GGRD Statement On Sexual Harassment & Assault

Gotham Girls Roller Derby strives to create an environment where our skaters, officials and volunteers can thrive on and off the track. We aim to foster a community where everyone in our league can bring their full selves to the sport and feel safe, heard and empowered.

In recent months, the #MeToo movement has highlighted the stories of survivors of sexual harassment and assault. The movement has inspired a national dialogue, conversations and precipitated action from Hollywood, the media, politics, and across other industries. Roller derby is far from immune from this abuse, and we recognize how vital it is to uplift the voices of survivors in our own community.

To create change within our own spaces, we know we must proactively create policies where folks can report incidents and trust that they will be believed and that appropriate action will be taken. As such, we are reviewing and updating our own reporting policies to ensure that there is no tolerance for abusive behavior and that there is a clear path for those who come forward.

Gotham is not just a community of people who love roller derby. We are also a community of survivors and allies ourselves. We stand with folks across the sport who are survivors of sexual abuse both inside and outside of derby. Today, we affirm our commitment to cultivating an environment that meets the needs of everyone in our league, and resonates not just in our own athletic community but the community at large.

Championship Intensity in May, as Brooklyn and Manhattan Look to Keep Title Dreams Alive

By Thomas Gerbasi

The names change, as they do every year, but when the Brooklyn Bombshells and Manhattan Mayhem take the track, the result is almost always something special, and those expectations are still there for Saturday’s matchup at John Jay College in NYC.

Yet while both teams have always delivered on bout night, this year, the two squads enter with a little more urgency after losing their season openers. The defending champion Bombshells were on the wrong end of a 185-136 score against the Bronx Gridlock on March 17, and Mayhem dropped a 191-98 nod to the Queens of Pain.

PHOTO DAVID DYTE

PHOTO DAVID DYTE

In most sports, we could call that an easily rectifiable slow start to 2018. In the Gotham Roller Derby league home season, in which each team only gets three games to earn a spot in the championship bout, one loss makes the next game a must win. Two losses and you’re thinking about next year.

So there should be championship game-level intensity on the track this weekend, with the winner staying in the hunt for the Golden Skate trophy, and the atmosphere at John Jay should match that intensity.

But who wins?

Penalties are always a vicious determinant of which team emerges victorious when the whistle blows, and that goes for all roller derby games. Mayhem were particularly hurt by ten jammer box trips against Queens, with a reasonable 30-point halftime deficit turning into an insurmountable one thanks to a 57-0 run by Queens to kick off the second half.

Manhattan is also still getting used to the loss of veteran Em Dash and the defensive 1-2 punch of Roxy Dallas and Violet Knockout.But with five GGRD All-Stars on the track (Bonita Apple Bomb, Giles, Brawleen Lidz, Cork Rebel, Lumiknoxity, Spork Chop), including the team’s co-captain Bonita, as well as Cork and Giles, both of whom had excellent performances in the opener, their ability to get back in championship form should come sooner rather than later.

That should also be the case for Brooklyn, a team that has always found a way to fight back from adversity, thanks to a veteran core of Papierschnitt, Raggedy Animal and Lady Fingers, all of whom have battled together for the Bombshells for several years. And when you add one of the game’s greatest blockers – Donna Matrix – and one of its premier jammers – All-Star Miss Tea Maven – as well as two more All-Stars in D.A.R.Y.L. and Space Invader, this once again becomes one of the most evenly matched bouts you will find in a league that has celebrated its parity.

But if you need a little more proof for how close Saturday’s bout between the two teams who have each won three GGRD league titles will be, consider the history, where Brooklyn has won four of six bouts since 2013, with the total margin of victory being 32 points. Total. That’s an average winning advantage of 5.3 points.

Sure, numbers don’t always tell the whole story, but when it comes to Brooklyn and Manhattan they say all that needs to be said. In other words, find a ticket and get to John Jay on Saturday night. 

Tickets for Saturday available here.

Queens Looks Sharp in Season Opening Win over Mayhem

By Thomas Gerbasi / additional reporting by Hewlett Smackard

A dominant 2017 season for the Queens of Pain ended with a four-point overtime loss to the Brooklyn Bombshells in the Gotham Girls Roller Derby championship game. Eight months later, any lingering effects from the defeat were extinguished in the space of 60 minutes at John Jay College last Saturday, as the ladies in black broke open a close game with a second-half surge that saw them soar past the Manhattan Mayhem, 191-98.

PHOTO MANISH GOSALIA  

PHOTO MANISH GOSALIA  

"I think what happened was that the team really came together,” said Queens captain Livvie Smalls. “I really feel like this was a team win; we ran all of our skaters tonight and everyone contributed.”

It was the boost Queens needed, especially after losing the likes of Shortstop and Puss ‘n Glutes in the off-season. But with newcomers such as Stephinity and Beyond stepping up, the team appears to be right on target for another championship run in 2018.

"We drafted some really fantastic skaters like Stephinity and Beyond,” said Livvie.“It's hard to fill the tiny but mighty shoes of Shortstop, but she looked amazing tonight. Beast [Beauty Andie Beast] looked amazing. Suzy (Hotrod) obviously is amazing and I think the jammer crew as a group really stepped up to fill those shoes. And then we still have Puss on the bench,so that calm presence with all of that experience is still with us.”

PHOTO MANISH GOSALIA

PHOTO MANISH GOSALIA

Manhattan also had its share of turnover, with Roxy Dallas, Violet Knockout and Em Dash all missing from the track, but the Mayhem defense still held strong in the first half, staying within striking distance of Queens. Seven jammer box trips in the opening 30 minutes didn’t help Manhattan’s cause, though.

"They had some penalty trouble and I think that with any team that has to play down, it's very hard to keep yourself as cool and composed as when you're ahead,” said Queens MVP Suzy. “It's a lot easier to be cool and composed when you're not fighting to get back. So we were really fortunate to begin the second half ahead - 30 points in derby is not really anything. But then we had a really good trajectory. They lost a player (when Giles fouled out) and that's really hard to recover from mentally.”

Up 79-49, Queens blitzed Manhattan to begin the second half, reeling off 57 unanswered points to put the game out of reach.

PHOTO MANISH GOSALIA 

PHOTO MANISH GOSALIA 

“Queens played very cohesive and it was just a little chaotic for Mayhem,” said Manhattan MVP Cork Rebel. “Something Mayhem can take away from this game is to basically try to play a calmer game, have more communication -- we have great cohesiveness during practice. I think it was just a very weird thing. It didn't feel like us, basically.”

On May 5, Mayhem faces Brooklyn, while Queens’ second trip to the track will be against the Bronx on June 9.

PHOTO DAVID DYTE

PHOTO DAVID DYTE

QUEENS vs. MANHATTAN STATS

12F

Queens79112191

Manhattan494998

Queens MVP – Suzy Hotrod

Manhattan MVP – Cork Rebel

Leading Queens Scorers

Beauty Andie Beast – 80 points (15 jams)

Suzy Hotrod – 63 points (16 jams)

Stephinity and Beyond – 33 points (12 jams)

Leading Queens Blockers

Livvie Smalls – 22 jams (+54)

Nail Diamond – 21 jams (+82)

Kitty Roadkill – 20 jams (+8)

Low Maim – 20 jams (-10)

Leading Manhattan Scorers

Giles – 38 points (13 jams)

Cork Rebel – 28 points (6 jams)

Kid Vicious – 19 points (12 jams)

Leading Manhattan Blockers

Spork Chop – 25 jams (-60)

Bonita Apple Bomb – 24 jams (-67)

Knightmare – 21 jams (+5)

Queens Penalties

Minutes in Box: 28 Jammer Box Trips: 4

Manhattan Penalties

Minutes in Box: 39 Jammer Box Trips: 10

Stats compiled via Rinxter

Queens and Manhattan Get a Fresh Start on Saturday

By Thomas Gerbasi

It’s a safe bet that no two teams want to turn the page on the 2017 season and move on to their 2018 opener at John Jay College on Saturday more than the Queens of Pain and Manhattan Mayhem.

PHOTO SEAN HALE

PHOTO SEAN HALE

Last year, Queens romped over the rest of the Gotham Girls Roller Derby league, putting together one of the most dominant regular seasons in recent memory. But what seemed to be a done deal and a fifth league title came crashing down in heartbreaking fashion when they lost in overtime to the Brooklyn Bombshells in the GGRD title game.

As for Manhattan, their quest to retain their league title and repeat as champs hit the skids early, with only a win over the Bronx Gridlock in the 2017 third-place game keeping them from a winless season.

“For me, personally, it was a big shock because I was injured for a lot of it, and I think for the team as well, it was a bit of a blow,” said Mayhem veteran Maddog. “Also, we weren’t at full strength for a lot of last season. So I think that (the 2017 season) was just us trying to make the best of not having full numbers.”

It’s what can happen over the course of a three-game home season, and while it’s great for the fans, knowing that every game has the intensity of a championship bout, for the players, it’s a situation where one bad night can affect the entire season. But Maddog embraces that pressure.

“I think it’s a blessing because that ‘what if’ that anything can happen is part of the mental edge of being an athlete and rolling with those punches and adjusting to the unknown that you can’t predict,” she said.

PHOTO MANISH GOSALIA

PHOTO MANISH GOSALIA

That unknown is just around the corner, with fans waiting to see what each team will bring to the track. The teams don’t know what will happen on bout night either, but they have gotten a feel for each other in practice, where scrimmages are often as intense as the games.

“There’s a lot of respect for Queens and how hard they work and the game that they play,” Maddog said. “But I also think that there’s a lot of competition between Mayhem and Queens. There’s a lot of love – I love a lot of people on Queens, but you always want to beat your friends and you don’t want them to beat you. It’s part of what makes it fun. There’s mutual respect, but at the same time we really want to beat them.”

Only one will get that win and start the season off the right way. The team that doesn’t leave the track with the win will then have an uphill battle the rest of the way. Again, it’s the beauty of the Gotham home season, and Maddog believes this one will be something to see.

“I think this season in particular, just with the way people are playing in scrimmages and the strategies that teams are incorporating, you’re gonna see a different style of derby, especially when it comes to jam starts,” she said. “There’s a different vibe now. Having footage accessible to the teams has been super great and an important tool for us to try and figure out what they’re thinking. It’s going to be a really interesting game.”

PHOTO JEAN SCHWARZWALDER

PHOTO JEAN SCHWARZWALDER

But who’s going to win and make a run for the title?

“We like even numbers,” said Maddog, whose Mayhem squad has won titles in 2012, 2014 and 2016. It’s 2018.

She laughs.

“Even numbers are our jam.”

Tickets available for tomorrow's game here 

Gridlock Assemble! The Bronx Send Message to League with Win over Brooklyn

By Thomas Gerbasi / additional reporting by Hewlett Smackard

Last season, the Bronx Gridlock were the hard luck gang of the Gotham Girls Roller Derby league, always competitive but still in the position where the primary goal was to break a three-year losing streak. They did that last July, and in the GGRD season opener at John Jay College in NYC, they opened their 2018 campaign with a statement-making 185-136 win over the defending champion Brooklyn Bombshells.

That statement? This ain’t the same Gridlock anymore.

PHOTO SEAN HALE

PHOTO SEAN HALE

“I think we were just ready,” said Bronx captain Fast and Luce. “Bronx was completely ready to be in that winning position. We've been training for many seasons now to get to that place and we all just came back to the season - even our new people we drafted - with the understanding that we were going to work with a single goal in mind and that was to really dominate the track.”

Mission accomplished, at least on March 17, when they led from whistle to whistle, buoyed by the scoring attack of GGRD All-Star Kate Sera Sera, a member who is rapidly emerging as one of the league’s top jammers.

“I come in expecting to make points with every jam,” said Kate, who logged a game high 101 points. “When you look at [our] defense and what it's been doing throughout — I didn't have any doubt in my mind that the defense was going to hold. We're going to make points. You know we're good at finding where the points are while holding back the others.”

PHOTO SEAN HALE

PHOTO SEAN HALE

In such a high scoring contest, it’s easy to forget the defensive end of the equation, but the tight-knit defensive unit of the Cabbies was able to limit the high-octane Brooklyn offense when it counted, with only the always-dangerous Miss Tea Maven (99 points) able to find daylight consistently for the Bombshells.

Ultimately, what the game may have come down to was the cohesiveness of the Gridlock, something that was difficult to achieve in recent seasons due to injuries, turnover, and simple bad luck. But it appears that those days are in the past, and it was noticeable to the Bombshells even before the opening whistle.

“You know, it's kind of funny,” said Brooklyn co-captain Lady Fingers. “We anticipated this from having scrimmaged them for the last few months, and we kind of knew it was coming. But even when you know it's coming, they were just very good at it. They were really good at playing their game and playing their strategy. And it leaves the other team sometimes with having to, on the fly, change your strategy because they're really doing a great job playing their game.”

PHOTO SEAN HALE

PHOTO SEAN HALE

Not surprisingly, the Bombshells fought tooth and nail throughout the bout, keeping it close in the early going as both offenses took some time to get into gear. By halftime, the Gridlock’s lead was only 18 points, but in the second half, they steadily pulled ahead, outscoring their foes in the first 16 jams of the final 30 minutes.

“I have to say we very much try to keep each other focused jam-by-jam and it keeps us moving forward and keeps us from zooming out into a big picture and thinking about things that we don't need worry about,” said Luce. “The margin is not something we want to worry about. We take it jam by jam, reset after every jam, and that, step by step, is how you win a game.”

By the time Brooklyn’s Sweets McBacon outscored Kate 2-0, the die had been cast, as the Bronx now led 162-62. Jams of 23 and 29 points by Maven down the stretch closed the gap slightly, but it was strictly cosmetic, as the Gridlock had already made their point. And as Luce puts it, the best is yet to come.

“We drafted our new people exactly a month ago,” she said. “The amount of work that we've done here is only been a few weeks of practice and that's a completely different thing to prepare a team in three weeks than it is to have two and a half months or three months. There is a lot that we plan on working on and it's just a different type of working.”

PHOTO MANNISH GOSALIA

PHOTO MANNISH GOSALIA


BRONX vs. BROOKLYN STATS

           1  2  F

Bronx75  110  185

Brooklyn57 79 136

Bronx MVP – Kate Sera Sera

Brooklyn MVP – D.A.R.Y.L.

Leading Bronx Scorers

Kate Sera Sera – 101 points (24 jams)

Sally Handsome – 26 points (3 jams)

Annie Mergency – 22 points (5 jams)

Leading Bronx Blockers

Caf Fiend – 25 jams (-40)

Fast and Luce – 24 jams (-9)

Cherry Napalm – 23 jams (+30)

Leading Brooklyn Scorers

Miss Tea Maven – 99 points (21 jams)

Space Invader – 26 points (14 jams)

Sweets McBacon – 6 points (12 jams)

Leading Brooklyn Blockers

D.A.R.Y.L. – 25 jams (-23)

Lady Fingers – 23 jams (-50)

Gut-Her Punk – 22 jams (-20)

Papierschnitt – 22 jams (-3)

Bronx Penalties

Minutes in Box: 26 Jammer Box Trips: 6

Brooklyn Penalties

Minutes in Box: 27 Jammer Box Trips: 5

Stats compiled via Rinxter