2011 Home Season Preview

The best time of the year is upon us, says Cincinnati Rollergirls announcer Tank. Christmas? Come on, no one enjoys fighting crowds of mouth breathers at the mall like a scene from “Dawn of the Dead.” Summer? Stepping outside and having your armpits turn into Niagara Falls isn’t good for anyone. NFL football starting back up? The Bengals are ran by Mike Brown; insert your own joke here. No, no, and no: It’s time for the Cincinnati Rollergirls to return to the historic Cincinnati Gardens for their most exciting season yet.

A Look Back at 2010
2010 was a year of ups, downs, and transitions for CRG both on and off the track. While they had an impressive record of 4-1 at home and went 9-5 for the season, they failed to make the WFTDA Championship tournament, finishing in fourth place in the North Central Regional playoff tournament for the second year in a row. This season is incredibly important for Cincinnati to make a run at a WFTDA Championships while they have a strong nucleus of seasoned veterans intact. With that in mind, CRG has scheduled its toughest home season ever, which means you’re going to see the best action you have ever seen at the Gardens this spring. This is a strategy that has successfully been used in the past by WFTDA league mates Madison, who defeated Cincinnati last year at North Central Regionals to secure a spot in the championships.
Blockers to Bank On
This season, the biggest thing CRG has going for it is diversity. The Charter 20 (varsity squad) is a big mix of personalities and has some significant depth this year. Starting up front, Sk8r-Kinney and Karma Krash will be splitting time again at the pivot position. They beautifully complement each other’s game as Karma brings positive, encouraging leadership to the pack and Kinney brings a stoic, dependable calm to the role. Both are strong athletes who know how to play the game and direct those around them. The blocking corps will have a wide range of talent to choose from this year, depending on what they want to do. Sk8 Crime has put on some solid muscle mass in the off-season and looks to bring even more pain in her game this season. Jungle Lacy, dubbed the “Knee Knocker” by her teammates, should be seeing more pack time this year, hitting opponents with something big they won’t see coming. Mirderher was the most improved player last year and looks to keep that momentum going after recovering from her off-season knee surgery. Her rehab was successful so look for her to be back to her old ways of sending opposing skaters into the front row. June with a Cleaver and the returning Killian Destroy, two of the most experienced and battle-tested blockers CRG has, return to their roles in the middle of the pack. June’s ability to cause opposing skaters to draw penalties is legendary among her teammates, while Killian is the perfect mix of strength and violence.
Jammers to Watch
Cincinnati’s jammer corps has never been this stacked. In the past, the Black Sheep have had two jammers in the regular rotation, plus few players splitting time in the pack and on the jammer line. This year there are three dedicated jammers and one player splitting time as a blocker and jammer , and each one brings something different to wearing the star. 2010’s CRG jammer of the year, Hannah Ouchocinco, returns to duty and has emerged as a strong leader for her sisters of the star. Ouchocinco is tougher than a coffin’s nail; she proved this last year by breaking a finger in a game, having it reset, and returning to track 10 minutes later. K. Lethal returns to the line as well, and the young phenom looks to do what has become the norm for her: Score a lot of points fast. Nuk’em brings her bruising style back to the jammer line, when she isn’t smashing the other team’s jammer in the pack. No one moves her hips like Nuk’em, excluding Shakira, making her an opposing jammer’s worst nightmare one on one in open space. Wheezy, a stand out on the Silent Lambs, has become a permanent addition to the Black Sheep roster. She is the most well-rounded of the jammers, combining Ouchocinco’s heart, K’s speed and Nuk’em’s muscle. Adding her to the veteran Black Sheep jammers is going to spell success for CRG and disappointment for their opponents.
The Competition for 2011
Nashville, March 26: Cincinnati starts off the year against WFTDA Championships qualifier, the Nashville Rollergirls. This is an interesting matchup, where a win would benefit both teams and a loss would be a serious blow for the beginning of the regular season. If Cincinnati wins, they will have beaten a WFTDA Championships qualifier. If they lose, it will come at the hands of the weakest team to qualify for the Championships last year and will raise questions about whether they can actually beat the teams ranked above them in their own region (Windy City, Minnesota, Madison, and Detroit). If Nashville wins, it means they have taken down one of the 20 best teams in the world on their home track. If Nashville loses, it will serve as further evidence that the South Central is the weakest region, as one of their WFTDA Championships qualifiers is unable to beat a team from a different region who didn’t make the big dance. No matter how this game goes down, Nashville is a solid team with great athletes like Rambo Sambo, who looks like she was laser-cut from granite, and Four Leaf Roller, WFTDA’s November 2010 featured skater.
Fort Wayne, April 9: The second game of the season brings the Fort Wayne Derby Girls to town. The Black Sheep last played them in 2008 and beat them by 65 points. While on paper this is Cincinnati’s easiest bout of the season, Fort Wayne looks to be much improved, as they recently kept within 26 points of Naptown and destroyed Sioux Falls by 100 points. This game is about two teams that are trying to move up but are on different levels. Cincinnati is currently ranked fifth in the North Central, while Fort Wayne is ranked 15th. Cincinnati’s focus is on making the WFTDA Championships while Fort Wayne is just trying to earn an invitation to North Central Regionals this fall.
Naptown, April 30: Naptown comes to the Gardens next, a team that has taken on the role of the new rising star in the North Central, which could prove to be hazardous to their health. Cincinnati, for better or worse, has played the role of gatekeeper in the North Central region for years now. If you can beat CRG, you will go onto the WFTDA Championships (Windy City and Madison both proved this again last year), and if you can’t, you become just another team on the outside looking in. CRG has slain every team that has occupied this role in the past two years, Arch Rival (St. Louis) in 2009 and both North Star (Minneapolis) and Brewcity (Milwaukee) in 2010. Naptown didn’t take much down time between 2010 and 2011. At the North Central Regionals in 2010, they defeated Brewcity and proved it was not a fluke by beating them again this season. As of March 12, 2011, they are on a seven-game winning streak, including 6-0 at home. These two teams recently scrimmaged each other, a game that Cincinnati barely won. I won’t be surprised if this bout comes down to the final jam.
Steel City, May 14: The fourth game of the season brings one of CRG’s toughest tests yet to town, the Steel City Derby Demons. SCDD is the East Coast version of CRG, a team stacked with talent that’s trying to break into the top there in their region. Cincinnati and Steel City have clashed before and the games have always been extremely competitive. A win for either team would be a big confidence booster. Steel City has Hurricane Heather and ‘Snot Rocket Science, two of the best skaters in terms of technical ability that CRG will face this season. This will be the first game of a series this year between these two teams, as Cincinnati will travel to play Steel City in Pittsburgh on August 20.
Windy City, June 4: The fifth game of the season sees old rival and North Central queens of the rink, Windy City, blow into town. Windy City has a lifetime-undefeated streak against North Central opponents that CRG is looking to snap. Cincinnati is 0-3 against WCR, but the last time they met, Cincinnati lost by only 25 points and held a commanding lead for part of that game. Jackie Daniels has fully blossomed in Chicago. She and WCR mainstay Ol’ Drrty Go-Go are the captains this year and charged with the task that has eluded their team for so long: Bringing the Hydra championship trophy home to Chicago. At the same time, 2010 proved that Windy City is not the undefeatable colossus that they once were. This could be the year that Cincinnati finally beats WCR, and if that happens, the entire region opens up in ways we have never seen before.
Detroit, June 18: The final home game of the season has major implications for the North Central Regional seedings. Detroit makes the drive down I-75 for this huge matchup. While the 2010 North Central Regionals were disappointing for CRG, it was heartbreaking for Detroit, a team that many speculated would make the 2010 WFTDA Championships. Then, they were unceremoniously defeated by Cinderella story Minnesota in their first bout of the tournament. For both of these teams the road to get to get back into the WFTDA Championships picture is through each other. Detroit has put one of my former colleagues, Big Papa Razzi, at the helm, as he moves from announcer to bench coach. Racer McChaseHer is nationally known for her skating ability, and Effin Money and boo d. livers continue to make names for themselves as well. This game is a must win for both teams, but only one can skate out of the Gardens with the win.
Ticket Information
Cincinnati Rollergirls tickets are $10 for adult general admission seating, $15 for trackside seating (18 and older), $5 for kids 7-12 and free for kids 6 and younger in advance through the Cincinnati Gardens box office (open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday), at all Ticketmaster outlets including select Kroger stores, charge by phone at 800-745-3000 or online at www.ticketmaster.com. Ticket prices increase at the door to $12 for adult general admission seating, $17 for trackside seating and $6 for kids 7-12. Parking is free, tailgating is encouraged and beer is just $1 during happy hour. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the first game starts at 7 p.m.