BLOG: GNR Goes into Championships Undefeated

Seeking Their First Title in History

For the first time in Guns-n-Rollers history, they just might win the Rose City Rollers home team championship. And not only are they going, they are going in undefeated. Obviously it wasn’t impossible, but it certainly wasn’t the place even most of the skaters on the team expected.

Scarlene has been on GNR for a little over a year and through many changes even in that short time. “Our roster, attitude, work ethic and love for each other has evolved tremendously throughout the season. Its been something wonderful to be a part of. If you had told me in December that GNR would be going into champs undefeated I would have laughed at you. We went through changes this season. We Peter Bradyed. We all wanted it to be our season but I thought the cards were stacked against us. I was wrong. Never argue with determination.”

In her first season with GNR, Roarshock Tess has been on the jammer rotation this season for GNR. “I have also been practicing jamming to deepen the rotation on our bench. I love GNR so much I am willing jam all the jams!” Even in her short time with GNR she speaks about transformation, “This is my first season with the team, and even still, I have felt our growth and momentum building since the very beginning of the season. Our team’s history isn’t one of championships or undefeated seasons. It’s not a history that many people know.”

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As the skaters are looking back on their transformation from the underdog team, Bench Coach Beki Safar was sure all along. She coaches with Shreddy Mercury, a skater with the Portland Men’s Roller Derby League. She has been bringing her calm presence to the team as GNR bench coach since the 2010 season, “I knew from the beginning this is our year. There is a strong, positive, and empowering presence this season, as well as dedication to cross-training and taking care of self.”

Many derby teams talk about spending a good deal of their energy working on cross-training, teamwork, as well as individual training, and it’s hard to find a skater who doesn’t gush over the love they have for their team. But something undeniable has really happened with GNR this season that begs the question – What was it? How did you achieve such a dramatic upswing and consistency in your performance?

Group hug!

Group hug!

The words “synergy” and “family” and “dedication” came out independently from so many GNR team members. Looking back on the beginning of the season to where they stand now, Yoga Nabi Sari, also on the jammer rotation, shared this, “We were all coming back from summer break. I was very new to the team. We really had to work on the basics of skating together before we could move on to bigger things. There was a turning point where it started to come together and we knew success was in reach if every single team member worked hard, focused and believed.”

Co-Captain with Frank-n-hurter, Untamed Shrew also spoke of focusing on the basics of teamwork in the beginning of the season, “Since the fall, GNR has been working on functioning as a team on the track, and that continues to be our focus as we go into champs.”

Artemis Foulmouth continued the thought looking back on how far GNR has come this season with this, “I dared to hope. This is my third season with the team, and really the first time that I felt a sense of genuine teamwork. One of the most important lessons we have learned is that being a successful team is more than assembling a group of good players. I think something changed this year and we all started to believe that it was possible to play in the Champs bout at the end of the season and we became united in this goal.”

Roller Eclipse was drafted right before the 2011 season and echoed the theme of the sum being more than all of its parts, “As a team, we have focused a lot on our mental game. Keeping our cool and remembering that we’re here to have FUN has helped us win, especially when we were down by significant margins. We have also focused on working together and trusting each other. I think these things, more than individual skills, have taken us to where we are.”

Nabi continued the sentiment, “My team is my family. They make me want to be a better person and skater every day. We uplift each other. When I felt totally useless early on they never gave up on me, no skater left behind. We are also the most hilarious people ever.”

Artemis – “GNR is a family–I know it sounds cliche, but it has all the dynamics. We use the term “sister-wives” a lot. I guess that would mean we are all married to Roller Derby. The best thing about the family dynamic is that we have trust and respect for each other, and we want to see everyone succeed. Although we are fortunate to have great friendships on the team, I think the most important quality is that we have learned the value in treating each other with respect.  Its not all rainbows all of the time, but in the end, like in a family, we show respect for each other, even when we disagree.”

Shrew attributes even mid-bout comebacks to the care for each other and prioritizing fun, “I love this team. I love how we continue to challenge one another, how we hold each other to high expectations, and how we genuinely care about each other. Even with all of the competitiveness, we still find joy in playing derby. I love looking at the pics from bouts when we were behind by 80 or so points. We never lost intensity or joy, perhaps making those comebacks possible.”
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Scarlene agreed, “A team through and through. We lean on and trust each other. I truly believe we have an on track synergy to envy.”

In continuing this look behind the curtain of their success this season, it was interesting to hear such a juxtaposition of “calmness” emphasized in their mental game, as well as bringing “intensity.” When asked what she hoped to see at the Championship, Beki said, “Calmness with the amazing intensity we have had a majority of the season.”

Artemis, “The team has been really focused on intensity. It has been a buzzword and mantra for us this season. Our skill and strategy focus has changed and evolved, but the one thing that has been a common thread is that we have to bring that fire. Fire and intensity is not something that comes naturally to me, so I had to really work on that this season as an individual as well.”

The Rose City Rollers home teams are well-matched and some of the best skaters in the country make up each team, sending the best from each to comprise the WFTDA 12th ranked Wheels of Justice, standings as of April 30, 2013. Eclipse also expected a close and competitive season, “I did think it would be a competitive and well-matched season for the league as a whole, and I had high hopes for GNR to perform better than last year, but I didn’t expect it to be THIS good! Each and every bout has been hard-fought, even if the score doesn’t seem to reflect it.”

Shrew, “This season has seen some really close games with all of the teams;  that’s what we were expecting from the beginning.  I think it’s good for everyone to have such a competitive season with very evenly matched teams.”
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As the Championship quickly approaches each team going to the Rose Garden deserves their chance to fight for a win. With a season of challenging bouts behind them, from mental game to recovering from a deficit, GNR is looking forward to closing the season with fans, and a few of the skaters shared what they hoped for this Season 8 Grand Finale:

“I hope to see GNR perform as the team that we are. This team has worked so hard and come so far; skating our best is all I can ask. Regardless of the outcome, I am already so proud of every single person on this team.” – Shrew

“I hope to see a fantastic end to a very close, hard-fought season. Championships this year is going to be epic for so many different reasons.” – Tess

“It’s not going to be easy, and we can’t wait to fight.” – Scarlene

“Things have changed so much since the beginning of the season–skaters have retired, new skaters drafted, teams have been working hard–and I know that both bouts are going to be outright wars and I absolutely can not wait!  What I hope to see–and fully expect to see–is all four teams giving 150%. Win or lose, I hope that each team leaves the track with absolutely no regrets.” -Artemis


WRITTEN BY NICOLE STEELE

This is probably a totally biased blog by one of the newest GnR teammates, Nicole Steele. Currently mending a broken tibula and fibula, join her in holding signs and screaming for GnR this weekend at Championships.

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