All four teams in the Rat City Roller Girls Derby League may be undefeated today, but that will change when they open their 10th season this Saturday, Jan 18 at Key Arena. The opening bout guarantees the first loss of the year, and the first win, as the Sockit Wenches skate off against the Throttle Rockets after opening ceremonies at 5:30 PM.
Following that 60-minute bout the reigning champions for the past three years, Grave Danger, will be challenged by the Derby Liberation Front. The skate to the lead in the four-team league is not a gimme this year for the Danger. Sockit Wenches coach Rani Khan pointed out that last year’s determining points came in the last four minutes of their bout against Grave Danger.
“I’m excited for our prospects in winning the championship this year,” said Khan. “If we can clean it up and play smart I’m happy for our chances this year.”
But first for the Wenches come the Throttle Rockets, a team that has reloaded heavily entering the season. The team lost eight players over the break and has taken on seven new skaters with different skating backgrounds said Rockets Coach Slutnik.
“Enurgizer Bunny graduated from the Seattle Derby Brats All Star Team last year when she turned 18 and became eligible to compete in the adult league,” said Slutnik. The Throttle Rockets drafted her immediately. They also added a banked track veteran from the LA Derby Dolls, Raven Seaward. Roller derby is skated on a flat track, a change that Seaward is learning to master. Slutnik says that both of these ladies bear watching. Two other players who joined the team late last year are Khaos Theory and Ethel Vermin. Slutnik explained that Theory had no prior roller derby experience, but that both players have made huge leaps in their skills and abilities since joining the Rockets.
Annyong, a new member of the Sockit Wenches, brings another set of skills to derby skating. Her background is as a figure skating. Wenches coach Rani Khan pointed out that it gives her a certain agility around the track. “She’s going to do some cool stuff this year,” said Khan. The Wenches will feature another exciting skater that opposing teams are going to have to account for this season in Megan Havok, a taller player described as a great blocker.
Blocking is a critical part of roller derby as both teams are playing offense and defense at the same time. Blockers want to get their scorer, the jammer, past the other team’s blockers while preventing the other team’s jammer from getting past them. Points are scored once a jammer has passed everyone on the other team, made a complete lap, and begins to pass opposing team skaters a second time. Each player from the other team that is passed after the first lap scores a point for the jammer’s team.
Khan said that the Wenches rely on great jammers and outstanding blocking in their game plan. One of those blockers is Short Fuse, small by blockers standards, but, said Khan, “A hard hitter for her size.” Also new to the Wenches is Izzie Does It, described by her coach as a fire cracker who really knows the game. “We have a deep bench,” said Khan.
A deep bench is necessary in roller derby. Each scoring jam lasts two minutes, usually less as the lead jammer can call a stop at any point in that 120 seconds. New skaters for both teams are on and off the track in seconds so stamina and endurance count as much as skill and athleticism.
Khan said that every team in the Rat City league comes loaded with skilled, highly competitive skaters. Teams carry a roster of about twenty, though only fourteen can be on the official team list at game time.
The Rat City Roller Girls Derby League has grown tremendously in popularity since its inception nine years ago in Seattle. When the league graduated to playing their bouts in Key Arena they also graduated to a larger and more devoted fan base, usually putting four to six thousand fans in the lower bowl at the arena for every bout.
This year, in celebration of their 10th year of play, all kids age 10 can attend bouts for free! Tickets otherwise are $15 for adults, $8 for those fifteen and younger. Tickets & Info: http://ratcityrollerderby.com/get-tickets/