Showdown at John Jay as Queens and Bronx Fight for the Golden Skate

by Thomas Gerbasi

The Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers ain’t got nothin’ on the Bronx Gridlock and Queens of Pain. Sure, it’s impressive that either the Cavs and Warriors have won the last four NBA Finals, but from 2005 to 2010, Queens or the Bronx were the only members of the Gotham Girls Roller Derby league to win the Golden Skate Trophy.

Now that’s really impressive.

On Saturday, one of these storied squads will reign once again, bringing a sense of nostalgia to the 2018 GGRD championship game at John Jay College in NYC, but also perhaps ringing in a new era for the league.



Since the Gridlock’s last title in 2010, parity has made GGRD one of the most competitive home team leagues in the world. With practically every bout played with title game intensity, it’s no surprise that the league’s All-Star team is consistently in the running for a WFTDA world championship. But in recent years, it’s been Brooklyn and Manhattan trading titles back and forth, with only a 2013 win by Queens breaking up this new monopoly.

On paper, it would make one assume that Queens and the Bronx have been bringing up the rear for the last seven years, and while that’s been the case for the bad luck Bronx, Queens has been a perennial powerhouse, with only a series of untimely defeats keeping them from winning the title year after year after year.

One could say that there is no better mix of bruising defense, high-powered offense and veteran experience than what the ladies in black bring to the track, and you would get few, if any, arguments. And with Suzy Hotrod, Ana Bollocks and Hyper Lynx reminding the younger players on the team what the glory years were like and what it takes to hoist the Golden Skate, it’s hard to see them as anything but a prohibitive favorite this weekend, especially after going 3-0 this season with a 182-147 win over the Gridlock in June.



But as the old saying goes, that’s why they play the games, and if any team has consistently upset the odds, it’s been the Gridlock. For years after 2010, the cabbies often had to battle injuries and roster turnover more than their fellow league mates.  That can break a team’s spirit, but as the adversity piled up, the Bronx got tougher. And after snapping a three-year losing streak in 2017, they beat the defending champion Bombshells by 49 points in the 2018 opener, and then bounced back from the loss to Queens with a 51-point victory over Manhattan to clinch their return to the title game.

And now, the odds don’t matter. All that matters is what happens on the track over 60 minutes on Saturday. It’s the dream of every derby skater. Win, and you’re a champion. Lose, and it’s a look toward 2019 and thoughts of what might have been. Queens and the Bronx know what’s at stake.

So just blow the damn whistle.

Tonight’s game is sold out!! Follow us on Twitter for recaps and score updates. 

Brooklyn and Manhattan Play for the Championship of Each Other Tonight

By Thomas Gerbasi

On paper, a league’s third-place game is, well, the third-place game. But when the Brooklyn Bombshells face the Manhattan Mayhem tonight at John Jay College in NYC, it will likely feel like a championship game three weeks before the Queens of Pain and Bronx Gridlock do it for real on August 25.



Why is that, you may ask? Is this just pre-game hype to get you into the city on a Saturday night? Well, if you’re reading this, you know precisely why there will be a championship intensity between the Bombshells and Mayhem, and it’s been something repeated over and over in this space for years.

But for the uninitiated, whether they play each other in April or August, Manhattan and Brooklyn always play as if the Golden Skate trophy is up for grabs. I’ve asked skaters about it every year, and no one can put a finger on it, but suffice to say that theclash of blue and orange produces magic on the track year after year after year.

This season has been no different, with May’s regular season meeting between the league powerhouses delivering another nailbiter, with Brooklyn edging Manhattan 169-164. That’s in keeping with tradition, as Brooklyn has now won five of sevenmeetings with the Mayhem since 2013, with the total margin of victory being 37 points. Average winning advantage? 5.2 points.

Sure, most games of this nature are an opportunity for the skaters to hit the track one more time with their home team, maybe try out some new strategies and make sure not to enter the post-season with any injuries. In this case, there will be no stone left unturned in search of victory and no figurative punches pulled for 60 minutes.

It’s Brooklyn. It’s Manhattan. And it’s like the great sportswriter Jerry Izenberg said of the trilogy between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier: by the time they made it to Manila in 1975, they were fighting for the championship of each other.

There’s no Golden Skate up for grabs tonight, but Brooklyn and Manhattan are playing for their own title. And there’s no third-place about it.

Tickets for tonight are available here.  

Everything Matters When GGRD Hits Coney Island This Saturday

By Thomas Gerbasi

When it comes to the Gotham Girls Roller Derby league home season and the two teams that will play for the Golden Skate trophy next month, Coney Island is where all the fun happens this Saturday, and how appropriate is that? Next to the Cyclone, Wonder Wheel and all the other rides and attractions, the premier skaters in the sport will battle it out before what is expected to be a packed house at Abe Stark Arena in Brooklyn.

And while the annual doubleheader always delivers thrills and high-level derby, this time around, it’s a race between the four home teams that can produce any number of outcomes when it comes to the title picture.

The Queens of Pain have continued to be the juggernaut they’ve been for years, yet while they’ve been the bridesmaids several times recently, they are determined to be the bride and win their first GGRD title in five years in 2018. At 2-0, they’ve secured their spot in the August 25th title game at John Jay College, because even with a loss to Brooklyn and a win by the Bronx, their June win over the Gridlock breaks that three-way tie.



But that’s where things get interesting among the other three squads.

The resurgent Gridlock sit at 1-1 heading into their matchup with Manhattan, and a win over the Mayhem, coupled with a loss by Brooklyn, will set up a championship rematch with Queens next month.

And though the Mayhem have struggled thus far this season, the winless squad could salvage everything should they defeat the Gridlock and watch Brooklyn fall to Queens. That would produce a three-way tie for the final spot in the championship game, with the other half of the title bout matchup being determined by overall point differential.



As for the defending champions getting a home game in Brooklyn, the Bombshells bounced back from a season opening loss to the Bronx in March to win a nail biter over Manhattan in May. And while defeating Queens is a big task, in their last meeting in 2017, Brooklyn earned their third league title with a 162-158 victory.

In short, all bets are off in Coney Island this weekend, and each game matters. So when the dust settles, we’ll have two teams in the championship game, two in August 4th’s third-place contest, and a lot of happy derby fans on the boardwalk.

Tickets for tomorrow's double header are available here 

Queens and Bronx Go Back to the Future This Saturday

By Thomas Gerbasi

Once upon a time in the Gotham Girls Roller Derby league, there were two teams and everybody else.



From the first league title bout in 2005 until 2010, six champions were crowned. Three Golden Skate trophies went to the Bronx Gridlock and three went to the Queens of Pain.

Queens was a juggernaut with a brutally effective pack that opened lanes for Suzy Hotrod and Hyper Lynx while also shutting down opposing jammers. The Bronx were like a well-oiled machine, rarely making mistakes on the track as Bonnie Thunders piled up the points.

Brooklyn and Manhattan wouldn’t get into the act until 2011 and 2012, respectively, and in the last five years, those squads have won four of the five GGRD league titles.



But on Saturday at John Jay College in NYC, it may be a case of the league going back to the future, as Queens and the Bronx put their unbeaten 2018 records on the line in a bout that may very well be a championship game preview.

Having the ladies in black in the title race is never a surprise, as they are perennial contenders to be the last team standing, with their consistency and well-rounded attack always something to pay attention to.

But seeing the Gridlock in this spot has been a surprise considering the hard times they’ve gone through in previous seasons. Remember, this is a team that went through a three-year losing streak before snapping that last season, yet in their first bout of 2018, a 185-136 win over the defending champion Bombshells, was an eye opener and perhaps the start of their first championship season since 2010.

Eight years is a long time, but Queens’ five-year wait for a championship may feel even longer considering that they’ve come so close so many times over the last few years. But with the core from the glory years (Suzy, Lynx, Ana Bollocks) still delivering the goods and setting the stage for the newer members of the roster to do their thing on the track, Queens is still a top contender, which was evident in their one-sided 191-98 win over Manhattan in April.

So is it Queens’ experience and consistency or the Bronx’ size and hunger that gets it done in NYC this weekend? They’ve got 60 minutes to figure it out. Just like the good ‘ol days.

Tickets for tomorrow’s game are available here 


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.



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.