Finally…Let It Rain
For some time now the Bombshells have been on their hands and knees crawling around the derby desert in this Arizona heat. Defeated, delirious and dying of dehydration they’ve begged for something to quench their thirst; something, anything to give them just a little more life to keep fighting a little longer. They’ve seen the oasis of victory at times lying far, far out of reach only to find its a mirage as they try their hardest to inch closer and closer to it. But no more. The winning drought the Bombshells have had to endure over the last 2+ years has come to an end. Finally, the rain has come for this team, and finally, we bathe in the waters of victory.
Out of the 12 girls we have on our roster, only two of them have ever known the feeling of winning a derby bout. Prima Donna is the O.G. Bombshell and being one of the founders of this great league, she was around during the Bombshells early winning days of Season 1. Celeste came to Bombshells this season after 4 very successful years with the Brutal Beauties dynasty. Other than these two ladies, not a single skater on this team has ever taken a victory lap. Most significantly the Bombshells 2nd most senior skater, Alkaline Trina, has never skated to victory. When we got the news that this would be her last bout with us before she moved back to Texas, the entire team’s focus shifted from just winning the bout, to wanting to win the bout for Trina. It was our desire to send off our beloved jammer with a win under her belt after 3 seasons.
Alkaline Trina has always held a very special place in my heart. When I first started coaching this team there was one skater that always stood out to me, and it was her. She was the smallest skater on the team, but what she lacked in size she made up with speed, desire, and good ole’ fashioned hard work. At practice, when some skaters would waffle, I could always expect that Trina would bring it every time for every drill. She stood out to me because the athlete that lives in her is almost a mirror image of the athlete that lives in me. I wasn’t the biggest or the strongest, no matter what sport I played. But I was jam packed full of desire, speed, and a hunger to learn the game so that I could use my mind more than my body when I play. Just like Trina. I looked to my leaders for guidance and took seriously what they gave me. Trina does that. I took that same advice and passed it on when it was my time to lead. Trina does that too. She put on a great performance for her farewell bout putting up 24 points and averaging 3.4 ppj (points per jam). She controlled most of her jams acquiring the lead jam 6 out of 7 times. She will be missed. Not just by this team, but by the lives of the people that she became a part of during her time here. I’m going to miss her so much I had to show her somehow, so I wore a special edition T-Shirt in her honor.
Did anyone happen to catch a glimpse of Celeste on the track? I think the only instances where I was able to get her in focus was when she was on the bench resting and when she went wheels-over-heals in the air in the beginning of the 4th quarter. I swear, it was like I was watching that moment in slow motion thinking like Ricky Bobby, “Oh man, she’s flying through the air. That ain’t good.” Other than that, the girl was in constant motion rotating around the track racking up points. She brings a much needed killer instinct to this team. She wants to dominate and destroy opponents and she did just that. She stepped in as our jammer 9 times and logged 50 points. Yes, you read that right. But I’ll repeat it just in case. She scored 50 of the Bombshells’ 121 points, in 9 jams. She logged jams of 7, 8, 8 and a mind blowing 10 point power jam. Her performance earned her the admiration of her team which voted her the game’s MVP. Well deserved.
We executed our game plan well against the Beauties, which was to neutralize their power blockers who like to hang out in the back of the pack. I understand it was the first bout of the season, however, we didn’t play at the level of derby excellence we strive for. There is much we need to do to get to that level. One thing we really need to work on is our awareness on the track. The ladies did a great job in containing the Beauties’ jammers for a majority of the bout, but there were too many instances where their jammers were coasting by a Bombshell blocker and they didn’t even realize it until they saw the star shoot by. Its easy to tell when they know they’ve missed her because I can see that look on the Bombshell’s faces the moment it happens like, “Aw sh*t! There she goes. Dammit!” We played a clean bout for the most part only logging 8 major penalties a couple of which came by way of accumulation of minors. I say that because I honestly thought we would have more for our first live action banked-track bout. We had a bit of scare in the first quarter when our power blocker, Ruff Ryder, picked up a major penalty in each of the first three jams she skated in. We weren’t half way through the 1st quarter and we still had 3 whole quarters to play and I had already watched our strongest blocker sit in the box three times. Two more majors and she was a gonner. It was like she was hyping herself up before the bout with some Ludacris the way she was throwin’ them ‘bows. And as I said before, and I’ll say it again, elbows are the number one killer of all the penalties in this game. Fortunately, Ruff Ryder was able to regroup and get her head back on because after that she didn’t log a single penalty for the rest of the bout.
I have to give much credit to our blockers. I’ve spent much time developing our blocking schemes that at times I think the Jammers feel like they don’t get enough individualized attention during practice. I don’t do a lot of Jammer-specific drills. The bout on Saturday made a good case as to why. We put 120 points up on the score board and the lion’s share of the credit goes to our blockers. Hellcat Maggie, Sho’Nuff, Samba Slugger, and Ruff Ryder and the rest of our blocking crew are the reasons we were able to put those kinds of points up. They created lanes and allowed the inherent agility and speed of our jammers to do the rest. Blockers win games, Jammers get the glory. We won that game in large part due to how these skaters executed our strategy.
The Brutal Beauties rookies stole the show on Saturday night. Their team as a whole showed a lot of great improvements with the addition of these new skaters. The break-out performance of the night goes to Kimber Slice. The announcers had a little difficulty with her name but I don’t think any of us will forget it again the way she ripped the Bombshells apart. We were able to contain her on a few jams but what impressed me was how smart she played after breaking the pack. She completely owned the track the three times she had lead jam. The three times she acquired lead jam she had jams of 4, 4, and 5 points. These jams were devastating to us because she blazed through our pack, scored her points, called off the jam, and the Bombshells jammer had to skate off the track with 0 points, EACH TIME. She put up 13 unanswered points for her team. If she can find more support from her blockers to help her get out of the pack first, she’s going to be a Beauty to be reckoned with in bouts to come. In this case, I don’t think its fair to say, “Welcome to derby, Kimber Slice.” I think its more appropriate to say, “Welcome to Kimber Slice, derby!”
The Beauties top point scorer was also a rookie. The “LAP” Dancer sits at the top of the point totals with 25 points averaging 2.5 ppj. She jammed for her team the most, putting that star on her helmet 10 times during the bout. Also, I would upgrade Pint-Sized Punch to a Quart-Sized Punch after the improvements I saw in her jamming game from last month. Her point totals and averages went up while the frequency of her jamming went down. Last month she jammed 13 times for 15 points and an average of 1.1 points per jam. Saturday night she jammed 8 times for 18 points and an average of 2.25 ppj. That’s a nice jump. This in itself shows how much of an impact the rookies are having on this team. They picked up at least two rookies that could fill in at the Jammer spot right out of Fresh Meat. They just didn’t have enough jammers last month and I think that made all the difference this month because they put up more points against us than they did in the last bout. And speaking of Jammers, where was Tabby T-Bag all night? We didn’t see her jam till the 4th quarter. I found that a bit curious considering she was the Beauties’ top point scorer in last month’s bout, scoring half of her team’s points. Each team thinks and does things differently, but if it was me managing I wouldn’t have waited till the 4th quarter to put in the jammer that has already shown she can get lead jam, score points and call off jams. Overall, the Beauties were a much better looking team this month. Not only do I think so, but the numbers say so too.
I gotta give it up to the captains and leaders of the Bombshells and Brutal Beauties, Lady Lawless and Red Rocker, respectively. Lady Lawless was the spark plug that not only got her team going, but she had the fans going as well. She played a big part in leading and directing the blocking schemes on the track which translated to easy pickins for our jammers. She hyped up the crowd and sent the Bombshells into half time with a boat-load of momentum with her 10 point power jam at the end of the 2nd quarter. She didn’t wear the star very much on the night but she was efficient when she did. She put up 18 unanswered points. She had 3 jams, owned ‘em all from start to finish, doing her part to shut out the opposing jammer each time. She had two jams of 4 points to the Beauties 0 and had the highest average of the night with 6 ppj. I really enjoy watching Red Rocker skate. She’s fierce and she has no quit in her. When I see her skate up to the high side of the track, I know only one thing is to follow: DEVASTATION TO ALL BELOW. She laid some great hits on every corner of the track and almost sent one of our jammers out of the track between the guard rail and the kick rail. She’s consistently exhibits great sportswomanship. When she stepped off the track, she was ready to have a good time and even took a few moment to razz it up with Lawless and I at the after party. I had fun watching the two of them bounce off of each other repeatedly during a jam in the 2nd half. It was like watching a bee trapped inside the house that’s trying to get out but doesn’t realize it keeps flying into a window….bzzzzzzzzz……DOINK……bzzzzzzzzz……DOINK……bzzzzzzzz….DOINK!
The win was a great experience and it took a little while for it to actually sink in. When I was asked to step in as coach last season, my goal was to help these skaters get a win. Ideally it would have happened last season, but the bright side was that we got better after each loss and learned something different that we took into the next bout. We became more and more hungry for that win after each loss. Last season a lot of the skaters were brand new and didn’t know much about this game and the way it’s played and they were being led by a guy who didn’t know the first thing about derby, much less how to strategize for it. After a year of losing and lot of hard work during the off season we have all finally reached our goal of grabbing a win. Everyone played a role in this achievement, from the captains and coaches to the rookies and team managers. The Bombshells rained down on the Coliseum last Saturday night and the fans responded with flattering praise. I love to see them all stand up and cheer for my skaters because they work so hard and they deserve that type of recognition. Part of me believes they were as anxious to see us win as we were. I’m grateful the fans stuck with us from our losing flat track days and it paid off for them as we were able to quench their thirst for a Bombshells’ win at the well of the banked track. We’ve achieved that goal, and now its time to move on to the next one. Obviously we want to keep winning, but the next concrete goal on my mind is to get into the playoffs and make a run for the trophy.
We finally ended the drought and we did it in convincing fashion. The crowd was speckled with red and their thunderous cheers gave me a very cold rush. We’re still in the Arizona desert, but things aren’t so hot anymore. The Bombshells brought a red storm into the Coliseum. Better bring your rain coats next month; ’cause the way the skies look now, this storm ain’t lettin’ up any time soon.