2016 promises great things for roller derby and the season opener for the current world champion Rose City Rollers’ home teams did not disappoint. The sold out double header had The Hangar packed with fans from all over the Portland metro area and beyond coming together for an exciting night of hard hitting action.
As the teams were announced, the Guns n Rollers coaches, Mater Mad and Mike Wade, looked extra cool in their rock n roll inspired looks for the night. Showing tattoos proudly and rocking their GnR shirts with their new logo by Brandt Nelson of Brandtx with perfectly faded jeans. Break Neck Betties coach Cadillac brought some classic Betties style with a flower in her hair, working black from head to toe and coach Uff-da brought the red out in style with her cable knit sweater. Together, they were the perfect representation of those Break Neck Betties colors. First to hit the track was a match up that brings me back to when I first fell in love with roller derby in 2007 and saw my first bout. The Break Neck Betties faced off against Guns n Rollers.
The first jam had the crowd screaming with excitement as Starta Ruckus, number 69, for the Break Neck Betties hit the jammer line with Luna, number 81, for the Guns n Rollers. When that whistle blew it was on and after 5 jams, the Break Neck Betties came out with a solid 31 points to the Guns n Rollers 11. The Betties dominated lead jammer status in the first half, taking us to 154 for the Betties and 84 for Guns n Rollers at half time.
After Life Time Bout Passes for amazing, long term volunteers and two VIP passes to the upcoming Guns n Rollers Headbangers Ball ( https://www.facebook.com/events/1124575834229363/) were handed out, we were ready to begin the second half.
Starta Ruckus returned to the jammer line for the Betties but this time faced off against Juke Nukem, number 30, for GnR. The first jam of the second period came to an end with Starta scoring 10 points and Juke with zero but this did not mean Guns n Rollers were out by any means. After 4 more jams, the score was a close 168 for the Betties and 124 to GnR.
In the end we wound up with the Break Neck Betties winning over the Guns N Rollers with a score of 240 to 202.
The action did not stop there. After a brief intermission, we moved onto the second bout of the night with the Heartless Heathers facing off against the High Rollers. With talk of last year’s season opener game in the air, people wondered how this would play out. Would the High Rollers take it again?
As a green and gold wearing Elvis took to the crowd to pump people up for the High Rollers, Mel Mangles, coach of the Heartless Heathers, kept her cool in a mind blowing outfit that could only be described as Nordic chic. Think Game of Thrones meets Norse goddess with faux fur and sparkle all around. The first whistle blows with Headache, number 71, on the jammer line for the Heartless Heathers and Avalanche, number K2, facing off. It was a quick jam with 4 points to the Heartless Heathers and zero for High Rollers. After 5 jams, the Heartless Heathers had the lead with 11 points to the High Rollers 3. By the 10th jam, Heartless Heathers had acquired lead jammer 70% of the time and scored 36 points to the High Rollers 15. At the end of jam 17, the scoreboard read Heartless Heathers 75, High Rollers 47 but in a few minutes, everything was going to change. Jam 18 started like any other, two jammers lined up (JamaFist for the Heartless Heathers and Avalanche for the High Rollers) and the whistle blew. In what felt like an instant, the jam was over and Avalanche had scored 24 points taking the Heartless Heathers lead down to just 5 points. This was the beginning of a very intense bout, with scores way too close to call.
Jam 22, with Screaming Beaver for the Heartless Heathers and Minstrel Psycho for the High Rollers, took us to a 1 point lead at one minute in, to a lead change by the time it was done! Minstrel Psycho scored a whopping 9 points in that jam bringing the score to 91 for the Heathers and 94 for the Rollers.
After one more jam, half time hit with the High Rollers keeping their new lead at 98 points to Heartless Heathers 94.
After throwing a ton of bread around… you think I am kidding? Check the pictures! Our lovely sponsor Franz supplied us with some delicious organic bread to toss to the crowd and it was an amazing display. Sadly, I wasn’t fast enough to get some but lucky for me, I can pick some up from this wonderful local baker at almost every store around. Ok, we toss wonderful bread and now we were ready to start the second half.
Athletes are back on the track and Roarshock Tess takes the jammer line for the Heathers against Avalanche for the High Rollers. After the whistle and a track cut penalty for Avalanche, and a full 30 seconds, Roarshock is called lead jammer and scores an impressive 8 points quickly to regain the lead for the Heartless Heathers.
Ten jams into the second half, the Heartless Heathers have held onto their lead with a score of 157 to the High Rollers 125 but we all know in derby, that can change at any time and change it did. In the middle of jam 14, we had a tie game for a few seconds but in the end, the High Rollers pulled it out for a lead change taking us to 162 for the Heathers and 165 for the rollers.
The next 11 jams had everyone on their edge of their seats. The High Rollers were determined to keep their lead and it showed. Jam 17 showed us how fast roller derby can be at times with the entire pack speeding around the track with the jammers, Minstrel Psycho for the High Rollers and Screaming Beaver for the Heathers, in a full out sprint to score points. Ending that jam with a score of 162 for the Heathers and 170 for the High Rollers.
In the end, it came down to the final jam. The Heartless Heathers put Headache back on for her 17th jam (anyone notice that? Headache is 71 and she did 17 jams? Palindrome!) and Bad Wolf represented the High Rollers also on for her 17th jam. With a score of 176 to 183, High Rollers in the lead, it was anyone’s game. Lead jammer status becomes critical to controlling the outcome. As the whistle blew, I was on the edge of my seat, screaming total nonsense as the pack began to block like nobody’s business. Lead jammer status goes to the Heathers and the excitement continues to build. Hits were coming and they were coming hard when suddenly, Bad Wolf gets called for a back block penalty and there is a 30 second power jam for the Heathers. This 30 seconds is the loudest it has been all night, everyone screaming, cheering on their friend, family member, maybe their fellow skater as each player on the track fights for their team. You can see the passion on their faces and feel it all around you. Suddenly, it looks as if Headache is going to call it off but she takes a look around and sees the score and the time left and pushes onward. That final push was everything the Heartless Heathers needed. Headache was able to pull out an outstanding 14 points to Bad Wolf’s 4 giving the Heathers a hard fought win of 190 to 189. What an unbelievable start to a new year and a new season of amazing Rose City Rollers bouts. If you didn’t make it out this time, make sure you come next time because what you will see, what you will feel and what you will be a part of is athleticism at its finest and community at its best. Thank you to everyone who made the start of the 2016 everything that it was. See you next bout!
Bout Summary by Jessica Mirch