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.