Championship rematch, food drive highlight return of QCRG - INTERVIEW
blog by Ben Tsujimoto • January 10, 2014 @ 12:30pm
In a league with only four teams, familiarity breeds fierce competition.
For the quartet that forms the Queen City Roller Girls—Western New York’s flat-track lone roller derby organization—the opportunity to knock off three other squads and secure the Queen City Cup is a very real goal. [If you’re really confused at this point, you can read ‘Roller Derby for Dummies’ here].
The flip-side is that successful teams can build a dynasty, separating from the small pack of foes and winning multiple championships in a row—take the Suicidal Saucies three-year run from 2008 to 2010 or the current two-year title run of the Nickel City Knockouts (a few members of KOs pictured, right).
Sandwiched between those championship runs was a singular title for the Devil Dollies, coincidentally the team that’s fallen the last two years to the Knockouts in the Queen City Cup.
To begin the 2014 regular season, the Devil Dollies have a scheduled rematch with the Knockouts at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Rainbow Rink, 101 Oliver St., North Tonawanda. Seven-piece local ska band B-Side Basterds will provide the halftime entertainment.
Tickets to the front row run for $20, while general admission costs $15. If you’re just a little guy at 12 years of age or below, you only spend $10. Purchase them here.
The debut match is also complemented by a food drive to benefit the Food Bank of WNY, so bring along non-perishable items to donate to the cause. It will make your heart feel warm.
Reclaiming their 2011 glory won’t be an easy feat for the Dollies, as the Nickel City Knockouts remain the team to beat.
“The Knockouts do have a bit of an advantage this season because LiBRAWLian is a machine and they didn’t draft any rookies, so all of their skaters are now considered seasoned veterans,” explained Dollies new head coach Anita Doobie.
“I believe their coaching staff has a huge hand in how well the Knockouts play together as a team and SuperNova (NCKO’s head coach) has certainly been their ace in the hole these last couple seasons.”
From the perspective of the runners-up, integral parts of the Dollies must be replaced to match or exceed 2013’s success.
Highly-regarded jammer-blocker DayTripHer has retired from playing with her home team to focus exclusively on the QCRG’s travel team, the Lake Effect Furies, who have the potential to make waves on a national scale. (An aside: Did you know the Furies’ mascot is a Yeti? That’s unnerving.)
Five others—detailed here—have also moved on, and Doobie has quite the task in front of her to mesh a young team that’s dependent on sound communication.
“Our Dollie family has grown this past season to include four newly-drafted rookies—DeeSTROYher, Dem Apples, d’Amanda Ruckus and Sham Rocks—but we also lost some really great talent, some due to injury, pregnancy or leaving us to pursue a more streamlined affair with our travel team to help boost Queen City on the international leaderboards,” Doobie explains.
Personnel changes aside, the Dollies remain hungry to end the Knockouts’ domination—even though the reigning champs return LiBRAWLian and a whopping seven additional Furies, most of whom were integral in the last two championship runs.
“Don’t discount the Dollies just yet,” Doobie contends. “We’re scrappy and just getting to the championship bout against the Knockouts the last three years tells me we can upset this streak.”
Another additional factor that plays into the Queen City Roller Girls’ season is the dynamics of double-duty between home and travel teams—Doobie lends additional insight:
“I think [playing for the Furies] helps camaraderie when our all-stars get to play together, but it also means they share strategies and they get to know how a skater operates,” the Dollies’ head coach relays. “That might be a disadvantage on a home team, only because we don’t want our opponents to be able to predict our every move.
“But, I think the girls for the most part are good at turning off their Furie brains and turning on their home team ones. I would say that I don’t like other skaters knowing our strengths and weaknesses, but the street goes two ways—sometimes I get really good feedback about opponent skaters from Furie players.
“It’s a really unique dynamic that I’ve never experienced in coaching before, but certainly a fun one,” Doobie adds. “It definitely keeps everyone on their toe-stops.”
(Photo of Doobie is courtesy of QCRG photographer Jim Bush from the league’s website. Pictured at bottom, wearing No. 622 of the Nickel City Knockouts, is star LiBRAWLian, a key member of the Lake Effect Furies, too).