Home Editor's Picks After Lengthy Layoff, STL GateKeepers Return To The Track This Weekend

After Lengthy Layoff, STL GateKeepers Return To The Track This Weekend

by Brian Ledford

The last time the primary travel team of GateKeepers Roller Derby laced up their respective quad skates was October 2019.

The scrappy St. Louis collective, deservedly recognized as the most decorated team within the Men’s Roller Derby Association (MRDA), claimed their fifth consecutive international championship at the time and the quest for a six-peat was the missive for their 2020 campaign.

The ensuing pandemic shut down those plans, which struck a mighty blow to the franchise that was launched in 2009 but had racked up a dominating 60-3 record over the past five previous seasons. With no MRDA games held over the next two calendar years, there was no immediate opportunity to maintain that legacy of dominance.

That all gets erased in a few days as the rollers return to the flat-track after a lengthy layoff.

The GateKeepers skate at the Dawn of the Derby Tournament this weekend in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. A sextet of teams is competing within a pair of three-team brackets that funnel into Sunday’s finale.

St. Louis faces Pittsburgh Roller Derby’s Undead Saturday morning and Austin (TX) Anarchy later that night. The team that fares better within the triangulation advances to the first-place game.

Without question, the GateKeepers, currently ranked first in the MRDA, is champing at the bit and look to display familiar form.

“This weekend is a really-exciting opportunity for us,” said GKRD tri-captain David Sole. “Not only do we get to travel and play new teams, which is something we always look forward to, but we get to be a part of the early stages of rebuilding this sport we care so much about.”

Like many roller derby teams that are returning to play this year, St. Louis finds itself sporting a line-up with veteran players alongside a lot of new faces in the mix.

Back in the fold alongside Sole are tri-captains Magnum and Monster Jam as well as returning skaters Spin Diesel, Hulk, Yoshi, EVEE, Shred Astaire and Nix, who each sport multiple MRDA title reigns in their respective portfolios. 2020 addition Cat Daddy will get rotations at the event.

New to the travel charter this season are BWINKS, Aaron Blindt, Ethan Olsen, Adam Midwest, Rex, Loki Doki and Static. Arch Rival Roller Derby’s Bolt Action and Splatter will also accompany the team this weekend.

“This is an opportunity for a reset,” said Sole of the team’s robust complexion. ”A reset of mentality, of strategy, of community, and of our passion for this game. We’re going into this weekend with a very different team then we’ve ever rolled out with, and it’s exciting.”

Within the GateKeepers’ bracket, Texas-based Austin Anarchy finished tenth at the 2019 MRDA Championships while the host of the weekend, the Pittsburgh Undead, are competing in their inaugural season and have already amassed an impressive 3-0 record.

The other three-team bracket contains Orlando, Florida-based Magic City Misfits, Canadian entry Toronto Men’s Roller Derby and Indianapolis, Indiana’s Race City Rebels.

On paper, early projections for the tourney see a potential Sunday first-place game between St. Louis and Magic City. The Misfits handed the GateKeepers their last loss, an eight-point setback in June 2019. The re-match between the pair for the MRDA Cup later that year saw only a 37-point differential that was claimed by the locals, so one must assume that the Floridians seek revenge against their most-recent rival.

Regardless of how the weekend pans out, the GateKeepers are just happy to be back after a long, patient wait.

“We’re energized, hungry, and ready to play hard, have fun, and show our love for this game and everyone who makes it happen,” said Sole.

Live, free online coverage of the event can be seen this weekend on Pittsburgh Roller Derby’s Twitch account.

St. Louis’ Saturday games take place at 8 AM Central against Pittsburgh and at 4 PM against Austin Anarchy. Sunday’s championship game is set for 2 PM Central.

For more information on GateKeepers Roller Derby, go to their official website.

Arch City Media will have a full recap of the weekend posted Sunday night.

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By trade, he is a six-time, regional Emmy Award-winning news videographer/editor for KTVI/KPLR-TV. By hobby, he is an announcer and digital content producer for St. Louis-based Arch Rival Roller Derby. Also a webcast announcer for post-season roller derby tournaments on wftda.tv. Yep, this Illinoisan primarily writes about derby, covering Arch Rival, the St. Chux Derby Chix and the STL GateKeepers men's league. He also writes about St. Louis SLAM Women's Football, St. Louis Lions women's soccer and other sports topics.

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