St. Patrick’s Day Weekend was the scheduled time for the East Coast Derby Extravaganza. Over thirty roller derby leagues from around the country descended into Philadelphia to participate in full-length, WFTDA-sanctioned bouts; half-hour challenge bouts and open scrimmages. The Big Easy Rollergirls, being one of the headlining bouts, looked forward to this event with much anticipation. Surely, with the myriad of St. Patrick Day celebrations, and New Orleans’ grand tradition of consecrating just about any event that can be spelled, The Big Easy Rollergirls would have an advantage. Right? Regardless of their superior celebratory skills and ability to multi-task any mishap, they knew that skating without a full team would test their strength, patience and mental agility. What they didn’t know was all of this would occur before they even took the rink. To avoid sounding like a Dickens novel, this tale is best summed up.
Captain: Bessie Smithereens
Marquee de Squad
Trixie la Femme
Victoria von Doom
Ref/Team Manager: Anti Em
A sudden and unexpected ice storm immobilized the East Coast.
It was a dark and stormy night…
The Atlanta Four: Bessie, Jaws, Marquee & Shay, after spending almost eight hours in the Atlanta airport and experiencing numerous delays and false starts, accepted the fact that they were stranded. Thanks to the kindness of Atlanta Rollergirl, Heller Highwater (who not only put them up for the night, but also fed them and took them back and forth numerous times to try and retrieve Bessie’s luggage) they kept their sanity. They later found out that Bessie’s luggage was the only thing that made it to Philly. As Shay said, “Heller wins, ‘Most Amazingly Hospitable and Patient Rollergirl Ever Award.’” Heller took the ladies out to eat where they encountered Trish the Dish and Ivanna S. Pankin (also stranded) from Las Vegas walking down the street. It was a lovely and joyous derby reunion.
Not to be detoured by a mere airline shut-down, the resilient rollergirls rented a car Saturday morning and drove fourteen-hours nonstop. With snow coming down, they drove straight to the rink in Philadelphia where Shay and Bessie immediately (and by immediately I mean within seconds- Shay skated in jeans) jumped into the 10 pm pick-up game Jocks vs. Geeks challenge bout with Beatrix and SmasHer. After their game the drove to the Philly airport to retrieve Bessie’s luggage, which was eventually recovered.
Meanwhile, Trixie was stuck in Memphis, only to have the airline lose all of her luggage (including her skate bag) and send her back to New Orleans. Although she did get to spend the night in The Graceland Hotel, it was a shoddy replacement for actually skating in Philly. Trixie, The Big Easy Rollergirl MVP from the Vegas bout, was greatly missed for not only her skating skills, but also her eternal optimism.
SmasHer’s much delayed flight landed in New York late Thursday night. She took a train into Philly Friday morning to meet the “Atlanta Four.” En route she received a phone call from Shay informing her of their situation in Atlanta. Translated, this meant there was no one to meet SmasHer at the station, or give her a place to stay. With help from VVD, still in New Orleans, she booked a room at the “roller derby hotel” in the suburbs. With visions of checking in and returning to the city to catch the King Tut exhibit, SmasHer took a cab out to the hotel only to have her driver hit a patch of ice, do two 180 spins on the freeway and crash into a guard rail. Yes, she still had to pay $50 for the cab ride. SmasHer later discovered that out of all of the thirty leagues registered at the hotel, she was the only one checked in. Once there, she learned no other cabs would come to the hotel, the shuttle was shut down and no buses were running. SmasHer was only sustained by a book and wireless until… Nina Knockout of the Philly Rollergirls drove through the snow and ice to pick her up and take her out to the rink to help set-up. It was nirvana.
Saturday, On the way to the hotel, Vandal, Bea, and Em’s taxi broke down and left them on the side of the highway while they waited for a new one. They blamed it on SmasHer’s taxi karma.
Crusty, VVD & Scabby had a relatively easy flight. They arrived at the rink late Saturday afternoon.
Beatrix participated in many pick up games on Saturday and Sunday.
Anti Em reffed many WFTDA bouts and was impressed and amazed by many of the other refs.
Even with a bout to play that night, Shay skated in various challenge bouts on Sunday. BERG agreed that the challenge bouts were a chance to play with so many different players from around the country with varied skill levels. Everyone felt each game taught them something new.
Come Sunday night, slightly stiff, sore & exhausted, The Big Easy Rollergirls took the rink intent on winning. Anti Em, fresh from reffing another bout, did double duty as team manager, expertly calling out the plays for the rollergirls. But it wasn’t to be… The Philly Rollergirls dominated from the very beginning and despite valiant efforts from EVERYONE on The Big Easy Rollergirls victory wasn’t in their favor.
Regardless, there was some fantastic game-playing from BERG.
Shay was a clear stand-out from the beginning with her strong pivot skills and relentless pit-bull drive.
Scabigail wowed the crowd with her speed AND her flashy blue skates.
Crusty charged after skaters twice her size.
Ibeatya invented “jazz hands offense” to breeze past the Philly rollergirls.
Jaws emerged from nowhere to deliver some incredibly lethal hits.
Captain Bessie kept her team in high spirits the entire time, continually shouting encouragement and strategy.
Even Ginger Snap from Gotham, and Ivanna from Las Vegas came to BERG’s side to give advice and show their support.
In the end, The Big Easy Rollergirls may have shown defeat on the scoreboard, but not in their “Goonies-Never-Say-Die Attitude,” and certainly not in their hearts.
Shay took home the MVP award, making her team VERY proud.
The Big Easy Rollergirls were so touched by Philly’s amazing generosity and the fans’ incredible spirit and enthusiasm. They would like to send out their biggest Shoves & Kisses to The Philly Rollergirls for putting on this unprecedented event. It was quite an experience.
On a sad note, it was Bessie Smithereens swan bout. She balanced the extremes of co-captain, law student and kick-ass rollergirl for a long time. Bessie is taking a break to concentrate on her law studies. The Big Easy Rollergirls miss her greatly, wish her the best and can’t wait to see her back dominating on the rink (and in the court room).