ALL-STARS (2-1) LOOK FOR ROAD REBOUND THIS SATURDAY
by Muckety Muck, Derby News Network Contributing Writer – Photos by Bob Dunnell
Anyone who has ventured to Memphis, Tennessee knows the rich cultural attractions that the city offers.
Home to Graceland, Beale Street and the National Civil Rights Museum, Memphis is the perfect place for a traveler to spend a weekend’s jaunt. If you have never been there before – merely a five hour drive from St. Louis – you should put it on your bucket list.
After all, where else can you enjoy a “Rufus Thomas” while visiting the legendary Sun Studios, home of some of the most legendary recordings in music history? A late-night, no-cover set from hardcore blues musicians at Rum Boogie Café? You betcha! A morning duck waddle in the lobby of downtown’s Peabody Hotel? We’ll be there early! A slab of lip-smackin’ barbeque at Corky’s? One table and a bib, please!
For the Arch Rival Roller Girls this Saturday night, they hope their journey to “Mempho” will echo the lyrics of Elvis Presley’s “That’s All Right, Mama” rather than “Heartbreak Hotel.”
The ARRG All-Stars – currently ranked sixth in the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association North Central Region – face the Memphis Hustlin’ Rollers (2-1) at the Pipkin Buling on the site of the Memphis Fairgrounds. The WFTDA sanctioned-bout will take place Saturday at 6pm prior to Memphis Roller Derby interleague action. (As of press time, there is no planned online coverage of the event scheduled.)
And even though the bout with the WFTDA South Central rep will have no internal impact on ARRG’s North Central ranking, the Gateway City’s best on quads still plan to approach the bout as if it occurred within its own region.
“We are training hard, cross training outside of practice and developing our own strategy that works for us,” said ARRG All-Star jammer Downtown Dallis of the team’s mentality. “We push each other, work hard together, and we try to keep each other in one piece.”
The last time these two teams tangled was February 13, 2010. In that pre-Valentine’s event, ARRG outscored Memphis 108-42 in the second half en route to a 172-92 victory.
For some of the All-Stars, this will be their first time battling the beauties from Bluff City.
“The last time ARRG played Memphis, I watched as a fan,” reflected Dallis. “(ARRG jammer) Black Market Baby and I sat on the bleachers and completely geeked out over the thought of skating with the All-Stars. Now we get to be a part of the team and experience bouting them ourselves.”
Memphis – currently ranked #16 in the WFTDA South Central region - provides a worthy competitor for ARRG (2-1), whose mid-March road trip to Ohio resulted in a split.
Last month, the ARRG All-Stars raced out to a 46-0 lead in the opening minutes en route to a 158-118 victory over North Central #8 Cincinnati on March 10.
One day later, ARRG fell behind the proverbial eight-ball early and fell to NC #9 Ohio 168-115.
“Playing Ohio the next day was unfortunate,” said ARRG All-Star blocker Party Foul of the lower-seed’s upset. “I don’t want to make excuses, but I don’t think that we were prepared for that environment. Our walls fell apart and our team fell apart.”
A tough lesson was learned in Columbus with the setback that popped ARRG with its first loss of the season.
The defeat also resulted in a small stumble for the All-Stars in Derby News Networks‘ monthly Power Rankings – a three spot tumble that put Arch Rival at #25 in the website’s rankings of national WFTDA leagues.
One can expect the troops to re-organize for the Tennessean trek.
Dallis and BMB will compliment Mighty Mighty Boston and South City Shiner in ARRG’s designated four-jammer attack. Alongside the aforementioned Foul, blocking will be paced by veterans Eli Wallop, Chewblocka, Grave Danger, Science Friction, The Educator and Mayor Francis Slayer. All-Star sophomores May Require Stitches and Shimmy Hoffa will contribute heavy minutes as well.
ARRG looks to right the ship on the road against a squad that’s looking to rebound in 2012.
After finishing tenth in the 2010 WFTDA South Central playoff, Memphis struggled in 2011. Finishing last season with a record of 3-7, the Hustlin’ Rollers failed to qualify for the post-season. Part of that setback was a result of the increased parity from within the region.
The start to 2012 netted a similar result. In their season opener at home, Memphis fell to SC #17 Oklahoma Victory 87-77 on February 18.
That loss stung a lot. The setback to the closely-ranked lower regional rival at home was a bitter pill to swallow. The fact that the bout had a relatively low score (in derby terms) was somewhat disconcerting as well.
But the Hustlin’ Rollers regrouped and scored a pair of wins – including one upset – at their fifth-annual Honky Tonk Stomp on March 31. In the self-promoted event featuring Volunteer State derby squads, Memphis roughed up newly-chartered Little City 187-139 and then upended South Central #12 Hard Knox 94-83 to finish the invitational undefeated.
With two South Central wins in a row, don’t think for one moment that the Hustlin’ Rollers plan on being anyone’s “Teddy Bear” come Saturday night.
“While they aren’t the champion of Tennessee (that honor belongs to Nashville), Memphis is sitting at a winning season so far and have picked up some momentum in the region,” says King James, who thoroughly covers region action for his SOUTH CENTRAL DERBY NEWS website. “After defeating the #12 team, one should expect a bump when it comes time for rankings, which may be out right around game time.”
“The game against Arch Rival may be a bit lofty,” he adds. “But given the many upsets so far in the first quarter, nothing may be impossible.”
According to James, the Hustlin’ Rollers have benefitted with help from a South Central rival and could potentially use that guidance heading into the weekend match-up.
“Memphis received some training from (SC #8) Tampa early in the year in a personal boot-camp,” he says. “This would definitely be the game to put that experience and new knowledge to the test.”
James says the Memphis jamming attack is paced by a pair of multi-purpose veterans, Lil Cinner and Tenacious B.
“Lil Cinner may not get lead any more than most, but she gets results,” James says. “And despite her name, she plays pretty clean. Tenacious B makes for a good defensive jammer. She doesn’t let many people score on her.”
The blocking schematic of the Hustlin’ Rollers is punctuated by a pair whose individual lengths of tenure are polar opposites but personify the hard-chargin’ attitude of the 2012 squad.
“Brooken Bones is the workhorse of the league,” says James. “She often plays over 30 jams per game. When she finishes a whole game she can be very effective. Bad Juju is newer to the team than some, but she is an effective team player, adept at getting her jammer through.”
One thing to watch in this bout will be the progression of Bones. According to James, she does have a tendency to make a few too many trips to the box. She’ll have to have her cleanest effort yet in the battle against ARRG.
As a whole, Memphis has to play the same type of derby that netted them the upset win three weekends ago. With a “W” against ARRG on Saturday, the Hustlin’ Rollers would continue its current momentum surge with its third straight victory.
And victory would add another important benchmark in the team’s overall goal, a return to the South Central post-season scene after a one-year absence.
“In 2011, they sat out,” says James. “Should Memphis win (Saturday), it would be a huge upset and give them another shot at qualifying for the regional tournament this year.”
And ARRG will look to rebound following a hurtful loss. The battle between North Central #6 and South Central #16 may look misleading on paper, but ARRG doesn’t expect to take this battle lightly.
“Memphis is a talented team,” said Dallis. “I have watched them win games based on outworking the other team. You can never sleep on a team that hustles.”
“Our team is motivated and hungry,” she adds.
And if you’re a fan of ARRG, a rack of Memphis’ ribs will taste a whole lot better with a side order of victory.
Check ARRG’s Facebook page on Saturday night for score updates from the match-up. A full recap of this bout will be featured in ARRG’s “30n30″ on Monday, April 16.
COMING UP TOMORROW AT 8 AM FOR ARRG’s “30n30″: We look at how ARRG gives back to the city. From holding charity raffles to cleaning up the environment, the league volunteers its time to lend support and raise awareness to a variety of causes. We’ll get to know a little bit more about the league’s committee that oversees this important function and we’ll hear from one local non-for-profit that benefitted from ARRG’s support. On Thursday, we look at ARRG’s community efforts in the St. Louis area.
ARRG’s “30n30″ is a daily feature that examines different aspects of the Arch Rival Roller Girls – St. Louis’ first female flat-track roller derby franchise. In this section every morning at 8 AM for the entire month of April, a new feature will be presented.
Other installments of ARRG’s “30n30″: PRE-SERIES SET-UP (1) EVOLUTION (2) THE DREAM TO PLAY AT CHAIFETZ (3) LOCAL SEASON RECAP (4) ARRG ALL-STARS (5) SAINT LUNACHIX (6) ROOKIE RIVALS (7) REFEREES & NSOs (8) PRE-BOUT RITUALS (9) POST-BOUT RITUALS (10) GUERILLA UNCAGED – NO MINORS.