hamilton harlots

Beast of the East 2012 Update: Participants Named

It’s official! The 2012 Beast of the East draw has been complete and all 16 teams have been named. The Beast of the East is hosted by Montreal Roller Derby and will take place April 21st and 22nd, 2012 at Arena St. Louis.


Representing Montreal Roller Derby (MTLRD)

Les Contrabanditas

Les Filles du Roi (Beast Champs 2010)

La Racaille (Beast Champs 2009)

Representing Toronto Roller Derby (ToRD)

Chicks Ahoy!

Death Track Dolls

Gore-Gore Rollergirls

Smoke City Betties)

Representing Forest City Derby Girls (FCDG)

Thames Fatales)

Representing Rideau Valley Roller Girls (RVRG)

Slaughter Daughters (Beast Champs 2011)

Representing the Hammer City Roller Girls (HCRG)

Hamilton Harlots (Beast Champs 2008)

Representing the Tri-City Roller Girls (TCRG)
Vicious Dishes

Representing the Greater Toronto Area Rollergirls (GTAR)
Derby Debutantes

Representing Roller Derby Quebec (RDQ)

Les Duchesses

Representing Durham Region Roller Derby (DRRD)

Motor City Madames

Representing the Muddy River Rollers

Reines of Terror

Representing Thunder Bay Roller Derby

Babes of Thunder

Toronto Hammers Hamilton in Bout Blanche Double Header.

CN Power jammer Defecaitlin talks to her blockers on the bench. (Photo by Joe Mac)

In downtown Toronto on Saturday night, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats defeated the Toronto Argonauts in a key late-season Canadian Football League matchup; north of the core in the Bunker at Downsview Park the Argos’ roller derby counterparts were skating away with two dominant victories against their historic southern Ontario rivals. The Hammer City Roller Girls, once the top league of Canadian derby, has been going through a major rebuild in 2011, and that learning process continued against ToRD on Saturday as the Toronto skaters dominated both bouts for convincing victories.

Game 1: Hamilton Harlots 75 vs. Smoke City Betties 164

The Betties and the Harlots are two of the oldest flat track teams in Canada. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

For Canadian derby nerds out there this first matchup had huge historic implications. In 2005-6, at the same time that Oil City was setting up shop in Edmonton, the Harlots in Hamilton and the Betties in Toronto were setting the foundations for what would become flat track roller derby in Eastern Canada (with the Steel Town Tank Girls, the Harlots would start Hammer City, while the Betties would split into two teams—the other being the Gore-Gore Rollergirls—and merge with a freshly quartered Toronto Terrors to form Toronto Roller Derby). But that was the past, and these two teams have gone through major changes since and don’t much resemble their precedent-setting counterparts.

Pivot Misery Mae is a key part of the Betties' resurgence.(Photo by Greg Russell)

The Betties’ challenges over the past two years have mirrored those currently being faced by the Harlots: massive turnover. In the 2009 ToRD off-season (after a thrilling run to the Battle For the Boot 3), the core of the original Betties imploded and left a roster-void in the squad; a void that looks as if it is finally being filled.  Things started off perfectly for the Betties as they ran out to a big lead. Led by veteran pivots Mia Culprit and Lady Scorcher and stand-out rookie Misery Mae, the Betties quickly established pack control early on—something that has been an issue lately. But keeping things tight and playing a simple, straight-up flat track bout allowed the jammer core of Sail Her Poon, Rug Burn and titmouse to run wild over the Harlots who didn’t have the same success in the early going. titmouse had arguably her strongest game as a Bettie ever. Before being slowed by a knee injury earlier in the year, she’d been training with CN Power (and has since become a key member of the Bay Street Bruisers rebirth) and that commitment to training has certainly paid off as she dominated her Harlots’ counterparts in the early going.   The Betties built a nearly 70 point lead before running into penalty troubles that allowed the Harlots to crawl back into it. Nonetheless, Betties led by 39, 83-44, at the half.

Like the Betties, the Harlots are rebuilding around a group of up-and-coming skaters like jammer Abba Stabbya. (Photo by Joe Mac)

One thing that both Hammer City teams have going for them is a vibrant young core to build around. The Harlots have had a busy summer and it showed in the growth of skaters like Whacks Poetic who is emerging as a pivot and on-track leader, while Kick Assymptote and Bean Stalker have also come a long way in 2011. But the team still revolves very much around the two Hammer City veterans Judge Jodie and Mean Little Mama. Both were very effective all night, and led the push back that continued at the start of the second half. But a tendency to challenge one-on-one led to 5 first-half trips to the box for Mean Little Mama. In an attempt to avoid the blocking penalties that had plagued her in the first half (and to start the second), Harlot’s bench manager Furious P put her out as a jammer midway through the game, joining a rotation lead largely by Naughty Bee and Abba Stabya. A subtle hip hit and hard stop by Bruiseberry Pie forced Mean Little Mama’s momentum to take her off and on to the track in a major track cut that saw the Betties go on an insurance-gaining power jam but  also deprived the Harlots of their hardest hitting and most active blocker. The Betties regained control of the game for the final quarter and were able to distance themselves from their opponents for the confidence-building 89 point victory.

Veteran blocker Nasher the Smasher had an opportunity to jam. (Photo by Greg Russell)

Game 2: Eh! Team 22 vs. CN Power 277

Originally scheduled to be CN Power’s first ever WFTDA sanctioned home bout, at the last minute the Eh! Team were unable to send enough rostered skaters to allow for the sanctioning, and instead sent a group of borrowed Tri-City skaters to fill out the roster. Also, an injured Miss Carriage was the only Eh! Team veteran visible as she ran the bench for a team built largely of the Eh! Team newcomers. To the inexperienced skaters’ credit, they stepped up and took full advantage of this learning opportunity and played hard through to the final whistle. CN Power also dressed a roster featuring the newest travel team members and gave blockers Tropic Thunder and Nasher the Smasher the opportunity to jam, but with an all-important showdown looming against North Central rivals Grand Raggidy in a few weeks, the ToRD travel team stuck to the game plan and powered their way to a team record 255 point victory.

The vast experience gap in the packs made life difficult for the Eh! Team jammers. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

Given the incredible imbalance in experience, CN Power dominated from the opening whistle. Jammers Candy Crossbones, Defecaitlin and Brim Stone (other usual jammers Bambi and Dyna Hurtcha had the night) owned the lead percentages on the backs of some excellent pack work. Panty Hoser joined Rebel Rock-It and Tara Part as pivots and led packs that alternated between being physically dominant and positionally sound. The Eh! Team was led by former ToRD jammer JJ Bladez who continues to shape her role as a key cog in the Hammer City offence. Lorazeslam also had a strong game and is clearly a skater that this Eh! Team can begin to build around. But despite some scrappy and spirited play, CN Power cruised through the first half, and only a few late calls allowed Hammer City to get on the board, as they were down 135-6 at the half.

After missing CN Power's last bout against the Sexpos, Defecaitlin had a big night in her return to action. (Photo by Neil Gunner)

For the first half of the second period, it looked like that 6 point score was going to hold, but a power jam for the Eh! Team (one of only two, both late in the game) and a brief lapse in discipline from CN Power saw Hammer City take advantage and put 12 points on the board, tripling their score.  Led by Tri-City skater Sofanda Beatin  (who left it all on the track for her adopted team) the Eh! Team fought back. Oh! Henry had a strong bout for Hamilton and like Lorazeslam is another skater who looks like the future of this team.  The newest CN Power skaters—Sinead O’Clobber, Santa Muerte and Tropic Thunder—gained extremely valuable track time for ToRD’s all stars who have thus far been dominating the lower ranks of WFTDA’s North Central Region. CN Power also played with some strategies and Defecaitlin twice (in two different ways!) “fed the baby” to her blockers (pulled the jammer back into the pack after the first pass). It was a great all-around performance from ToRD’s travel team who look to finish 2011 on a high note before its first full season of WFTDA competition.

Forest City Thrashes the Field to Take CWRDA East

Forest City All Stars defeated the Rideau Valley Vermin 166-90 to win the inaugural CWRDA Eastern Championship. (photo by Neil Jeffery)

When the smoke cleared from the track in Navan, Ontario, only the Forest City All Stars were left standing at Blood Spill on the Hill, CWRDA’s Eastern Champioship. Two very full days of bouting saw seven other teams fall, and in a tournament full of one-sided affairs, some fell harder than others. It was a well-deserved and even fitting win for a team that has toiled for years on the front lines of eastern Canadian roller derby without a major win yet to their credit.


The winners of the four first round bouts advanced to the semi-finals, while the losers moved on to the relegation semis later in the day. The historic (though rebuilding) Hamilton Harlots kicked things off by returning to their winning ways against a Belles of the Brawl team (Brantford) whose history pales in comparison to their southern Ontario neighbours. The 234-61 victory (first in 2011 for this new-look Hammer City squad) kicked off a round of blowouts that culminated in a 456-6 whitewashing of the overmatched Ottawa Roller Derby by the GTAR’s newly formed G-Stars travel team. Sandwiched between these bouts were two blowouts of a different sort. Forest City (who were merging players from the Luscious Lunch Ladies and the Thames Fatales for the first time) toppled a smart-looking, but inexperienced Royal City All Star team (Guelph), while hosts Rideau Valley (playing as the Vermin—a team put together specifically for this tournament) took it to a wide-eyed and excited Muddy River Lumbersmacks (Moncton). Both of these teams seemed to revel in their losses, soaking up the experience and often immediately recycling the knowledge gained.

That set up relegation round showdowns featuring the four least experienced teams in the tournament. But even amongst these freshmen squads there was clearly a divide. Muddy River was cruising against a Belles of the Brawl team that finally had to throw in the towel when injuries and ejections depleted the Brantford bench to dangerously low levels, giving the New Brunswick team its first victory outside of the Atlantic provinces. In the second relegation semifinal, the Royal City All Stars continued their solid play, putting together a dominant performance against an Ottawa Roller Derby team that bowed out of the tournament having been outscored 852-13 in its two games.

Guelph's Royal City Royal Girls, in their first major tournament, won the relegation final to finish fifth overall (defeating Moncton's Muddy River 116-73).


Since the two leagues first faced off on July 7, 2007, Hammer City seemed to have Forest City’s number. Four years of dominance finally came to an end earlier this year when both Forest City teams defeated both Hammer City teams in a double header in Hamilton. So when they met in the first of two semifinals they brought with them a great deal of flat track history. In a striking coincidence this was the first time since 2007 that Forest City was tracking a team playing under the league banner and their opponents, the Harlots, were those same opponents who initiated them four years earlier. Sometimes revenge is a long time coming, and Forest City got it this weekend, advancing to the semifinals with a convincing 218-58 victory.

The second semi-final looked like it was heading to blow-out territory as well with Rideau Valley jumping out to a dominant 101-19 half-time lead over the G-Stars, but the GTA team reeled it in during the second half getting stronger as the bout wore on to lose in a scrappy, entertaining game, 163-52.

Muddy River's travel team, the Lumbersmacks, handled themselves well in their first out-of-region competition.

The relegation final was a highly anticipated bout featuring the two more inexperienced and exciting teams in the event, the Muddy River Rollers and the Royal City Roller Girls. The first half lived up to the expectations and then some as these two precocious teams left it all on the track, trading leads seemingly as often as they traded hits, with Royal City just able to inch ahead 51-41 at the half. Muddy River captain Burn ‘N RubHer and fellow triple threat Brandy Swifter led the way for this New Brunswick team that also had strong performances from Ms. Hate (who alternated helmet panties throughout the weekend as well), Thora Thunder and Malicious Kitty jamming and Lulu LeBomb pivoting. But as the game wore on, Royal City’s more sophisticated pace control (led in large part by excellent pivot Mandy Maggotbone) toppled Muddy River’s hit and run game. Kim Scarsmashian and Ginger Slaughters also had a strong tournament in the pack while Hot Cross Guns, Hellcat and Lady GoreJess led the offense and paced the Royal City to a fifth place finish with the 116-73 victory. It is clear though, that both of these teams have a very bright future, and Moncton, as the leaders of the pack on the east coast, gained invaluable experience to bring back with them.

The G-Stars capped a successful tournament taking the third place bout against the Harlots, 128-53. While the Harlots continue their rebuild, GTAR has now added a travel team to its roster which gave valuable experience to its less experienced Chrome Mollys players. While the usual suspects starred (Getcha Kicks, Lee Way Wreck’em, Canadian Psycho, Newfie Bullet and Splat Benatar) it was a coming out weekend for jammer Beaver Mansbridge who turned heads with her fearless play and excellent conditioning.

This tournament marked the first time a Forest City team had skated under the unified league name since 2007 (in orange vs. the Harlots in Hammer City). Photo by Derek Lang

It was clear though, that the top two teams had deservedly made it to the finals. With both teams dominating competition all weekend, expectations were high. It was set up to be an intriguing battle between two very experienced leagues  who were experimenting with new-look rosters. Rideau Valley had the potentially brutal, defensively sound packs led by Vixens’ standouts Semi Precious, ASSASSINista, Screaming Meanie Massacre and Margaret Choke, yet didn’t roster any of their all-star jammers (giving all-important track time to the likes of Death From Below, Crash Karma and eventually Mudblood). Forest City, on the other hand, shortened its jammer bench to (virtually) two for the final, the Thames Fatales standouts Killson and Slacker Smacker (though Lunch Ladies Andi Slamberg and Mighty Thor took their turns when needed later in the game as they had throughout the tournament). Killson, the tournament’s top jammer and perhaps MVP, was excellent in the early going while the frightening duo of Semi-Precious and ASSASSINista had their way with the Forest City packs and devastated the less experienced Slacker Smacker whenever she wore the star (who, though often overwhelmed, always pulled herself off the ground and threw herself back into the fray). When Forest City vet Anya Face went down with a significant ankle injury about midway through the opening half (and Sufferjet pulling out with her leaving only 11 skaters on the bench), things did not look good for London. But after a long timeout as Anya was helped off the track and eventually carted off to the hospital, Forest City came out with a single-minded focus and an increased level of determination that saw them threaten to pull away, taking a 78-50 lead into the locker rooms. They wouldn’t look back.

Congratulations to the Forest City Derby Girls on winning their first major championship.

While the Rideau Valley jammers were excellent all weekend, their comparative inexperience was exploited by the veteran London squad who forced numerous jammer majors and used a simple yet effective pace strategy to take full advantage. (It was a split-pack, separated-lane set up that relies on having a jammer strong and independent enough to face opposition blockers on her own). The heavily pace-controlled power jams were orchestrated by the experienced blocking crew led by pivot Mirambo and featuring Back Alley Sally, Freez’er Burn and None-ya Biz. It was an extremely innovative play that left the Rideau Valley bench struggling for a response, and allowed Forest City to build a gap in the second half that could not be overcome. With the 166-90 victory, the Forest City All Stars were crowned champions at the first ever CWRDA Eastern Championship.

***A big thank you to Rideau Valley for begin such gracious hosts! A personal thanks goes to the dynamic duo of Tipsy McStaggers and Sister Disaster. The Nerd’s participation in Blood Spill on the Hill was made possible, in part, by the fine people at Neon Skates:

***Weren’t in Ottawa! You can get all the scores AND relive all of the moments (including the exciting championship game) by checking the archives at Canuck Derby TV.

Blood Spill on the Hill: CWRDA’s Eastern Championship.

Blood Spill on the Hill is the first ever CWRDA Eastern Championship tournament.

Blood Spill on the Hill, hosted by the Rideau Valley Roller Girls, is the first ever Canadian Women’s Roller Derby Association (CWRDA) Eastern Championship tournament. An eight team tournament featuring some of the top teams in the east, this potentially gruelling two day grind will test not only the endurance of the skaters, but the teams’ organizational management as well, as they will have to juggle their rosters accordingly. There are some noticeable absentees in the tournament with the top three teams out (Montreal, Toronto and Tri-City), which makes this tournament an opportunity for the rest of the top competitive teams in the east to step up.  For some, like Muddy River (Moncton) and Belle City (Brantford), this will be their first chance to face top-flight competition, while for others, like Forest City and Rideau Valley, this will be a test of their ability to handle the pressure of being the favourites.


Day one will mean game over for two of the eight teams, while for the other six it’ll be another day of derby and a chance for a top five finish (with the day-one winners moving directly to the semifinals). The Hammer City Harlots will kick off the tournament facing a new team from Belle City (Brantford), the Belles of the Brawl. While on paper this one looks like a washout (the most experienced team taking on the least experienced), this is not the same Harlots teams as years past. While a few veterans remain (including former Eh! Team skater Judge Jodie), this team (and the league as a whole) has gone through a major overhaul and has taken some tough, one-sided losses to teams they used to routinely beat (Forest City and Queen City). Nonetheless, Belle City has the disadvantage of having limited play against outside competition, while the Harlots have gotten a few under their belts this season already.

The Rideau Valley Vermin will consist of rookie and experienced skaters, including members of the 2011 Beast of the East Champion Slaughter Daughters. (photo by Derek Lang)

Next up, the Rideau Valley Vermin take on the upstarts from the Atlantic, the Muddy River Lumbersmacks. Moncton has lead the recent explosion of flat track derby on the east coast (six leagues and counting), and with recent victories over Halifax and Fog City (Saint John) have proven that they deserve this spot in the tournament. As quickly as this Moncton team has come along, they are in tough against the Vermin, a mixed team of veteran and new skaters from RVRG that has yet to play together, but will boast members of the WFTDA apprentice Vixens. The Muddy River skaters are aware of the challenge they face. “We’re super excited (to be) schooled by Rideau Valley right from the get go!” says Muddy Rivers’ Brandy Swifter. “We definitely hope to use (the tournament) as a great learning process.” A sentiment echoed by the other inexperienced leagues, and the experienced ones as well. “It’s a great opportunity for us to train our newer players in an actual competitive game environment” says RVRG veteran Dee Dee Tee discussing the forward thinking decision behind entering the Vermin into the tournament. “We expect nothing but good to come from the experience we are poised to gain this season,” she concludes.

The Forest City travel team will be led by an experienced core of Thames Fatales skaters. (photo by Joe Mac)

Like Moncton, Guelph’s Royal City has been turning some heads in its first year of operation, putting up increasingly great fights against considerably more experienced competition from GTA and Tri-City. But they too, being a comparatively inexperienced team, have gotten a tough draw in a Forest City All Stars team that hasn’t played since the earliest days of the league’s existence, but will have an experienced lineup regardless. No doubt it will draw heavily from Thames Fatales, which has had an excellent 2011 thus far. The new hometeam, the Luscious Lunch Ladies, has developed very quickly as well, scoring a huge victory over the Harlots in May. Veteran skater Anya Face is relaxed about the tournament, and sees it as an opportunity to improve. “We are there to play some roller derby, and see if our strategies work,” she says, adding “we are always learning new off-the-wall strategies … so to try them out in a game situation (allows us) to see what works.” Depending on how the skaters from the two teams merge, Forest City could be a team to watch.

GTA's Derby Debutants gave the Royal City All Stars their first taste of competitive derby in May. (photo by Joe Mac)

Finally, two veteran leagues that are still waiting for that competitive breakthrough will close out the opening round match ups. Despite their similarities in lineage, the GTA Rollergirls have had a much more consistent run than Ottawa Roller Derby and will be tracking a team of all stars brought together from its two home teams. Another clear advantage for GTA is how much track time they’ve already logged this season as both the Derby Debutantes and the Chrome Mollys are deep into their seasons. ORD, on the other hand, has been out of the top level of competition since its last appearance at the Beast of the East in 2009, but could use this as a stepping stone to greater competitive heights.

Moncton's Muddy River will be hosting the Atlantic Jamboree where experience gained at the Blood Spill will undoubtedly be shared.


Given the mix of teams, it might be worth expecting the unexpected. With Forest City, Rideau Valley, and GTA sending new mixed teams, and Hammer City sending its B team, the tournament is actually wide open and could come down to which of these teams is able to gel the quickest. This could actually work to the advantage of those newer teams (Royal City and Muddy River) who have been picking up considerable experience playing together as of late. But the core players who will make up each of the more experienced teams will certainly given them the edge. Rideau Valley has been dominating all levels of play, with their only losses in the past two years coming against some of the top teams in the country in Montreal, Toronto and Tri-City. But their experience here and abroad will make them clear front runners. Similarly, Forest City has come a long way in the past few years, developing into a tough, strategically sound league and also have to be considered front runners. But the importance of this tournament stretches far beyond who wins and losses. “By hosting and participating we hope to raise more awareness of the sport in Canada, raise the level of play and promote a nationwide competition.” Dee Dee Tee answers when asked about the goal of the tournament. The new Ontario leagues will be able to measure themselves up against the next stage of competition, while Muddy River will gain valuable experience just in time for the Atlantic Jamboree where they can, in turn, share it with their sister leagues back east.

** For more information visit the event page on Facebook. Tickets are available online and at select vendors in Ottawa.

**Not going to be there!? Catch all the action live on Canuck Derby TV.

**The Nerd’s participation in Blood Spill on the Hill was made possible, in part, by the fine people at Neon Skates:

**Tournament Schedule:

Saturday, June 18, 2011


Game 1  Hamilton Harlots (Hammer City Roller Girls) vs Belles of the Brawl (Bell City Roller Girls—Brantford ) 9am
Game 2  Rideau Valley Vermin (RVRG) vs  Lumbersmacks  (Muddy River Rollers—Moncton) 11am
Game 3 Forest City All Stars (FCDG—London)  vs Royal City All Stars (Royal City Rollergirls—Guelph) 1pm
Game 4 G-Stars (GTA Rollergirls) vs Ottawa Roller Derby  3pm


Game 5 (Loser of Game 1 vs Loser of Game 2) 5pm
Game 6 (Loser of Game 3 vs Loser of Game 4) 7pm

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Game 7 (Winner of Game 1 vs Winner of Game 3) 9am
Game 8 (Winner of Game 2 vs Winner of Game 4) 11am


Game 9 (Winner of Game 5 vs Winner of Game 6) 1pm (for 5th Place)
Game 10 (Loser of Game 7 vs Loser of Game 8 ) 3pm (for 3rd Place)


Game 11 (Winner of Game 7 vs Winner of Game 8 ) 5pm

Forest City Pounds Hammer City in Double Header

It was an almost completely new look Harlots who hosted the the Lunch Ladies. (photography by Derek Lang)

Saturday night marked the beginning of a new era in history of the Hammer City Roller Girls, and they kicked it off against a familiar foe. Since 2007 the Forest City Derby Girls have been challenging their Hamilton rivals to no avail, but that all changed on Saturday as they proved greedy guests in sweeping the double header between the two cities’ four teams.

Luscious Lunch Ladies 210 vs. Hamilton Harlots 64

Although it is only their second year in existence, the Luscious Lunch Ladies looked like the veterans in this one as the historic Harlots tracked an almost completely new-look roster. Key veteran pivot Judge Jodie was almost immediately battling for control of the pack, which was being wrestled out of control by stand-out Lunch Lady Andi Slamberg. Given that neither team has had any competitive track time yet in 2011, it wasn’t surprising that there was a lot of sloppy pack play in the early, and some botched power jams kept things close, tied at 22 at one point in the early going.

The Lunch Ladies did not look intimidated by their historic opponents.

The new London team seemed to be taking after their big-sister Thames Fatales in their fearlessness, and Mighty Thor, Bloodlust Barbie, and Elle Boes led the offense, jamming admirably late in the first half, taking advantage of some inconsistent and undisciplined play from the Harlots to help the London team pull ahead 93-37 at the half.

The Harlots needed to come out strong to start the second half to fend off the Lunch Ladies’ threat to pull away. Unfortunately for Hamilton Andi Slamberg made a statement early. Trading the stripe for the star and laying down 18 points to maintain the momentum they’d built up through the first half. Urged on by the home town crowd, the Harlots certainly did not relent, and some dogged jamming from Frec-Kills and Abbya Stabya led by determined pack work from Scooby Doom and Whacks Poetic ensured that points were put on the board, but as the Lunch Ladies became more and more comfortable with one another the Harlots could not contain their offense and the skaters from London pulled away for a big 210-64 victory.

This marked the first victory ever for Thames Fatales over a Hammer City squad.

Thames Fatales 170 vs. Eh! Team 64

Although certainly not as radical a restructuring as the Harlots, it was also a revamped Eh! Team roster that took to the track against a Thames Fatales team loaded with talented veterans. While this was the 2011 debut for Hammer City’s WFTDA team, the Thames Fatales were coming off of an appearance at the Beast of the East and a recent win over Mid-Michigan. That comfort and familiarity on the track was obvious in the early going, as London quickly established control led by extraordinary jamming from star jammer Killson. Killson would dominate the jammer battles all night, and especially in the early going, no matter if she was matched up against Eh! Team slawarts Bitchslap Barbie and Miss Carriage, or the speedy JJ Bladez. Thames rushed out to a quick 41-8 lead thirteen minutes in.

Thames Fatales' Slacker Smacker was fearless in her jamming.

Hammer City has lost a lot of their core over the past few years, and were missing a few key players on the night, and the inevitable growing pains that come with integrating new players into a veteran lineup were on display in the pack dominance that Thames Fatales had over the Eh! Team in this one. London has great lines featuring players very familiar with one another. In the early going the Line pivoted by Mirambo and featuring Back Ally Sally, Jemicide and None Ya Biz clearly had the Eh! Team’s number, executing consistently well, and pulling off solid and effective traps on power jams to ensure a big 52-14 lead twenty minutes in. But for all of the youth on the Hamilton team, there was significant experience too and Hawkeye Fierce was key in helping Miss Carriage pick up key points on a late power jam to pull the host team within striking distance down 63-38 at the half.

Even veterans like Bitchslap Barbie couldn't help the Eh! Team survive the Thames Fatales on this night.

The Eh! Team clearly tried to mix it up in the second half, and there were strong jams led by veterans Eduskating Rita and the athletic Lock N Roll. Homewrecken Molly also stepped it up in the second half for Hamilton, and despite some penalty trouble for London’s “Shake n Bake” duo Back Ally Sally and Mirambo (who seem to stick together like glue when forming walls), Thames Fatales managed to respond to every push back that Hamilton could manage and with aggressive jammer Slacker Smacker putting up big points, actually managed to run up their lead 115-38 before Hamilton was able to get any offensive momentum in the second half.

London never looked out of control in this one and rode their solid team-play to a convincing 170-64 victory, the team’s first over a its southern Ontario rivals.

This was a historic win for a scrappy Forest City league that highlighted a strong young core in the Lunch Ladies, and the steely determination of the Thames Fatales, a team that has been grinding away in southern Ontario for years; this victory continues what has been a solid start to 2011 for the strategically sound team, building on the momentum gained from their one-sided victory over Mid Michigan and a solid 1-2 performance against stiff competition at the Beast of the East (their two losses were against the two eventual finalists in the tournament). For Hammer City, this double header kicked off what will be the first major rebuild in the history of the league, although they have survived the rise and falls of teams before, and have the veteran leadership in place to ride out this as well. This night also marked the important debuts for many skaters, many of whom will be relied upon to lead eventually lead Hammer City back to competitive form.

Nerd Meat Part 6: Derby Time

Nerd Meat: The Nerd Does Derby

Part 6: Derby Time

Sometimes it seems like fresh meat moves so quickly, but then I think back and realize that it has already been over two months. We practiced with a team for the first time—the Death Track Dolls, a team I have a personal attachment with—and we started hitting. This is a critical moment, because I think this is the moment when people begin to get weeded. There will be a divide between those who enjoy the sport and want to be a part of it, or at least follow it, and then there will be those who will want to play. Who won’t stop until they are rostered and bouting.

The Death Track Dolls kicked off this year's team-training component of the Fresh Meat program. (Photo by Sean Murphy)

And that divide has already begun. Just over 50 skaters left, still more than half, and at this point, it’s safe to say that this will be a huge graduating class. I’ve been surprised by some of the people who have made it through this far, those whom I’d pegged early on as not being into it enough: those women who hadn’t seen bouts or couldn’t skate a lick. And there are groups forming in the pack, friendships being forged; there is a comfort and a familiarity among many of them that I’m sure some outsiders would find hard to believe has formed in just over two months. Sitting down at the Hangar bar directly after practice during those beautiful moments when you feel invigorated and healthy and fresh and that beer probably tastes like the best beer you’ve ever had in your life (IE: before the pain kicks in), when everyone is relaxed and talkative, sharing already-formed inside jokes and talking about the upcoming bout, we feel very much like a team, not like the group of strangers that we actually are. Although physically we’re all wound up with adrenaline from practice, time seems to move a  little slower in those moments, and everyone can sense it. Whether they know it or it not, these women are changing their clocks to derby time.

Derby time is as much a state of mind as anything else, tied-in, in large part, to the early evolutionary stage of the game at which we have all entered. Derby time is the reason why 2003 can be viewed and discussed as “ancient history.” It’s the reason why teammates who’ve known each other for a season can have the intimacy of childhood friends. It’s also why we can look back with nostalgia and talk sentimentally about the “simpler days” of derby before 2009, those fun-loving, hard hitting, fast-moving days before The Great Leap Forward (see Nerd Meat Part 8). Derby time follows the same calendars and clocks as the real world, but for rollergirls (and for those of us swept up in their wakes) to achieve some sort of sustainable life-work-derby balance, it is often necessary to cram 30-35 hours into a 24 hour period or slip an extra day or two in between Thursday and Friday (especially in those weeks leading up to bouts).

HCRG's Steel Town Tank Girls and ToRD's Smoke City Betties kicked off the inaugural Beast of the East. (Photo by Derek Lang)

Although the explosion of derby in eastern Canada began as far back as 2006, everyone in this part of the country synchronized their watches to derby time on April 19, 2008 (a few months later, at Roller Con 2008, a Canada East vs. Canada West bout synchronized derby time across the country). At 10:00 am on April 19, at Arena St. Louis in Montreal, Hammer City’s Steel Town Tank Girls lined up against ToRD’s Smoke City Betties in the opening bout of the inaugural Beast of the East, and the sport in this country has never been the same. It was this moment when the fates and futures of the all of the leagues in this region became intertwined. It was the expansion of the sisterhood that had already begun in every league and in those few inter-league bouts that had already occurred (and at the Betties D-Day tournament two years prior). It was the launching of a trajectory of competitive growth that continues to this day.

La Racaille had a breakout tournament at the 2008 Beast of the East. (Photo by Derek Lang)

Tournaments like this all over North America (and now the world) have become essential in the development and evolution of the sport. It is an opportunity to share strategies and evolve as a community. At that point in the development of Canadian roller derby, though, it was still all about learning the sport, and the Hamilton Harlots were still very much leading the class. They would dominate the early rounds with crushing victories over ToRD’s Gore-Gore Rollergirls and Bay Street Bruisers before knocking off Montreal’s Les Filles Du Roi 59-28 in the semi-final. Despite the Harlots dominance, 2008 also represented the first stages in a power shift in not just eastern Canadian roller derby, but roller derby in this country. Prior to the start of the season, Hammer City had expanded to a third team, the Death Row Dames. Predictably, the Dames were eliminated early, falling to the visiting Devil Dollies from Queen City (Buffalo). One of Canada’s original teams, the Steel Town Tank Girls trounced the Smoke City Betties in their opening bout. In the quarterfinal they lined up against Montreal’s La Racaille and its breakout star, the Iron Wench. In a nail-biter, Montreal’s hometeam pulled off a thrilling 32-30 victory to knock the second HCRG team out of the tournament.

The Hamilton Harlots continued their reign at the 2008 Beast of the East. (Photo by Derek Lang)

The final four consisted of the Harlots and all three of Montreal’s hometeams. While the Harlots would eventually (and convincingly) hold off the challenge from the Montreal upstarts, 55-18, Montreal’s success in the tournament would represent a taste of what was to come in the future. If you talk to the skaters about that tournament now (and the subsequent Beasts as well), they talk about how much of a bonding experience it was; a celebration of derby. It brought all of the eastern Canadian skaters together into a fully unified community for the first time.

Although I’ve more or less been running on derby time since just a few weeks after BOE 2008, I’m only now beginning to discover that there is a sort of derby time that exists on the track as well. I discovered it in those moments early in a practice when you’ve managed to get your skates on before anyone else and you get the track all to yourself. Within a few laps, the world beyond the track begins to blur, turns into a freeze-frame version of life that looks a little duller and moves a little slower than the one you’re experiencing.

Derby time is the reason why–even though it’s only been a few years–I can’t remember what life was like before I discovered the sport, and why I now can’t imagine a life without it.

Nerd Meat Part 4: Coming to Canada

Nerd Meat: The Nerd Does Derby

Part 4: Coming to Canada

I had a breakthrough at fresh meat. While stopping in any traditional sense is still a work in progress, we’ve finished learning all the falls, and I’ve come to realize that when great speeds are attained, falling to one’s knees is the quickest way to stop. My confidence shot through the roof. Then, this past week we scrimmaged. While it was exhilarating to say the least, my body has a long way to go to catch up to my mind: Even though I feel I know exactly what I should be doing, that doesn’t mean I can actually do it.

ToRDs Zebra Mafia prepare for a 2010 bout. (photo by Joe Mac)

I’ve been really interested in what drew these various women to ToRD’s fresh meat program, but as the weeks go by, it is becoming obvious that they are probably just as interested in what I’m doing there. I’m not the only guy, there are two others, both of whom are doing fresh meat alongside the referee training, but we stand out. I’ve got a stock answer set to respond to the inquiry: I write about roller derby and feel like I’m at that stage where I need to know it from the inside out. And that was the motivation. I have an extraordinary amount of respect for roller derby referees. The men and women in stripes who police this sport—as with other sports—don’t get a lot of respect. They get ridiculed by the crowd, harassed by the skaters. In the states, Queen of the Rink recently released a blog post called “How referees are killing flat track roller derby,” which argued for a reorganization of officiating in flat track roller derby. While I do think the sport is going through some growing pains (it is only 8 years old, don’t forget) and should be constantly refined, for the most part the refs want to do their best, and, I think, succeed just as much as the players do. And of course, without them, there wouldn’t be a game.

That being said, I’m not particularly interested in refereeing. That’s not the relationship I want to have with this sport.

Another thing that comes up (from freshies and skaters alike) is the possibility of starting a “merby” league. While I’d be lying through my teeth if I said I’d never thought about playing in a bout, I’m still not sure about my relationship with men’s roller derby. Although a few years ago it would have been absurd to think of men playing this sport on any scale of note, it’s a reality now that can’t be ignored. From all-men or co-ed scrimmages at Roller Con to the ever burgeoning Men’s Roller Derby Association (formerly the Men’s Derby Coalition), men’s roller derby is coming and it is coming fast.

The Mens Roller Derby Association was formerly known as the Mens Derby Coalition.

The Men’s Derby Coalition formed out of that same initial explosion of North American roller derby in 2007. In 2006, it was actually fairly easy to count the number of women’s leagues playing flat track roller derby (there were about 30); by the summer of 2007 the sport had spread considerably and had grown beyond its American roots. By 2007 roller derby had come to Canada.

If you talk to anyone who was inspired to begin playing or forming roller derby leagues in those days, they all cite the same influence: the A&E series Rollergirls. The skaters of the Lonestar Rollergirls were a diverse bunch from a variety of fields who shared similar, attractive features: fiercely independent, athletic and strong, but also unabashedly feminine. Rollergirls presented more than a sport, it presented an attitude, a way of life.

That the show was remarkably appealing to a 21st century woman should not be a surprise, and it probably shouldn’t be that much of a surprise that it influenced scores of women to follow suit. Playing banked track roller derby was a pipe dream for most, if not all, who were inspired by the sport. So when those first wannabe skaters began to research the possibility of playing, they inevitably encountered what was still known as the United Leagues Coalition (and later WFTDA), and the other girls in Austin, the flat-track playing Texas Rollergirls.

The show aired in Canada as well, and the same wave of formation followed. Out west Edmonton’s first league, the Oil City Derby Girls was forming, while in British Columbia the skaters who would form the Terminal City Rollergirls were beginning to organize in Vancouver, and a group of women in Victoria were coming together as the Eves of Destruction. Back east, in Hamilton, Toronto and Montreal, like-minded women were finding each other all with the same idea: to start a roller derby league.

The first organized league bout in Canadian flat track history was played by the Hammer City Rollergirls in 2006.

On July 22nd, 2006, the newly formed Hammer City Roller Girls played the first official organized flat track roller derby bout in Canada when their Steel Town Tank Girls took on the Hamilton Harlots in Burlington, Ontario. While the importance of this date in Canadian flat track lore is undeniable, it could be the events in Toronto less than a month later that may have had the greater influence.

Toronto Roller Derby formed out of a merger and reorganization of two independent teams, the Toronto Terrors and the Smoke City Betties. To facilitate the development of a league (and to help with the growth and understanding of the sport in wider circles) the Smoke City Betties organized the Betties’  D-Day, the first ever inter-league roller derby event to be held in Canada. On August 19, 2006, Hammer City, Montreal, and five of the six original ToRD teams were all present to play in a series of mini-bouts. While loosely set up as a tournament, the event would prove to be more important as a networking and training event. The Hamilton Harlots (as they would in most cases in those early days) dominated the day, defeating the Death Track Dolls, the Steel Town Tanks Girls, and Montreal in the mini-bout portion of the tournament, before taking down the host Smoke City Betties (79-57) in the main event.

This Betties D-Day was a taking-off point for eastern Canadian roller derby. Hammer City would form Canada’s first travel team (the Eh! Team), Montreal would head back to Quebec and form their first home teams (Les Contrabanditas and Les Filles du Roi), Toronto would add the Gore-Gore Rollergirls to form what, at the time, was the largest flat track roller derby league in the world. By the beginning of 2007 all three leagues would be fully organized and in full swing, opening the doors to the public and beginning their first seasons of roller derby. Others in Ottawa, the GTA and London had taken notice and were following suit.

Betties D-Day, held in August 2006, was a seminal event in Canadian roller derby history.

Roller Derby folk like to toss around the word “revolution” when they talk about their sport (half ironically, of course), but in many ways the quick growth of flat track roller derby really does fit the definition. An entirely new sport created for women, by women that would feature women. Nothing like it had happened before. Over the 20th century women had become increasingly involved in pre-existing men’s sports, but with flat track roller derby, they’d created their own.

It is perhaps because all of this that I am uncomfortable playing men’s roller derby. I still can’t help but think of roller derby spaces as women’s spaces, the sport itself as a women’s sport (and I mean that politically, not physically). But even on this point, I am heavily conflicted, and my opinion is slowly changing, as are the opinions of many in the sport. When I first discovered roller derby, I wholeheartedly bought into the idea of it being an extension of the riot grrrl/third wave feminism movements that had swept through North America at the end of the 20th century, and it certainly was a major influence (Steel Town Tank Girls!). But as time passes and as the sport evolves, this categorization seems awfully limited, dated even, of another era: The sport has transcended such classification. I just don’t see that reactionary anger in roller derby; I don’t see skaters out there trying to undermine any pre-existing paradigms; I don’t see women who feel the need to fight for something (respect, recognition, whatever) that they feel they deserve. And while I think all skaters demand that their sport be viewed as a serious, physical, athletic endeavour, I don’t think many are too concerned with falling into the rigid parameters we have set for what has traditionally been called a “sport.”And that is probably what sets roller derby apart from the too easily defined feminist movements of the 1990s; skaters are too focused on developing their game to be engaged in some last-century battle for acceptance.

The 21st century rollergirl doesn’t fight for equality, she expects it.

Weekend Recap: Hammer City Hosts Tri City


Comparatively speaking, the Tri-City Roller Girls (TCRG) are the new kids on the block in Canadian competitive roller derby. As a burgeoning power in the east (and a WFTDA apprentice league), they are following the road paved by their big sisters in Hammer City, Canada’s original flat track roller derby league. The debt that the sport and its practitioners in Canada owe the Hammer City Roller Girls is great. On Saturday night TCRG’s two hometeams paid their respects by heading across the province to engage in on-track battle: The apprentice versus the mentor; the results: an excellent display of the evolution of the sport.

Vicious Dishes (TCRG) 100 vs. Death Row Dames (HCRG) 50

Despite the lack of a few key veterans on either side, this bout had all the promise of a great one. A reordered Dames lineup has found some success this season (particularly at the Beast of the East), and is certainly one of the strongest lineups this team has ever put on the track. The Dishes, on the other hand, have stuck with a core that has slowly evolved into a great hometeam. With a big part of their travel team (The Thunder) leading the pack for the Dishes, the Dames were never fully able to wrestle control away from them and were doubled up in the end.

Jill Standing with a big jammer take out on Mean Little Mama.

Cut Off got things off to a great start for the Dames, and got the best of Motorhead Molly on the jam line throughout the first half. But that early 2-0 lead was quickly eradicated when the Dishes pack were able to take control. With emerging power pivot Jill Standing leading the way, Skate Pastor scored a double grandslam to take a lead that the Dishes would not relent. Points were hard to come by in the early going, a sign that the Dishes were controlling as TCRG has shown a penchant for thriving in scrappy, defensive, low-scoring bouts. For the Dames, Lock N Roll seems to have returned to her traditional role as pivot and was an effective physical presence all night often trading jammer take outs with sin-e-star. Veteran Ivy Rupted also ran things well for the Dames, and Cut Off was their best weapon throughout the first half. Anita Martini was once again key for the Dishes, and by the time she scored a massive jammer take out on Bitchslap Barbie (who took her share of knocks in the opening half), the Dishes were looking like they were going to run away with it (the score was 48-11 with less than ten minutes to go). But on the final jam of the half, with fired-up vet Barbie at the jam line hungry for redemption after a rough half, the Dames got a power jam and played it brilliantly. They set a solid trap, slowed the pack and frustrated the Dishes (who also went down two in the pack in the midst of it) and manged to narrow the score to 58-31 at the half.

Skate Pastor was a key jammer for the Vicious Dishes.

Some of the Dames vets came out driven  in the second half, hoping to build on the momentum. Miss Carriage and Lock with the stripe, Mean Little Mama with the star and Barbie doing a little bit of everything, led the push back. But it was not to be. The Dishes look increasingly well organized, and were able to adjust to the Dames’ counter attack. Matching Skate Pastor up against Cut Off neutralized the jammer who’d done the most damage for the Dames in the first half, and Stobbelicious had somewhat of a breakout bout putting up some nice numbers from the jam line. And although the big three in the pack (Bareleigh Legal, Anita and sin-e-star) still carried the work load, better management at pivot (rotating Great Garbage and Jill Standing in particular) allowed both to be consistent forces throughout the bout. Although the Dishes ended up pulling away with a 100-50 victory, it was, on all sides, a great display of how far flat track roller derby has come. Fantastic pack control (whether it be isolation and trapping or defensive pacing), big, clean hits and cagey jammers (add a touch of attitude and posturing to the mix), this bout had it all.

Harlots' blockers holding up the Tramps' jammer

Venus Fly Tramps (TCRG) 66 vs. Hamilton Harlots (HCRG) 114

While one could argue that the Steel City Tank Girls was Hammer City’s original team, it is the Harlots who gained much wider recognition in the early going, winning The Betties D-Day in Toronto and Montreal’s inaugural Beast of the East. While there are a few remaining veterans from those days, this is a shiny new Harlots team full of youth and emerging players who are in the process of returning this team to its former glory. The Tramps, on the other hand, is a team in the midst of its initial rise, and a team that seems to be improving each bout.

Early on it was the veteran jammer trio of Vicadoom, Dicey and Perky Set who got things off to a great start for the Harlots, taking the first five leads and building an early advantage for the team. But teams on the rise must have rising stars, and in this bout it was Cell Block Bettie who stepped up for the Tramps.

Cell Block Bettie continued her stellar 2010 with a strong bout for the Tramps

Bettie, who has also been a standout recently for the Thunder, was a key jammer all night for the tramps, leading Konky and Kitty Krasher (with Leighzzie Borden coming on strong in the second half). She also proved to be a capable matchup against the Harlot’s physical jammer, Vicadoom, a further sign of her growing abilities and confidence. Led by strong jams, The Tramps were able to stay within reach, and with just under 10 minutes left in the first, they found themselves on a power jam and down 36-19. In what may have been the turning point in the bout, the Harlots’ Scooby Doom pivoted an excellent defensive pack on the jam, not only denying the Tramps points but actually holding them off until Perky Set returned from the box and took the lead jam. Harlots led 56-26 at the half.

The Harlots went out with a vet heavy lineup in the second half in an attempt to preserve the lead. Chainsaw Mary continued her strong return to form in 2010 with an extremely physical bout, including forcing two jammer take outs against Leighzzie deep in the second half, that allowed the Harlots to put some distance between themselves and the Tramps. But the Tramps never backed down form the challenge. Lillith No Fair and Freudian Whip both had great bouts in the pack for the Tramps, and Gunmoll Mindy continues to develop into an excellent, dependable blocker. As a consolation for their great effort, Konky was able to take to the lead on the final jam, and a jammer take out from Dicey forced the call and ended the bout, a 114-66 victory for the Hamilton Harlots.

NOTE: Carla Coma was a noticeable absence from the Harlots’ lineup, and word on the track is that she has hung up her skates, which is a loss for all roller derby fans and skaters. Truly a legend in early Canadian flat track roller derby;  if there were a Hall of Fame, she’d be well on her way.


La Racaille 73 vs. Les Filles du Roi 116

Montreal continued its extraordinary home season with another classic bout between two amazing teams. With a birth in the final on the line, the last two MTLRD champions faced off. Having lost their opening bout of the season, defending champs Les Filles du Roi needed a victory, and one by a fairly comfortable margin, to get through; 2008 champs La Racaille, who were coming off of a tight victory over Les Contrabanditas, needed any victory to secure their spot. FDR got off to a fast start securing an early lead that they would defend for the whole bout. A late tactical error by La Racaille and a fifteen point jam by Smack Daddy ended La Racaille’s hopes for a shop at the championship. FDR will battle the Ditas on August 7th for the MTLRD championship. Last time these two teams faced each other it was a one-point classic. No reason to expect anything different in the final.