Castlegar’s Dam City Rollers opened their West Kootenay Roller Derby league season on Saturday in Rossland against the Babes of Brutality, falling to the Salmo squad 179-136.
Prior to the game, Coach Sauce was asked how he felt going into battle against the Babes, a team that has proven tough for the Dam City Rollers in the past.
“I always feel good about it,” he said. “It’s derby.”
Indeed. There were a number of people feeling good about derby.
The beer garden upstairs at the Rossland Arena was packed with fans from both sides dressed in either purple or blue (many clad in team jerseys).
Lest anyone think it’s not a family affair, there were plenty of families with children of all ages in the stands, too.
The excitement was palpable at track level, thanks in part to rocking tunes and track announcers and staff who brought their “A-game” as well.
Jody Carroll, who skates for the Slocan Valley Vendettas, was the “jam timer” for the bouts and her antics were almost as much fun to watch as the when the jams were in progress. Her signals for simple time-outs, for example, had her leaving her feet at times.
For the un-initiated, there are ten players on the short circular track during a bout, which lasts 60 minutes and has two 30-minute periods. Each team designates a scoring player (the “jammer”) with the other four being “blockers.”
The jammer wears a helmet cover with two stars and is typically the skater who is also the target. As the jammer passes the pack, points are awarded.
To chants of “Let the bodies hit the floor!”, the Dam City Rollers were in high spirits and fighting form from the opening whistle.
The contest was fairly even through the first period but the Babes of Brutality began to pull away in the second, having a 102-64 at lead at the 24-minute mark.
The Rollers rallied nicely and closed the gap to 145-113 with about four minutes to play but penalties prevented them from finishing the comeback.
Babes’ coach, Heather Parson said the bouts went better than expected because this was the lowest number of players they had played with.
“The girls in Salmo originally started roller derby in this league,” said Parson. “They really know the game and they’re super strong. We had tight walls and good hits.”
The game had a number of momentum changes, in part due to a new rule stating when the jammer is knocked out of bounds, they have to go all the way to the back of the pack.
No doubt as players become more used to that aspect, the speed and intensity will start to ratchet up again.
Don’t let the aggressive hits and falls fool you, this is a sport that is all about the experience, with combatants giving each other hugs and high-fives after the dust had settled.
Even the referees and time-keepers received some hugs, something not seen in other sports.
The Dam City Rollers take the show on the road for a tournament in Spokane April 26-28 before returning for their first home game in Castlegar on Saturday, May 11 at Selkirk College. Doors open at 4 p.m.
Visit www.facebook.com/damcityrollerscastlegar for more information, photos and schedules.