Monday, July 28, 2008


After Saturday night’s incredible upset, San Diego was skating in an unexpected Sunday bout. To go up against the Lonestar Rollergirls, thee TXRD, reputation as well as experience would lead you to believe that San Diego would have their heads handed to them. This situation threatened to play out similar to The Charger’s first time to The Super Bowl. “We’re here. Now what”? The reality was that many of the players that made them famous had either retired, or were injured, so the team that San Diego faced was newer, and as history would show, within reach.

On Sunday, hours before the bout, San Diego would take the track. Coach Isabelle Ringer led her team through some drills to warm up. The night before, this team proved that they were ready to compete on a national level on the banked track as well as flat track; the only improvements needed were minor adjustments. After San Diego completed warm ups, Isabelle discussed penalty-avoiding strategies, and the team went on to practice those. Minutes later, ReferIan and Coach Ringer came together to go over the particular rules and regulations of this bout. This tournament combined banked and flat track rules, so it was important not to fall into flat track habits when they were playing on a banked track.

At 2:35, from the backs of the arena, a skater from another team shoots to the edge of the track, and asks about the procedure for getting in some warm-up time. Since no other teams had shown up until then, that San Diego made use of the available track until the next team arrived. From where I was seated, going by the ladies’ tone, the two seemed to be having a nice-off. Was that through clenched teeth, because that would soon change.

As the final San Diego skaters rolled out of the front of the arena and made their way to the dressing rooms, more than one of them made eye contact with me and gave me a facetious “your eyes on them” gesture. At that moment, I imagined Willy Wonka-esque security approaching me, demanding to know, “What are you doing here? This is a restricted area,” in that authoritarian tone. While moving my hand to cover the SDDD logo on the front of my shirt, I would reply, “Who? Me”?

At 2:30, only three skaters from the other team had arrived to warm up on the track.

At 3:00, a couple of skaters asked the question the skaters warming up had asked about track times. Once again, they used a very cordial tone. Was it Opposite Day?

So, sitting in the snooty, above-it-all media area, an announcement comes over the speakers that Team Awesome had requested “private time” on the track, and asked that all skaters from other teams please leave the area (making the track an even snootier area than the Snooty Media Area).

While Team Awesome practiced their fouling technique, San Diego referee Skurvy Pirate passed on the arena floor below. I waved to him, but it was too late. His back was to me; I could tell, because I could see a reflection of myself waving to him. Upon closer inspection, I can see that he is on the phone, but he is not saying anything.

Must be talking to Ginny.

Here is the problem with the Snooty Media Area, as well as snooty areas in general. They are built to be above everybody and everything, and in turn, away from everybody and everything. Hours early because I rode up with one of our refs, Lexxx, I was getting restless. One thing I noticed while watching warm ups is how much more difficult it is to ninja jump over a body on a banked track versus a flat track.

Wait a minute, is Miss Fortune not skating? I can tell that she is not skating, because I can actually see her, instead of the blur that I had come to know as Miss Fortune. (Sure, normally you could blame my drinking, but in her particular case, the description “blur,” is accurate.) She appeared to be walking without a limp or physical indication of injury, but there is a difference between being capable to walk, and ready to skate in a bout (unless you mean, walking in New York City). If Miss Fortune was not skating in Team Awesome’s bout, that would be a big coo to the other team.

After two hours of pen-wiggling, Swig Whiskey, cameraman of the Los Angeles Derby Dolls joined me in Camp Snooty. We talked about how he first intended to become a referee (LA calls them “enforcers”), but the time commitment to both skating and learning the rules conflicted with his personal life. (Maybe he saw 3.0 coming on the horizon, and bailed.) His desire to be involved led him to doing the filming work for LADD. He reveled to me that “There is something about roller derby. If I knew that someone [a stranger] was involved with roller derby, I would trust them more than somebody who was not.” In absolute agreement, it has always been my opinion that the sport attracts a certain level of character. There is an article in one of the early issues of Blood And Thunder where the writer sold his belongings, including his company stock options, and spends the better part of the year traveling the country, and writing about different bouts from city to city. At the end of the article, he describes the roller derby community as incredible and outstanding, and states that his journey would have been much shorter, if not impossible without their care and generosity.

At this point, the bout between San Diego and that team nobody has ever heard of was about to begin. That means a different kind of notes, and a different post.

This is The Ill Reverend Mike, pausing to catch his breath.

(Sure, this might be near its expiration date, but when we got back, everybody was talking about LA.)