After last months bout with the Scrappers, I didn’t think the derby action and drama could unfolded any better. I was wrong. It did. After the bout between the Bombshells and Coffin Draggers on June 19, I sit here, again, feeling like it can’t get any better than that. Its like the last week I’ve been stuck in this vortex of déjà vu. Almost everything that’s happened since I walked into the Coliseum made me think, “I feel like I’ve been here before.” In some instances, it was good, in others, not so good. Its erie when I find myself in those situations because I wonder, “If I’ve been here before, will things play out the same way as they did last time?” For the most part, they almost did.
I walked into the Coliseum mentally prepared and focused for a heavy task: The Coffin Draggers. I knew this contest was going to be a blast but ultimately the task was to beat them. On Saturday I was going to take pride in bouncing back from the tough loss of the previous bout, channeling all that frustration and disappointment, and taking it out on the Draggers. Two forces were about to collide and when I reflect on the bout a line from The Dark Knight (one of my favorite movies, I put it in my top 5) seemed way too appropriate. In one of the last scenes of the movie during their final face off the Joker says to Batman, “This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object.” The Coffin Draggers have historically been a more successful team than the Bombshells and they’ve been playing some great derby this season. They came into the bout undefeated which in my mind equates to an unstoppable force. No one had yet to beat them. The Bombshells used to be push overs before coming into this season. The expectation used to be that a Bombshells bout was an easy win. Not the case in 2010. We’re not at the level of an unstoppable force, but we’ve displayed to both the defending champ Beauties and the stacked Scrappers that we won’t be pushed around anymore. The Bombshells’ pack and the defense we’ve displayed against some of the best Jammers in the league is shaping us into an immovable object. So, when I think about this bout and when I and others express their appreciation and/or disbelief for what they got to witness, I can only think, “Well, that’s the kind of derby action you get when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object.”
The way the bout played out was what seemed like a bad case of déjà vu. We hung with the more experienced Draggers for much of the first quarter. The bout was still tied at 0 after the first two jams and that let me know that we were in for a very defensive game. The Draggers kept big blockers Wendy O. Killems and Ginger Mortis up in the front of the pack as often as they could be which made it difficult for our smaller Jammers to get around. They did a great job shutting us out in 4 of the first 5 jams. We found ourselves trailing at one point 9-4 and leading in another when the score was 9-12. I felt good about this quarter just the same way I did against the first quarter against the Scrappers. We were still hanging with the Draggers after the first with a tie score of 14-14. When I looked up at the score board right before the 2nd quarter started it gave me the indication that this might be a close one to the finish.
The 2nd quarter starts and we’ve got a Jammer in the box. Shit! I look towards the Jammer line and I see Mia Pow Wow. Holy Shit! This would be out first test. In the previous bout Mia skated circles around the Brutal Beauties and had multiple 10 point Power Jams. I had a feeling this jam would tell me early whether this bout was going to get away from us or not. Fortunately, our defense came through, big time. We held Mia Pow Wow scoreless during that Power Jam, she never even broke the pack. By the time half time had rolled around Mia jammed 6 times and only scored 1 point. We did well in the second quarter holding the Draggers scoreless in 7 of the first 8 jams. We were building a lead and then I had to watch Craven Cadavers skate circles around the track and rack up a 9 to 0 jam. It was reminiscent of the 9 point jam Jenna Talls put up in the second quarter of our bout with the Scrappers that kept them within reach. And yet again, there I was on the bench scratching my head (the same way I did with Jenna) thinking, “Wow, where did Craven come from. Wasn’t expecting that!” That jam was just a foreshadowing of what was to come from her the rest of the bout. She was just getting warmed up. That jam put her team in the lead 23-18. We played some strong derby in the 2nd quarter but we kind of let up when the Draggers outscored us in the last 4 jams 15-6. Cannibelle Corpse struggled early wearing the star scoring 0 points in her first 5 attempts at the Jammer spot. She bounced back in her last two tries before the half scoring 5 points in each jam that was a big part of that 15-6 run that ended the half.
I look up at the score at the half and I’m seeing what happens when an unstoppable force meets and immovable object: things go nowhere, its a stalemate. Such was the case at the end of the 1st quarter when the score was tied 14-14 and also at the end of the 2nd quarter when the score was tied 38-38. I thought about the half and I wondered how the Draggers were able to keep up with us when we were succeeding in shutting down their top 2 jammers in Mia Pow Wow and Cannibelle Corpse. I realized its because their other jammers stepped up and scored some needed points. We never expected to see Lora Stabs jam as much as we did, but it only seemed natural for her to step in after the departure of Dr. Mary Lou Botomy. She logged two separate 5-0 jams in the first half. Scarlett Knock-Out had a very efficient first half as a Jammer. She skated twice with the star on her helmet and she owned the track both times. She acquired the lead jam, called off the jam, and racked up 4 to 0 jams on both tries. Killer job by the rookie! Craven puts up a 9-0 jam, Stabs puts up two 5-0 jams, and K.O. puts up two 4-0 jams. Incredible. These 3 Jammers accounted for 27 of the Draggers first half points, while their strongest Jammers in Cannibelle and Mia account for 11. I was stuck in another swirl of déjà vu. Just like in the Scrappers bout we succeeded in limiting their best Jammers, but we couldn’t contain the rest of their Jamming crew who scored the points the Draggers needed.
I can’t take any credit or blame for the half Lady Lawless had. Even I don’t know what had gotten into her. She was unstoppable and Jamming out of her mind. She scored almost 60% of the Bombshells first half points, getting credit for 22 out of the 38. She acquired the lead jam on all 6 of her tries and called them all off with excellent demonstrations of how a Jammer can play defense and still score points at the same time. Her first 6 jam counts look like this: 4 pts, 4 pts, 4 pts, 5 pts, 1 pt, 4 pts. She put up all those points while the opposing Jammers only put up 1 against her. We had some struggles in our Jamming crew as well in the first half. The Draggers smothered our rookie Jammer Dottie Danger shutting her out for the game. Dottie scored 0 points in her 4 tries Jamming and couldn’t continue in the 2nd half because of a nagging knee injury that got the best of her at half time. Our top scoring Jammer, Celeste, was also facing some heavy resistance as she only averaged 1.6 ppj in the first half. She’s one of the league’s top scoring Jammers and the Draggers were effective in containing her, which is evident in that average. I can only assume they prepared specifically to defend her the way we prepared to defend their best Jammers.
The 3rd quarter got underway and déjà vu was slapping me in face again. And this time it really hurt. Mia Pow Wow came out and scored a 10 point jam and I thought, “Ok, the real Mia Pow Wow is here now, where did that other one go?” Then Craven put up 4 point jam and Cannibelle followed with a 3 point jam. Suddenly we’re down by 17 points, 17 unanswered points. The score was now 55-38 and we had yet to score in the half. Just like in the last bout I’m thinking, “Where the hell did my Bombshells from the first half go?” I thought for a moment the bout was going to get away from us at that point. We took a time out to try and stop the bleeding from the gushing wound those zombies just opened up on the Bombshells in the first few jams. That timeout turned out to be the turning point in the game for the Bombshells. I reminded the skaters of what happened in the second half of the last bout and of what they told me their goal was for this game: they wanted to be a stronger second half team. We found our center during the break and switched our strategy to one of our familiar sets we’d been running since day one and from that point on, the Bombshells chipped away at the lead one jam at a time. The Draggers out scored us in that quarter 31-23 and it appeared the unstoppable force was beginning to show its superiority. We were fortunate Lady Lawless put up a crucial 9 to 0 jam at the end of the quarter which made the 69-61 score easier to look at. That jam going into the 4th quarter really kept the bout within reach for us.
We started the 4th quarter with our own Power Jam. Celeste was behind the Jammer line and she added 3 points to our score. Not what we would have wanted or have come to expect from Celeste, but at that point, any little bit helped. The score was now 69-64 and the crowd was really starting to get into it. It became deafening once the 4th quarter started. The Draggers responded with a two jam 10 point scoring streak that bumped their lead back up to 15, 79-64. I looked up at the score board and their was déjà vu again, mocking me. It was almost at the same point in the last bout that I looked up and the Scrappers had a healthy lead against us with half a quarter left. But that time I didn’t change anything. I kept us in the same scheme we had been running all game and it doomed us. We’re a defensive team. We’re not a high scoring team. Our defense creates our offense and that’s what I had hoped would happen to will us passed the Scrappers in the 4th quarter. It didn’t work. We needed to start scoring at that point and I didn’t put us in a position to do that. This time around against the Draggers I learned from the mistake I made against the Scrappers, flipped déjà vu the bird, got my skaters in a circle around me, put pen to paper and drew up a play that I hoped would score us some points. It did. HollyHood went in there in our second Power Jam of the quarter and scored us 10 points. Suddenly the bout was back within reach at 81-77 and the crowd was even louder than they were when the quarter started. You began to hear competing chants of “Let’s go Draggers!” with “Let’s go Bombshells!” Then Celeste lined up and we ran the same play. It scored us 3 points and the score was now 82-80.
When Lady Lawless and Cannibelle Corpse lined up for the second to last jam, none of us realized we were about to watch the most important jam of the night. Lawless was able to break the pack first acquiring the lead jam with about half a track between her and Cannibelle Corpse who was chasing right behind her. Lawless was able to get through the pack a second time and scored all 4 points but didn’t call off the jam in time to keep Cannibelle from scoring 3 of her own. There was a brief moment where Lawless could have called the jam off to keep Cannibelle from scoring any points. I went absolutely nuts on the bench because I always stress to my Jammers to maintain awareness of the other Jammer at all times. Lawless lost Cannibelle for a moment and in those few seconds before Lawless called it off Cannibelle was able to score points to keep her team in the lead. When that jam was over the score was 85-84. Had Lawless waited 4 more seconds to call off the jam, the game would have been over and the Draggers would have been declared the winners. There were 34 seconds left in the game. By AZDD rules, if there are 29 seconds or less left on the game clock, another jam will not be played and the game is declared over. If there are 30 second or more left, the clock resets to a full minute and 1 last jam is played. The stage was set for one of the best finishes of the AZDD season. I didn’t realize until the last few moments before the whistle blew for the last jam that we would have a Power Jam. I looked over to see Cannibelle sitting in the box and that’s when I knew this was our game to steal. I looked over to HollyHood and screamed, “This is your time! Win this game!” I can’t even explain what happened. Just watch:
I could not contain myself after we won the bout in the last moments. HollyHood and her Power Jam blockers scored the points we needed to pull ahead with 12 second left, but to solidify the victory, she went after the last two Draggers in the front of the pack and collected those points too. Final score was 85-89. Bombshells win. I can’t remember the last time I was THAT excited about any kind of sports victory. I mean, it was real sweet to watch the Suns sweep the Spurs during the playoffs this season. I jumped up and down to exhaustion when that happened. But this was different. And this was where the déjà vu I had been experiencing all game became a little different. It was a bout with two strong teams, just like the last bout. It was practically even going into the 4th quarter, just like the last bout. And it came down to a great finish, just like the last bout. Except this time around there was something different about this rush of déjà vu. There was something new. The difference was that the Bombshells were the thieves who stole this bout from the Draggers. We were the one’s who came from behind to eek out a win. Of all the things that felt familiar that night, it ended with a different, newer feeling. A little something I call déjà new.