Royal City Rollergirls

2 Fresh 2 Furious Features the Future Stars of Eastern Canadian Roller Derby

The D-VAS in 2008 featured current skaters Betty Bomber, Land Shark and Mia Culprit. (pictured in a bout against Rebel Rock-It and the Bay Street Bruisers). (Photo by Kevin Konnyu)

On June 16, 2007, The Deadly Viper Assassination Squad (D-VAS) defeated the Smoke City Betties 96-78 to win what was each team’s first ever bout in Toronto Roller Derby (ToRD). While the Smoke City Betties would quickly emerge as a contender in ToRD (reaching the semifinals in 2008 before Battling for the Boot in 2009), the D-VAS would struggle, posting a 2-6 record in ToRD’s frst two seasons before falling under the knife in ToRD’s 2009 contraction (when they and the Bay Street Bruisers folded). ToRD veteran Mia Culprit (and current Betty) was the first captain of the D-VAS and sports a tattoo of the logo on her right leg. “It was difficult to say goodbye,” she admits. “I have the best memories of the D-VAS. Specifically getting to meet people like Betty Bomber….Dolly Parts’Em, Seka Destory…” The astute ToRD fan will recognize those names as current skaters with the Death Track Dolls. Other skaters from those two D-VAS teams have made their way in the derby world as well. ToRD fan favourite Land Shark (another Doll) was a rookie on the team in 2008, Rollergettes founder and skater Goldie Lock ‘N Load was on the original roster, and so was JJ Bladez, who now skates for Hammer City’s Eh! Team.

In 2010, as ToRD went through a period of intense, but stable, growth, the league resurrected the D-VAS as a farm team for ToRD’s draftable skaters, a development role that, in retrospect, has always seemed to be its calling. The program has already successfully graduated skaters into the league, and this weekend, the next generation of ToRD rookies will face off against other fresh meat teams and new leagues in the 2 Fresh 2 Furious tournament hosted by the GTA Rollergirls.

THE TOURNAMENT

The concept for 2 Fresh 2 Furious actually has roots as far back as 2008 when GTAR’s Derby Debutantes hosted the Virgin Suicides Brawl, a similar tournament for young, inexperienced teams. “I think 2 Fresh 2 Furious is a great opportunity for new players and teams to get their derby feet wet, so to speak,” says My-call Buble long-time bench manager/coach of the Derby Debutantes. “It’s a less intimidating forum for newer players…as their opponents will be of a similar level to them.” D-VAS co-captain Skinned Knee Crosby echoed these sentiments, “The whole tournament is a great, fun idea, and it shows…that roller derby is growing fast and local.”

And right now, flat track roller derby in Ontario may be growing faster than in any other region in North America with leagues forming (seemingly) by the month in locations as varied as Windsor and Minden. Considering the extraordinary growth of the sport in this province, this tournament is now more important than ever. 16 teams will be featured on two tracks in a 20-minute, double-elimination format that will be familiar to anyone who has been to the Beast of the East in Montreal (it should be noted that Buffalo’s Queen City-which has been competing in Canada since 2007-will be sending its fresh meat team as well). This format guarantees that each team will get to play at least two bouts, providing invaluable experience to the participants.

The Chrome Mollys and Royal City have already met this year (May 14). (Photo by Joe Mac)

THE COMPETITION

Things kick off on Saturday morning at 11:00 AM when two very new leagues, the Border City Brawlers (Windsor) and South Simcoe Rebel Rollers face off, while Durham Region Roller Derby will take on one of two teams from Kingston. “We expect strong showings from the WFTDA leagues of Queen City and ToRD,” predicts My-Call Buble, and while this could be case, it’s hard to handicap this event as even some of the more established teams will be sending fresh-faced lineups. The D-VAS, for example, will be using this opportunity to dress ToRD’s latest crop of fresh meat graduates, many of whom have yet to even put on the uniform. The same goes for GTAR’s Chrome Molly’s who will sit some of their more experienced skaters to give the fresh meat a chance to gather the all-important experience.

ToRD's D-VAS have warmed up with a home and home series against Nickel City's Sister Slag. (Photo by Joe Mac)

Despite this mystery, there will, though, be teams to watch. “I looking forward to watching Royal City play; they have some great girls on their team,” says Crosby. My-call Buble also takes note of the quickly emerging Royal City Rollergirls (who will be sending all three of their home teams), “Royal City, Belle City and South Simcoe, although new this year, are playing every chance they get.” Word on the track is that this hard-training South Simcoe Rebel Rollers team may very well be a team on the rise, while Belle City’s Belles of the Brawl (Brantford) just got some valuable experience at CWRDA’s Eastern ChampionshipDurham Region has also been busy in 2011. After some struggle to get off the ground, DRRD  seems to have found its footing and has had some impressive showings lately. Any track time is valuable in a young skater’s career, so this activity will be a big advantage for these teams.

But the beauty and excitement of a tournament like this is in the inability to predict things. Any one of the teams participating has a viable shot at winning. For these young teams, it may come down to which roster gels the quickest, which team has the strongest leadership and organization, and, as with any tournament, which teams simply wants it more.

* 2 Fresh 2 Furious kicks off at 11:00 am at Ted Reeve Arena. For a complete schedule visit the gtarollergirls.com. Tickets are available at Way Cool Tattoos and Red Tent Sisters, or online.

* Here is a complete list of tournament participants. (For a complete schedule, click here).

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.

ROUND ONE

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.

WHAT TO EXPECT

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

ROUND ONE

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

RELEGATION

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
SEMIFINALS

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

RELEGATION

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)

CHAMPIONSHIP

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