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Detroit Derby Girls: 2013 Championship Bout

Championship Bout of the 2012-13 Detroit Derby Girls season, the Detroit Pistoffs versus the Grand Prix Madonnas, on May 18th, 2013.

Coming into this bout the Grand Prix Madonnas had an undefeated season. The Pistoffs may have seemed like the underdog of the night, but they won the last two championships, and they have the most championships of any team in the league. On top of that, this is only GPM's third season, after being created as the Detroit Derby Girls' only expansion team.

The Pistoffs had a rough start. They didn't score in the first five jams and had two jammer penalties, while the Grand Prix Madonnas gained 26, including a 10 point gain by Lily I. Monster in the 5th jam. The Pistoffs finally scored 3 in the 6th with Mean Streak, while Anomaly sat in the penalty as the Madonnas' jammer.

Anomaly made a 10 point play for the Madonnas in the 12th jam, giving them 46 points, while the Pistoffs had only climbed up to 11. Anomaly gave them another 9 in the 15th, and Racer added 9 more in the 16th, and the Madonnas were dominating, 68-15. They were still far ahead at the end of the first half, 75-26.

The second half starting looking very different in the 3rd jam. The Madonnas had Anomaly, their jammer, and 2 blockers sent to the penalty box. This gave Freakin' Rican a lot of room to maneuver. She used it to score 15 unanswered points, and give the Pistoffs their first big play of the game. Combat Cat scored them another 8 in the 4th. Freakin's Rican went back to the jammer line for the Pistoffs in the 5th, and scored them another 19, as Lily served some more penalty time. GPM hadn't scored anything yet in the first half, and they were now only 5 points ahead. A timeout was called. The teams, as well as the audience had to process what had just happened. This reorientation must have worked for GPM, because Racer McChaseHer scored 4 in the 6th jam, giving them their first points of the second half.

The 9th jam was a big success for the Pistoffs. Racer got sent to the penalty box, and Freakin' Rican scored 15 points for the Pistoffs, putting them ahead for the first time in the bout, 94-83. Racer was still serving out the last of her penalty time just as the 10th jam started, but she got out right away, and gained lead jammer status, while her teammates kept Mean Streak bottled up. Racer would net 23 points, the biggest play from either team that night, giving GPM the lead again at 106-94.

Anomaly and two blockers from GPM sat in the penalty box in the 11th jam, allowing Rican to score 10 for the Pistoffs, but that would be their last big play of the night. The rest of the bout would be settled by Racer. She scored 14 points in the 12th jam, and again in the 15th. The most the Pistoffs scored in any one jam for the rest of the night was 5. Final score, 159-114 for the Grand Prix Madonnas, giving them their first championship.

Kraken Whips, Co-captain of the Detroit Pistoffs:
Detroit Area Dork: What are you thinking right now about that bout?
Kraken Whips: I'm thinking they really wanted it. They really wanted it. When you come off two wins back to back, it's kind of hard to get everybody motivated, like, "we got to keep this". So it took us a while in the beginning of the season to get motivated, and recharged. I think we really showed up in the second half, but it wasn't enough. The penalties kept coming, and bleep happened. You take your wins, you take your losses, and you still have fun.
D: You guys only got 26 points in the first half, what was happening?
K: I think we're just trying new stuff. We're just trying to get our jammers out, trying to block their jammers. It tends to be a little difficult when you're trying to keep things fun, and still intense, hence, funtensity. We're trying to keep things fun. Sometimes, when you get too intense, you lose your focus, and you stop having fun. That's not good for anybody. We try to keep that focus. We really thought about it in the second half, made sure we were having fun, and then we played better.
D: What did you talk about in the locker room at half time?
K: We just talked about how to avoid penalties. We talked about playing together, and keeping each other light hearted, and trying to keep it fun, but intense. Sometimes it's hard to meld those two, but when you do, it's a really good mix.
D: Early in the second half, you had a string of 3 plays where you guys were scoring big, and you started to close that deficit. What were you doing differently to make that happen?
K: Not going to the box as much. I think that when our jammers go to the box, it kills us. Our defense is not as strong as it used to be, because we're still developing newer players to take those blocker positions. They're still developing, they did excellent tonight, and I'm sure they're going to continue to do well next season.
D: How do you think the Grand Prix Madonnas were able to get the momentum back towards the end of the second half?
K: They wanted it really bad because they've never gotten it before, and it's a big achievement for them to go undefeated. So that alone can be enough to build that momentum and carry them through
D: How would you sum up this season for the Pistoffs?
K: I'm absolutely proud of my team. They worked really hard. They still had a lot of fun, and they were really encouraging to one another. That's what builds a team. Playing everybody, playing smart, and having fun. That's a good team.
D: Do you know of any retirements coming from your team?
K: Not that anyone has said. People don't usually announce that until mid off-season. They're like, "oh god, next season is coming, I don't know if I can handle it". People are still on their highs. I'd be able to tell you that closer to the new season.
D: What sort of talents or skill-sets do you think you'll be looking for in the next players draft?
K: In the next draft I think we're going to look for more of a blocker that's really good at speed control. We're going to look for somebody who can play well with the teammates, and not just go off on their own and be a showboat. We're really good at keeping things at an equal level. Obviously there's going to be skill gaps, but we want everyone from the bottom to be as good as the top, and that's what we work for.

Cookie Rumble, Captain of the Pistoffs, in the oddest post-bout interview I've ever had:
Detriot Area Dork: What are you thinking right now about that bout?
Cookie Rumble: Well, that bout was intense. You can definitely tell the difference in the team we played last year. Seeing them in practice, they're always there, they're working hard. A little too serious for me, but hey, whatever floats your boat. I'm more into the happy face. They're more into "we're going to kill you". They played hard, they played tough, and they earned every point they got, except for one. That was my fault.
D: You guys only got 26 points in the first half. What was going on?
C: I know! Well, you know what? We decided to play with their emotions. We did it on purpose. They came out of the gate swinging. We have always had an issue warming up. We're a little bit slow to the game. The game starts, and like 15 minutes later we're, "Oh yeah, we're playing a game. Awesome. Let's get in on this." They played hard, we kind of got loosey-goosey. I'm very proud of the fact that we pulled it back together, score some points, make them shake in their skates a little, put up a fight. I'm just glad that we gave them a fight.
D: What did you talk about at halftime to reorient yourselves?
C: Mainly, we have to pee. Eat some Redvines. We sacrifice a burrito. Then we remind ourselves that when it comes to home league, we're here to learn to play hard, have fun, and to be proud of ourselves. There's no "you better do this, you better do that", it's "Remember why you're here. You put in the time, you put in the effort, you put in the money, you put in your life for a sport. You better go in and be proud of yourself". That's about it.
D: Early in the second half, your team had a string of three jams where you were closing that deficit. What did the team do to make that happen?
C: We decided that we didn't want to lose by a bajillion points, that we were going to give them a fight. We tried to play smart, and it worked for a hot second. Then they got wise to us, and we got into penalty trouble. You could tell they were getting kind of worried.
D: After that three jam streak, did you call the timeout, or did they?
C: I think they did.
D: They needed time to regroup after that shellacking? [In hindsight, "shellacking" might have been an overstatement, but it was a huge turning point in the bout]
C: I wouldn't call it "shellacking", but I think they called it, because I didn't call it. I just go out and play when I'm told to. I'm a little bummed that I couldn't go out and jam this game.
D: Why weren't you able to jam today?
C: My right foot has planter facetious, which is the muscles underneath the foot, the ones that are connected to the Achilles' Heel, and I have tendonitis in the posterior tibia tendon. So it really hurts to put pressure on my foot, which I kind of need to walk, skate, run, jump, dance, have fun. I was on crutches for two weeks, up until yesterday, and I was off skates for two weeks. First time I was on skates was last night, for one minute, and I was like "all right, cool, I can play, I think".
D: Towards the end of the second half the momentum changed again in the Grand Prix Madonnas favor. What did they do to change that?
C: They stayed calm, and that's what does it. They realized what was going on. They regrouped, and Racer had a good run, and that kind of breathed a little bit of life back into their bench. I think whoever stays calm on the bench, doesn't lose their cool, understands that it goes jam to jam. If you have a bad jam, shake it off, and you get to start all over again.
D: Did it seem like there were a lot of jammer penalties in this bout?
C: Oh, heck to the yes! Heck to the yes! I really believe that it's because everybody is lining up on the jammer line. Jammers have to pretty much push a wall of people who don't want to move. That tends to lead to a lot of back blocks, and forearms maybe. You're pushing on them with your forearm. I think it's because people now are relying on jammers to be more agile slower, when jammers are used to being agile fast. A fast pack, you have to cut through people fast. Now, all that stuff you worked on for the past few years, forget it. Now you have to be slow and pass through the pack. I think it puts a lot of people in situations where jammers get it in trouble. It puts a lot of stress on a jammer to not only be fast when the pack is fast, but to be fast when the pack is at a dead stop. It's a lot of pressure.
D: How would you sum up this season for the Pistoffs?
C: Am I allowed to say holy shit? Holy shit. I'm proud of them. Even though we didn't win the championship, we're still here, nobody got injured, we're all going to have fun at the after-party, and we're going to start it all over again next season.
D: What kind of talent and skill-sets are you going to be looking for in the draft?
C: When I go into the draft as a captain, it's not so much skill and talent, although definitely that helps, it's the attitude of "I wanna work hard", but no mean-face competitiveness. I'm a firm believer that my team is a place where you learn, you work hard, but you also have fun. Nobody wants to come to derby and have it be another job. It's got the hours of a night job, but you don't get paid. So why would you be miserable? I want somebody who, A, has a good work ethic, B, knows how to have fun, and not take themselves seriously. You know, I really want to learn how to do the worm. Bully used to do the worm, but she's on baby leave, so maybe someone who knows how to do the worm. I just flop on the floor. It's awful, nobody likes it. I usually end up hurt. It feels like Christmas. "All I want for next season is..."

Captain Spanish Ass'assin, of the Grand Prix Madonnas:
Detroit Area Dork: What are you thinking right now about that bout?
Spanish Ass'assin: I'm thinking I couldn't be happier. The team has worked for three years to get to this point, and we finally pulled it off. I really couldn't have asked for more out of the team.
D: In the first half, the other team only scored 26 points. What were you doing to shut them down like that?
S: We were focusing on our defense. We had really tight four person walls, and our first plan was to keep the jammer back, and our jammers knew that they were going to be kind of on their own for a little bit until we could get them some help. We were locking their jammers down, and it was working really well.
D: Early in the second half, the Pistoffs had a three jam streak where they were scoring a lot of points. Did your team start to get nervous?
S: No, for some reason, we couldn't stay out of the box. When you don't have players on the track, and you don't have a jammer on the track, you can't score points, and you can't really stop them very well from scoring points. So that's what happened.
D: Did your team call the timeout after that three jam streak? Did you need to reorient yourselves?
S: Yeah, we were trying to throw off the flow of things, and regroup, and throw them off the streak that they were on. It was just a good sports strategy.
D: Later in the second half, you regained the momentum, took the lead back and widened it. What did the team do to pull that off?
S: I think we finally got all four players back on the floor. We adjusted a little bit. Figured out what they were calling penalties on, and trying to counter it so we wouldn't get called more on them. Once we had our players back on the floor, we kind of calmed down, went back to what we were doing in the very beginning, and tried playing that way again. Thankfully it worked.
D: There seemed to be a lot of jammer penalties.
S: Yeah, I agree.
D: Was there a certain trend among all of those penalties?
S: No one really likes going to the box, but I did notice that there was a lot more penalties this bout. I don't know if things are just getting called tighter. I'm not really sure. This was definitely a higher penalized bout than we're used to at least.
D: How would you sum up this season for the Grand Prix Madonnas?
S: This season was pretty much the cherry on top of everything. We just started 3 years ago. We came in third place the first year. Second year we came in second, so this year we knew that we had to go for that first place win. We've been building, learning, strategizing, and doing everything that we could. We finally wrapped it up, put a bow on it, and brought it home.
D: What talents and skill-sets are you going to be looking for in the draft? Do you even get draft choices when you're the champions?
S: You do, but you get the last pick of the first round because you came in first. We'll get number five in the draft, and it'll go on from there based on numbers. Depending on the turnover this year, we've got some players that have been skating for a long, long time. I'll be interested to see who all stays around, who might be moving on with their lives, and maybe doing something after derby. We'll see. I hope we don't lose too many of them. We might lose a couple of our girls.
D: Do you know of any retirements yet?
S: I could probably guess, but I don't want to, because I don't want them to go away.

All photos by Dan Bachorik

This post written by:
I'm a dork, I live in the Detroit area, and sometimes I take blurry photos on an outdated camera