No two bouts are alike. While there are basic rules and regulations that everyone (should) follow, little things can change from bout to bout, but have big affects. When we played the Des Moines Derby Dames back on April 3rd, it was in Iowa City, on our turf, and the Dames' very first bout; we had swept them 192 to 81.
On May 22nd, we traveled to Des Moines to play them again. We also brought a very different team to play them. Ophelia Fracture, GLADi8HER, Shelby Flyin, and Zom B Blockr had opted out of this bout for travel, family, or half marathons, and Hitzy was out due to a knee injury (which she just had surgery on! yay fixed knee), and came as a co-bench coach with Tynamite. This put in more of our fresh meat or skaters who had skated less bouts. A very different line up.
For the Dames I didn't notice to much difference besides EM-80 being out, and of course Show Stopper suffering and recovering from a knee injury in the time between the these two bouts. There may have been a few others, but faces get lost in the action when you're out there skating in a whirlwind of action.
Another big difference was the floor. At home we have polished cement, which on a good day has the right amount of grip and smoothness. As a jammer I like it because my sugars (wheels) give me enough power to sprint around, but the floor has enough give to let me skid, slide, stop and dart.
The floor at the 7 flags venue was a little different than I remembered (from attending a concert way back when) and may not have been as smooth as ours but could have been comparable, if you nix the sprite mixture it was coated with. With that it did remind me of the stickyness of a wood floor but with the added joy of layering gunk on your wheels. Again, as a jammer, it did add force to your strides and gave a bit more stability on your feet, but it made plow stops hard and hockey stops impossible.
The Ref lineup was also very fresh, and the layout of things like the penalty box were different, but when it comes down to it, all these variables are meaningless. If you have a team that can work well together with an understanding of good offense and defense skills you can overcome any of these changes.
Right away I noticed the Dames were definitely not as timid as the first time we played them. They were engaging more often and accurately and were working well together while Stella was still doing her awe-inspiring, anger-enducing jamming. So the first half they showed us that we were definitely going to have to work for our win, and it wasn't going to be a sweep like last time. To me this is perfect. I want to be challenged and forced to jam harder, block more decisively and work better as a team. I could definitely see changes in other people, like Triple D. Zaster whose jamming skills just skyrocketed during this bout.
At one point, when I was heading to the box, I turned around to see Furyis Jorge laying on the track in a fetal position. Then she yelped like the time she sprained her glute and I knew it wasn't good. She had taken a bad fall and broke her fibula. My heart sank as she got taken away, but the bout must go on. I think all our spirits dropped a bit as we lost a bit of our lead, but then it came to a (sudden) end at 151 to 122.
I was exhausted, and have some pretty nasty bruises after this bout, but it was exhilarating and it's great to play a quickly developing team. Without strong competition around we would have nothing to do. There are nearly ten teams in Iowa now..and teams that are already established can constantly change. This sport is on a volunteer basis only, no one is getting paid to do this, so it's through our own skill, determination and ambition that we push ourselves to get bigger, better, stronger.
It's kind of a big deal.
Deadwards -the original- out.
(Thanks Laura Foster for the great pictures.)