After a loss to the Killamazoo Derby Darlins on May 10, the Cincinnati Rollergirls Black Sheep travel to Fort Wayne, IN May 16-19 to take on the Chicago Outfit, Jacksonville and Toronto in the annual Spring Roll tournament. Tank recaps the Killamazoo game and previews this weekend’s match-ups.

Very few things take me away from my not-so-comfy concrete seat on corner 1 at the Cincinnati Gardens, but the UFC was in town for one night only this past Saturday, and I couldn’t say no to the sweet siren song of men punching each other in the face while wearing board shorts with misspelled company names like “Venum” screen printed on them. MMA and roller derby share common themes, such as mid-2000 Eminem songs still being used for intros and nicknames that make you question who calls them that. (Seriously, I watched a guy fight whose moniker is “The Detroit Superstar.” Do his friends really call him that? Or do they call him Superstar? Star? To paraphrase Cedric the Entertainer: “I’m a grown-ass man, dawg. I ain’t gonna call no other dude “Star.”)
But all kidding aside, roller derby and MMA both have something else very important in common: To be a winner in either sport, you have to be able to do everything well, and at least one or two things very well. Thanks to the crew at ICRC, I was able to watch both CRG bouts online via Livestream. I got to see both Cincinnati squads continue to try to get better in all facets of the game, and I am starting to see more individual skaters find those one or two things they do very well.
The night kicked off with the Violent Lambs taking on the Killa Crew. This game was a wild one as it had six lead changes, but unfortunately at the end of the game, the Crew held on to win it. First, I really liked that the Lambs really committed in this game to making Imma Tattooher and Tru D. Vicious their main two jammers. Imma had a big 14-point jam early in the game to wake up the Lambs offense after they were trailing early due to penalty trouble. I can’t get over how fast she is, and I am excited to see her starting to figure out how to control her aggression and not go to the penalty box as often. There are still game situations where she is trying to figure out things such as when to call the jam, but the more track time she gets, the more she will learn what to do when.
Tru is such a workhorse for this team and a real problem for opposing teams that can’t match her athleticism and strength. It’s seriously has come to the point where I just expect her to jump the apex every time she jams. I also liked seeing when the coaches put Jennocide in the pack instead of on the jammer line where her raw power is more of an advantage. She works great against slow walls but she is so powerful when she tries to push walls forward, sometimes she just ends up smashing through them instead which gets her sent to the box. When she was in the pack though that strength was a huge advantage as she was able to effortlessly drop the opposing jammers with the power of young Mike Tyson. Finally, I hope we get to see Skunna Hurt jam more. She is so calm out there and has the perfect blend of power and speed to make opposing packs pay.
Speaking of doing things well, the pack was much more versatile. While players continued to stick with the wall strategy, there seemed to be more freedom in this game to hand out a hit if there was the right opportunity to do so. Poppy looked excellent in this as she constantly did one of the core fundamentals of the game: Control the inside line. She was constantly crashing down to make sure no one was getting through, and if they did, they were going to have to earn it by going through her. Cherry Choke looked great in this game as well, and you could tell she was having fun at there working with her teammates and crushing the other team’s jammers. I hope this the direction the Lambs continue to go in as I saw a lot of positive stuff out there. The also could have won this one if they could have cut down on their penalty minutes. Those moments were the Lambs had two blockers in the box and one player in the queue was one of the big things that kept them from getting the win. The Killa Crew won, 234 to 204.
The second game pitted the WFTDA 56th ranked Black Sheep against the 52nd ranked Derby Darlins. The Thursday before this game, Wheezy decided that she wanted to step away from jamming, and with both Sailor Scary and Sista Shovechild out of town for the game, the Black Sheep had to get creative with who was going to jam for them. Just like a bottle of Thunderbird in a circle of hobos, the Sheep opted to pass the star around. Nuk’em and La Bruja had the biggest impacts of the night jamming, as both were able to absorb hits, keep moving at a very high speed and consistently put up points. And just like Imma and Tru D., once the coaching staff figured out who had the hot hand (foot?), they kept giving the star to them.
The pack play was better than it was in the Arch Rival game, but there are still some problems that they can’t seem to shake. One of the biggest issues is opposing teams are often able to push the Sheep wall and force them 20 feet out of play. They have to figure out some way to hit the brakes and not allow this to happen. When they do manage to do this, they are very effective. I also like what the Sheep are doing where they will keep the same players in the pack jam after jam. This is where coaching comes in though, as they have to know how many jams the same blockers can be in before they become to tired and ineffective. But this one was never in doubt as Killamazoo won, 239-148.
Sadly, three more Cincinnati skaters have hung up their skates. Fan favorites Railroad and Hot Slice both retired before this game due to personal reasons. Cincy Pysch-O, who moved up from the Lambs to play for the Sheep in this game, has stepped down as well – at least temporarily – due to a knee injury. I wish all of these ladies good luck in their future endeavors.
This weekend the Sheep will be in action at Spring Roll in Fort Wayne, IN. They will be taking on the 65th-ranked Chicago Outfit, 16th-ranked Jacksonville, and 23rd-ranked Toronto. Their game against the Outfit is Friday night at 7 p.m. and could result in the Sheep’s first win of the season. I really like their odds in this one and you know they are going to come into this hungry as they look to get their first W this year. You can watch that game and the rest of the Spring Roll tournament, including the Cincinnati Battering Rams men’s team, live on Derby News Network.

Cincinnati Black Sheep Spring Roll Schedule

Friday, May 16, 7 p.m.: Cincinnati Rollergirls Black Sheep vs. Chicago Outfit (Track 1)
Saturday, May 17, 8:30 p.m.: Cincinnati Rollergirls vs. Jacksonville Rollergirls (Track 2)
Sunday, May 18, 4:30 p.m.: Cincinnati Rollergirls vs. Toronto Roller Derby (Track 2)

Cincinnati Black Sheep Spring Roll Roster

Anne Bones 77 // Annie Tomical 91 // Big Ugly 72 // candyKICKass 32 // Cherry Choke 0 // Hannah Barbaric 85 // ¡I, Caramba! 23 // Jungle Lacy 83 // Kitten Kicker 30 // La Bruja 66 // Mirderher 44 // Nuk’em 86 // Ruthless Chris 5 // Sailor Scary 92 // Sista Shovechild 2 // Wheezy 43