Category Archives: KCRW

WFTDA Weekend Wrap-Up

Since Charm City effectively screwed my tournament bracket back into the Stone Age, I won’t go game-by-game in our wrap-up of this weekend’s Continental Divide and Conquer championships. Instead, we’ll just hit the high notes, and you know what that means: the Kansas City Roller Warriors.

For the most part, anyway.


Texas 141, Minnesota 108

All right, am I the only nut that just plain didn’t see Minnesota coming? I tweeted after the game that my hat was off to them, the one team I certainly underestimated the most out of the entire tournament. And I have to hand it to them, they went one round further than I expected and then gave the Texas Rollergirls a pretty good run for their money, one that the final score doesn’t really reflect; they were ahead by 11 going into halftime, for one thing. Texas being the second-half team that they are, though, they definitely came out swinging, and they played the patient game long enough to let Minnesota get themselves into penalty trouble before allowing their stellar defense to pick up the pieces. Texas can talk all they want about how they aren’t a one-trick pony, but until they start relying on someone other than Olivia Shootin’ John for their early bouts in these tournaments, we’re going to keep on not believing them.

That’s a start.

Texas has other effective jammers (Vicious Van Gogo, Bloody Mary, Shortcut) that entered the rotation pretty regularly later in the tournament, but you have to wonder how much of that was due to the sheer fatigue Olivia Shootin’ John was experiencing as a result of wearing the star almost exclusively earlier in the weekend. The statistics may not quite bear that out the way I’m telling it, but from a fan’s perspective, you could almost say OJ’s name along with the announcers when the jam began, kind of like an old song you’ve heard a hundred times.


Kansas City 112, Windy City 95

They’re calling this an upset even though Kansas City already beat Chicago back on September 10 — and never mind that it’s nearly impossible for the average fan to translate rankings between divisions, Windy City seeded 1 in the North Central and KCRW seeded 2 in the South Central. Nevertheless, there was very little doubt in my little mind that Kansas City was going to take out Chicago, and while Windy City isn’t a pushover by any measure, I’ve heard virtually nothing about them all season long; Kansas City, meanwhile, is one of the most dreaded teams in all of women’s flat track and has been for years. You get that reputation by remaining consistently highly-ranked in your division, which Windy City has done, and other things like beating Rat City for the goddamn championship in 2007, which they didn’t. Kansas City did.

So ugly, it’s beautiful again.

It was a very low-scoring, defensive game, and the best team won, simple as that. What drove me particularly insane were the dufuses calling the game on; I have mercifully forgotten their names. They’re fine as announcers overall, but for some reason, they couldn’t quit calling us “Kansas.” At one point, I even politely tweeted to #talk2WFTDA that we were not known as such. And they may have even seen it, since it was re-tweeted a handful of times, and they only called us “Kansas” twice in the entire second half.

Just… know your teams, my friends, especially if you’re charged with the play-by-play. Otherwise, let D’Nouncer Duane and Dumptruck take the lead on KC’s games, since that’s who we want to hear anyway.


Oly 124, Kansas City 104

Fun fact: anyone who saw Kansas City take a 20-point lead over the Oly Rollers this weekend and still questions our ability to compete on this level doesn’t know the first thing about flat track roller derby.

Yes, I just got through saying that Kansas City is one of the most dreaded teams in the league, and there are still people who write off the entire South Central division like we’re not even there. Well, tell Rose City that we don’t exist; tell Chicago, or any of other teams we’ve kicked around in the last six months (including Jet City, Rat City, Nashville, and Atlanta). No longer should there be any question as to the level of skill, tenacity, heart, and pure muscle of the Kansas City Roller Warriors. This game against Oly seals it.

Oly beat KC earlier this year by 81 points, and that’s a pretty decent thumpin’, regardless of the strong showing we put up against them. So to hold them to only 124 points in the semi-finals — and take a 20-point lead at any point in the game — should certainly show what we’re made of. When was the last time they were treated like that? Before this weekend, it hadn’t happened in quite some time.

Even when you win, you lose.

We looked fantastic. We skated well and we put the fear of Gotham in the Oly Rollers, and this game, above all, is why I’m prouder than ever of our Wolfpack.


Texas 136, Kansas City 112

While I was hoping this would be a day to even the score — and show the Texas Rollergirls that we really are the better team — it wasn’t in the cards for us on Sunday. Texas can’t be accused, on this particular occasion, of firing the same gun all day, as they rotated their jammers in and out in impressive fashion throughout the game. KCRW even led 62-50 at the half, but a penalty-heavy second half threatened a handful of our best skaters much earlier than I would have liked, including a bogus forearm major called on Kelley Young that I personally saw no sign of. That afforded Texas a monster power jam late-ish in the game that didn’t blow it wide open, but certainly made things far more difficult than they needed to be. The Wolfpack never really did recover from that, and the clock ticked away, giving Tex-ass a third place win and relegating KC to 4th where they didn’t belong.

Just sayin’.

Again, this in no way diminishes Kansas City’s achievement in Denver this year. We made it to the final four. We didn’t take fourth out of four teams, we took fourth out of the entire friggin’ league. In all of women’s flat track. I count 124 teams, and three of them did better than we did — on paper, anyway.

And lest we forget, congratulations to Kelley Young for being named the Continental Divide and Conquer Tournament MVP on Sunday evening, as well as Eclipse for being voted to the All Tournament Team.

Bottom line…

We had a phenomenal season, arguably the best since we won the whole thing in 2007. I can’t begin to tell you how much fun it’s been, following the Wolfpack’s wins these last few months, seeing Plan B play in Des Moines, and watching the All-Star team beat the tar out of practically every squad in their path all the way up to the Show-Me Der-B-Q, which was a derby experience like no other. Watching KCRW compete on was a ton of fun and a bit surreal, since I see all those guys in real life all the time. Although tripping up to Denver wasn’t possible for me this year (and next year’s tournament in Atlanta will be even less so), I do look forward to possibly making the South Central tournament next season in Lincoln, Nebraska.

As for my own bracket, Charm City (boo!) was where things really went wrong for me. Other than that, I didn’t miss much, and in fact, every bracket error I made was directly tied to Charm City co-screwing the pooch with me on Friday evening.

I called Gotham to take it all, and they did; I put Oly in second, and they got it. Never mind Charm, and then KCRW in fourth place rounds out a pretty nicely-called tournament for me. I wonder what my prize will be.

After Charm City? This.

Day One in Denver

Well… ok.

Looking at the bracket picks that I posted earlier (but actually selected over a month ago), you might be tempted to ask where exactly my head was at certain points during the day, particularly if you were following the games as closely as I was.

That’s never an easy answer, of course, but sometimes I really outdo myself. The day didn’t go that badly for me, but when I screw the pooch, well, it’s not a typical pooch-screw. It’s like Jersey Shore meets Petland up in here.

Minnesota 160, Charm City 121

Pictured: my updated bracket.

What the hell happened here? I had Charm City winning by triple digits and expressed a bit of astonishment that Minnesota was in Denver at all this weekend. To my slack-jawed surprise, Minnesota led for most of the game and only gave up the lead in the second half when Baltimore managed to edge a few points ahead, only to lose it again. Then it was over. Was I just thinking of the wrong team, or did I overestimate Charm City that much? I had them taking third place in the tournament, for the love of Kansas City barbecue!

Rocky Mountain 198, Nashville 58

The only thing I did wrong here was possibly underestimate Nashville by an eyelash. Rocky Mountain is such a national-caliber juggernaut, and Nashville underwhelmed me so much at the Show-Me Der-B-Q, that I predicted this would be “by far the ugliest game of the tournament.” Turns out, it wasn’t even the ugliest game of the day. Rocky Mountain did win by triple digits, so I at least got that right, but given that they only won by 140 points, I have to wonder if they were drunk or something.

At one point, the announcers even said that 99% of the brackets entered on had Rocky Mountain beating Nashville, which was by far the most lopsided pick of the entire tournament.

You kind of know what’s coming.

Kansas City 143, Rose City 135

I really couldn’t have been more right about this one. The only thing I really knew about Rose City going in was that they were ranked fourth in the mind-bogglingly powerful West and that their game is pretty similar to the Wolfpack’s. At one point in the second half, a power jam gave Kansas City a 32-point lead, but that evaporated over the next several minutes as Rose City consistently gained lead jammer status and somehow kept KC jammers Kelley Young and Track Rat stuck at the back of the pack. When that happens, a fan watching at home on live streaming often forgets that yelling at the screen in impotent rage won’t get his jammer through the pack any faster.

I feel like that a lot.

Fortunately, it didn’t last long, as Kansas City managed a couple of very strong jams toward the end of the second half that gave them a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Then, of course, the Wolfpack let Rose City take lead jammer for the last two jams, because they apparently hadn’t sufficiently tested my family’s history of cardiopulmonary disease.

Philly 255, Naptown 68

Well, I did say that Philly would crush Naptown early an often, and in fact, when I tuned in at halftime, Philly was up 104-20. That pretty much told me what I needed to know.

I didn’t feel any better about the Minnesota game, though.

All the 3 seeds have now been eliminated, and the remainder of the tournament will be a slugfest between the regional champions and the runners-up. Keep an eye on our Twitter account tomorrow, as we’ll be bringing you score updates and any other morsels of information we can get our claws on, and here’s wishing the Kansas City Roller Warriors the best of luck against Windy City tomorrow afternoon. Game time is 2:00 Central.

WFTDA Championships

I’ve already run down my picks in this weekend’s Continental Divide and Conquer tournament, but thanks to, you can go in and set your brackets in stone, baby.

And there they are. I’ve got KCRW squeaking past Rose City in the controversial first round and not stopping until they meet Oly in the semi-finals, finally coming to rest in fourth place behind juggernauts Gotham, Oly, and Charm City.

It’s going to be a very interesting weekend for roller derby fans, and I can’t wait to see how things pan out. Above all, I couldn’t be prouder of the Wolfpack for making it to the championships yet again this year. You just can’t keep those Kansas City girls down. Of course, we’ll be posting the relevant results here as soon as we’re able, and keep an eye on our Twitter page too.

Our 2011 KCRW Fan Poll Picks

Take a moment and vote in the KCRW 2011 Fan Poll. From experience, this poll won’t be open forever, so let them know your favorites, and they might even send you an unspecified goody for next season.

And now, a breakdown of the questions complete with my own answers… because I know you’re all foaming at the mouth to know what KC Carr thinks of this year’s Wolfpack.

Best Jammer 2011

Our pick:

Hall Balls

Yeah, what about it? She’ll put that finger in your face until you skate away with your tail between your legs. Actually, she won’t, and that’s one of the best things about Hall Balls as a competitor: she’ll dominate you utterly, but what you decide to do with that information is up to you. She is, at least on the track/in public view, one of the quietest, most unassuming ass-kickers on the roster, although my money’s on quite the opposite at the afterparty. I even remember some newbie asking me, at last season’s bout vs. Northwest Arkansas, who they should keep an eye on, and the first thing I said was, “Number 30, Hall Balls. She’s going to dominate, because that’s what she does.”

Best Blocker 2011

Our pick:


There’s the Irresistible Force, there’s the Immovable Object, and then there’s Eclipse. And she’s up against some pretty stiff competition in this category this year, particularly in the form of Evolution, whose overall athleticism really can’t be matched in this league. But there is no blocker like the defensive powerhouse from the Dreadnought Dorothys, and believe me, you don’t want to find out the hard way. Do what I do and cower behind a fan-made sign as she knocks the opposing skaters over like bowling pins, then cheer meekly as she goes by in the hopes that when (not if) her derby-rage triggers the gamma radiation coursing through her system, you won’t be caught in the crossfire. It’s worked for me so far.

Best Skater Name

Our pick:

Toto Basketcase

To make my brother laugh, I once made a list of the best and worst derby names I’d ever heard. And I don’t need to tell you that when they’re bad, they’re… bad. Head-shakingly bad, sometimes. But every now and again, you come across one that is so referentially clever that it takes a half-second to really get it all, and Toto Basketcase is one of those. The Dorothys’ team name, their uniforms, Toto, and the basket he’s carried in combine to form one of the most remarkable, creative derby names I’ve seen in my travels. These women sleep on their potential skate names for who knows how long, and sometimes, it really pays off.

Skater You’d Like to Have Land in your Lap

Our pick:

Extremely Frank

All right, look. I’m only human. And I told myself when I started KC Derby Digest last month that I would spend no time ruminating over the possibility of skaters in my lap. But Extremely Frank takes Looking Good on the Track to a new level, and since there’s a category for it, I don’t mind telling you so. The best part is that she’s also extremely versatile; I’ve seen her pivot, block, and jam over the past two seasons, and this year she also did quite a bit of bench coaching for the All-Star team with some pretty solid results. Extremely Frank is the best reason to sit during the bouts, because when you stand up, your lap disappears.

Skater You Consider the Crowd-Pleaser

Our pick:

Bella Fire

For some reason (possibly related to extraordinary talent and a million-dollar smile), Bella Fire has remained one of the (many) reasons the home crowd cheers the Wolfpack as loudly as it does. The Victory Vixens are a pretty formidable team on their own, but when you couple that with dynamic personalities and versatile talents like Bella, the results pretty much speak for themselves. Let’s hope this crowd-pleaser isn’t going anywhere for a long time.

So now…

We want to hear from you, derby fans. Once you’ve voted in the poll, come back and share your picks in the comments section. Am I nuts? Who’s the best jammer/blocker? Who would you like to have land in your lap?

3 Things I’d Love to See the Kansas City Roller Warriors Do (As Soon As Possible)

It should be obvious, even to a casual observer, that there are few things I love in life more than Kansas City Roller Derby, and it all started with the Kansas City Roller Warriors. My love affair with the flat track began in March 2010, and not only does it not subside during the so-called off-season, if anything, it only grows stronger as the miserable winter months give way to the early spring days that herald the return of derby season.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t things that can’t be improved, though, and anyone on eight wheels will tell you the same thing. They’re always looking for ways to improve the fans’ derby experience, and with that in mind, here are three things that, if implemented relatively soon, would make them a very nearly perfect roller derby league. You can rebuff these and/or add your own in the comments section.

3. Make the merchandise available online.

Check out KCRW‘s merch page, and it tells you quite plainly, “Sorry, our merchandise is temporarily unavailable for purchase online.”

Which is the most interesting definition of the word “temporarily” that I’ve come across in quite some time, because that’s the same thing it said in November 2009 when I first discovered Kansas City roller derby.

I’ve offered this priceless feedback to KCRW before in online surveys and in person at the merch table, but even without me, there’s no way they don’t already know this is a problem. I’m sure it’s come up multiple times in committee, and who knows, they’ve probably tried rectifying it more than once as well. I’m not a web designer myself, but I know setting up this kind of e-commerce is relatively simple.

Not quite that simple.

If I had to guess, I would say the problem is not setting up the shopping cart on the web site. Much more likely, the problem is finding someone (or a team of someones) to monitor, fill, and ship the incoming orders year-round.

All I can tell you is… I would hate to think about how much money I would have spent by now on t-shirts (that I have to replace because I keep shrinking them), buttons (that I have to replace because they keep popping off my bag), and drink koozies (that I have to replace because I keep throwing them away with the can)… if only I could. The way it is now, I just have to hope I have the extra money laying around when the games roll around, and that kind of timing isn’t easy when you’ve got womens to keep happy. Yes, womens.

2. Do something with the sound system.

Before you get your hackles up, I realize there is next to nothing KCRW can do to change the sound system Municipal Auditorium comes equipped with. And I’ve seen derby in a number of other cities where the venues they used were sometimes nothing more than skating rinks, so I hesitate to light a torch and burn Municipal at the stake.

The problem is that the sound system in the arena we use is absolutely horrible. If you’re not sitting on one particular side (where there are no seats except in the balcony), you’re not going to understand a word the announcers say. It’s almost as though only half of the speakers are even on, and therefore only broadcasting in one direction; the (lousy) acoustics in the place then further distort sound that’s already bouncing off every available flat surface in the arena.

Imagine a bullet fired inside a room made of bulletproof walls… where the “bullet” represents “sound,” and the “walls” represent “your sanity.”

This means the announcers’ activity on the mic is incomprehensible from three of four walls in the place. It actually just amounts to a very loud, very constant background noise that sounds less like a sporting event and more like a humpback whale migration as heard through the drive-through speaker box at Del Taco… as heard through a cochlear implant.

And here to demonstrate…

The only way to deal with this annoyance would be to either find a different venue — which again, I would have serious reservations about — or, much more appealingly, simply limit the announcing to end-of-jam scoring/stat updates, instead of the usual (constant) play-by-play.

Or, if they could, get someone to turn on all the speakers.

1. Spread out the talent a little more evenly.

That almost sounds dirty.

But truthfully, as much as I will never, ever miss a KCRW game unless I’m offshore somewhere, it’s getting more and more difficult to deny that the house games are awfully predictable. Here’s how it goes:

  • The Dorothys will always win;
  • The Vixens will beat everyone but the Dorothys;
  • The Susans will only beat the Knockouts;
  • The Knockouts will always lose.

There’s only been one exception to this in the two years I’ve been a season ticket holder, and I wasn’t even there to see it; it was at the 2010 Rink of Fire, when the Knockouts squeaked out a last-second victory against my Susans. And even though I’m hardly an insider, I can’t help but think that the reason the games are so easy to predict is because most of the promising new recruits keep getting drafted to the same one or two teams.

Pictured: the Dreadnought Dorothys.

Understand, that’s not an insult. To anyone. But I have never seen the Dorothys lose a game; six straight years of house championships has to tell you something, and it can’t simply be that they train harder than everyone else. I just don’t buy that. Honestly, there’s plenty I don’t know here — the recruitment/drafting process(es), who gets priority, and so forth. I just know what I see on the track, and on the track, it’s a rare day that I can’t tell you in advance who’s going to win. That means there’s an imbalance somewhere.

But more importantly, it also means that the overall derby experience is less fun than it could be. I’m not sure I have the cardiac wherewithal to handle twelve nailbiting, down-to-the-last-jam bouts every single summer, but I could handle a few — and right now, we’re getting almost none. I will say that the Knockouts are showing a level of improvement that will very soon overtake the Black Eye Susans, if they’re not careful, in the above win/loss breakdown, so that’s at least something.

By that same token, though, the gaps between the other teams seem to be getting bigger all the time. The Dreadnought Dorothys are only getting better, particularly with the return of Hall Balls to full-time status this past season, as well as some very promising new faces (Flying Monkey, anyone?).

So tell me — how long would you be a season ticket holder if you knew the outcomes of all the games in advance?

The answer: FOREVER. No, I’m not kidding. Did you think I was kidding?


(Outdated team photo courtesy of

Forever Fearleaders

One of the most common questions I get about roller derby from a fan’s perspective is: how do you decide who your “favorite” teams are? I understand cheering for the home team, but aren’t the house teams pretty much all home teams?

Well, yeah… but there’s more to it than that. I can’t speak for anyone else, but for my part, I just let the teams come to me. That’s literally all there is to it — I show up, watch some derby action, and my mind picks my favorites for me. Imagine what that was like at the Show-Me Der-B-Q when two of my favorite teams, Houston and Omaha, faced off on the last day. Minutes into it, I knew my heart was behind Omaha.

I remember perusing the KCRW site about three months before the 2010 season began. I’d never been to a bout before, I didn’t know any of the skaters, and at that point in time, I had no idea where my loyalties might lie. Based on the web site, the team photos, and unfathomably, the uniforms (which can have a remarkable effect on a fan’s psyche), I assumed intuitively that the Victory Vixens would be my favorites. Everything about them screamed, “We’re your team.”

And something about “standing at attention,” but anyway.

March 27, 2010 showed up, and I found that I loved the Vixens, all right… but before the first game was even over, my whole heart belonged to the Black Eye Susans. From an early stage, four little words altered the landscape of my derbytude and laid the foundation for my love of the greatest sport in the world, and those four words are BLACK EYE OR DIE.

With Dead Girl Derby, I thought it would work in much the same way, and for a while it did.

Until it didn’t.

I immediately latched on to the Royal Pains. For one thing, my alma mater’s colors are purple and white, so we’re off to a good start. Throw in strong leaders, skaters, and personalities like Dir-T Diana, Azz Catch-em, Dixie Danger, and top-scoring Poison Evie, and you’ve got America’s all-American midwestern team of all-Americans, America. (I don’t even know what that means.)

Meanwhile, as surely as my favorites reveal themselves over the course of the season, so do the villains — and this league’s villain team was, without question, the Fearleaders. I’ve no idea why; it’s not like any of them were rude, cocky, or showed poor sportsmanship. In fact, they hadn’t done anything. They didn’t even have anything in common with KCRW‘s dyed-in-the-wool villains, the Dreadnought Dorothys; at least the Dorothys’ villainy was justified by their iron-clad un-defeat-ability. By contrast, it seemed that the only team the Fearleaders could beat for the first half of the season was themselves.

But that was how I liked it, and the Fearleaders maintained their villain status in my mind for the better part of the season. I delighted in their consecutive losses, and much like the Kansas Jayhawks, I felt the irresistible urge to cheer for anyone who was playing against them. This included the Lovely Lethals, who pulled out a last-second win in game three that marked the very last time I ever Thought Pink. I was not necessarily a Lethals fan, but I couldn’t have been happier to see the Fearleaders go home winless yet again, particularly after such a nailbiting ending. Those are the worst.

So what the hell happened? Didn’t I say in a previous post that I wound up on their side? What the hell happened?

Well… they beat my favorite team. Wait, what?

I went into game five knowing there was no way the winless Fearleaders were going to beat my Azz-catching team of All-Americans. Regardless of the fight they’d put up against the powerful Lethals, an entire season (thus far) of coming up short would have to take its toll. And beyond that, I was pretty confident about the Pains’ ability to take them down, since they’d done it already.

But that’s not how it went. To their credit, the Fearleaders brought it to the track and left it on the track — and by the time it was over, they’d scored their first win of the season against Their Highnesses, the Purple Passion, the one team in Dead Girl Derby I’d give my left skate for, the Royal Pains. I was incredulous. Throw in the Deadly Sirens‘ first-ever loss at the hands of the Lethals that same night, and I went home less than enthused with roller derby for the first time ever. That’s because I’m a bad sport, you see.

Pictured: the opposite of me.

One of the good things about being “just” a fan is that strictly speaking, you’re not under any real obligation to show good sportsmanship. It’s a bit hypocritical, since sportsmanship is something I value so highly in a derby league, but since I’m a paying customer, I’ll cheer for (and against) anyone I want. And I wasn’t about to lose any sleep over the Fearleaders‘ win, but I was certainly in no mood to congratulate them on accomplishing what I’d considered impossible only three hours earlier.

The next morning, though, it was all I could think about. Twelve hours prior, I’d watched two dedicated, hard-hitting teams slugging it out on the track, but only one was really fighting for its dignity in the face of an entire season of losses; you can’t really overstate that part. Once they’d pulled out the win, all four teams were out on the track, hugging and butt-slapping (ok, I made that up) and congratulating the Fearleaders on their very first-ever hard-earned win. The level of camaraderie and straight-up friendship on display that night showed me, the Most Important Fan Ever, exactly what this league was made of: integrity, grit, guts, and massive… massive ladyballs. It takes a great deal of character to congratulate the underdog who just beat you 30 seconds earlier; the Dead Girls are certainly made of finer stuff than I.

As proud as I was of the Royal Pains for their extraordinary show of character, I was finally realizing that the Fearleaders, with their endless tenacity, dedication, and competitive spirit, were setting up shop in my heart whether I liked it or not. If the entire league could stand up in front of everyone and congratulate them on getting over that hump, then there’s no reason that shouldn’t be good enough for me. The Fearleaders didn’t lose another goddamn game all year, and I’ve been right behind them, cheering them on every inch of the way ever since — even at the Zombie Apocalypse, when they faced off (once again) against the Royal Pains, this time for third place. It was the first time Their Highnesses didn’t have me in their corner.

If you had told me six months ago that I’d be cheering for the Fearleaders against the Royal Pains before the season was over, I’d have said you were smokin’ banana peels. All things being equal, though, you may never see me at another Dead Girl Derby game wearing anything but the black and grey.