Monday, September 13, 2010

Our Cup Runneth Over!

Guest post by Flexi Wheeler



On September 4th the Hellions traveled -- en masse in a chartered Yankee Trails bus -- down to Old Bethpage for the first ever, all-New York State, roller derby tournament.  This tournament was organized and hosted by the Long Island Roller Rebels who invited every league in the state, with eight leagues accepting the invitation to play, including:  Albany All Stars, Assault City of Syracuse, Central New York, Gotham Girls of NYC, Hudson Valley Horrors, Ithaca League of Women Rollers and of course ourselves and Long Island.



We went down to the tournament with a roster of 20 players of varying experience, from a single 3 year veteran (uh, that’s me), to two players who had not yet ever bouted!  The bulk of our players were evenly divided between girls who had just finished their second season and girls who had just finished their first season.  Because we knew we were the most junior league entered in the tournament, we expected to be challenged and to learn a lot.  It was anybody’s guess what it would be like when we got down there but our entire league was excited to be a part of this tournament.  Our coaching staff made it very clear that, in true Hellions spirit, we would be playing every member of our roster in at least one bout.  We believe that building a strong league and promoting ideals of fair play will eventually lead to athletic dominance as we support our players at every stage of their development.



When we arrived at the tournament, I was personally overwhelmed by the realization that I knew so many other players.  It was like a big derby reunion for me, and a wonderful networking opportunity for all of our newer girls.  Typically, we play a single team at a time and expect to see other players we’ve met on the track before, but to see everyone all at once was really awesome.  You begin to feel like the roller derby community is huge as you looked around and saw sooooo many familiar faces yet, at the same time, you realize it’s small and intimate because you know all these people by name.  And, the relationships!  Positively incestuous!!!  Players that used to be on one team but now on another.  Players that are also refs (refs that are also players?).  Leagues that arose as offshoots of other leagues.  The same themes play out over and over all over the derby world, and a tournament of this size – biggish yet smallish – brings that realization in to focus.  I’ve had the good fortune to have played alongside, or against, many of the players on each of the leagues who were there.



I don’t know if anyone reading this wants the detailed blow-by-blow of all the scores for the myriad of bouts played over the course of that very long Saturday but I’ll assume you’re interested in how the Hellions did.  Fair assumption if you are reading this!  



Photo by Sean Patrick Hale



Our first bout of the tournament was against Central New York.  We had played CNY out in Rome, NY at the beginning of our 2010 season so it was a real pleasure meeting up with them again.  The Clubbers, as they are known, came out victorious, beating us 63-43 in the half-hour bout.  The Clubbers were in especially great spirits, having just received word in the prior week that they had been admitted to the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (roller derby’s national governing body) as a full member league, having fulfilled the terms of the apprentice program.  There was a lot of congratulating going on as this is a big achievement.

In our second bout we faced off against our good friends, The Hudson Valley Horrors.  Seeing some of those familiar faces reminded me of a brutally hot summer day back in 2007 when I played in my first ever exhibition bout and where members of the Horrors were there to help out.  I realized I’ve known some of these ladies for 3 years now.  We have recently begun working more closely with the Horrors, scheduling regular scrimmages between our two teams and it’s an arrangement we’re all stoked about.  The Horrors emerged the winners with a final score of 83-43.


Our final bout was against the Assault City girls.  Those of us who know them haven’t seen them in quite some time because we have not played them since our last season (2009) at Frear Park in Troy.  I will always fondly recall my first opportunity to play Assault City, back in the spring of 2008, as the bout where I first found my hitting mojo.  This was our closest bout yet we still suffered a last defeat, losing 62-52. 



At the end of the day, the tournament awarded MVPs to each team and consoled the 8th place team (uh, that’d be us!) with a bandaged bruised apple trophy.  We all got to play some derby, mingle with our derby comrades, and watch some amazing derby too; for excitement, you just couldn’t beat the final championship game between the All Stars and Gotham’s Wall Street Traitors.  Gotham’s derby dominance is legendary, having been in existence for 7 years and national champions several times.  With only an 8 player roster, Albany gave the Traitors an incredible run for their money, eventually taking second place overall.  It was a helluva way to spend a Saturday and Long Island deserves generous accolades for such a successful event.



It’s not always the big victories but sometimes a series of little victories along the way that keep you on track to your goals.  We held our own against more established leagues, we played all of our players, we never lost by more than 40 points and nor did anyone hold us to under 40 points.  And we had FUN.  And we saw our friends.  If that glass ain’t at least half full, I don’t know what is!  Our foremost league goal is to have the Hellions gain entrance in to the WFTDA apprentice program so that we can continue to grow our league, promote the sport of roller derby and eventually find ourselves playing the sport we love at the regional and national levels. Hey, anything is possible when you put your mind to it and you have the collective force of 60 dedicated individuals---HELL YEAH, HELLIONS!!!

2 comments:

  1. Great write-up. Looking forward to our scrimmage this week! We are stoked too to be neighbor leagues!

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