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Detroit Derby Girls: Bout 8 of the 2013-4 Season

Bout 8 of the 2013-4 Detroit Derby Girls season. Grand Prix Madonnas versus the D-Funk Allstars, on March 1st, 2014. That night had an Elvis theme.

The first jam was a wash, with both teams scoring 4. D-Funk pulled ahead in the 2nd jam with 4 points from Meryl Slauterburgh. Meryl added another 10 unanswered points in the 4th, and now D-Funk had a double digit lead.

Sista Slit'chya made the bout's first big play for the Madonnas in the 6th jam by scoring 18, while D-Funk's attempt to pass off the jammer star to another player mid-play still failed to get them anything. Rocky Brawlboa added another 3 for the Madonnas in the following jam, and now they were only down by one.

Sista didn't have as much luck in the 9th, being sent to the penalty box, and giving D-Funk a power jam. This allowed Rammpaige to double her team's score to 44, while Sista only added 4 before getting the penalty. Rammpaige would signal to her teammates whether to run interference for her, or get out of the way entirely, as she kept lapping a mostly stationary pack. Sista was still serving out the rest of her time in the penalty box when the next jam started, and two of her team's blockers would join her there. D-Funk's Tinja used all that vacant track space to give her team another 14 points, and up their lead to 58-25.

The Madonnas were down by more than a 2 to 1 margin, but they weren't giving up. Shamwow scored 9 for them in the 11th, while Meryl was held just to just 3, and then Racer McChaseHer gave them 4 in the 12th. Now they were only trailing by 38 to 61.

Meryl made several double digit scoring drives without the assist of a power jam in the bout, and the 14 jam was one of them. Meryl gained 15 points in the 14th, against just 4 from Sista. Rocky fired back for the Madonnas in the next jam with a 14 point power jam, leaving them just 20 points behind. That was the beginning a 6 jam scoreless streak for D-Funk. It was 6 jams of small scoring drives by the Madonnas, punctuated by two lengthy timeouts for official reviews that left the crowd bored and confused. D-Funk was able to score 7 points in the last 4 jams of the half, but their lead had dwindled to 83-73.

The second half started out similar to the beginning of the first half. This time with both teams scoring 3 for a wash. Sista Slit'chya got sent to the penalty box in the 2nd jam, and Roxanna Hardplace made several scoring passes for D-Funk before handing over the jammer star to teammate Black Eyed Skeez. Combined the two players netted 18 points. Meryl gave them another 8 in the 3rd, and D-Funk was up 112-76.

The Madonnas were still down by 26 points leading into the 14th jam. Rammpaige was sent to the penalty box, and Rocky Brawlboa used the power jam to gain 15 points. The penalty time carried over into the next jam, and Racer McChaseHer gained another 15, while Rammpaige was able to grab just 4 after being released from the box. The score was now tied, the first time it happened that night.

Meryl made another one of her big plays sans power jam (her third of the night), scoring 18 unanswered points, giving D-Funk a double digit lead again. The Madonnas scored 9 over the next 2 jams, and now only needed another 9 to tie. The following jam, the 19th was a 4 point wash, but Meryl then scored an unanswered 8 in the 20th.

Racer McChaseHer had up until this point, only made one big play for the Madonnas this bout, in the 15th jam of the second half, which is unusual for her. It's common for the Madonnas to rely on Racer for big plays towards the end of a bout, but without a consistent performance from her that night, it was surprising that they had her jamming for the final 3 jams of the bout. She gained 3 unanswered points in the 21st jam, and then after a lengthy official review, another 3 in the 22nd.

D-Funk was still ahead, 161-150, going into the 23 jam, with just 1:04 left on the clock. Meryl Slaughterburgh lined up to jam for D-Funk against Racer. With the performance she had been giving, Meryl was an obvious choice. Before the pack even finished their first lap, Meryl got sent to the penalty box. D-Funk fans all let out a collective groan, because they knew what this could mean. Meryl was soon followed to the box for 2 of her blocking teammates. Racer had few obstacles in front of her now. It was just a matter of how much endurance she had left. The action was all very confusing at this point. Blockers kept going in and out of the penalty box, and even some of the players seemed baffled. Meryl was able to come back onto the track and complete a lap before the final bout whistle was heard. The final point tally was 169 for the Grand Prix Madonnas, to 164 for the D-Funk Allstars. The Madonnas had been trailing behind for almost the entire bout, to only take the lead when it mattered most.

I didn't catch who was the MVP of the bout, but ZoomzBYDA Boomz out cursed everyone else that night.

My thoughts were a bit jumbled as I tried making sense of how that bout had just ended. Captains Racer McChaseHer and Peaches N. CreamYa of the Grand Prix Madonnas were the first to endure my haphazard questioning:
Detroit Area Dork: What are you thinking right now about that bout?
Peaches: I don't think it's appropriate to say out loud what I'm really thinking, because you'd have to bleep it all out.
D: You can say it.
P: Holy Shit!
Racer: I threw up my words on the track, so I don't have any words left. Like literally, I threw up.
D: Several times in the bout you were down 30-40 points. What did you do to overcome that.
R: I try to ignore the scoreboard. It's pretty hard not to pysch yourself out like that. I try to keep focused, try to look at it jam by jam. You can only win jam by jam. So you try to stay focused, forget about the scoreboard.
P: Each time the official blows the whistle to start the jam, the score is 0-0, and that's what you go to remember each time you're out there.
D: For most of the bout, D-Funk was taking the back position of the pack. Do you prefer to have that front position?
R: How it usually happens is whoever has the jam line for the bench to start, typically lines up on the back line for that half, and then when it switches at halftime, and you kind of go on the front near the pivot line. We thought it might have been better to use the front rather than the back line based on who we were playing. We play both from the front and the back, and you kind of just adjust as you need to.
P: We did make some adjustments during this game, and decided when we wanted to play from the front, and when we wanted to play from the back.
D: What did you talk about at halftime in the locker room?
R: We just made sure everyone was on the same page on some things. Made sure we had the same ideas on what we were going to do in the second half. Made sure everyone was chilled out if we needed to be, or amped up if we needed to be. Today we were kind of in between. Everyone had to adjust a little bit different to the game.
P: We were calm, but intense in the locker room. We came out with three things we had to do for the second half. I don't know if we accomplished those three, but we won, so we'll take it.
D: What worries did you have about D-Funk coming in to this bout?
R: They've been working pretty hard. We don't see them at a lot of practices, because we practice seperately from them. They have their own team practices, and we have our own team practices. Sometimes it's just hard to guage. The last time we saw them play was at the last bout we had here. We know they put in some hard work, and it showed today. They made us fight for every point that we got.
D: During the bout, you had more jammer penalties than the other team. (CORRECTION: I realized later that I was incorrect. GPM had 2, and D-Funk had 3)
R: Honestly, I don't know the numbers.
P: I think we had three, and they had two.
R: I don't remember. Jammer penalties are never good, no matter how many you have. The more you have, the worse it is, because you can't score when your jammer is in the box. If we did, we definitely paid for it, because you can't score with a jammer in your penalty box. I'd say that's correct based on the score throughout the game.
D: Talking about that last jam, how important was it to get that power jam?
R: Extremely important. We were catching slowing. We would have a 4-0 [jam], a 4-0. When you're down by 13, or 19, or 40, nickle and diming takes a lot of time. Those jams that run 30 seconds, you get a quick 4-0 and call it off, you're still trying to beat the clock. You don't have a lot of time when you're trying to catch up by 40 points. A power jam obviously makes it a lot easier because they can't score. It also makes it a lot more confusing with who is on the track, where the pack is, and how many points you get when you pass one person. When there's less people on the track, once you pass one person, you get three points, because you get the two box points.
P: We went out there with the intention of her not getting out of the pack, and Racer scoring all the points. Drawing the penalty, I believe it was a forearm, that sure made it a whole lot better, a lot easier.
D: Who did you pick up in the midseason draft?
R: We picked up Gnarly Quinn. She's actually a junior that played for several years on the Darlings of Destruction. She came to us with a lot of derby knowledge, which is kind of interesting for a rookie. She has fit right in to the adult world of derby, and we're really excited.
D: You've definitely clinched the championship spot, haven't you? (I should have said "place in the championship bout")
R: We are definitely locked into the championship game. The other spot is ups for grabs. We don't have any idea who we're even playing in the championship game. We're 3 and 0. D-Funk is now 2 and 2. The Pistoffs and the Dames play next month. I think that will potentially determine who is in the championship game.
D: What was the reason for the official review timeouts in the first half?
R: I know one of them was about when a D-Funk jammer made a jump in the apex and made contact with one of our blockers, and that blocker fell down. Our position was that the jammer impacted into the blocker on our team, caused the fall, so it should have been a back-block. The official review indicated that the GPM blocker had already been on the ground when the contact was made by the D-Funk jammer. There was no change in the call that was made. I don't go out for the other one in the first half.
P: I don't know what the other one was.
R: Official reviews don't change anything usually. If anything it helps them keep an eye on something. Not necessarily because you think a new penalty will be added, or because you think something will be changed, but that they'll keep an eye on something that's not being caught.
P: If there's something that happens frequently on the track, and it's not as evident as it should be, that's a good time to bring up, "Hey, this is going on. I don't know if you're seeing it before". That kind of thing.
D: What about the official review towards the end of the bout?
R: That was an official review from their side. I think they were asking about Spanish's back block call. The jam ref was skating next to me, calling a back block, but he was calling it on Spanish, who is 223. I'm 28. He was signalling it on 223, but calling next to me. So I think they were confused about why I didn't go to the box when he was calling a back block. He was calling it purple 223, which is a different player on the team, not me. They were wondering why a jam ref who was skating with me called a penalty, and I wasn't going to the box.

It always feels I'm sitting in on someone else's family reunion when I interview D-Funk. This time I was with Captains Fatal Femme and Eight Mile Rose, and managers Uniballer and Luigi O'Rolly:
Detroit Area Dork: What are you thinking right now?
Uniballer: I'm thinking that really sucks, the way it came down. Play that hard, do all that stuff, to have the refs take over at the end kind of hurts. Both teams were bashing each others heads in for the win. We let it go. It was a good solid game.
Fatal Femme: I don't know if I can say it any better.
Eight Mile Rose: I'm proud of my team.
D: What was going on with those official reviews in the first half?
F: It's funny. Some people use official reviews for a break, and sometimes you actually have something to review. You can say whatever you want. You can say I want a review of anything. That's just another way of getting another timeout. Sometimes they're used as that, and sometimes they're not.
D: Throughout most of the bout, it seemed as if your team was taking the rear position in the pack. Was that by design?
U: We played the hand that was dealt to us. They were going to keep giving it to us, we were going to keep taking it. It's all situational. It depends on what's happening and what they're going to give us. We'll play slow. We'll play fast. We'll play however you us to. We just want to play
D: It seemed that during this bout, your team had very few jammer penalties. (Again, in hindsight, they had three, one more than GPM)
F: Except the one that mattered, right? I have been working very hard on our jammers staying in the center of the track. The bulk of our penalties were for track cuts, so we were trying to keep them in the center of the track, pushing forward, and it really paid off.
8: Thanks for noticing.
U: Thanks for noticing.
D: What have the practices been like after last month's upset loss?
F: A lot harder. We tried nailing down just a few key points instead of hitting many. We just focused on what we didn't accomplish the last bout, and tried to really nail it down. I think we did a phenomenal job on everything we did not do right last bout, I think we did right this bout. I am so happy with how they played. They were smarter, they were stronger, they were faster. They played awesome.
U: We talked earlier in the year, and we tried to bash it in, "Every jam 0-0, every bout 0-0, it's 0-0". What happened last bout, that's great. The Dames came out. Feta stepped up to become an even huger star in this league. It was kind of easy to put it behind us. It's been a long season. We played a lot of games up front, went back to back. Now we've got a break, so we can relax a little bit, then get back on it.
8: We didn't have very many practices, which is another reason why we are so proud of our team. We made our improvements in three or four practices.
D: Have you adapted to the absence of Ally Sin Shoverland?
F: It's such a huge hole. She's so hard to replace. So hard to replace. She's such a solid player, and not only that, but we got so close to her. We've had two without her now. I think we've adjusted better, but it would sure be a hell of a lot easier if she were still skating for green
U: You kind of asked a similar question when she did leave. Look at Meryl tonight. Look at Turbo. Look at Rammpaige. I said before, this is a team, all the way through. Ally left, it hurt emotionally. Player wise, that's a lot of talent, but everybody else said, "Okay, we'll step up, we'll finish it". They ran it tonight. They definitely deserved that win tonight.
8: Ally watched us today as a person on the sidelines for possibly the first time ever here. I think she's pretty proud, seeing her team skate without her tonight.
D: Let's talk about that last jam. A jammer penalty, and at least two blocker penalties.
8: I don't remember any of them at all.
F: Exactly what it was.
D: What were the blocker penalties for?
F: One was a high block...
U: That was called a cut, and the other one we can't seem to find.
D: The jammer penalty was a cut?
F: No, the jammer penalty was a forearm.
U: Touching the opposing player for three seconds
Luigi: A hand check.
D: A hand check?
U: That's how it was described to me. A three second hand check decided the game tonight.
8: It's making contact with an opposing player for any longer than three seconds.
D: What has to happen now for you to get into the championship bout?
F: I believe the Pistoffs have to beat the Dames. We beat the Pistoffs head to head, but we lost to the Dames...
L: Which would give the Pistoffs the same record as us.
F: The travel team is going to be in London for that bout. All of the travel team players from both teams won't be at that bout. It's going to be the rest of the teams stepping in to fill those jammer and blocked positions. It's going to be an interesting bout.
U: It's going to be an awesome bout. Get everybody you know here, it's going to be awesome. It's going to be really fun. It's going to be a great, great bout. We love the Dames to death, but unfortunately, we're Pistoff fans now.
F: Just so that we can go to the championship.
U: We want another crack, we want another shot at that. We want to finish what we started.
D: This is the end of the regular season for you. How would you sum it up?
F: It's been a hard, long emotional trip. Losing [Mad] Hatch[er] this year was a huge hit. Losing Ally this year was a huge hit. We really got some awesome new talent on our team. What's really nice is that nobody is really new to derby anymore. You don't get a skater that's never played a bout. Even the new skaters, they're just all transfers. You don't have to start at square one. We're interested to see where the next two months takes us before the grudge match.
8: Fun. It's gone by really fast for me.
U: Emotional roller coaster, for sure. So many ups and downs, it's unbelievable.
L: Agreed.
D: Who did you pick up in the midseason draft?F: We picked up Blondie, and Chompers.

All photos by Dan Bachorik

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 With a face for radio, a voice for print, and the prose of a new immigrant, I'll stick to amateur blogging