On Saturday, January 26, 2013, the Cincinnati Rollergirls open what they hope will be season of change with an away game against a familiar foe: Indianapolis’s Naptown Roller Girls.
The double-header at the Indiana Convention Center is open to the public but unsanctioned, giving both teams a chance to gain experience playing under a newly revised rule set without worrying about repercussions in the rankings. Certainly, that arrangement was more appealing to Cincinnati, which lost its last two games against Naptown – a team that earned its way to the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association Championships in 2011 and 2012 while Cincinnati didn’t make it past the playoffs.
But Cincinnati is opening its eighth season with a renewed sense of optimism and determination. After a two-season absence, game-changer Sadistic Sadie makes her return not only to the team but also to the coaching staff, replacing Ruff’n the Passer (who continues to skate for CRG’s A team/varsity squad, the Black Sheep). Can Sadie and Coach Quad Almighty rekindle the magic they had during the 2009 and 2010 seasons, when they shepherded the Sheep to one win away from playing in the WFTDA Championships each year?
The Black Sheep
Last season, the Black Sheep came out of the gate 3-1 before dropping back-to-back games to hit 3-3. They won and lost a game at the Midwest Brewhaha and returned home to beat crosstown rival the Black-n-Bluegrass Rollergirls from Northern Kentucky to close out the home season at 5-4. Then the bottom dropped out as CRG lost five games in a row, tying their longest losing streak in franchise history in 2011. They capped off the season with a victory over the Chicago Outfit to finish ninth out of 10 teams in the WFTDA North Central Playoffs, closing out the season with a record of 6-9.
Surprisingly, not much has changed in terms of who is playing on the Black Sheep. Other then the return of Sadie, the roster looks to be about the same as last year, minus the major loss of standout pivot, Sk8r-Kinney, now skating for the San Diego Derby Dolls. I will be interested to see where they plug triple threat candyKICKass! into the mix.
Also, the jammer rotation will be interesting, as the core group of K. Lethal, Hannah Barbaric, and Wheezy looks to be changing. Hannah has been playing the sport for close to a decade now and could look to bring that experience into the pack to help the Sheep’s defense. She and Karma Krash have both been working out at CRG sponsor CrossFit Cincinnati, and both look to be in tremendous shape going into the season. Multiple season award winners Buckhead Betty and Nuk’em return as well, and I’m eager to see how they will be utilized this year.
The Violent Lambs
The Violent Lambs (CRG’s B Team/junior varsity squad) is going to be very interesting to watch this year. At this point, there are very few guaranteed spots on the Black Sheep, and players who perform while on this level could see themselves bumped up to the main roster as soon as the first game depending on how they are practicing and playing. Flat out, this roster is stacked with players who are aching to play on the next level and have the ability to do so.
Railroad, with her bone-crushing hits, could earn a permanent spot on the Sheep. The veteran Cherry Choke, will once again bring her leadership and knowledge to the Lambs squad, but she could also see playing time on the Sheep. 2012 rookies Big Ugly, I Caramba, and Ruthless Chris have made the jump from the Flock Ewes (CRG’s C Team) to the Lambs. Caramba and Chris are looking strong in the jammer position, while 6-foot-plus-on-skates Big Ugly could be a major defensive asset. And two familiar faces and forces on the track return: Bombtrack, who briefly retired after CRG’s 2012 home season, and Juwana Hurt, who left the team several years ago but has worked her way back as a trainer and now again as a skater.
New rules, new rankings, new divisions
The game itself has changed in two major ways:
1. NO MINORS! THEY ARE GONE! Roller derby is going to be treated as it truly is: A full contact sport. Minors made the game confusing, causing long time outs as refs and teams would have to figure out why someone was going to the box for doing next to nothing or something unintentional.
2. The playoff picture has drastically changed as the WFTDA has switched from regions that pitted the top 10 teams from a region against each other to established divisions. The league is now set up in four tiers, with the top 10 teams from each of the former regions making up Division I. The other divisions are treated the same way from Division II, III, IV, and then unranked.
Currently CRG is in Division I, but depending on what happens throughout the season, the team could slip into the second tier. This structure of division gauges not only whether you win or lose, but also whom you win or lose to and by how much. Score a major upset and you reap the awards, but if you lose to a team that you should dominate, you can take a major drop through the rankings. CRG has been criticized for their soft home season this year, which currently features mostly Division II opponents. But I feel that is the right move so that the Sheep and Lambs can try new strategies, allow new players to work together and start to rebuild to the Midwestern powerhouse they once were.
Just like a pregnancy test episode of Maury Povich, this season is filled with many questions. Will new blood work its way into the Black Sheep roster? Will the coaching changes be enough to right the ship? Will playing without minors aid or hurt this squad and their game play strategies? To find out, join us at the Cincinnati Gardens this spring and stay tuned here for up-to-date analysis and information.
CRG opens its home season on March 23 at the Cincinnati Gardens. For more information on the home season, season tickets and single tickets, click here.
Cincinnati vs. Naptown Rosters
Cincinnati Black Sheep: Buckhead Betty 33 // CandyKICKass 32 // Hannah Barbaric 85 // June with a Cleaver 21 // Jungle Lacy 83 // K. Lethal 18 // Karma Krash 3 // Kitten Kicker 30 // Mirderher 44 // Nuk’em 86 // Penn Tupanga 77 // Ruff’n the Passer 29 // Sadistic Sadie 76 // Wheezy 43
Cincinnati Violent Lambs: Big Ugly 72 // Bombtrack 12 // Cherry Choke 0 // Garden of Beatin’ 16 // I Caramba! 23 // Imma Tattooher 81 // Juwana Hurt 4 // Poppy Chulo 27 // Railroad 6 // Roxx Solid 74 // Ruthless Chris 5 // Sailor Scary 92 // Flannery O’Slaughter 17