Category Archives: Opinion

Sith Happens

Tonight, at the St. Joseph Civic Arena, the Blacksnake Rollergirls take the track for Sith Happens, a Star Wars-themed night of flat track awesomeness that also happens to be their 2014 championship games!


Click for the Facebook event page.

Doors open at the Civic Arena at 5:00. The first game of the night will be a grudge match between the Jesse Janes and the Venomous Vixens. Then, in the championship event, the defending champion Danger Dolls take on the always-threatening Rushin’ Rollettes, who are looking for their first championship in their brief two-year history.

The first whistle is at 6:00, and for the championship game, we’re predicting a Danger Dolls win by a margin of about 12. Both the Dolls and Rollettes have fought some pretty bruising competition to earn a spot in this year’s league champs, and we’re giving the Dolls the edge here based partially on their 10-point victory over the Rollettes back in April. You can expect all of these ladies to bring their A-games for tonight’s event, and we can’t to see how it all shakes out.

As always, you can follow us on our Twitter page for scores and highlights if you’re not able to make it to St. Joe tonight, and whether you’re there or not, follow along as the evening progresses on our Instagram page as we take you behind the scenes of one of the most dynamic and entertaining flat track leagues the Kansas City area has to offer.

Regardless of the tonight’s outcomes, you can expect some of the hardest-hitting contests of the season tonight in St. Joseph, so don’t miss it. We will see you there!

Fountain City Roller Derby

We at KC Derby Digest have gotten quite a few e-mails (and even a few phone calls, which is weird for a web site) from local followers of this great sport asking about the impending name change from Dead Girl Derby to Fountain City Roller Derby, a change which was announced on live television a couple of weeks ago when Coach Kentner, Mel Breakdown, Texas Outlaw, and Slim Karsmashian appeared on KCTV5 News to talk about the league and all the latest. We caught up with Coach Kentner late last week to get the full details, and here’s what he had to say, followed by our own take on this incredible announcement.


Not pictured: Coach Kentner.


KC Derby Digest:
What prompted the name change to Fountain City after five seasons?

Coach Kentner:
“With the introduction of our two coed teams this year, we felt the “Girl” in Dead Girl Derby did not really describe us as a league anymore. We also wanted a name that tied us to the city that we love and come from. Kansas City’s nickname is the “City of Fountains,” so we thought Fountain City Roller Derby was a perfect fit for us.”


KC Derby Digest:
And who designed that brilliant new logo?

Coach Kentner:
“Our very own skater, Zombina, was the one who designed the logo and did an amazing job.”


KC Derby Digest:
When is the name change official?

Coach Kentner:
“The plan right now is to transition at the end of season on September 8th, the day after the last Coed/Zombie League bout. However, at the new recruitment nights on August 10th and 18th, the potential new league members will only know the league as Fountain City Roller Derby from the time they start.”


KC Derby Digest:
Will Dead Girl Derby merchandise still be available? Also, is the full line of FCRD merch already available, or will that take time to roll out?

Coach Kentner:
Dead Girl Derby merchandise is still available for purchase, but in limited quantities. We plan on selling it until it runs out. If we have a demand for what would now be considered “vintage” DGD gear, we will certainly look into printing more DGD merchandise. We do have some Fountain City Roller Derby [shirts] for sale, but it will take some time to get everything [else] designed and ordered. No team names will change, so team merchandise is still available for purchase. We are trying to make the transition for all our fans as easy as possible so no one gets lost in what is going on.”


Our Take on the New Name

Errrbody’s been wanting to know what KC Derby Digest thinks of the name change. Traditionally, we tend to be… well, traditionalists, so to speak. We don’t love change, and typically, we figure things are the way they are for a reason.

Having said that, we think the new league name is brilliant.

And that’s not “as opposed” to the old name, either; we’ve spoken with several people in the last couple of weeks who say they’ve always disliked the name Dead Girl Derby, and although we are not among them, we are in full agreement that the name change will benefit the league in just about every way imaginable.

Coach Kentner was exactly right: it does better reflect the league’s roots in Kansas City, and that’s important. “Fountain City” is clever, it’s culturally referential, and if you know what’s what, it does tell you where we’re from without actually naming the city. To add to the appeal, it will be vague enough for non-Kansas Citians to wonder aloud about the name, which is a form of free marketing/advertising unto itself. But perhaps most importantly, it is the latest indication that this amazing league has absolutely, positively grown into adulthood after five fantastically successful seasons.

The name Dead Girl Derby has its roots in the zombie theme the league’s bouts used to feature. In those days, Gang Green and Black Plague were the only two teams in existence, in keeping with the theme. The original logo was on board with that too:


Click to enlarge

It was fun, whimsical, and perfectly appropriate for an up-and-coming flat track league in its infancy. But I have to say, the chuckles I often heard when telling newbies about something called “Dead Girl Derby” were getting really old. Legitimacy in the eyes of the public is something roller derby may always struggle with, and this name change will be the latest nail in the coffin of the perception that this great sport is just pro rasslin’ on wheels.

At this point, they’ve outgrown the name, the logo, and the zombie theme. House games are held at Hale Arena — not exactly small potatoes. The league itself is now comprised of eight teams, and as a result, their membership has surpassed that of all other Kansas City leagues, male or female, making them “Kansas City’s largest roller derby league,” according to their still-under construction web site. A new name was simply the next logical step in the evolution of this unparalleled league, and they’ve certainly made the most of the opportunity.

In keeping with their origins, the new Fountain City logo retains at least one element of the old Dead Girl Derby design, and the Zombie League bouts held at B&D Skate Center are the perfect throwback to days gone by. From there, however, it is clearly onward and upward for this unstoppable league, and we at KC Derby Digest couldn’t be more thrilled about their continued growth and success. As these ladies and gents bring their Dead Girl days to an end and enter a new era of flat track excellence, we look forward to seeing what these incredible athletes have in store for us in future seasons.

Rink of Fire 2013

Derby fans, this is what it all comes down to. The Kansas City Roller Warriors have rocked Municipal Auditorium all season long, and this Saturday night, the Rink of Fire championship will settle for good and all who holds flat track supremacy in 2013.

The evening begins with the third place game between the Dreadnought Dorothys and the 2012 champion Victory Vixens. The Dorothys have had a rough go of it the last couple of seasons, going winless in both ’12 and ’13 after six straight seasons of taking home the house cup. These two teams faced off last month in what amounted to a preview of this year’s Rink of Fire, and while the Vixens claimed a solid 206-111 win over the Ruby Reds, we couldn’t help but notice how long it’s been since anyone scored 100+ points against the Red White ‘n Blue… who, if you’ll remember, didn’t lose one stinkin’ game in 2012. Granted, a handful of Vixens retired after the ’12 season, and the great Situation, née Evolution, is now skating her heart out in the Hawaiian isles after retiring from the Roller Warriors after last month’s game. So there are factors, to say the least.

Nonetheless, we’re predicting a Vixens win by 70 points or better, but expect the Dorothys to show up in full force, never giving an inch and taking every mile they can get their hands on.


YOU SHALL NOT PASS.

Then, in game two… you shall bear witness to what may well be the most important bout in all of Kansas City roller derby for the 2013 season. The Knockouts and the Black Eye Susans, neither of whom have ever taken home a Rink of Fire championship in the nine-year history of the Kansas City Roller Warriors, will take the track in what is absolutely guaranteed to be the most intense championship bout this phenomenal league has ever brought us. Last month’s game between these two titans saw the Knockouts‘ 53-point halftime lead dwindle to six late in the fourth period. The whole ball game was decided in the final jam when the Black Eye Susans jammer was sent to the box on an unfortunate (and perhaps controversial) penalty that allowed the Knockouts a power jam and resulted in a 164-146 final.

Eighteen points, people. That is nothing in WFTDA flat track. To further muddy the waters, the Susans were skating without mainstays Damsel of D’Tension and Extremely Frank last month as well, both of whom will be back and ready to roll this Saturday night. In other words, last month’s game told us absolutely nothing, and this next one is almost impossible to call.

Having said that, we’re predicting a Knockouts win by a margin of THE VERY LAST JAM. These two teams are so well-matched, the whole thing is going to wind up being a white-knuckled nailbiter pretty much from start to finish. There really is no sufficient hyperbole here.


You Bruz, you lose.

Doors open at Municipal Auditorium at 5:00 Saturday evening, and the first whistle is promptly at 6:00. Get there early. This, above all others, is the bout night you do not want to miss. These Roller Warriors have been through a lot in 2013; all four teams have made significant strides on the track this season, and the Rink of Fire is what it all comes down to. Show your support for this league of extraordinary women and cheer your favorite team(s) on to victory this Saturday night! We will definitely, definitely see you there!

5 Things We Learned from Love Hurts: To Hale With It

The 2013 roller derby season has officially begun, and as always, we here at KC Derby Digest are simply thrilled about it. The off season was entirely too long. 2013 has promised a great many things to look forward to, and while this isn’t the only league promising big things this season, Love Hurts: To Hale With It meant that the stage belonged to Dead Girl Derby. And now that the Dead Girls’ home opener is in the history books, there’s a lot to talk about.

In true Dead Girl fashion, they didn’t come close to disappointing. Here now are the five most important things these amazing ladies showed us as they began a brand new season in a brand new home.


5. Dead Girl Derby is all grown up.

Love Hurts brought in just a shade over 1,300 fans and shattered Dead Girl Derby‘s attendance record to pieces. This probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone familiar with the league or with things like event planning, but it’s safe to say that the Dead Girls’ new home at Hale Arena no doubt played a large role in this jump in ticket sales and the attending interest that comes with it. However, let’s not forget how amazing this league is to begin with.


Pictured: derby awesomeness.

Nobody would buy any tickets if it wasn’t for the quality of the event the Dead Girls put on. They’re now showcasing three games per night (more on that in a minute); the band Seventh Day put on one of the strongest game day performances I’ve personally seen (we’ll get to them too); and the competition among the four teams looks stronger than it ever has. Hale Arena will make it possible for this phenomenal league to sustain the outstanding additions they’re offering this year, and it will give the fans the elbow room they need to settle in and get comfortable for the derby awesomeness that’s about to ensue. It frankly reminds me a little bit of the St. Joseph Civic Arena, the cavernous facility used by the Blacksnake Rollergirls in St. Joe. Big, big kudos to Dead Girl Derby for making the seamless transition to an awesome new venue.


4. Seventh Day. Nuff said.

What’s that you say? Bands sometimes tend to be little more than noise at halftime when you’re trying to talk to people? Then you didn’t see Seventh Day perform at Hale Arena.

First off, they’re a damn fine band and they rocked the joint. That might be a matter of opinion, but this isn’t: you know how frustrating it is when you’re trying to mingle at breaks, talk about the game, what have you, and you’ve got a band bearing down on you at full blast? It’s not a very accommodating environment. Well, Seventh Day didn’t do that. The full band played the pre-game, and then they were smart enough to play acoustic at the breaks, which meant that everyone who wanted to hear the band could do so, and people who wanted to mill around and gab could do that. When was the last time anybody let you have it both ways?

KC Derby Digest‘s official position is that Seventh Day is a band worth keeping around, and if Dead Girl Derby wants to have a band at the games, this is a good one to stick with.


3. Throwback games = AMAZING.

Way back when, before the birth of KC Derby Digest, and before Dead Girl Derby took its current form, there were only two teams in the league: Black Plague and Gang Green. What’s interesting about this setup is that the teams consisted of different players each month; names were essentially drawn out of a hat and assigned a color, so the ladies might be playing with/against a whole different set of skaters from one month to the next. Seems like it’d be difficult to build a fan base without a consistent roster, but three years later, here we are.

This season, someone in the organization came up with the best idea since the transition to Hale Arena — let’s take the skaters who aren’t rostered for that month’s games and assign them a color, old school style, put them in the old Black and Green uniforms, and bill that as the undercard for that night’s event. We’ll call it our Throwback game, and the fans will eat it up.

Well, guess what — they were exactly right. It turned out to be the perfect way to kick off the evening’s events, and it benefits the players too because it helps them see some action and build some experience on the track that they might not have otherwise gotten that night. There have been some rumblings since Love Hurts about possibly changing the order of the games for future events, but that’s not been finalized, and we predict the Throwback games will resonate with fans no matter where they’re placed.


2. The rookies could make all the difference in 2013.

One of the first things we noticed when the games began Saturday night was the plethora of new faces out on the track. It’s part of the natural cycle of things in flat track roller derby, and it takes a little bit to get to know the new skaters. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t make one hell of an impression.

Self DestrucTiff of the Royal Pains was perhaps the most impressive rookie we saw that night, her astonishing speed and dangerous agility eclipsed only by her talent for leaving the start line like someone dropped a spider in her tights. Lady Killshot, also of the Pains, showed an accomplished technique of her own that perhaps betrays a level of experience we aren’t yet aware of.

Texas Outlaw of the Lovely Lethals took quite a few lumps during the Throwback game and kept roaring back, as Lethals tend to do. And Gnarly Quinn, the diminutive, babyfaced rookie for the Deadly Sirens, was clearly afraid of two things Saturday night: jack and shit.


“And glass for dessert.”

Obviously, the veterans/returning skaters are the foundation upon which solid teams are built, but the rookies are often the wild cards that can potentially shift the momentum enough to nudge a team into (or out of) the championship. From the looks of this year’s draftees, I’m going with the former.


1. The Lovely Lethals could take the whole thing.

Yes, they certainly could.

It won’t be easy: the Shotgun Sheilas looked absolutely fantastic Saturday night, and they certainly look like the team to beat in 2013. They took down the powerful Lethals 113-67 in Game 1 after holding them to only 27 points in the first half, and at no point in the game did they relinquish the lead.

However.

Game 1s are notoriously unreliable predictors of how the season will arc overall. See also: the 2011 Fearleaders and the 2012 Royal Pains, among others. And we saw a fire in the Lethals’ game Saturday night that is the hallmark of a team hungry to reclaim the title. If you’re a fan (or an opposing skater), I am going to take this opportunity to serve notice, just in case anyone has forgotten: the Lovely Lethals are probably the most consistently formidable team in Dead Girl Derby history. If you take your eyes off the Pink for very long, they will snatch the game off your plate and eat it in front of you.


And look cute as hell doing it.

Because sportsmanship is a thing in this league, the Shotgun Sheilas will be happy to tell you that no team is unstoppable — not them, not the Victory Vixens, not Gotham, no one. The Sheilas’ 46-point win was a pretty solid one, but I’ve seen 70-point leads evaporate in ten minutes in this sport, it’s just the nature of the game (although admittedly, that was on the WFTDA side, not MADE, where smaller point spreads are much bigger obstacles than they are elsewhere). And I’ll reiterate: getting past the Sheilas will be a tall order for any team this season, but if anyone can do it, it’s the 2013 Lovely Lethals.

Between retaining scary-talented stars like Cuppa Crazy, Fire Wyer, Anya Neezenbeg, Slim Karsmashian, et al, the addition of very promising rookies like Micro Psycho and Texas Outlaw, and the acquisition of 2011’s top-scoring jammer Poison Evie, the Lovely Lethals are poised to make life very, very difficult for any team they come up against in 2013. When the dust has settled and the Dead Girls have left behind the remains of Kemper Arena after the championship game this September, don’t be surprised if the Ladies in Pink are once again hoisting the trophy over their very talented heads.

Our Picks for the 2012 KCRW Fan Awards

The debate begins anew every year, derby fans, and since 2011, KC Derby Digest has been on hand to settle the debates and offer the final word once and for all. You know what we’re talking about — the annual KCRW Fan Awards.

Voting, as you know, closed some time ago, and the official voting results can be found on the KCRW Facebook page. But we would be remiss if we didn’t offer our own unique, fan-based perspective on the subject, as we are merely derby fans ourselves, after all. Here now are our picks for the 2012 KCRW Fan Awards. Please accept our take on the season with the appropriate reverence and silent respect it so deserves. (I don’t even know what that means.)

All photos courtesy of Phil Peterson, dammit.


Best Jammer 2012

Our pick:

Track Rat

One of the best things about the Kansas City Roller Warriors being such a national-caliber team is that there’s no shortage of ass-kickety goodness, and Track Rat certainly leads the pack this year. (See what I did there?) Any fan who’s ever attended a KCRW bout knows what I’m talking about. She’s always been one of the most explosive, scrappy, reliable jammers on the Vixens’ roster, and she’s a staple of the all-star squad, which makes her invaluable to the national picture. But most importantly, she’s easily one of the most dynamic personalities on the track, and that goes a long way in terms of entertainment value for the fans, which is what we really care about. Simply put, Track Rat is the complete package on the jammer end of things — just ask her. Bam!


Best Blocker 2012

Our pick:

Bruz Her

There are few skaters in few leagues whose accomplishments can stack up to the Dorothy-turned-Knockout we know as Bruz Her. Official statistics are hard to come by, but educated observers have indicated that upwards of 80% of all WFTDA jammers would rather retire to the bathroom with a bottle of Xanax and a handle of Jim Beam than begin even a single jam opposite this KCRW legend. Watch her steely, calculated performance out on the track sometime and all will become clear: even surrounded by the intimidating talents of Evolution, Tuff Noogies, Annie Maul, and many others, Bruz Her is a name whose reputation often precedes her with fans and opposing skaters alike.


Best Skater Name

Our pick:

Mary Lou Wretched

Selecting a derby name is tricky business, much more complicated than we realized when we first began this little endeavor known as KC Derby Digest a year ago. Dealing with Two Evils is the least of most players’ worries — you then have the ongoing (and unforgiving) court of public opinion, and believe me, we’ve seen some derby names in the past few years that made us wonder what exactly was in that pipe — and how long they must have smoked it to come up with what they did.

Well… that didn’t happen with Mary Lou Wretched. She took one of the most prominent American Olympic names of the 1980s and morphed it into what has to be the most remarkable and referentially clever skate name in all of Kansas City roller derby. She recently told KC Derby Digest, “… Mary Lou Retton was one of my heroes. I always loved the fact that she was a charming, all-American girl and fearless athlete. So when my best friend suggested ‘Mary Lou Wretched,’ I knew it was perfect for me.” Perfect indeed.


Skater You’d Like to Have Land in your Lap

Our pick:

Extremely Frank

For the second year running, Extremely Frank gets the nod and runs away with our hearts. The vote by our Bored of Directors — yes, they really are — was unanimous: there is no one in the league who masters the art of Looking Good on the Track like Frank. The versatile three-year Black Eye Susans veteran often lives up to her moniker as well, beguiling both mind and spirit with an uncompromising candor that is at once jarring and astonishingly sexy. Said Extremely Frank at our first meeting, “You’re KC Carr? Your site sucks and your photos are worse.” I may have passed out at that point. Also, I made that up.


Skater You Consider the Crowd-Pleaser

Our pick:

Red Ripper

In our many travels, our many derby road trips, and our journeys across the country to venues near and far, we have scarcely encountered a skater, talent, and personality who captures the imaginations of young fans and old the way Red Ripper does. Ask your kids, ask your wife — fully 50% of the fans we informally surveyed named this Vixens veteran as their favorite skater in all of KCRW, and it’s really not hard to see why. Her longevity with the league — she’s just now retiring after eight years of equal opportunity ass-kicking — speaks well of her dedication to the sport, her teammates, and her fans of (quite literally) all ages. The kids love her, the guys drool over her, and the girls… the girls wanna be her.


So now…

We realize we haven’t settled a damn thing here, so want to hear from you, derby fans! Who’d you vote for in this year’s KCRW Fan Awards poll? Which skater would you like to have land in your lap? Leave your picks in the comments section below, dammit!