Category Archives: Opinion

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.


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!