Traitors’ Day – Wall Streeters Defend Empire Skate Showdown Title Saturday
by: Thomas GerbasiSeptember 1, 2011
The Empire Skate Showdown, hosted by the Long Island Roller Rebels, is Saturday, September 3rd, in Old Bethpage, Long Island. Tickets and details available here.
Traitors’ Day – Wall Streeters Defend Empire Skate Showdown Title Saturday
by Thomas Gerbasi
Thank you, Chicago.
That wasn’t the prevailing feeling around the Wall Street Traitors’ locker room after their 166-77 loss to the Windy City Second Wind back in July (a defeat which put the first and only “1” on the New Yorkers’ stellar 4-1 record this season). But a month removed from the bout, and with a title to defend at this Saturday’s Empire Skate Showdown in Long Island, the members of the Traitors look at their lone setback in a much different light.
“I believe strongly that you have to fail to learn something,” said Traitors captain Care Bear Scare. “I’m a teacher, so I know that learning by mistakes is a big deal and I do think the team was in a spot where we did need to get our ass whupped for a second and realize that we’re not just gonna go out there and win. ‘Oh, we’re Gotham and that’s how it’s gonna be, that’s what we do, we just win games.’”
“It woke us up,” adds co-captain Straight Razor. “I think it was a reminder that while we’re a great team and one of the best teams out there, we can’t take anything lightly.”
The 2011 Wall Street Traitors. Photo: Manish Gosalia
Up until that visit to the Midwest on July 30th, it was smooth sailing for the Traitors in 2011. 1-4 in 2010 until a three bout burst of energy led to three wins in one day and the Empire Skate Showdown title, the team underwent a transformation this year. No longer was it a rag-tag team with an ever changing roster and little consistency. In 2011, major changes were made.
“This team is pretty different from last year in the fact that we had tryouts and set people were on the team and have remained on the team,” said CBS. “Last year, it was very loosely organized, and this year there are attendance requirements and a set roster, so we’re treating it more like an actual competitive team, and we also don’t have any members of the A team (the GGRD All-Stars). I think it’s important for us to feel like we’re a strong team without the help of any All-Star members. It’s not like we don’t love the All-Stars, but I think it’s important as an athlete to feel like you’re actually winning as a team and not with the help of a 'ringer'.”
The new squad responded, putting together wins over the Steel City B-Unit, the Ithaca Sufferjets, and the Philly Independence Dolls, and doing so with a true team effort that saw a host of different players stepping up and starring on each particular night. But then came the Windy City game, and they hit a wall, falling behind 101-31 at halftime.
“It definitely came as a shock to me that we lost,” said CBS. “Not because I went in there thinking ‘oh, we’re the best team in the world, we’re gonna win every single game.’ It was shocking because of how much we fell apart, in my mind. The team just wasn’t gelling. We had a better second half, but the first 20 minutes of the game, I felt like we got so destroyed morally. Their strategy really threw me off because it was pretty different from what we do, and it let us get thrown off so much that we forgot how to play roller derby, and we forgot that our strategy is good and that we needed to not let that one thing let us become broken.”
Traitors Dainty Inferno and Mayday Malone double up on the
Suburbia jammer IV Drop during August's victory. Photo: Chris Chin
For some teams, a loss like that could have been enough to write off the rest of the season. The Traitors weren’t going to allow that though, and as the memory of the loss began to fade, the team ramped up everything in every department to prepare for an August 13th bout against Suburbia’s Suburban Brawl, a team which just missed out on making this year’s WFTDA east regional tournament.
And as everyone watched with bated breath, the Traitors dusted themselves off and played some of their best derby of the season, defeating the Brawl 138-109.
“It felt really good,” said Razor. “We definitely thought that was gonna be one of our toughest games of the season and we trained really hard to prepare for it. We played them before and we’ve seen them play – they’re local, so we can always watch and see what they’re up to. And we were nervous, but it felt really good to beat them and I think we played really well, so we’re proud of ourselves.”
That’s not to say there wasn’t any drama, as a huge lead almost disappeared in the closing stages of the bout as fatigue and penalties allowed the Brawl to get back into the game. But even as Suburbia added point after point, you got the sense that the Traitors had matured as a team enough that they weren’t going to let this one slip away.
Team captain Care Bear Scare battles Chicago's Second Wind in July. Photo: Jason Ernst
“There’s a certain vibe you get when you’re playing sports about your confidence level and what you need to do to win the game, and I felt like we were there and we were in a spot where if something went bad, I think that we could have fixed it,” said CBS. “We were only going to allow so much, and I think we did mess up a little bit, but then we knew what we needed to do to win that game.”
They did. But like all good teams, the celebration quickly gets replaced by the act of breaking down what went wrong and fixing it for the next game. And the Traitors looked directly at what happened in the second half against Suburbia as the first thing on their ‘to do’ list.
“We struggled in a lot of our games this season where we’ve developed huge leads and then stumbled a bit in the second half, so we’re working on that, and a big part of that is penalties,” said Razor. “We tend to go to the box a lot in the second half, so we’re working on playing a cleaner game, we’re definitely training endurance, working on staying together instead of going for the big hit, and keeping our heads in the game and not getting comfortable when we have a big lead.”
Following the rebound win, the timing is perfect for the Traitors to defend their Empire Skate Showdown title this weekend. With nine New York teams competing in abbreviated 30 minute bouts, the tournament is one of the most fast-paced and grueling ones in the derby world, especially considering that a ESS victory will require anywhere from four to six wins on one day. But the Traitors are raring to go.
Lady Fingers, Rat-a-Tat Kat, and Bunny McBones defend against
Suburbia's Smashing Pumpkin during August's victory over Suburbia.
Photo: Darren Mayhem
“I think we feel really confident, but we never want to feel comfortable,” said Razor. “We’re gonna have to work really hard; all the teams we’re up against have definitely gotten a lot better since last year, and they’re All-Star teams and we’re a B-team, but we’re the B-team of one of the best leagues in the country. We’re confident in our strategy and our skill, and we believe that if we play our game, we’ll beat any other team out there. So while we do look to see what they’re up to and look at their players a little bit, we mostly focus on playing our best game.”
And as the defending champs, the Traitors will have to be in top form because every other team in this tournament wants to knock off the titleholders and be crowned the Queens of New York. That could rattle any team. So how does Care Bear Scare think her team will react to having a neon bull’s eye on their backs this Saturday?
“It feels great,” she said. “The fact that they’re all sitting around thinking about us is awesome.”
(L-R) Brazilian Nut, Pippi Strongsocking, GalXC, and Mayday Malone
are ready to "Buy, Sell, Kill" this Saturday. Photo: Manish Gosalia
Watch the August Traitors v. Suburbia bout this Friday evening (Saturday morning)
at 12:30am on NYC life (Channel 25 / 22).