Brooklyn and Manhattan are Ready for a Fitting End to the 2016 Home Season

By Thomas Gerbasi

How appropriate is it that it has come down to this? Brooklyn. Manhattan. Golden Skate trophy.

Yes, the Bombshells and Mayhem have proven themselves to be the elite in the 2016 Gotham Girls Roller Derby league home season, but when the blue and orange collide, it’s always more than just a game, even if this one will determine a champion.

If anyone has seen them play each other, they’ll know precisely what this means, but for a more nuts and bolts explanation, the proof is in the numbers.

2013 – Brooklyn 178, Manhattan 171

2014 – Manhattan 170, Brooklyn 169

2015 – Brooklyn 153, Manhattan 148

2016 – Brooklyn 161, Manhattan 158

Forget the 3-1 Brooklyn advantage. Look at the scores. Four games decided by a grand total of 16 points. In modern derby, a single game decided by 16 points is a close, back and forth bout. Four games determined by that total is unlike anything ever seen in GGRD.

So what’s the secret?

“On a certain level, I wish I knew,” laughs Manhattan co-captain Roxy Dallas. “I hesitate to call it chemistry, but there’s a real sort of agro-magic that comes out on the track when we meet each other. And that’s true in our private scrimmages as well. That’s not just something that comes out on game day. If I had to guess, I would say that it had less to do with the actual strategy or technical skill on the track and even more to do with the team cultures. The way that we operate culturally as squads off the track really contributes to the way we end up playing on the track.”



Suffice to say that both teams bring a high-level of hard-hitting intensity to the track, and it’s almost as if each team could accept a loss, as long as it wasn’t to each other. It makes picking a winner in this Saturday’s championship bout at John Jay College in NYC impossible, which speaks to the quality of the matchup, because those looking at the bout on paper would have to lean toward the defending champion Bombshells.

Unbeaten in 2016, Brooklyn hasn’t lost a bout since Manhattan edged them out in July of 2014. That’s a lot of success in the last two-plus years, and as the weekend approaches, the Bombshells are on the verge of history, as they have the opportunity to become the first team since the 2009-10 Bronx Gridlock to repeat as champions. It’s been a long drought of dominance, but Brooklyn captain Evilicious has a theory.

“We have so few games, and our drafts are so steeped in math that our teams are more evenly matched than ever before,” she said. “We’ve eliminated all of the variables that left one or two teams unbalanced as compared to the other teams. There are obviously the rebuilding years and someone who you draft on to your team early in the season is going to contribute differently than someone who has skated on the team for a decade or close to it. But because of how serious we are about the math behind who has the ability to draft someone, the teams are so evenly matched that you can’t bank on any one team winning any game, even if they have a perfect record. So I don’t think it’s a mental thing; that’s just the nature of the cycle of what we’re going through in Gotham. I would love for the Bombshells to change that on Saturday.”



And Manhattan would like to keep the parity status quo, at least until they attempt their own history in 2017 should they win on Saturday. So at the moment, Roxy enjoys the “any given night” nature of the league.

“I think that this trend that no one stays on top too long is so awesome,” she said. “I really love it, not from a Mayhem perspective, but from a league perspective it just shows how much insane talent we have and how much talent is joining the league and working up through the ranks. As much as I’d like to spoil it for our own personal gain, I think that the turnover for the Golden Skate is saying really good things about our training.”



That training for the home team season begins early in the year, continues through the spring and summer, and culminates in one game for all the marbles.  For a long time, Brooklyn and Manhattan watched as the Bronx and Queens traded championships back and forth. But in the last few years, there has been a changing of the guard of sorts, with no transformation more miraculous than that of the Bombshells, who went from the oft-noted lovable underdogs to dominant champions. Evilicious is fine with the team keeping the lovable part of the equation, but as far as being underdogs, the veteran blocker can’t even fathom those days ever returning.

“I think we’re a completely different team than that,” she said. “Our maturity as a group of skaters and the hours that we’ve put in together have really changed us. It’s kind of lore now. Queens and Bronx used to be the only teams that won championships, and that was individual talent, great management and years of experience together. Those teams were the teams that had that core anchor that helped propel them to championships. Manhattan and Brooklyn were scrappier and we weren’t able to rack up the wins with the consistency that they were. But it’s equalized throughout the league and so we’re unrecognizable from the Bombshells of five years ago, for sure.”



Of course, having said all that, now Brooklyn or Manhattan will win by a hundred points this weekend. Nah, not likely. Especially not with these two squads. And whether the victor walks away with a win by 10 or a hundred points, both teams will know they’ve been in a war.

“It’s not possible to get out of a game unscathed, no matter who you’re playing, especially Manhattan, because they have such strength, and that leads to really strong offense, which is how the blockers get beat up,” Evilicious explains. “The jammers generally get beat up no matter what. That lends itself to a really taxing game, even if the audience can’t tell. So even with a hundred point spread, I think you do need triple digits before anyone can relax, because anything under that is a couple of jammer penalties, and as everyone’s seen this season with all our teams, you can rack up 30 points in a jam and your lead is a distant memory. So unless we can to a three-digit differential, which we haven’t see this year, no one’s gonna relax and everything is going to feel like a fight in every jam.”

That’s what derby fans want to see and hear. Now all that’s left is for Brooklyn and Manhattan to play for the championship. Not just of the league, but of each other.

Tickets for tomorrow available here.

Queens and the Bronx Get a Chance to End 2016 with a Win this Saturday

By Thomas Gerbasi

In sports, there’s nothing like a second chance, or in the case of the Bronx Gridlock, a fourth chance for a first win and third place in the Gotham Girls Roller Derby league standings. If those are a lot of numbers to digest, suffice to say that the Gridlock are unconcerned with the specifics of this Saturday’s bout against the Queens of Pain at John Jay College in NYC, only that when those numbers are tallied, they have more points than their opponents.

“This is kind of like the playoffs,” co-captain Back Alley Dred said. “There’s a team that can have a bad season, but then all of a sudden, boom, this is the playoff and this is what matters. So in some ways, this is our playoff. We don’t have four out of seven or three out of five, but it’s still that same idea of this is where it counts.”



Winless since May of 2014, the cabbies have had another rough year in 2016, but as is usually the case in such a competitive league, the scoreboard doesn’t always tell the whole story.

“We give people a run for their money,” said Dred. “No one ever walks away from a game with us and says, ‘That was so easy, we felt like we had it in the bag.’ And that’s a win in and of itself.”

That was certainly the case in April, when Queens defeated the Gridlock 200-159 in a bout that was a lot closer than that score would indicate.

“The game went back and forth and felt really close and really hard the whole time,” agreed Queens’ Tiny Apocalypse. When that bout was over, it looked like Queens was just getting warmed up for a spot in the GGRD championship game, but pivotal losses to Manhattan and Brooklyn dashed those hopes. Thankfully for the ladies in black, they too get another shot at finishing 2016 on a high note.



“We’re really lucky that we get that extra game and that the season isn’t over for us,” Paco said. “Looking back at the games we’ve already played, we get to take the things that we’ve learned and try to improve on any mistakes we’ve made and keep doing what we’re doing right. It’s a good way to start getting ready for next year.”

2017? Already?

“Not that this game isn’t also important, but we’ve already started thinking about next season,” she said. “We learned a lot from our last game against Brooklyn, and even though Bronx and Brooklyn are very different teams, we’re looking forward to taking what we learned from that game and capitalizing on opportunities against the Bronx where maybe we didn’t in our Brooklyn game. We just want to prove that this season, even though it looks like a rebuilding year for us because of all the new skaters, we’re pretty strong and we’re going to finish strong.”



The Bronx squad has the same motivation, and as Dred describes it, this isn’t the same team that lost to Queens four months ago.

“We played Queens early on, and we had just started working together,” she said. “Right now, we’re at that point where everybody is trusting each other on the track, having a feel for what our jammers want, how to play offense for them, how to stick together in the walls and communicate, and that’s what’s different for us. So we’ve been building after each and every game. Our walls are getting stronger, our jammers are getting better, and we’re working as a more cohesive unit. And this is just going to continually progress. This is one more step of us gelling together and a win would be fantastic.”



As for Queens, they’re also not counting on playing the same team they did in their season opener. They’re ready for a battle.

“I think every team is so close skillwise that playing a team one day versus playing a team a different day, whether it’s four months apart or a week apart, could produce a completely different outcome,” Paco said. “And I think we know that. We see it during the week when we have scrimmage nights and we saw their walls in their game at Coney Island against Manhattan and they looked really good. They were really strong, and they’re really different from us, so we know what we have to focus on. We have to focus on those differences, the difference in size, and their offensive style versus ours, and how we can make the most out of our strengths and take advantage of any of their weaknesses or mistakes.”

And just win. It may not be for the Golden Skate Trophy, but for two teams looking to exit the 2016 season with a victory, it could be even more important.

Tickets for Saturday are available here.

Brooklyn Gets Scare Before Vanquishing Queens

By Thomas Gerbasi

For a while in the July 16 bout between the Queens of Pain and the Brooklyn Bombshells at Abe Stark Arena in Coney Island, it looked like Queens was about to rebound from their lone loss of the year and secure yet another trip to the Gotham Girls Roller Derby league championship game on August 27.

But it was not to be, as a one-time 69-20 lead turned into a 179-152 loss that sent the unbeaten Bombshells to John Jay College for an opportunity to defend their title against the Manhattan Mayhem.

“It will definitely be a good matchup between our teams,” said Brooklyn MVP D.A.R.Y.L.  “It's going to be an intense game but it's a really great way to end the home team season.”



Queens, the four-time winners of the league’s Golden Skate Trophy, will now play the Bronx Gridlock in this Saturday’s third-place game. “It is always physically and mentally demanding to play Bronx,” said Queens’ MVP Pinky Swears. “We have very different styles of game play. Queens is about recycling and utilizing speed changes. Bronx plays a slow and controlled game with effective delayed offense, so you have to be on guard and ready to anticipate the next move. We joke they are ‘the Land of the Giants,’ whereas Queens is a fairly ‘vertically limited’ team in comparison.”

The idea of Queens playing this weekend and not in three weeks didn’t seem realistic early on in their battle with the Bombshells. Shortstop put up 48 of her team high 73 points in the early going, and soon, the ladies in black were up by nearly 50 points. Brooklyn was on the ropes, but not rattled.

“We were able to trust each other and our leadership that we were stronger than how we started the game,” D.A.R.Y.L. said.  “It only takes a jam or two to get back in the game, so we just kept our heads up and kept fighting.”

And while Queens aimed to put the nail in their rivals’ coffin, penalties allowed Brooklyn back in the game.  “We went into the game knowing we needed to remain calm and super focused to be able to pull off a win against the very challenging Brooklyn team,” Pinky said. “We were able to build a lead at the beginning, but as derby often proves, there is no such thing as a solid lead. Penalties, of course, are often what can win or lose a game. Even with getting lead 60 percent of the game, we had some trips to the penalty box that came at very critical moments, like during power jams, and we just weren't able to gain the traction we needed to jump ahead again.”



By the 20th jam of the bout, a 22-point effort from Miss Tea Maven gave Brooklyn an 87-73 lead,and while Queens superstar Suzy Hotrod put her squad up by 10 points at halftime, Brooklyn regained the advantage early in the second period and never let it go, setting up what should be a memorable championship game. Yet for the blue-clad bombshells, they expect it to be business as usual.

“I think that we're just going to keep doing what has been working for us,” D.A.R.Y.L. said. “Working hard, practicing our basic formations, and being mindful of penalties and staying clean.”   




Queens 100 52 152

Brooklyn 90 89 179

Queens MVP – Pinky Swears

Brooklyn MVP – D.A.R.Y.L.

Leading Queens Scorers

Shortstop – 73 points (19 jams)

Suzy Hotrod – 72 points (20 jams)

Beauty Andie Beast – 7 points (6 jams)

Leading Queens Blockers

Puss ‘N Glutes – 31 jams (+20)

Livvie Smalls – 31 jams (-42)

Chopstick Murphy – 25 jams (+35)

Leading Brooklyn Scorers

Miss Tea Maven – 107 points (28 jams)

D.A.R.Y.L. – 51 points (14 jams)

Hela Skelter – 12 points (4 jams)

Leading Brooklyn Blockers

Sexy Slaydie – 37 jams (+89)

Lady Fingers – 28 jams (-13)

Papierschnitt – 25 jams (-30)

Queens Penalties

Minutes in Box: 35 Jammer Box Trips: 4

Brooklyn Penalties

Minutes in Box: 30 Jammer Box Trips: 4

Stats compiled via Rinxter

1 2 F

Mayhem in Coney Island, as Manhattan Earns Title Shot

By Thomas Gerbasi

First, the Manhattan Mayhem put a dent in Queens’ hopes for a return trip to the Gotham Girls Roller Derby league championship game. Then on July 16 at Abe Stark Arena in Coney Island, the orange-clad ladies put the stamp on their own ticket to the title bout with a 140-119 victory over the Bronx Gridlock.

The win capped off a 2-1 regular season for the Mayhem and sets up a showdown with the defending champs, the Brooklyn Bombshells, for the Golden Skate trophy on August 27 at John Jay College in NYC.

“Brooklyn vs. Manhattan is always a very physical game, but I think that the winner of that game will come down to who wins the mental game, which team remains the most calm,” said Manhattan MVP Veronica Ache. “During the season opener with Brooklyn, our team really struggled with penalties.  We have been working throughout the season to clean up our game and stay out of the box.  Our last two games, our penalties significantly dropped and no one fouled out during our last game.  Hopefully, we can carry that on to the championship bout.”



In that season opener, Brooklyn outlasted the Mayhem 153-148 instant classic. The Bombshells went on to win their next two and wrap up an unbeaten season, while Manhattan was forced into must-wins in their final two bouts. They fulfilled their end of the bargain, with the win over the Gridlock cementing their championship game slot.      

“The key to our victory against the Bronx was our ability to focus on playing our game and not be ruffled by their offense,” Ache said. “We knew that the Bronx had been playing a great deal of offense all season long, especially off the line.  So, we knew we just had to ignore their offense, step in front of it, give them a little bump back and focus on maintaining our strong four wall to contain their jammers, so that our jammers would have time to work and get free. Also, our chance to go to the championships was on the line during the bout, and I think that drove everyone to push harder and really lock it down.”        

Jumping out to a 20-0 lead thanks to Bruzin Brody’s efforts in the first jam of the game, Manhattan soon had to hold off a ferocious charge from the gutsy Gridlock, who were seeking their first win of the year. Kate Sera Sera put the Bronx ahead 33-24, but penalties would eventually allow Manhattan to soar ahead and stay there.

There would be one more big push in the second half, as the Gridlock cut the Mayhem lead to two thanks to a 43-10 run, but Manhattan got back on track and locked things down defensively in order to secure the victory. The loss put the cabbies at 0-3 for the 2016 regular season, but they never stopped fighting.  

“Gridlock's biggest takeaway from 2016 is our incredible potential,” said team MVP Fast and Luce. “We have had a taste of the success that comes with teamwork and dedication, and we definitely want more. The fight and heart that was with us every second of the season is exactly the spirit we are ready to lead with moving forward. We are ready to come into our own next season, building upon the solid foundation we have laid down throughout the year. I'm confident when I say we are more unified than ever before, which is going to be a key factor in the Cabbies' rise to power.” 



Unlike previous seasons, the teams that didn’t earn a place in the title game will get one more shot in this Saturday’s third-place bout, with the Gridlock facing the Queens of Pain.

“Fans can expect a fast-paced bout with a well-matched defensive performance,” Luce said. “Queens is an excellent opponent, and we look forward to the rematch.” Then three weeks later, it’s another rematch. This one is for all the marbles. Just the way Manhattan likes it.

“I am really glad how it played out,” Ache said. “It feels great to go into the championship bout and have a rematch against Brooklyn.”      




Manhattan 83 57 140

Bronx 62 57 119

Manhattan MVP – Veronica Ache

Bronx MVP – Fast and Luce

Leading Manhattan Scorers

Bruzin Brody – 47 points (11 jams)

J Rod – 42 points (12 jams)

Em Dash – 41 points (10 jams)

Leading Manhattan Blockers

Roxy Dallas – 22 jams (+48)

Bonita Apple Bomb – 22 jams (+21)

Sunshine Skate – 21 jams (+19)

Leading Bronx Scorers

Kate Sera Sera – 63 points (10 jams)

Legs / Cite – 21 points (5 jams)

Big Banger – 19 points (10 jams)

Leading Bronx Blockers

Fast and Luce – 19 jams (-33)

Caf Fiend – 19 jams (-34)

Cherry Napalm -17 jams (+11)

Manhattan Penalties

1 2 F

Minutes in Box: 34 Jammer Box Trips: 5

Bronx Penalties

Minutes in Box: 46 Jammer Box Trips: 10

Stats compiled via Rinxter

Manhattan and the Bronx Fight to Own the Track in Coney Island

By Thomas Gerbasi

Heading into the final weekend of the Gotham Girls Roller Derby’s home team regular season before the championship and third place games, a cut-and- dried title matchup between Brooklyn and Queens got a shake up when the Manhattan Mayhem upset Queens on June 11.

For the Mayhem’s Full Metal Jackie, she knew what was going to happen the moment she stepped into the locker room at John Jay College. And it had nothing to do with the idea of “staying alive” in the title race.

“When you say something like we need it in order to stay alive, that evokes a lot of desperation,” she said. “There is that reality, but I think fortunately, we didn’t allow ourselves to have that infiltrate that team mentality or even let it be recognized. Coming into that game and walking into the locker room and seeing my team’s faces staring back at me, there was a sense of calm and reassurance and an understanding that we have to get this done. That’s it. There was a goal, we had to achieve it, and there wasn’t any other way.”



Sixty minutes later, Manhattan skated away with a 192-187 win, and heading into this Saturday’s matchup with the Bronx Gridlock at Abe Stark Arena in Coney Island, another pivotal win could produce a three-way tie for two title bout spots, pending the outcome of the other doubleheader bout between Brooklyn and Queens.

That’s a lot to play for when it comes to the top three squads in the standings, but what of the Gridlock, who sit outside of the title party but have not played like it in their first two bouts, showing the parity of the league in 2016. It’s frustrating, but as Bronx standout Fast and Luce points out, that’s part of the gig as a GGRD skater.

“Every team has taken its turn rebuilding, growing, coming to a peak and then going through the cycle again, so that’s something we always keep in mind with the Bronx,” she said. “At this point, I think we’re really just trying to play the best game that we can play. We find a lot of success in scrimmages every week. I think the public games that we play only a few times a year are only part of the story for the Bronx. And I think that we’re just now realizing that when we play well and we play together, then that feels good and it feels like winning and that’s our main focus for how we’re preparing to go into this game against Mayhem.”



Saddled with an 0-2 slate heading into this bout, the Gridlock have not won a game since defeating Brooklyn in May of 2014. It’s been a painful drought, but one that the cabbies aren’t focusing on heading into the weekend, simply because they can erase that streak with a victory against Manhattan.

“We’re definitely a team that plays with a lot of heart, we give a hundred percent in every game and I think that we always go in with the hope that our work will pay off in that moment,” Luce said. “But it’s also derby and games go the way that they go, so it is a difficult thing to kind of pick your head up after a game time after time and experience so many losses in these last couple seasons. But if we feel that we play well and play our best and are together on the track and we’re executing all the things that we work on in practice, then you have to take away what you can from it, and leave the rest on the track.”

And would a win mark 2016 as a success?

“A win on Saturday would mean that we have improved over the season, that we looked at how we were performing in previous bouts and that we worked on specific goals in practice to get better as a team,” she said. “And I think anytime you’re successful at that - and a win this Saturday would absolutely tell us that we were successful in that way - we can go away from this season being happy with it. I think it would be a great wrap-up to the season if we could say that we pulled through in the end.”



The Mayhem are in a different place than the Gridlock though, and they have a different goal. In other words, they want to be playing someone on August 27 with the Golden Skate Trophy on the line. Does Metal have a preference if they make it that far?

“My preference is to play the most competitive and the most highly skilled team,” she said. “The team coming out of that game (Brooklyn vs. Queens) victorious is the obvious answer, so I’m looking forward to seeing who walks away from that, and I’m looking forward to playing them and beating them.”

But first, there’s the Gridlock, a squad whose championship game is a day away. “When preparing for Mayhem, we really have just been focusing on being prepared for their offensive skills and I think that both teams have good defense, so you can expect to see that matching up,” Luce said. “We always look to try to keep it calm and collected and Mayhem is a very chaos-driven team, with their offensive plays especially, so the Bronx is focusing more on the opposite of that and keeping cool and together on the track.”

Mayhem is fine with that, and if you think they’re focused on the end of August, think again. They’re just looking at taking it two minutes at a time, starting tomorrow night. “The game is just a series of two-minute segments, and how you play those two minutes and what you do in those two minutes can affect all your teammates,” Metal said. “So we try to play our hardest and our best for them. It’s all about concentration and where you allow your concentration to focus emotionally and physically. Going into this game, we’re focusing on each other and how we play. I feel that for any team, you are playing the way your team has been trained. If Bronx plays Manhattan’s style, then we will absolutely take it as a win and walk away victorious. But that’s always the biggest challenge – owning the track.”

More Coney Island Fireworks Expected in Brooklyn-Queens Clash

By Thomas Gerbasi

This Saturday’s Coney Island showdown between the defending Gotham Girls Roller Derby league champion Brooklyn Bombshells and the Queens of Pain at Abe Stark Arena was expected to be a clash of unbeatens that previews the August 27 home team title game.

Then Manhattan got in the way, defeating Queens in June and setting up the possibility of a three-way tie at the top pending the results of Saturday’s doubleheader. While it wasn’t a shock that Queens went from 1-0 to 1-1, it was a disappointment for the team and co-captain Livvie Smalls.

“We were disappointed because, of course, we wanted to win, but I don’t think we were surprised,” she said. “Everyone was pretty aware this year that the teams were closer than even they have been in recent years and that on any given game day, any team could rise up. We also know that Manhattan’s always a tough team, and I really feel like they step up when they play Queens so we definitely would have liked to win, but to say that we were surprised that they fought so hard, we’re never surprised at that.”



It’s a classy attitude to have, but at the same time, it does throw this weekend’s game into a new light. If both teams entered at 2-0, it would be an opportunity to perhaps test out some new strategies, get some bench players some more track time, and basically stay sharp for the title bout. Now, it’s a must win game. But as Livvie points out, with only three home games per season, every trip to the track is a must win.

“We play so few games that, in a way, we try to put all our energy into every single game,” she said. “There’s added pressure, but we want to be in that finals game and we want to win that finals game. So we want to lay the groundwork to show Brooklyn what they’re going to be up against and we want to win. I think we would have wanted to win anyway, but the added pressure is undeniable.”

As for the Bombshells, 2016 has basically been a continuation of 2015 – Eat, Sleep, Dominate, Repeat. Looking as good as they ever have, the team appears to be on their way to another title bout and, if they have their way, a repeat as champions. But one chat with All-Star jammer Miss Tea Maven and you’ll understand that their key to victory thus far has been staying humble.

“I don’t think we think we’re the greatest,” Maven said. “This league is so talented and every game is anybody’s game. A lot of times, it just depends on if the other team can play their game or not. And if both teams are on their game, it’s one or two points difference. So we need to stay humble in order to keep playing the game that we know and love to play. And another big contributing factor is our leadership. Our three captains do a fantastic job of organizing us and keeping us calm. We focus on the now and the moment, and once it gets closer to game time, we focus on what we need to do in that game. So while we’re proud of our accomplishments, it’s never a driving force, and it keeps us humble.”



What both teams can agree on though, is that Brooklyn vs. Queens always ends up being a special bout, filled with hard hits, high-scoring jams and Cyclone-worthy ups and downs. As such, don’t expect either team to come in mentally unprepared.

“I think we’ve been mentally preparing for this for a while, pretty much straightaway since the Manhattan game, and it definitely feels like we’re in the mental place that we want to be,” Livvie said. “The biggest thing for us is that when we’ve been playing together, we looked fantastic and were a challenge for any of the home teams. So mentally, we’ve really tried to focus on having Queens look inside, rather than looking too much at what Brooklyn’s going to do, play our game, play together, and stay out of the box.”

“Every game is a new game, every jam is a new jam,” Maven added. “Every time I take the line, it’s 0-0. If we win our next game, then we’re absolutely in, but we’re not guaranteed at this point. So everyone’s gunning for everybody.”

As the favorites though, does Maven have a preference if Brooklyn makes it to the Big Dance? “We’re going to be ready for any team at any time,” she said. “So I don’t know if we have a preference. Each team has its own unique style of play. Manhattan is much stronger and has a hard-hitting, aggressive style of play, and Queens is a lot slower, but controlled, and they recycle really well and they use a more strategic style, so it’s more organized. But Manhattan is one of the most intense teams you can play.”



In other words, it doesn’t matter. Just bring ‘em on. And should Brooklyn become the first team to repeat as GGRD home team champions since the Bronx Gridlock did it in 2009-10, what would that mean for the Bombshells?

“When we repeat as champions, I’m just going to look at the team and say, ‘All right, now we’re going to be the first team ever to win three in a row.’”

Mayhem Shake Title Picture Up with Win over Queens

by Thomas Gerbasi

For the home teams of the Gotham Girls Roller Derby league, it’s a whole new world after the Manhattan Mayhem’s 192-187 victory over the Queens of Pain at John Jay College on June 11. Expected by many to pick up their second win of the season and sail into an August championship showdown with the unbeaten defending champions from Brooklyn, Queens instead met a team unwilling to see their dreams of a title end in June.

Now it’s all down to this Saturday’s Coney Island doubleheader to determine which teams move on to the title bout and which start focusing on next season. And Manhattan (1-1) and Queens (1-1) are both eager to get a win and make a statement.



“I can't wait to play against Gridlock,” said Manhattan’s Em Dash of her squad’s showdown with the 0-2 Gridlock. “They're a team of really excellent skaters, many of whom are taller and bigger than my teammates, so it's always a really intensely physical game. That said, our jammers are used to being beaten up. Mayhem beats up our jammers every Sunday, and not a lot of people hit harder than Bonita, Violet, Sunny, and Roxy. And as you might have noticed, Cork Rebel was back on skates (on June 11), so with any luck we'll have our full team for the July 16 bout as well. It feels so much better to have our whole team skating.”

“The team is looking forward to skating against Brooklyn,” Queens jammer Shortstop said. “They beat us twice last year so we are looking to change that this time around. The game against Mayhem has made us even more hungry to take a win.”

Despite losing last season’s championship game to the Bombshells, Queens have been one of the most dominant teams in the league for a long time, and their season opening win over the Bronx only cemented that reputation. But the Mayhem, which lost a three-point heartbreaker to Brooklyn in their first bout of 2016, were ready for the challenge, with team MVP Dash thrilled about her squad’s performance.

“We played a calm, happy game and exhibited great teamwork,” she said. “Our jammers stayed focused and used incredible footwork to zip through tiny holes in Queens' defense. Overall, our team played one of the cleanest games I can remember; it's easier to play well when you have a full pack and a jammer on the track.”

And while a small difference of five jammer box trips to Queens’ seven, and 35 penalty box minutes to their opponent’s 42 may not sound like much, in a close game, it can speak volumes.

“I don't believe anything went wrong against Mayhem, but our penalty times are something we can improve for our Brooklyn game,” Shortstop said.



Nip and tuck throughout, both teams let their offenses do the talking, leading to the highest scoring bout of the year thus far, with Queens MVP Shortstop leading the way with 102 points and Bruzin Brody putting up 63 points on the board.

The veteran Dash, who is approaching the one-year anniversary of the publication of Derby Life, a book readers have come to consider the flat track derby bible, chipped in 57 points, and she makes no bones about it – a high-scoring game is a lot more fun for the fans and the jammers.

“I cut my teeth on a version of derby that was a lot faster and more chaotic than the current version, so I love a fast pack and a bit of offense,” she said. “Juking around a talented blocker is one of the best feelings in the world.” 

Appropriately, it was Dash who was on the track for two pivotal jams in the second half, first scoring 14 points to turn a seven-point Queens lead into a seven-point advantage for her squad.

Then three jams later, Dash added 25 points in a single jam that put Manhattan up 148-121. Shortstop and Suzy Hotrod made a late surge for the ladies in black, but came up five points short, setting the stage for a photo finish in one of the most interesting seasons in GGRD history.




1 2 F

Queens 82 105 187

Manhattan 91 101 192

Queens MVP – Shortstop

Manhattan MVP – Em Dash

Leading Queens Scorers

Shortstop – 102 points (21 jams)

Suzy Hotrod – 60 points (16 jams)

Kitty Roadkill – 14 points (7 jams)

Leading Queens Blockers

Puss ‘n Glutes – 31 jams (+34)

Livvie Smalls – 29 jams (-24)

Chopstick Murphy – 26 jams (-14)

Leading Manhattan Scorers

Bruzin Brody – 63 points (14 jams)

Em Dash – 57 points (13 jams)

J Rod – 46 points (14 jams)

Tickets for the 7/16 doubleheader in Coney Island are available here.

Queens and Manhattan are Well Prepared for Their Saturday Night Showdown

By Thomas Gerbasi

Brooklyn and Manhattan always bring it, especially against each other. Queens is a ferocious machine on the flat track. And the Bronx refuses to go away without a fight. Yet despite all this goodness Gotham Girls Roller Derby league fans have seen thus far in 2016, there’s a feeling that given the stakes involved and the usual intensity from both teams, this Saturday’s bout between the Queens of Pain and the Manhattan Mayhem may just produce the best action of the year.

Think about it. Queens looked championship-bound given their opening win over the Gridlock, and Manhattan may have lost on the scoreboard to the Bombshells in their first game of the season, but that three-point defeat didn’t stop anyone from looking at them as one of the best teams in the league. And now they meet, with Queens a win away from clinching a championship rematch with Brooklyn in August, and Manhattan hungry to keep their title dreams alive, something that can only happen with a victory. It’s high noon at John Jay College in NYC this weekend, and both teams know it.

“We always expect that kind of (intense game) from Manhattan,” said Queens’ Erin Watershow. “They’ve always been a really strong and tough team, and whenever we play them, at least the past few years, it’s always been an intense and tough game.”



Adding to the intensity is the reality that with each team only getting three home games, one loss can be critical. It’s not the ideal situation, but it’s one every team has to deal with.

“This is my ninth full season with Gotham, so I’m certainly used to it by now,” said Manhattan’s Em Dash. “But I wish we got a chance to play each other more. We scrimmage once a week, we practice three to four times a week, and only getting a chance to put it all on the line three times is hard. I would love to play every team a bunch of times all season long, but it’s just not practical. So you do what you can, you bring a hundred percent to every single game, and it is what it is.”



That’s the bad news for local derby fans. The good news is that with so much on the line every night, each bout takes on a championship feel. It’s not like major league baseball, where each team has 162 games to play with. This is like combat sports, where a fighter has eight weeks of training to perform on one night. You either get it right or you don’t. If you do, the glory is yours. You don’t, and it’s a long wait for a shot at redemption.

“Especially because I’ve jammed a lot for Mayhem, the idea that you have one night to show everything you’ve worked for and show what your team can do can be really hard,” Dash explains. “So the thing that has made the biggest difference in my game is building up mental skills, focusing on the moment I’m in and just letting go of anything that’s come before, whether it’s losing the previous game by three points or the last jam we didn’t get lead. Everything that’s happened already is gone; all we have is the next moment. And I think that’s the only way to succeed in a season that has so few opportunities to show what you’re made of. It’s just focusing on every moment and making the most of each moment you have.”

This is the beauty of derby. It’s not a bunch of skaters racing around a track hitting each other. It’s so much more than that. In a lot of ways, it’s a chess match on eight wheels, with every skater forced to not just deal with the physicality of the sport, but the strategy, the reality of playing offense and defense at the same time, and doing it all while on skates.

“It’s hard to put a number on it, but this is an incredibly mental game,” Dash said. “And once you develop certain baseline skills, what separates a pretty good player from a phenomenal player, like a Bonnie Thunders, is your knowledge of the game, your ability to put that knowledge into action while people are hitting you, knocking you down and chasing you around the track. And it’s also your ability to reset, shake off a bad jam and focus on what’s coming next. All of those mental skills are critical.”



But perhaps the most important mental skill is making sure that your eyes are focused on what’s in front of you and not what may be down the road. That goes for every sport, and while Erin admits that she and her team are gunning for a rematch with Brooklyn in August, there may not be an August if they don’t get the job done this weekend.

“I would say we’re definitely thinking about Brooklyn because we know that they’re going to be at Champs, but we’re definitely more focused on the game right now,” Erin said. “The focus since we played the Bronx has been on Manhattan. We haven’t talked about Brooklyn too much because Manhattan’s a really tough team and we are by no means underestimating them at all.”

That may be the biggest key to the dominance of a Queens team that has been near or at the top of the league for years, regardless of team turnover.

“Something I know from my experiences in derby, not just with Queens, but in general, is that I think you should never go into a bout expecting to win,” Erin said. “Never take your opponents for granted, even if you’re really confident that you’re the stronger team. Don’t underestimate them. And I would also say that Queens really prides itself on how hard we work and how many hours we put in. Our land drills are really hard and intense, and our team’s attendance is always very high. We’re very dedicated, and that is also one of the secrets to Queens’ success, even with all the internal personnel changes.”



So who wins the mental battle? Does Manhattan’s camaraderie on and off the track put them back in the championship race, or will Queens continue to take out all comers on their way to another title bout? This one may just come down to who is willing to dig down deep and win a dogfight. But then again, both of these teams are down for a good ol’ fashioned throwdown.

“There’s just something really rewarding and exciting about a really hard and tough game,” Erin said. “Even if you don’t win, you can be proud of the way that you played. Blowouts in derby are great if you’re winning, but it’s not nearly as rewarding in the end. So as much as it’s emotionally stressful for me, I would still prefer a close game. It’s more fun to play and it’s more fun to watch.”

Tickets available here.

Slaydie Returns to Give Brooklyn Boost in Win over Gridlock

By Thomas Gerbasi

She’s back. Making her first start of 2016, Gotham Girls Roller Derby All-Star Sexy Slaydie made an intimidating Brooklyn Bombshells team even scarier on May 7, as she helped lead the defending GGRD champions to a 178-118 win over the Bronx Gridlock at John Jay College in Manhattan.

“It was thrilling,” Slaydie said of her return. “I have been on the injury list since WFTDA Championships last November, so it felt great to compete in front of our fans again. I missed skating against Manhattan, which was a super close and physical game.”

Slaydie and her Bombshell teammates may meet the Mayhem again should Manhattan win their next two bouts and find their way into August’s championship game. But first, Brooklyn took another step toward becoming the first GGRD home team to repeat as champions since 2010 by beating the last team to achieve that feat in the Gridlock.



Back then, the Gridlock was a well-oiled machine with a veteran core of skaters (Bonnie Thunders, Kandy Kakes, Beatrix Slaughter, Ginger Snap among them) that had years to gel and become a formidable unit. Today’s Gridlock has not been that fortunate, with turnover and injuries hitting them harder than their league mates. 

“Our strategy has a lot of moving parts and we just need more time to integrate everyone into a cohesive machine,” team MVP Rude McSlamahan said after the bout. “Bronx has had to rebuild for the past few seasons and it shows, compared to other teams that have had longer to gel, especially on bout day.”



That hasn’t stopped the cabbies from lacing up their skates and showing up to play on bout night. Yet despite keeping it close early, the blocking of Slaydie and company held the Bronx jammers in check while opening up lanes for Miss Tea Maven to put up a game high 139 points. 

“Our goals were figuring out how to crack Bronx's solid defensive walls and combat their jam-start offense,” Slaydie said. “We made some key adjustments last minute that helped us. Bronx's walls are so solid and intimidating. We were hoping we could go in to this game matching that slowness and control.”



By halftime, Brooklyn had a 74-52 lead, with Bronx clearly within striking distance, but 28 and 30-point jams by Maven early in the second half turned a 92-62 advantage into a 150-74 tally that sealed the deal for the Bombshells, who have their eyes on August, but aren’t losing sight on the rest of the league gunning for them.

“All four teams, Manhattan, Queens, Bronx and Brooklyn are playing great derby this year,” Slaydie said. “There's a lot of new talent in this season's draft picks and I can't wait to see how teams continually improve until Champs. I think as the season heats up, the games will be even more exciting, and the Bombshells are gunning for that championship trophy again.”

The Gridlock, still seeking their first win in two years, will not be content to go quietly into the off-season. Now it’s time to play spoiler, and they can do that with a win over the Mayhem in Coney Island on July 16. It’s about expected to be a physical one. 



“Fans should look forward to a blocker battle, as neither team has a starting all-star jammer on their roster, but blockers instead,” Rude said. “Mayhem is known to be a hard blocking team, but Bronx has a lot of size to counter it.”

They have plenty of motivation too. 

“Bronx hasn't had a win since 2014, so what more motivation could there be?” Rude asked. “I feel like the team is in a good place. The vibes in the locker room after the Brooklyn bout were positive and we’re looking forward to the next matchup against Mayhem and even into next season.”


                           1         2        F

Brooklyn     74   104 178                                           

Bronx      52       66 118

Brooklyn MVP – Sexy Slaydie

Bronx MVP – Rude McSlamahan

Leading Brooklyn Scorers

Miss Tea Maven – 139 points (20 jams)

D.A.R.Y.L. – 20 points (13 jams)

BlueJ – 16 points (5 jams)

Leading Brooklyn Blockers

Sexy Slaydie – 29 jams (+79)

Lady Fingers – 23 jams (+44)

ShadowboxHER – 21 jams (+57)

Leading Bronx Scorers

Kate Sera Sera – 55 points (14 jams)

Big Banger – 35 points (14 jams)

Massacre Marie – 25 points (12 jams)

Leading Bronx Blockers

Davey Blockit – 22 jams (-86)

Cherry Napalm – 21 jams (-21)

Fast and Luce – 19 jams (-51)

Brooklyn Penalties

Minutes in Box: 27 Jammer Box Trips: 6

Bronx Penalties

Minutes in Box: 34 Jammer Box Trips: 5

Stats compiled via Rinxter

The Bronx has 60 Minutes to Turn It All Around Against Defending Champs

 By Thomas Gerbasi

The blessing and the curse of the Gotham Girls Roller Derby league home season will be on full display this Saturday when the defending champion Brooklyn Bombshells face the Bronx Gridlock at John Jay College in Manhattan.

The blessing? In a three-game season, any team can salvage everything with one key victory. In the case of the Gridlock, who have not won a game since May of 2014, a win over the Bombshells erases that past and puts them in contention for the championship game in August. It’s a fact not lost on the cabbies.

As for Brooklyn, who conversely have not lost since July of 2014, a defeat this weekend puts them at 1-1 and all of a sudden it’s a race to see who competes for the Golden Skate trophy this summer. That’s the curse.

But no matter which side of the equation you’re on, there’s a bout to be played, and the veterans of the Gridlock have made it clear to their newcomers that they need to play this one like it’s for all the marbles. Because it may very well be.

“I think they all realize how important it is (to win) and I think in our practices the other teams are noticing that we’re really working together,” said Bronx vet Davey Blockit. “Hopefully, they’re scared of us and we can prove it on Saturday that we’ll be the team to beat. If we’re not playing in the championship game at the end of the season, that’s our own fault because we have really amazing skaters on our team. We probably have the most skill on our team collectively, so if we can just figure out how to work together on the track during a high-pressure situation like a close game, then there’s no reason we can’t win by at least 50 points.”



The Gridlock are a team whose record doesn’t reflect their talent level. Even their season opening loss to the Queens of Pain on April 9 was closer than the 200-159 score would indicate, making it a positive start to the season, even if that doesn’t show up in the win column.

"We had a lot of new players in the draft, and that was our first chance to see how well we worked together,” Davey said. “This was our first test, and we didn’t skate too bad. It was a close game for the most part. I felt like looking at the stats, we should have won. We had some things we did wrong that I felt cost us the game as far as strategy and when to call it and how to manipulate the clock, but we really worked with our jammers to stay out of the penalty box. We only had 10 jammer penalties the whole game, which sounds like a lot, but not compared to 20 in previous games, and we cut down our penalties as a whole as a team, which is good. Plus, we’re working on a new wall that none of the other teams are doing and I felt like that was working well. So there were a lot of positives that came out of it.”

As for the Bombshells, they kept their winning streak going against the Manhattan Mayhem in March, eking out a 161-158 nod in another classic battle between the two rivals. It was the type of grueling bout that reminded the ladies in blue that when you’re the champions, everyone will be bringing their “A” game when the whistle blows.

“It was obviously a very challenging game, but Brooklyn is great about staying strong mentally and staying really focused, and our leadership has been wonderful about keeping the team held together,” said Bombshell veteran D.A.R.Y.L. “So that was good test for our team and it was a great stepping stone. Because it was so difficult, it forces us to not just walk into anything like it’s going to be super easy. We know that every game is going to be challenging, so it’s good for us to have that under our belt moving forward.”

A former member of the Mayhem, D.A.R.Y.L. returned to the league this year and was drafted onto the Bombshells, which provided its own set of challenges as she played against several players who she shared the track with for two seasons. But with that done for the moment, it should be smooth skating this Saturday and beyond.

“Personally, I think that it’s easier for me to play any team that isn’t my old home team,” she laughs. “The last game was definitely the most mentally challenging game I’ve ever had. So I think anything other than that is a little easier for sure. But with that said, as a team we always approach it as it’s going to be a challenge regardless, and we need to give it our all, no matter what. So we need to be as prepared as we can to withstand the penalties or any other things that get thrown at us and really play our best game.”



And D.A.R.Y.L. and her teammates have kept a collective eye on the Gridlock, so if the Bronx hopes to catch Brooklyn napping, that’s probably not going to happen.

“We get to skate with the other members of the team, whether it’s on travel teams or league skills night,” she said. “So we see what each individual skater is like on any given practice night. But it’s always good to keep an eye out for what the team looks like together, and at least half of any team is watching the other team’s game and keeping an eye on what they’re looking like. This year they do look really strong and they do have a good fighting chance to do well this season.”

As long as it’s not at the Bombshells’ expense. The Gridlock take an opposing view, and they’re gearing up to not just end Brooklyn’s winning streak, but to start their own. And that would be a pretty impressive feather in the helmet of this yellow and black-clad crew.

“It would mean that all of our hard work finally paid off,” said Davey.

Tickets for Saturday's bout available here.

Queens Shows They’re Ready for the Future…and Present…with win over Gridlock

By Thomas Gerbasi



Winless since May of 2014, the Bronx Gridlock pulled out all the stops in search of victory against the Queens of Pain on April 9 at John Jay College in New York City. From fast packs to star passes and everything in between, the cabbies battled for the win, only to see Queens break open a close game in the second half and come out on top, 200-159.

“We wanted it so bad,” said Gridlock MVP Big Banger, who logged a team-high 61 points. We felt strong in practice, we practiced all the situations that we could think of - we practiced star passes, power jam offense and defense, when Queens would do this and when Queens would do that. We were really ready, and I think we did awesome. I'm really proud of how we did.”

There was no shame in their effort, with seven first-half lead changes keeping fans on the edge of their seats and the Bronx in prime position to pull off the upset over their opponents, who have appeared in the last three GGRD championship games, winning one title. 

But it seemed like every time the Gridlock would pull ahead, Queens All-Star ShortStop would toe the jammer line, and with moves that made her look like Allen Iverson on skates, she would weave through the pack and put up monster numbers. The result was a game high 96 points for the Australia native. And while veteran superstar Suzy Hotrod and team MVP Puss ‘n Glutes still led the way for the team, the emergence of ShortStop and players like Kitty Roadkill, Chopstick Murphy and Livvie Smalls let the league know that despite retirements and the usual league turnover, Queens is still a top gun ready to make a title run once more.

“I think one of Queens' strengths is that we took this crop of new girls and we said that they'd fit in as a part of the team from Day One and they did,” said Glutes. “Honestly, I've never felt a stronger bond in this group. Having Scars return, and having Alli and Bollocks and Lynx there on the bench just makes it feel like old Queens. We're just doing the same old thing but with a whole new crop.”



A back-and-forth battle between Suzy and Banger at the end of the half resulted in a jam that produced 34 combined points, but it was Queens going into the locker room with a 16-point advantage, 100-84. The Gridlock would cut that lead to 12 on the first jam of the second half, but that’s as close as they would get, as Queens steadily kept the pressure on, capitalized on mistakes, and pulled away down the stretch. Yet despite the final score, this was no cakewalk for Queens.

“It's no fun to play a game that isn't hard, and Bronx is an incredible team,” said Glutes. “They have so many new skaters and so many old skaters that really work their asses off, and they played an incredibly strong and powerful game. They have size, they have strength, they have speed and power and we were working from Day One to be able to counter that and we hope that we're able to continue streaking through the rest of the season in the same way.”

It wasn’t a win for the Gridlock, but it was something to build on as they await their May 7 meeting with the defending champion Brooklyn Bombshells at John Jay. “I feel we did great at holding some of their really strong jammers a lot of the time,” Banger said. “We knew going into it that Shortstop is phenomenal and Suzy Hotrod is phenomenal and that we would be going against them a lot and we exhausted them. They hated being behind our walls a lot of that time, and we're really proud about that and it's a good step to build off of.”



So what should Gotham fans expect on May 7? 

“A win by at least...some points,” she said. “More than one. (Laughs) We're gonna win.”


                           1         2        F

Bronx     84   75 159                                           

Queens     100    100 200

Bronx MVP – Big Banger

Queens MVP – Puss ‘n Glutes

Leading Bronx Scorers

Big Banger – 61 points (12 jams)

Kate Sera Sera – 39 points (9 jams)

Legs // Cite – 36 points (9 jams)

Leading Bronx Blockers

Fast and Luce – 23 jams (-24)

Caf Fiend – 22 jams (-16)

Cherry Napalm – 21 jams (+5)

Leading Queens Scorers

ShortStop – 96 points (15 jams)

Suzy Hotrod – 68 points (14 jams)

Kitty Roadkill – 19 points (4 jams)

Leading Queens Blockers

Puss ‘n Glutes – 24 jams (+52)

Chopstick Murphy – 21 jams (+8)

Livvie Smalls – 17 jams (+3)

Bronx Penalties

Minutes in Box: 35 Jammer Box Trips: 10

Queens Penalties

Minutes in Box: 36 Jammer Box Trips: 10

After Epic Opening Weekend, it’s Queens and the Bronx’ Turn on Saturday

By Thomas Gerbasi

Queens’ #124, Nail Diamond, knew it instantly. “The first game I saw of Gotham was Brooklyn vs. Queens, and the second Queens came out, I wanted to skate for them.”

Nail Diamond, Queens of Pain. Photo: Jean Schwarzwalder

Nail Diamond, Queens of Pain. Photo: Jean Schwarzwalder

She’s not alone. Plenty of newcomers to roller derby sat in the bleachers around New York City and Brooklyn, saw the black-clad Queens of Pain and said, ‘oh yeah, that’s my team.’ The same thing went for those who watched the Bronx Gridlock race around their foes during their glory years in the Gotham Girls Roller Derby league.

How glorious were those years? From 2005 to 2010, no other team won a home team title other than Queens or the Bronx. Six titles, divided evenly among squads that were the best of the best in a league widely considered to be the gold standard for flat track roller derby. Six years later, things may have changed for both teams and the sport, but memories of those days are never too far away. 

“We’re lucky to still have Speed (McQueen), because she tells us stories of the good ol’ days, and the history’s really important,” said Bronx captain Cherry Napalm. “We look at the championship banners and see all the yellow that was up there, and we get really excited and we want to make that happen again.”

Photo: David Dyte

Photo: David Dyte

“You can feel the experience in the words of the veterans, which is pretty amazing,” added Nail. “So it doesn’t feel like the glory days have ever left.”

But while respecting the history of the sport is essential, there is also the business of the present and the future. For both teams, the present is a Saturday bout at John Jay College Gym in New York City. The future? Hopefully a return to the championship circle.

“We need to remind everyone that we still run the place,” said Nail, whose squad won the 2013 title and was in the championship game the past two years as well. “There’s no question of us being bosses.”

And if Queens is to get over the hump and raise another championship banner, there can be no resting on their past laurels. “There’s definitely a power to the history and a power to how the sport has evolved, but as a skater on the track, all you think about is that jam, and when that jam’s over, it’s done and it’s the next jam,” Nail said. “Everything is that two minutes that you have and how you’re going to use them.”

Photo: David Dyte

Photo: David Dyte

The Gridlock, despite a rough few years in which injuries, skater turnover and plain ol’ bad luck left them with a winless 2015 campaign and 1-2 records in 2014 and 2013, have packed plenty of action into those two-minute jams, making them fan favorites along the way. Maybe even more telling is that while the cabbies’ early championship years saw them as a brutally efficient machine on the track, in recent times, they’ve been a gritty, never say die unit that has put hearts in throats as they battle against seemingly insurmountable odds. Will it be more of the same in 2016 or back to the Bronx machine of old?

“I guess we’re more of the heart in your mouth type of team,” Cherry laughs, “but this season we’re definitely more focused on playing our game and playing together. So we’re not an unfeeling machine, but we’re trying to be a kickass machine.”

To get there, Bronx will send five skaters to the track that weren’t on the team last year, while Queens presents six new members of their squad, even though Queens’ Erin Watershow and the Bronx’ Bunny McBones will be familiar to Gotham fans.  It may seem like a lot for each team to handle for the season opener, but according to Nail and Cherry, everything is coming together at precisely the right time. 

“It feels like old hat,” said Nail, pointing out that a recent team viewing of Pee-wee’s Big Holiday was quite the off the track bonding experience. “Most of the skaters have all skated for years before Queens, so it’s not a lot of teaching things. Everything fits really well. It’s very magical in a way.”

“We feel really strong,” adds Cherry. “We were lucky that all the skaters we drafted were either in the league before or were on Diamond District last year, so they’re all pretty accustomed to how Gotham does things. They just have to learn the Bronx strategies for the season. So I feel like we’re working together really well. It’s a great team dynamic this year, and I’m really excited for this weekend.”

Cherry Napalm, Bronx Gridlock. Photo: Jean Schwarzwalder

Cherry Napalm, Bronx Gridlock. Photo: Jean Schwarzwalder

The Bronx and Queens do have a tough act to follow after the GGRD home season opener last month, which ended in a 161-158 win for Brooklyn over Manhattan, but you get the impression that these former dominant champions are up to the challenge.

“We definitely feed off the energy of the crowd, so if the crowd’s pumped up and cheering for us, it definitely helps us,” said Cherry, who hopes her squad wins the crowd and the game.

As for Queens, Nail believes that when all is said and done, winning is not about being perfect. “We’re a very rock and roll team,” she said. “So for me, it’s the same way as playing in a band. If you miss a note, figure it out, get back to where you’re supposed to be, and put on the show. Never say die.”

Brooklyn Roars Back to Beat Mayhem, Producing Another Instant Classic

By Thomas Gerbasi

photo: david dyte

photo: david dyte

Last Saturday at John Jay College in New York City, it was just another ho-hum chapter in the rivalry between the Brooklyn Bombshells and Manhattan Mayhem. You know the drill – put two of the best teams in the Gotham Girls Roller Derby league together for 60 minutes and watch them slug it out until one squad emerges with a nail biter of a victory.

This time, it was Brooklyn getting the nod, 161-158, and with the typical New York sarcasm out of the way, it was another instant classic and a fitting follow up to the teams’ last two meetings, which were decided by a combined six points.

“It's enough to give a person a heart attack,” said Brooklyn MVP Lady Fingers. “Player and patron alike.  I think these games consistently go down to the wire because we're very evenly matched.  Manhattan has a deep jamming roster and some incredibly skilled blockers; not to mention their powerful offensive strategies.  They play in a way that really shocks other teams from the start.  Either you absorb that shock and keep playing your game or you play their game. Brooklyn has the amazing ability of staying calm through the chaos.  It allows us to continue to play our game, our way.  We just stayed the course, battened down the hatches and kept sailing to a win.”

“I think these two teams don't ever give up,” adds Manhattan MVP Bruzin Brody. “The score doesn't dictate performance; they are both bringing one hundred percent, one hundred percent of the time, which makes for an exciting bout.” Yet while all the GGRD home team games are tightly contested, Brooklyn and Manhattan make a habit out of it, and to have a bout like this opening the 2016 home season campaign was a great omen for the rest of the season. 

photo: david dyte

photo: david dyte

For most of this bout though, it did look like Manhattan was going to take the victory and a substantial one at that, as they put the Bombshells on the ropes early thanks to a 24-9 start. And once they extended that lead to 39-19, Brooklyn – who were missing co-captain and GGRD All-Star Sexy Slaydie due to injury – had to find other options to get back in the bout.

They found them, with former Manhattan jammer D.A.R.Y.L. (28 points) and All-Star scoring machine Miss Tea Maven (a game high 91 points) pulling Brooklyn to within two points by the tenth jam of the game. Manhattan wouldn’t relinquish that lead, as the All-Star trio of Violet Knockout, Roxy Dallas and returning captain Bonita Apple Bomb opened the door for Brody (63 points) to lap the pack and keep the Mayhem in control heading into halftime, with the inmates heading into the locker room with an 87-73 advantage.

The nip and tuck action continued in the early stages of the second half, but slowly, cracks began to form for Manhattan as the penalties piled up. “As far as a difference maker,” Brody said, “I think too much time in the box didn't help us. Myself included. That is something we can remedy.” 

On this night though, it was going to be an issue, with Roxy, Full Metal Jackie and Spork Chop all fouling out. Add in nine jammer trips to the penalty box in the second half to Brooklyn’s three, and the stage was set for the Bombshells to make their move, one aided by a mindset that allowed them to focus on the game and not the scoreboard.

“Brooklyn has worked for many seasons to really improve not only our physical game, but our mental game,” Fingers said. “We have some key players on our team that help us accomplish this, and it's where some of our vets really shine. Animal, Evil, Schnitt, Slaydie, and so many more, are stalwarts of our team.  They remind everyone to stay calm both on the bench and the track, shake off whatever happened and be prepared to do your best in the next jam, because every new jam is an opportunity to continue your hard work, make up for a slip up and be a better partner. But most importantly, it's a chance to improve and learn from your mistakes.  We try to stay positive, which helps us in those key last minutes where anything can happen.”

And it did happen.

With Brody, J-Rod and Em Dash putting Manhattan up 145-103, it looked like it was time for Brooklyn to pack up and concede defeat, but after slowly chipping away, the Bombshells got a 15-point jam out of Maven and a 10-point jam out of D.A.R.Y.L., and the lead was chopped to 14 points. Twelve more points out of Maven over the next two jams made it 158-156 for Manhattan with 33 seconds to go, and with Brooklyn getting a power jam and Maven taking the lead jammer slot, her five-point run was enough to give her team the victory. 

photo: david dyte

photo: david dyte

Of course, that begs the question, is this just an appetizer for a rematch for the GGRD championship in August?

“Sure, but I'm also not counting anyone else out,” said Brody. “Each team has their own strengths. I don't know who we'll meet up with in August, but I do know I believe in Mayhem and know we'll be there, ready for whoever shows up.”

“I definitely think we could be seeing Manhattan again,” adds Fingers. “They're aggressive and determined and the final point differential was only three points.  The last time we saw them it was five points.  But the first game of the season is kind of a blessing in disguise.  It gives each team an idea of what to improve on for their next game, where their opponent is weakest and the time to put in some serious work.  I have no doubt that we'll both be going back to the drawing board a little to prepare for a second encounter.”  

photo: gotham girls roller derby instagram

photo: gotham girls roller derby instagram



                           1         2        F

Brooklyn     73   88 161                                           

Manhattan      87       71 158

Brooklyn MVP – Lady Fingers

Manhattan MVP – Bruzin Brody

Leading Brooklyn Scorers

Miss Tea Maven – 91 points (22 jams)

D.A.R.Y.L. – 28 points (14 jams)

Hela Skelter – 27 points (7 jams)

Leading Brooklyn Blockers

Papierschnitt – 22 jams (-4)

Sissi Fist-a-Lot – 19 jams (+2)

Tail Gunner Flo – 19 jams (-3)

Leading Manhattan Scorers

Bruzin Brody – 63 points (17 jams)

J-Rod – 41 points (13 jams)

Em Dash – 34 points (8 jams)

Leading Manhattan Blockers

Violet Knockout – 28 jams (-38)

Sunshine Skate – 26 jams (+10)

Bonita Apple Bomb – 26 jams (+1)

Brooklyn Penalties

Minutes in Box: 35 Jammer Box Trips: 8

Manhattan Penalties

Minutes in Box: 61 Jammer Box Trips: 17

Stats compiled via Rinxter

Just Like Old Times: Bombshells and Mayhem Prepare to Go Toe to Toe in Season Opener

By Thomas Gerbasi

When looking at the history between the Brooklyn Bombshells and the Manhattan Mayhem, one that has seen the two teams trade Gotham Girls Roller Derby home team titles over all but one of the last five years, while engaging in bouts over the previous two seasons that have been decided by a combined six points, it’s safe to say that when the blue and orange clash this Saturday at John Jay College gym in NYC, it’s going to be a fight.

Brooklyn’s Tail Gunner Flo disagrees.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a fight,” she said. “It’s a bloodbath. For every second of that game.”

If that doesn’t get derby fans amped up for the 2016 season opener, nothing will. But it’s not just hyperbole from the six-year veteran, who – along with her teammates and the Manhattan squad – have the bumps and bruises to show for it. Simply put, in a league where every home game is a pitched battle, Brooklyn and Manhattan have taken it to a new level in terms of intensity, with last season’s 153-148 nail biter just the most recent example.

“That particular game was really hard-fought against Brooklyn,” said Mayhem newcomer Miss US Slay, who has a unique perspective on the rivalry, first as a spectator and now as a participant. “I know it was really tight, there were injuries and ejections for Mayhem.” 

Mayhem captain Bonita Apple Bomb was lost for the season, ROCKS! hit the sidelines as well, and star jammer Bruzin’ Brody was ejected. But with Brooklyn holding a commanding 130-97 second half lead, the shorthanded Mayhem crew roared back, eventually taking a 148-137 advantage. But they would not score again, with the Bombshells regaining the lead and holding on to it for good en route to an unbeaten season and their second league championship. There’s no time to bask in the glory, though.

“We have to look at this as 0-0,” Flo said. “We’re not going in as undefeated champions, but we’re going in with the intention of winning this game. I think our ability to stay calm, keep your head on straight and not get rattled will be an absolute advantage. Manhattan has an uncanny ability to rattle the cages. They create a lot of chaos, they’re loud, and that’s their thing.”

They also have a core group of veterans that has been through the wars together, and with newcomers Slay and Kid Vicious added to the mix seamlessly, they will once again be a strong contender for 2016 title honors.

“Even though it is so early in the season, joining Mayhem, which is a team that’s already so cohesive, it feels like we’re gelling really well as a team,” Slay said. “So it’s really encouraging and exciting to go into the game already feeling that way. Mayhem is really fun and together on and off the track. That was immediately apparent for me as soon as I joined the team. This team enjoys playing together and also spending time with each other, and if you get to know people and have a good rapport with them off the track, then that’s something that can translate to game play, and one of the amazing things about Mayhem is that everyone is a real leader in their own right.”

Miss US Slay jams for Suburbia Roller Derby, before joining Gotham for the 2016 season. Photo Rick Odell.

Miss US Slay jams for Suburbia Roller Derby, before joining Gotham for the 2016 season. Photo Rick Odell.

The ladies in orange also have their share of GGRD All-Stars, with Bonita, Roxy Dallas, Cork Rebel and Violet Knockout all taking the track for the five-time world champions. They have some counterparts in blue though, with Sexy Slaydie and Miss Tea Maven both donning the black jersey for the renowned road team. 

Yet the beauty of Brooklyn vs. Manhattan, a rivalry that is deadlocked at 4-4 since 2008, is that it’s not about the All-Stars on both teams or having the most talented squad; it’s about so much more, with the stage set for either a perennial All-Star or the 15th person on the roster to step up and make a statement.

“I don’t think it’s going to come down to who has the better level of skill, who has a better jammer or better offense and defense,” Flo said. “We’re all from the same league, we all represent Gotham, we’re all trained in a specific way of how to skate, and I think that’s what makes our home team games so good. The level of skill, energy and commitment that we have as a league to one another and to getting better and always improving.”

Tailgunner Flo jams for Brooklyn. Photo Sean Hale.

Tailgunner Flo jams for Brooklyn. Photo Sean Hale.

And when two teams are evenly matched, the winner is usually decided by whoever does the little things right.

“We’ve been trying to work on engaging really tight and controlling the walls right from that first whistle,” Slay said. “So it’s a matter of taking it one jam at a time and kicking things off right from the start. It (the rivalry) is a lot to live up to, but we’re ready for it. Bonita is back, we’ve already been gelling really well as a team and our jammers are also multi-faceted. We have such an impressive mix of strength and agility, and I know the team is totally up for the challenge.”

“Derby is a very intense sport, and it’s crazy,” Flo adds. “You have people racing through the pack, you have people playing offense and defense at the same time or switching from offense to defense or defense to offense in seconds, based on where the pack is moving or where the jammer is. And one thing that Brooklyn does really, really well is that we have this uncanny ability to find peace in the chaos. We know, going into this game, it’s gonna be a fight, it’s gonna be physical, and it’s gonna be really hard.”

So what happens on Saturday?

“The way that we practice, we’re ready to play an intense game and turn the intensity up every single time,” Slay said. “We can only get better and gel even more. So we think it’s going to be a really good year.”

“It’s gonna come down to simple things, but at the end of the day, there’s gonna be one winner and one loser,” Flo said. “And the winner’s going to be Brooklyn and the loser is going to be Manhattan.”

Let the games begin.

Tickets available here

2016 Season Schedule - Save the Dates!

Save the dates for our 2016 season! 

Game 1:  March 19  @ John Jay College
Brooklyn Bombshells vs. Manhattan Mayhem

Game 2:  April 9 @ John Jay College
Bronx Gridlock vs. Queens of Pain

Game 3:  May 7 @ John Jay College
Bronx Gridlock vs. Brooklyn Bombshells

Game 4:  June 11 @ John Jay College
Queens of Pain vs. Manhattan Mayhem

Game 5 & 6 (Doubleheader):  July 16 @ Abe Stark Arena, Coney Island
Manhattan Mayhem vs. Bronx Gridlock & Brooklyn Bombshells vs. Queens of Pain

Game 7:  August 6th @ John Jay College
3rd & 4th place game

Game 8: August 27th @ John Jay College
GGRD NYC Championship

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For The Golden Skate – Brooklyn & Queens Meet in GGRD Title Bout

At the start of Gotham Girls Roller Derby league’s 2015 season, the odds wouldn’t have been good had you picked the Queens of Pain and Brooklyn Bombshells to meet in the championship game. Brooklyn was coming off a winless season in 2014, while Queens had lost a bit of their heart and soul with Ana Bollocks and Donna Matrix no longer on the team.

But as the old adage goes, that’s why they play the games, and on August 29 at John Jay College in New York City, it will be black versus blue – or as the skaters are calling it, “the BQE Championship” – as Queens meets Brooklyn for the league’s 11th championship game.

Queens already has four spots on the GGRD championship banner; Brooklyn just a single one. And while the Bombshells enter the bout unbeaten this year – their last victory being a 219–183 win over the ladies in black just last month – they’re not assuming that the Golden Skate trophy is already theirs.

Photo by David Dyte.

Photo by David Dyte.

“Obviously, I think the Brooklyn Bombshells are the best team in all of roller derby, but when it comes down to it, Queens isn’t a lesser team than us,” said Brooklyn captain Evilicious. “I don’t think you can predict who’s gonna win this game and I don’t think it’s worth placing bets on because it’s going to come down to whatever happens on the track when the first whistle blows. And then every jam thereafter for the next 60 minutes. I don’t think you can say that we have much of an advantage going into this game undefeated.”

It’s a humble approach, but don’t think for one second that the Bombshells aren’t confident heading into the biggest bout of the year. They’ve said from the start of the 2015 season that this is the “Year of the Bombshell” – and they’ve proved it, defeating the Manhattan Mayhem, Bronx Gridlock and Queens of Pain in impressive fashion. You wouldn’t expect that kind of swagger on and off the track after a winless 2014, but this team has never wavered in their belief that hard work will ultimately pay off.

“It’s a much more subtle shift, going from losing all of our games last season to winning all of our games this season,” Evil continued. “It’s less of an adjustment than it may seem. Coming out of a losing season, it’s hard because you know how hard you worked, and I know what commitment and effort everyone put in, and we still lost every single game. That alone is a catalyst to win. So we worked as hard last year as we did this year and we just ended up with Ws instead of Ls. It’s a really interesting way to go into the championship game.”

Perhaps not as interesting as the way Queens is going in. Losing two of the team’s anchors in Donna and Bollocks was a crushing blow, even with Suzy Hotrod and Hyper Lynx waiving their spots on the GGRD All-Stars roster to focus solely on home-team play. The team even assumed that 2015 could end up be a rebuilding year. But then the opening whistle blew against the Gridlock on April 11 and those competitive fires came roaring back, leading them to a 181–126 victory.

“[Bollocks and Donna] have been a fixture with Queens since the team first started, so losing them was a big loss to us,” Lynx said. “So we said ‘it’s a rebuilding year’, we’ll take it as that; when we won the first game it was definitely a shock to us, especially when it was against the Bronx, who have the most All-Star players on their team. So we were just using the regular math we’ve been using year after year: the more All-Star players you have the better, because you get more practice time. But I guess we were able to gel as a team better, and it was basically those first few jams where we executed really well. That won us the game.”

Whatever it was, it lit a fire under the Queens team, and let them know that a fifth championship was possible. In May, they won a razor-close bout over Manhattan 194–187, and while they lost their final regular-season game against Brooklyn last month, neither team is putting much stock in that result, at least when it comes to predicting August 29th’s outcome.

“Every win is important, but there’s a freedom that you have when you know that your place in the championship is decided, and I think that both teams knew that, and so because of that, we were able to treat our lineups in a different way than we would have otherwise,” Evil said. “We were able to do things differently than we would have had we not had the calming effect of knowing that we’d go to the championship game win or lose.”

Photo by David Dyte.

Photo by David Dyte.

“We played that game down quite a number of players and obviously, we also had a lot more penalty trouble than they did,” Lynx adds. “You play every game to win, and we didn’t win that one, but we’ll have another chance and we want to make sure we clean up our fouls and give them a much better game this time.”

And oddly enough, while Queens was always the team with the veteran core taking on squads that had a rough time with turnover nearly every season, this time it’s Brooklyn with a unit that has largely been together for several years.

“An advantage we have that you used to be able to say for Queens a bit more than now is that the core of our team has been together for years,” Evil said. “You used to have Bollocks and Donna and Suzy and Lynx together, and now Brooklyn’s got a similar group of skaters that has been together for five, six and even seven years in some cases. That is a pretty special thing, and I think with adding really smart, awesome, newer teammates to that mix, the trust that we have with each other is a big advantage and why we can add little things that won’t take away from our core – which is ‘walls stops jammers,’ and that’s what we need to do to Queens. And our jammers need to score as many points as they can.” The Brooklyn captain laughs. “It sounds really simplistic when you say it like that, but that innate understanding of how to skate with each other and those really simple rules are what help us win.”

So who will win next Saturday? Both teams have the talent and desire, as well as plenty of personal reasons to get that championship bearing once more.

“For me on a personal level, I’m trying to take some time off to finally start a family, so maybe this will be the last game in a while for me,” said Lynx. “So I would love to go out with a win. And we’re gonna fight as hard as we ever did. We’ve got a lot of new skaters, so that’s always exciting, but we also want to prove that the foundation of Queens is always there, even if the players change.”

As for Evilicious, she gets right to the heart of the matter for the skaters formerly known as lovable underdogs.

“We didn’t change much this year,” she said. “We had a foundation of skaters who are really committed to each other and to the team, and we’re certainly not underdogs anymore. So it would mean so very much to be able to get another blue banner up on that pile of orange, black and yellow.”

Let’s Play Two – Title Challengers Get Acquainted in Coney Island

They’ve already stamped their ticket to the Gotham Girls Roller Derby league home team championship game, but before the Queens of Pain and the Brooklyn Bombshells head to John Jay College on August 29, they will first meet in the second game of the GGRD doubleheader at the Abe Stark Arena in Coney Island on Saturday.

The bout poses an interesting dilemma for both squads. Is this an opportunity to come out all guns blazing and send a message to their opponents, or is it a chance to simply stay sharp and test out strategies against the team they will face for all the marbles in a month?

With both teams holding an unbeaten record and wanting to keep it that way, expect the usual level of intensity, along with some serious scouting going on at the same time.

“We’re absolutely not looking at it as just another game,” said Queens’ Whiskey Lullabye. “We want an undefeated season – that is our number one goal – and we think we have a chance to do that. So we’re going into this game with just as much seriousness as we went into our first two games of the season.”

“[The Bombshells] have trained really hard and the tone of the season is a very serious one,” adds Brooklyn’s Lady Fingers. “We have been meshing really well and we go into every game with the intention of winning and playing our best, so even though it’s like having the same game twice, we may be trying some other stuff out. Because we’re going to be facing them again, it’s good litmus test to see what’s working really well and what’s not working, and then have some more time to focus on those things before the championship game.”

Competing against each other in the league’s first BQE title game, Brooklyn and Queens have taken similar paths to the final, each having trouble with the Manhattan Mayhem while having less so against the Bronx Gridlock. Seeing Queens in the championship is not surprising, given their 6–2 record over the last two seasons heading into their 2015 campaign. And if the veteran squad does one thing better than most derby teams, it’s adjust on the fly. So if Brooklyn thought they were going to catch the ladies in black napping next month, this weekend’s bout will likely kill any chance of that happening.

“Any mistakes that we might make in this game, we’re going to be able to learn from because we’re playing them again,” Whiskey said. “Any mistakes that they make, we’re going to be able to hopefully exploit and capitalize on because we’re going to play them again. So we’re going to get a good indication of what that final game is like, and we’re going to know what we need to work on to win that championship game.”

The Bombshells, league champs in 2011, had always been the league’s loveable underdogs up until that memorable season four years ago, and while that tag always stung the skaters, as Fingers points out, “I think it’s safe to say those days are over.”

Brooklyn did enter 2015 off a 2014 season that saw them go winless, so maybe those underdog whispers were coming back, but with B. Zerk and Hela Skelter returning to the track, Sexy Slaydie intimidation of opposing jammers and Miss Tea Maven continuing to cement her status as one of the league’s elite scorers, the Bombshells got their groove back.

“There wasn’t much that needed to be changed,” Fingers said when discussing the team’s plan of attack for 2015. “After every game last season, we would come back to the locker room and I would say ‘I’m proud of the way we played, I think we played an excellent game, I’m proud of all my teammates, and we felt really good about our performance.’ We knew there were minor tweaking issues and we had the same attitude coming into this season. We know we’re a great team, we know we have great defense, we know we do all these things well – let’s just fine-tune the areas that we thought were not as ideal. People were really excited about this season.”

And with good reason, as the GGRD home season has been more competitive and evenly matched than ever before. In the NFL, they used to call it parity. In derby, suffice to say that when everyone’s playing at the highest level of the game, it’s the smallest details that make the difference.

This Saturday, it’s not a championship bout, but it will feel like one, and don’t think for a moment that every hit and every point scored won’t be remembered come August. This will be no calm before the storm.

Written by: Thomas Gerbasi

Manhattan and the Bronx Battle for Pride this Saturday

Considering that home teams in the Gotham Girls Roller Derby league only get three games per season, every win is pivotal and every loss hurts. Some hurt more than others though, and no one knows that better than the members of the defending champion Manhattan Mayhem.

The inmates won’t get the opportunity to repeat in the league’s title game next month, but it’s not from a lack of trying, as their 0–2 record was achieved with losses that came by a total of just 12 points. If you’re looking for a heart-wrenching season, you’ve come to the right place.

“It’s been a really challenging season,” said seven-year veteran Em Dash. “We’ve had some bad breaks – unfortunately literally in our case – and the hardest thing is that we haven’t gotten to play as a whole team for a whole bout this season. I think anyone who watches Mayhem sees how close-knit we are, how good our teamwork is, and how much we love and support each other. So in that first game, to have [Bruzin] Brody ejected and to lose two players to injury, including our captain [Bonita Apple Bomb], that was really devastating. Our second game, both our captain and Full Metal Jackie were out, so when a team has great chemistry, losing anyone is awful. I think anyone who watched those bouts would say that the way we work together as a team is apparent. Even more than the losses for me is feeling like there’s been a hole in our team this season on the track.”

The losses to Brooklyn (153–148) and Queens (194–187) have given the Mayhem an unofficial title of the best winless team in sports, but their opponents this weekend in Coney Island, the Bronx Gridlock, could give them a run for their money when it comes to that distinction.

Also checking in with an 0–2 record, the Gridlock didn’t have the razor-thin defeats Manhattan did this year, but there is no shortage of talent on the cabbies’ squad – seven members of the GGRD All-Stars is the big roster stat that jumps out at you. One of those All-Stars, blocker Cherry Napalm, knows how good this team is when it comes to individuals, but what hurt them this season is that with so many of them suiting up for the Bronx for the first time in 2015, it’s been hard to get the cohesiveness that brings teams championships.

“Half the team is new this year, so we’re still getting used to playing together, but by this next game, we’re feeling really confident and excited to get in there and have all the pieces fall in place instead of fall apart.”

Having over two months of working together since their last bout on May 9 has helped the Gridlock become a unit, and not just a collection of All-Stars.

“We’ve definitely got to know each other better,” Cherry said. “We’re working together, working on our skills, and everybody has gotten a lot better individually and as a team. We’re all on travel teams as well, so we’ve gotten experience there, and I feel like it’s solidified. It finally feels like we’re a team.”

Dash has seen the development of the Bronx over the last few months, and while most would consider the Mayhem the favorites to win this Saturday, she’s not counting them out in the slightest.

“The Bronx is a really impressive team, and they’ve been rebuilding for a couple years, but they’ve got some incredible players, they have a ton of All-Stars this year and they really seem to be jelling quite well, which is really wonderful to see,” Dash said. “I think the tougher every team in the league is, the better it is for the sport and for our fans and for all of our development as skaters. So I can’t wait to skate against them on the 18th.”

The fact that two talent-rich collectives such as the Mayhem and Gridlock have not won a game between them this year shows just how good the Gotham home teams are. Seemingly every bout is a war pitting evenly matched teams against each other, and the veteran skaters know that once the whistle blows, anything can happen. But how do new skaters adjust to the league’s talent level and intensity? Dash believes team culture has a lot to do with it.

“I have loved our rookies every year, but especially the last couple years, because they come in with so much energy and so much drive, and that reenergizes the whole team,” she said. “And I think that what our rookies see when they land in Mayhem, is that we have a wonderful team culture. We’re all really supportive of each other, the veterans take the rookies in hand and help them to build skills and learn how to play the sport and how to play Mayhem’s version of the sport.”

It’s why Manhattan has picked up league titles in two of the last three seasons, and even though 2015 won’t see an orange banner hanging from the rafters, don’t call Saturday’s bout an opportunity to salvage the season.

“I don’t like the idea of salvaging a season, because every single player on our team has learned and done great things this year,” Dash said. “We had a little bit of bad luck or maybe a couple bad decisions or foul problems, but the work we’re doing on the track every practice, as well as running together and working and scrimmaging together, it doesn’t feel like an 0–2 record is a reflection of our team this season. All of us are going into that bout on July 18 the way we take the track every game, which is that we’re going to play our game with our team, focus on what we’re great at, keep calm heads and stay positive. And hopefully this will be the beginning of our 2016 winning streak.”

Bronx is equally inspired to end 2015 with a win and carry that momentum into next season with a return to championship form for the first time since 2010. It’s not too early.

“We definitely want to come out and win this one,” Cherry said. “We’re both 0–2, so we both really want that win, so it’s going to be a good game. We do want to end the season on a high note and keep the momentum going into 2016. I’m actually really excited for next season – and after this season, it can only get better.”

Written by: Thomas Gerbasi

Queens and Manhattan Prep for Possible Bout of the Year this Weekend

A friendly warning to those sitting trackside for Saturday’s Gotham Girls Roller Derby league bout between the Queens of Pain and the Manhattan Mayhem at CCNY…there might be some bodies flying around.

“There are so many big hits that people get a little hot-headed, so the games are really intense and they must be fun to watch,” said Queens’ Babe Brawlins. “I don’t know why it works out like that with these two teams but there are big hitters on both teams, for sure.”

Brawlins is one of those big hitters for the ladies in black, countered by the always imposing Manhattan duo of the aptly named Violet Knockout and Roxy Dallas. And despite the three being members of the same GGRD All-Star team and friends off the track, when the jerseys read Queens and Manhattan, it’s on for 60 minutes on game night.

“It gets intense,” she said. “I’ve hung out with [Mayhem players] off the track and they’re lovely people, but when you separate us into our teams, it’s strictly business. We’re intense on both sides, and since I’ve joined the league, it’s like it’s always been Manhattan, Manhattan. It feels a little extra special to win against them.”

Photo by Sean Hale

Photo by Sean Hale

A win over Manhattan would mean even more this weekend, as it would not only avenge a 189–150 loss in the 2014 title game, but also eliminate the Mayhem from this year’s championship race and secure a Queens vs. Brooklyn title bout in August. High stakes indeed, but Manhattan has the same championship ambitions as their rivals, and they’re not ready to let those goals fall to the wayside.

“There’s definitely a lot more riding on this game than just the win,” said the Mayhem’s Full Metal Jackie. “There’s the big picture as far as the championship, and I know that I want another bearing [the championship necklace pendant]. We were always about the big picture. It’s like the saying goes: you may lose some little battles, but we’re all about the war and we want to win it.”

The “little battle” that has placed Manhattan in a precarious spot heading into this weekend’s bout was a razor-thin 153–148 loss to Brooklyn in the league’s season opener in March. The bout proved just how evenly matched every home team in Gotham is, with one call or one jam going the other way likely the difference between victory and defeat. When that’s the case, it’s not that the losing team needs a total overhaul between bouts, but perhaps that they just ran out of time.

“I’d like to think we just ran out of time,” Metal agreed. “I was actually really happy with the way we played. We played against a highly competitive team, and we played Mayhem derby, which is really all that we care about. We’re together, in cahoots with each other, and obviously I want to win, but first and foremost, as a Mayhem player, I want to just play with my team. We lost by five points, we were down three players, and there was a lot of insanity, but the whole time I knew I could look at any of the other girls on the team and they had the mindset I did. We were calm, collected, we knew what we had to do, and we gave it our all.”

It didn’t help that the team lost GGRD All-Star and team leader Bonita Apple Bomb and blocker ROCKS! due to injury, and that standout jammer Bruzin’ Brody was also sent to the sideline after being ejected. But those negatives could be seen as positives—Manhattan still only lost by five points with three key players off the track. And with plenty of time to get ready for this second bout against Queens, Mayhem is in a good place mentally and physically.

“It’s definitely been interesting this time around with having that long pause in between the bouts, but it’s also been really fun to hone our strategies and push ourselves and figure out the next step where we need to go, instead of thinking about the next bout,” Metal said. “We had time to pay attention to our skills, rather than ‘Oh, what do we need to do for the bout?’ It was more ‘What do we need to do as a team?’”

Photo by Sean Hale

Photo by Sean Hale

As for Queens, their opener saw them in the same fearsome form they were in back in 2013 when they won their last GGRD title, as they defeated the All-Star-laden Bronx Gridlock 181–126. The way Babe and her squadmates see it, it’s just an omen of things to come.

“We’re always thinking about winning everything,” she said. “It’s on our minds. We want to go there, we want champs, we want it this year, so why not win all of them?”

Why not, indeed. And if you get to knock off an old rival along the way, even better, right?

“It’s always extra special,” Brawlins said about playing Manhattan. “There’s been a rivalry between the two teams where it’s always really intense and I don’t know what it is—it’s just really good competition. And it ping-pongs back and forth, but we’re going to make up for [last season’s] loss. We’re gonna win.”

If so, is Queens ready for two straight against the Bombshells?

“We’re going for it, and I think it would be interesting to see Brooklyn,” Babe said. “They’ve always been kind of an underdog team and I think this year they’re going to play really well. So it would be cool to have a BQE championship.”

Written by: Thomas Gerbasi

Penalty Killed – Brooklyn Stays Clean and Unbeaten against the Gridlock 231–186

Sometimes talent can overcome mistakes – and with seven Gotham Girls All-Stars on their squad, the Bronx Gridlock have plenty of talent. But on May 9 at John Jay College in Manhattan, the hole dug by 55 trips to the penalty box was too deep to dig out of, allowing the Brooklyn Bombshells to keep their unbeaten record intact, 231–186.

Bronx MVP Fisher Twice, who matched Brooklyn’s Miss Tea Maven with 116 points, didn’t hesitate when asked what went wrong for the cabbies against the Bombshells.

Brooklyn MVP Lady Fingers (middle) slows down Bronx jammer Legs//Cité with help from Bombshells BlueJ (left) and Sexy Slaydie. Photo by David Dyte.

Brooklyn MVP Lady Fingers (middle) slows down Bronx jammer Legs//Cité with help from Bombshells BlueJ (left) and Sexy Slaydie. Photo by David Dyte.

“Penalties,” she said. “We had 16 jammer penalties to Brooklyn's two. That means we spent over seven minutes more than Brooklyn without a jammer on the track [to score points]. That's almost 12% of the game. I've never seen anything like it. And that's just jammers. We also had more blocker penalties than Brooklyn.”

A former college hockey player, Fisher knows better than most what penalties can do to a team, though on the ice, power plays don’t always score points. In derby, it’s almost a given that the points will start adding up, and when that happens, it’s hard to get momentum back, especially when Brooklyn kept their cool throughout the bout.

“The key to [our] victory was our ability to keep calm,” said Brooklyn MVP Lady Fingers. “The past two teams we've faced have a tremendous amount of talent and we knew these would be very difficult games. Throughout the bout and the practices leading up to it, we constantly reminded each other of the importance of keeping a level head. The Bombshells did just that. We stayed calm and minimized our fouls, the largest factor being fewer trips to the penalty box, which allowed us to take advantage of the times the other teams were down skaters – especially jammers.”

It almost feels like 2011 for the Bombshells, the year when they won their first GGRD title and were runner-ups the following year: after their second win of 2015, they’ve secured a spot in the league championship game in August.

“We’ll maintain the work ethic we've built and we have enough time to iron out the kinks from our last two bouts,” Fingers said. “We have almost two months until our next game against the Queens of Pain. That’s not so different from last season, where we had a stretch of about 12 weeks between games, then lost by only one point to the 2014 season champs [Manhattan]. I highlight this fact because our first two games of the 2014 season weren't as close. We came back from that 12-week hiatus ready to fight and we’ll come back from this two-month hiatus ready to prove that this is the Year of the Bombshell.”

As for their opponents in that title bout, Queens could stamp their own ticket to the dance with a win over Manhattan at CCNY on May 30, and then give fans a championship preview against Brooklyn in July. But if Manhattan wins later this month, things will get interesting, and the members of the Gridlock hope that they can get back in the race with a little help from their friends.

Fisher Twice (right) was the Gridlock's highest-scoring jammer and game MVP. Photo by David Dyte.

Fisher Twice (right) was the Gridlock's highest-scoring jammer and game MVP. Photo by David Dyte.

“We stay focused because there's no other option,” Fisher said. “We give up a lot to play this sport, and we do it because we love it. If we didn't remain focused no matter the odds, we wouldn't spend so much time training and be so dedicated to playing. We have a lot to work on, and we'll work on it because we know we can play cleaner and we know if we do, there's no stopping us. We have to prove it to ourselves first and foremost. So in the final bout, fans can expect us to come out with the same intensity that kept us in the last bout even with so much penalty trouble – only this time we'll clean it up and show everyone what the Gridlock can do with five skaters on the track.”

Things started going south for the Bronx against Brooklyn early on, with Maven, newcomer Squid Vicious and returning veteran Hela Skelter teaming up to get ahead of the Gridlock 61–16. The yellow and black kept attacking though, actually outscoring Brooklyn 71–68 after that initial onslaught from the Bombshells – which should have given them plenty of confidence heading into the locker room at halftime down 129–87, especially since they accumulated 32 penalty box minutes and seven jammer box trips in the first half.

But the Gridlock’s penalty woes only got slightly better in the second half. With the trio of Maven, Squid and Hela piling up the points while iron women Sexy Slaydie, Fingers, and B.Zerk helped clear the way, the Bronx would make their share of runs, but the closest they would get was within 27 points.

Year of the Bombshell? It’s looking pretty promising at the moment.

“I think all of our hard work has finally paid off,” Fingers said. “For the past two seasons we've been super focused and dedicated on improving our global game. We've concentrated on building our team dynamics, [and the] strategies and the skills of each and every skater. Those who have been on the team for a few years now take it very seriously to bring new teammates into the fold and to make sure that you’re not just improving your own skills, but that you’re all getting better together. Over the past two years, we've created this culture of working hard, supporting one another and staying driven. The vibe at practice is great: people are happy to not only work their butts off but to be doing it with women they truly appreciate and respect.”

With 116 points, Brooklyn's Miss Tea Maven (right) helped her team secure a spot in the 2015 Championships. Photo by David Dyte.

With 116 points, Brooklyn's Miss Tea Maven (right) helped her team secure a spot in the 2015 Championships. Photo by David Dyte.


                 1     2     F
Brooklyn   129  102  231
Bronx        87  99  186

Brooklyn MVP – Lady Fingers
Bronx MVP – Fisher Twice

Leading Brooklyn Scorers
Miss Tea Maven – 116 points (17 jams)
Squid Vicious – 72 points (12 jams)
Hela Skelter – 43 points (10 jams)

Leading Brooklyn Blockers
Sexy Slaydie – 28 jams (+13)
Lady Fingers – 19 jams (+37)
B.Zerk – 19 jams (+18)

Leading Bronx Scorers
Fisher Twice – 116 points (14 jams)
Flo It All – 22 points (3 jams)
Legs//Cité – 20 points (9 jams)

Leading Bronx Blockers
Caf Fiend – 22 jams (-83)
Swede Hurt – 20 jams (+30)
Fast and Luce – 22 jams (+15)
Davey Blockit – 19 jams (-31)

Brooklyn Penalties
Minutes in Box: 30 Jammer Box Trips: 2

Bronx Penalties
Minutes in Box: 55 Jammer Box Trips: 16


Written by: Thomas Gerbasi