November 10, 2013
By Shelly Shankya
It was the moment everyone had waited for: the Championship game of the 2013 WFTDA race for the Hydra between the reigning Champions, the Gotham Girls Roller Derby All Stars and the godmothers of modern roller derby, the Texas Rollergirls’ Texecutioners. It was standing room only along the straightaways at the US Cellular Center in Milwaukee, and each jam had the urgency, the zeal of a revival like only the Midwest can deliver. To win the Hydra, the Texecutioners would have to overcome a 74-game winning streak held by Gotham.
From the opening whistle, tensions were high as it looked like Gotham would take the lead and run away with things. However, the hiccup didn’t affect the women from Austin. Instead, Texas blockers Smarty Pants, captain Barbara Ambush, Bittercup, and Shortcut rotated to hold the Gotham jammer for 1:26 as Hauss the Boss scored 19 points to take the lead, 23-11 over Gotham. A track cut on co-captain Sarah “Killbox” Hipel in the fifth jam gave Gotham jammers Suzy Hotrod and Claire D. Way a chance to score 34 points unopposed and to take the lead 45-23.
During the eighth jam, it looked like Texas jammer Bloody Mary had missed an opportunity to call off the jam as her former teammate and Gotham jammer Vicious Van GoGo equalized the point differential. However, Bloody’s trust in her teammates and the strength of her pack to held Vicious, and during the hold Vicious got a cut track, which resulted in a 19-point gain for Texas, making the score 63-52 still in Gotham’s favor.
The raucous reverie reached an overwhelming pitch as Olivia Shootin’ John scored two points in the thirteenth jam to even out the score, 67-67 with about 14:00 left in the first half. Then, as Bloody Mary won 10 more points for the Texecutioners, the crowd roared as Texas took the lead, 77-67, a feat not often accomplished in a game against the reigning Champions, Gotham Girls Roller Derby, who have not lost a WFTDA-sanctioned game since 2010.
In only three jams following the lead change, Gotham’s jammer Bonnie Thunders pulled off a 23-point jam when Olivia Shootin’ John went to the box for a back block, making the score 97-80. From that point, Texas wasn’t able to grab the lead again before halftime despite having an opportunity when Vicious Van GoGo went to the box on a cut track. She was followed closely by jammer Hauss, resulting in a 5-point gain for Gotham. Suzy Hotrod followed up GoGo’s win with a 4-point game, ending the period 108-82.
Texas started the second half with a 3-2 pack advantage, and Olivia Shootin’ John used the advantage to get lead jammer. Bonnie came out quickly behind her, however, forcing a scoreless jam. The early jams, lasting fewer than one minute in many cases, were a prime example of how the two teams were so evenly matched. The points were awarded in small bursts, and Olivia Shootin’ John made a jammer error in the third jam as she got called lead before falling to the inside of the track on a hit from OMG WTF. She fought so hard to get back through the pack that she failed to notice that Bonnie Thunders lapped her. Thunders got five points, Texas got none, making the score 117-83.
Bloody Mary relied on her pack once more in the fifth jam, allowing Gotham jammer to Claire D. Way to catch her in the pack. Claire had a misstep in turn three and was sent to the box for a track cut. Bloody Mary used the opportunity to score 19 points in a near replication of the game’s eighth jam from the first period. There was a noticeable momentum shift after Bloody’s gain, as Hauss got lead jammer by tiptoeing up the inside. Hauss continued on the point run, scoring 25 points by toe-stop walks on the track’s edges, much to the delight of the fans. With 21:27 left in the bout, Texas had a 3-2 pack advantage as Olivia and Bonnie took the track, the scoreboard reading 126-127 in Texas’ favor. Blockers Mick Swagger, Knockout, and OMG WTF knocked Olivia off the track, giving Bonnie the go-ahead. The scoreboard flipped, 130-127 in Gotham’s favor.
In three jams Gotham scored five points, but a multi-player block penalty on Suzy Hotrod put Gotham’s jammer in the box and Bloody Mary on a 4-point scoring run against Hela Skleter, Bonita Apple Bomb, and Violet Knockout. After Bloody called the jam, there was a one-point differential, 135-134 Texas. Hauss the Boss went in following Bloody and scored nine points as the crowd erupted once more, indicating the lead change 135-143.
With the momentum in their favor at 12:20 left in the game, Texas’ jammer Olivia Shootin’ John got two minutes in the penalty box, one for a cut track and one for an insubordination, opening the door for Gotham to score 24 points by Bonnie Thunders. Texas used their official review of the second half to question a no-call on a low block major against Thunders. Head Referee Sugar Daddy reported that there was no clear initiator of the block, so the non-call on Thunders stood. The power jam put Gotham up by 16, 159-143 with 10:20 left in the game.
Suzy Hotrod followed Thunders’ power jam with a forearm penalty, however. As Olivia Shootin’ John came out of the box, she tightened the gap once more, ending the jam four points shy, 167-163 with Texas blocking the big run Gotham hoped to make. The following jam was an 80-wheel match up that took jammer Suzy Hotrod 45 seconds to clear the pack and score three points. Gotham’s Sexy Slaydie had Bloody Mary’s number, as the veteran jammer missed out on scoring points. Bonnie got lead in the following jam, the eighteenth, and as Olivia Shootin’ John got out of the pack, Thunders pushed Olivia back into the pack, allowing Gotham to score 13 points.
With 3:40 left in the bout, Sexy Slaydie forced a track cut, giving a chance for Gotham to continue their quest for the Hydra. Slaydie fouled out of the game only moments later on a multi-player block. The clock stopped at 0:15 as Gotham asked for an official review on Slaydie’s call. The call stood, however, and longtime roller derby favorites Bloody Mary and Bonnie Thunders took the jammer line for the last jam, the score at 199-173. Bonnie cut through the Texas pack despite its strength, with blockers Polly Gone, Smarty Pants, Fifi Nomenon, and Barbara Ambush, and grabbed lead. As soon as the period clock read zero, Thunders called it off, and the Gotham Girls Roller Derby secured the Hydra for the third year in a row, and their fourth Championship title in WFTDA history.
Texas Rollergirls (Richmond #1) 173
Gotham Girls Roller Derby (Asheville #1) 199 - Champion
Real. Strong. Athletic. Revolutionary.