The last time the primary travel squad of St. Louis-based GateKeepers Roller Derby hoisted post-season hardware was October 2019.
At the time, the locals claimed their fifth-straight Men’s Roller Derby Association (MRDA) international title and rightly secured their position as the most-decorated team within the organization.
Through no fault of their own, GKRD wouldn’t get the opportunity to achieve future success on a worldwide stage.
The 2020 pandemic halted roller derby altogether. A slow roll-out started in 2021, but few games were held outside regional boundaries. 2022 saw more activity within MRDA, yet the governing body wisely elected to forgo any kind of formal global tournament.
This season of competition within MRDA saw an overall return to normalization domestically. Officially-sanctioned games were back on-track and multi-day, multi-team tournaments resumed.
It’s been a long, patient wait for the GateKeepers to shine on a national level. This weekend, they’re getting back to interleague post-season play for the first time in four years.
St. Louis competes at the 2023 MRDA Western Hemisphere Cup that launches Saturday morning in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. The two-day, bracketed tournament features ten squads that crave to reign supreme.
As the top-seeded faction, St. Louis skates in a Saturday quarterfinal round contest that has a 12 PM (Central) whistle against the winner of a #8 Chicago Bruise Brothers vs. #9 Philadelphia Hooligans pre-quarterfinal qualifier that is held earlier that morning.
The green-and-black-clad jerseys are champing at the bit for the trek, additional victories and the potential gold medals.
“We’re incredibly excited to be back in a post-season tournament,” said GateKeepers’ co-captain Spin Diesel. “After a (multi-year) absence, the opportunity to compete at this level again has energized the team.”
St. Louis enters the tourney with a 3-0 sanctioned record, thanks to an overwhelming three-game sweep at June’s Sibling Rivalry invitational held in St. Louis.
At that event, the GateKeepers collectively outscored their opponents, 742-265, to net the trifecta.
“There were several standout moments,” reflected Diesel of the impressive output. “One aspect that stood out was our exceptional teamwork and chemistry on the track. Additionally, our jammer rotation was highly effective, with each jammer making crucial contributions to the team’s success.”
Those sporting jammer covers on their helmets this weekend include Shred Astaire, Sole, Loki Doki, Jammy Pacquiao, Static Shock and Cat Daddy.
Primary blockers during the tourney include Diesel and co-captain Hulk alongside Monster Jam, Tony Controll, Olson, Sir Nixalot, Yoshi Denali and Evee.
Additionally on the GateKeepers’ 20-person charter at the Cup are Jar Jar Bwinks, Badger the Witness, Beastie, Adam Midwest, Slaythoven and soup beans. Bench coaches for the trip include Downtown Dallis, Double Excel, Magnum and Katie Wagner.
St. Louis’ goal during the two-day sprint is to push their ongoing narrative of dominance and write the next successful chapter of their ongoing history book.
“It is important for GKRD to claim the Cup and further our legacy,” Diesel said. “Winning the tournament would re-affirm our status and show that we can weather the storm with staffing changes. Winning the Cup would be another significant milestone in our ongoing legacy in the sport.”
Also competing this weekend are Denver Ground Control (CO), Disorder Roller Derby (Mexico), Carolina Wrecking Balls (SC), Race City Rebels (IN), San Diego Aftershocks (CA), Pittsburgh Undead (PA) and Lane County Concussion (OR).
Saturday’s quarterfinal results funnel into the next morning’s semifinals and the Cup’s championship game is set for 6 PM (Central) Sunday.
The host league for the event, Cleveland Guardians Roller Derby, will be providing continuous online coverage as produced by Pittsburgh Undead Roller Derby on twitch.tv via THIS LINK beginning Saturday at 8 AM (Central) with the tourney’s opening game.
Coverage is free but audiences can contribute to the costs of event production by donating to CGRD’s PayPal account via the QR Code located to the left. (Any donations would be greatly appreciated by the hosts!)
For more information on GateKeepers Roller Derby, go to their official website.
Arch City Media will have a recap of St. Louis’ results at the Western Hemisphere Cup posted Monday.
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.