In a three-game Gotham Girls Roller Derby league home season, there is little room for error. So when every bout counts and every skater can compete on the elite level, the little things are often the difference between victory and defeat. And few teams do those little things better than the Queens of Pain, who kicked off their 2015 campaign in victorious fashion on April 11, topping the Bronx Gridlock 181–126 at John Jay College in Manhattan.
The first little thing: Mesh before the other team does.
The Gridlock entered the bout (and the 2015 season) with seven members of the GGRD All-Stars on their squad, an intimidating notion for any opponent to deal with, but Queens countered with a core of skaters that have been through the wars with each other for years. And when that core seamlessly integrated their new teammates into the Queens’ system, it proved to be one of the bout’s deciding factors.
“It’s been super important for us newbies to mesh with the vets,” says Queens MVP Low Maim, a newcomer to Gotham but a seven-year derby vet. “Everyone—the vets, the newbies, the captains, the managers—have been working toward learning the nuances of how each person operates so we can gel better as a team,” she continues. “We newbies are all transfers and have a combined total of 24 years of derby experience, so that helps, too. It also helps that Queens is a hella supportive, communicative, positive team that strives to get better. It’s a great group to mesh with.”
The second little thing: Stay out of the penalty box.
Queens has been no stranger to costly penalty trouble at inopportune times over the years, but on April 11, they logged only 28 minutes in the box, compared with 41 minutes for the Bronx. More notably, their jammers visited the penalty box only twice in the game, while the Gridlock sent their star-helmeted skaters there ten times. And it hurt.
“I think communication issues and delayed offense played a big part,” offers Bronx MVP Massacre Marie when asked about the factors that slowed the Gridlock down in the opener. “With so many new teammates, it was difficult to sync up on the track. Our jammers ended up tired from fighting walls, which led to a lot of penalties. We had a great vibe on the bench, with lots of feedback and positivity; we just seemed to lose that in the excitement of gameplay once we got out there.”.
“The game against Bronx was a tough one, especially since they’re a team of big, tall skaters,” Low Maim adds. “But we’ve been training hard off the track with Muffin Topless’ intense workouts, and we’re being smart on the track by focusing on working together as a team. We’ve also been working on a very clean game and I’m proud of Queens for having fewer trips to the penalty box than the Bronx. I think these all contributed to our win.”
A fast start by the ladies in black didn’t hurt either. How fast? Try 55–0 fast, as Suzy Hotrod, Hyper Lynx, Kitty Roadkill, Low Maim and highly touted newcomer ShortStop blasted out of the gates before the Gridlock could even get warmed up.
Bronx rookie Legs//Cité, returning All-Star Fisher Twice (formerly known as Slambda Phage), Vera To$$ and Marie brought their team back to within striking range, at 67–48 by the 15th jam of the game, but Queens kept pouring it on, skating to the locker room with a 98–65 lead at halftime.
You knew that the Bronx was going to make a run in the second half, and they did, with Marie’s 14–0 jam against Suzy cutting the deficit to 11 points for a score of 106–95, seven jams into period two. That would be as close as the Cabbies would get though, as Queens kicked it into another gear down the stretch, with three double-digit jams by Ms. Hotrod, one of the sport’s perennial superstars, sealing the deal for the ladies in black—who have big plans for the rest of the season.
“We are so stoked [with the win] and working to improve even more,” Maim said. “What’s the forecast for 2015? We’re gonna bring the Pain, of course.”
The Gridlock are keeping a positive outlook as well, knowing that a three-game season can swing in another direction with wins in bouts two and three, and despite an injury suffered by Marie in practice just days after the Queens game, she’s confident that her team will turn things around against Brooklyn on May 9 at John Jay.
“The last few weeks have been better in terms of solidifying skills and strategy,” Marie said. “I'm extremely frustrated to be sidelined with an injury during Bronx's growth spurt, especially because I see such potential for this season. Injury aside, I expect us to grow stronger each bout, and with so much new talent, we're excited to give Brooklyn a run for their anchors.”
BRONX vs. QUEENS STATS
1 2 F
Bronx 65 61 126
Queens 98 83 181
Bronx MVP – Massacre Marie
Queens MVP – Low Maim
Leading Bronx Scorers
Fisher Twice – 54 points (16 jams)
Legs//Cité – 43 points (9 jams)
Massacre Marie – 17 points (10 jams)
Leading Bronx Blockers
Swede Hurt – 23 jams (-6)
Fast and Luce – 22 jams (-2)
Caf Fiend – 22 jams (-40)
Leading Queens Scorers
ShortStop – 70 points (15 jams)
Suzy Hotrod – 51 points (11 jams)
Kitty Roadkill – 24 points (3 jams)
Leading Queens Blockers
Puss ‘n Glutes – 25 jams (+17)
Babe Brawlins – 21 jams (+2)
Chopstick Murphy – 18 jams (+49)
Hyper Lynx – 18 jams (+19)
Minutes in Box: 41 Jammer Box Trips: 10
Minutes in Box: 28 Jammer Box Trips: 2