October 1, 2015
Hailing from St. Louis, MO the Arch Rival Roller Girls have been a driving force in their community and the roller derby world since they began in 2005. This year marks an especially exciting year for the league as they secured a second place seat in the 2015 International WFTDA D1 Playoffs in Tuscon, earning their first ticket to WFTDA Championships next month. Learn more about how the Arch Rivals have been preparing for tournament season and what to expect from them at Champs!
Where are you located? Saint Louis, MO
How does your season run?
Our local season runs from November to Spring. We start travel in March/April and play as long as we stay in it (Hi there, St. Paul in November!).
What are the closest WFTDA leagues to you?
Our neighbors to the west, the St. Chux Derby Chix live across the Missouri River and our neighbors to the east the Confluence Crush reside just across the Mississippi River in Illinois.
How many skaters/teams do you have?
We are just under 50 skaters strong. The M-80s, the Smashinistas, and the Stunt Devils battle it out locally. The All-Stars, St. Lunachix, and Fleur-De-Linquents (FDLs) travel to compete with other leagues.
Who is your biggest rival? And have you had any outstanding, memorable moments when you've played them?
We did it to ourselves with our name, but we seem to have a new rival almost every year. Typically there's a team we can't shake, and we always seem to pull them for the first round at Playoffs. Chicago Outfit and famously Ohio Roller Girls have held this oh-so-special place in our hearts prior seasons. Team United grabbed this spot this year. However, if we're being totally honest, Playoffs itself has been our main rival for years. We never made it to the semi-final round and never, ever managed to win on a Sunday. That is, until this amazing season where we finally (finally!) took Playoffs down.
Do you have any sister leagues you’d like to give a shout out to?
Can we give a shout out to a brother league instead? We would not be the same league without our brothers the Saint Louis Gatekeepers. We scrimmage together, we coach each other, we travel together, and we party together. They held a huge watch party at our sponsor Stacked to cheer us on at Tucson Playoffs, and we will be right there screaming our heads off for them at MRDA Champs in our own backyard. We've grown into a huge derby family over the years, and it's this sense of family that makes playing derby in St. Louis so special.
What are the individual challenges of your city?
St. Louis is a metro area compartmentalized by highways. It can be difficult to get our voice heard especially when our current venue is not near the part of the city that is traditionally home to our fan base. Also, like most Midwestern cities, our town blossoms in the spring and summer which causes all sorts of great outdoor festivals and St. Louis Cardinals games. Basically lots of distractions that prevent the masses from flocking to a cinder block building to watch skaters run into each other during the warmer months.
What are your biggest training challenges?
Some leagues are going to hate us for saying this, but we almost have too many training opportunities. If you catch Gatekeepers practice on Wed you practice from Sunday to Thursday—with occasional scrimmage opportunities out at St. Chux sprinkled in and games nearly every weekend. It can be overwhelming, and many a new skater (...and vet) has hit burnout by trying to do it all. It's a great problem to have!
What kind of training/bouting facilities do you have?
We practice in the finest of skating rinks where every day is a new adventure. The floor's texture is a composite of beers spilled at shows the night before, bike polo tire remnants, smashed birthday cakes, deflating balloons, glitter, and dust from half finished repairs. We love to hate it.
We bout in a roller hockey rink out in west St. Louis County with a tricky sport court that we rarely get the opportunity to practice on. It does have a special magic about it that has kept our travel season record there unblemished. We have hosted local championships at Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis city as well. It's always a special event with instant replay and high polish intro videos on the arena big screens and our biggest crowds.
How many days a week do you practice? How are your practices divided/organized among your teams/skaters?
We practice four times a week. We take a league first approach to training, so even in local season we all train together--save for a monthly local team practice where each team gets an hour to tune up. We limited Monday practice this season to All-Stars and St. Lunachix level skaters to increase intensity and reps. In the push to playoffs (and now Champs!) the All-Stars have claimed a slot on Thursdays as well. We also dedicate Sundays to our newest skaters, though everyone is encouraged to attend.
Who are some “behind the scenes” skaters/members who really help your league run?
We are really lucky to have some awesome people. Shimmy Hoffa goes above and beyond for publicity and negotiating big events like the bouts at Chaifetz. Grave Danger—and ARRG mainstay from day one—has held nearly every position in the league and kept things moving forward. Ninja Sassem and Mayor Francis Slayer planned a killer travel season full of delicious calculator breaking opportunity. All-Stars' leadership Bricktator, Party Foul, the Saint, Percy Control, and Shane Bower have gone above and beyond keeping us motivated, organized, and pushed to our limits this amazing season.
We also have amazing dedicated volunteers like announcers Muckety Muck and Magilla Guerilla who produce video and written recaps of games, Hi Refinition—who is so great the WFTDA has all but stolen him away from us—and the rest of our NSO and ref staff who withstand our glares on the way to the box. Photographer Bob Dunnell makes us look great in the photos we use for so much of our promotional material. Other members like Carmina Piranha, Enya Nightmare, Winston Churchkill, Jamheiser Bush, Fletch a Sketch, Rock Slobster and more contribute in big ways to keep thing running smoothly, it's difficult to get everyone adequate shoutouts!
Who are some of your star skaters on the track, and why?
We definitely have some homegrown and imported standouts on our team. The best part is if we ask you to close your eyes and think of your favorite ARRG player, you probably aren't picturing the same skater as the person next to you. It's pretty special to be in a league of hard workers who transcend star status to work to make the whole league better... while inspiring derby crushes everywhere they go.
You snagged a hard fought third place finish at the D1 Playoffs in Tucson, and now you are gearing up for your first trip to Championships in November. How are you preparing for the big weekend?
We are eating a steady diet of toasted ravioli and gooey butter cake and basking in our victory. We're definitely not working harder than ever to turn our weaknesses into strengths to make it to day two (or three) in St. Paul.
Aside from Championships next month, do you have any big bouts coming up that you're really looking forward to? Why?
Local season is always super fun and we have a huge influx of new blood to place on local teams that should change the complexion of every local team. November 22nd at Queeny Park is the place to witness us move into our second decade of derby.
How does your league give back to the community?
We pick a main charity to support every season and provide a big check at the end of the year to the organization. We also participate in highway clean-up and support other local organizations like community radio station KDHX for annual fundraising events.
We love that your league features its own derby recap show, "Rewind". Who is involved with making the show and how has it helped you to reach out and engage your fanbase?
We are truly lucky to have an Emmy-winning newsman as an announcer. Muckety Muck truly goes above and beyond in providing polished and professional video recaps after every game. His co-conspirator Magilla Guerilla and he take time to interview and breakdown both local and travel season action. Muckety also provides written recaps for local site Arch City Sports.
You have done an amazing job building a serious derby fanbase in your community, with last year's Arch Rival Championship bout attracting 2,000 fans! How do you reach so many people in such a large city? What keeps fans coming back?
Publicity efforts like billboards, news spots (we know a guy), and going to every local event that will have us help get our name out there. We also draw from the amazing local derby community with skaters from nearby leagues like St. Chux, Gatekeepers, Confluence, SIRG, Como and others regularly making the drive out to events. We also draw from a long history (10 years!) of retired skaters who continue to come hang out long after skates are put away. In other words, even our largest crowds are full of familiar faces and people we consider to be family.
Do you have a special message for your fans?
Fancy a trip to St. Paul in November? We'd love to fill the Roy with family. And a huge THANK YOU!
Who are some of your favorite sponsors?
Stacked is our after practice hangout and they have gone above and beyond to accommodate watch parties, team meeting, video filming, and keeping the kitchen open to feed hungry skaters post-practice. Ranken, PBR, Lockton and others have been supporting us for years and we truly wouldn't be able to do what we do without them.
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Real. Strong. Athletic. Revolutionary.