded the regular season 9-1 while competing within the WBCBL’s ultra-competitive Midwest Division. With the finish, St. Louis claimed the top seed for July’s Midwest Division tourney. In the semifinals, the Surge topped fourth-seeded Iowa Force, 105-76, but then was humbled by third-seeded Elsberry Flyers Elite, 91-76, at the weekend’s marquee game.
The loss stung the locals at the time but its 10-2 overall record netted the team an at-large bid for the eight-team WBCBL National Championships held August 6-7 in San Antonio, Texas.
In an eye-opening weekend, the Surge collected a trifecta of upsets to the claim a second national title. After a 112-100 quarterfinal victory over second-seeded Conyers Rockets and a 77-62 duke over third-seeded Charlotte Invasion in the semifinals, St. Louis enacted revenge over nemesis Elsberry and earned the WBCBL national trophy with a 69-55 triumph.
Now two-time champions within the last three seasons, the Surge now desires a newfound “back-to-back” status that launches in May.
For more information on the Surge, go to its official website.
ARCH RIVAL ROLLER DERBY
After making an inaugural appearance at the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) International Championships in 2015, the flat-trackers wished for a return to the global stage. Key veterans and more-than-ready additions were primed to eclipse the prior benchmark.
Launched during the spring, Arch Rival finished the regular season 9-0 thanks to collective invitational sweeps at May’s Big O in Eugene, Oregon, June’s Midwest BrewHaHa in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and its self-hosted Sibling Rivalry later that month. As a result, St. Louis earned a number two seed at the WFTDA’s Division 1 playoff round held in Madison, Wisconsin in September.
In the weekend’s quarterfinal round, Arch Rival decimated tenth-seeded Madison, 314-75, but then fell to third-seeded Minnesota, 174-155, in a semifinal heart breaker. The franchise then rebounded – spearheaded by the event’s Most Valuable Player Annie Swanson – and topped Tampa, 149-131, to claim the weekend’s bronze medal and punch a return ticket to the WFTDA International Championships.
In opening-round play against Denver at the global tourney held in Portland the first weekend of November, Arch Rival topped the higher-ranked Mile High Club, 177-165, to net the ten-year franchise a first-ever WFTDA International Championships’ win. St. Louis proceeded to fall to the London Rollergirls, 197-94, in the event’s quarterfinal round.
Arch Rival’s primary travel team finished the season 12-2 and, with progression to the Elite Eight, they have now established itself as one of the premiere leagues on the planet. St. Louis currently ranks eighth internationally and will continue to intraleague play next Spring.
Arch Rival’s local three-team campaign of events continues at Midwest Sport Hockey during the winter months. For more information, go to its official website.
ST. CHUX DERBY CHIX
The St. Charles County-based skating collective, also a member of the aforementioned WFTDA global scheme, competed mightily during the year. A tough schedule saw the Pack In Black battle hard-charging national teams, many who reached the ensuing post-season, during the spring months.
The high mark for the year was the squad’s 199-136 sanctioned victory over Chicago Outfit, a Division 2 playoff entrant, at home April 9. St. Chux finished the season 1-6 but stayed on the bubble for post-season play due to its competitive contests against comparable international squads.
The Pack In Black narrowly missed the playoff scheme this season but looks to re-establish themselves in 2017.
For more information on the St. Chux Derby Chix, who kicks into high gear with its hosted Skate To Thrill invitational scheduled for late-March, go to its official website.
Overall, the 2016 output by all four franchises proved that this area features some of the most talented athletes and teams nationally. That trend should collectively continue into a new calendar year.
For Arch City Sports, we can’t wait to see what 2017 brings!
By trade, he is a six-time, regional Emmy Award-winning news videographer/editor for KTVI/KPLR-TV. By hobby, he is a writer for Arch City Media, dating back to February 2014. Emphasis is on featuring and promoting local women's sports, but will cover anything that is not reported by traditional media outlets. Also a contributor to local concert reviews.