nothing special about this one, in so far as how I got the gig. There was a sign up sheet (google doc) early in the season and I signed up through the end of the season to ref @ Alamo City RG.
So its the usual suspects reffing this bout, Cucuy, Chop Stewie, Karate Chappa, and El Matador (the locals) Krez Sez & Private Been Jammin (PBJ) from Houston, but skating as reps for Texas Roller Derby All Scar Army.
Now the special thing about this bout, in case you dear reader don’t already know, TXRD is banked track. If you live in the SATX/Austin area, you can catch it on cable-or so I’m told. There’s quite a few nuances that are different between a banked track and flat track ruleset. The general objective is the same, get your jammer through and score points, stop the other jammer from doing the same. Sounds easy right? You’d be surprised. In any case, one big difference is that in banked track is when a skater commits a penalty they serve their time in the following jam. So they continue to skate the current jam, knowing this, I was worried there’d be an issue getting TXRD skaters off track whenever they got a major penalty. Generally there’s one or two skaters per league that seem genuinely surprised when they get sent to the box. Occasionally pointing to another skater and vocalizing that we missed something another skater did. I must say that I really appreciated TXRD in that whenever they were sent off, they made eye contact nodded that they heard that they were being sent off and would get off track as quickly as possible without running into other skaters and beeline to the box. though there were a few that weren’t as quick, but thats more an issue with not being heard yelling penalties over the volume of the sound system.
ACRGs Tricky Bobbie has grown by leaps and bounds in a few short months, perviously, as a jammer whenever she got hit she’d go down and take a lil more than a second to recover and get back on her skates. NOW she takes hits like a pinball, simply bouncing off the initiator of the block or spinning around and racing her way to the front. LA DodgeHer has improved slow pack slicing. Last season and even early in this season, if the pack was moving slowly, she lacked some lateral ability to find a hole to get through and score. Now if the pack is moving fast, all she needs is about a inch wider than her skates wheel base and she glide right though with the slightest of glancing hits. Rounding out ACRGs rotation was Speedyrella, true to her name, Black n’ Blue Belle-ACRG’s skater of the month, and also much more graceful and improved over the past few months and last but certainly not least Barbacoa, who is amazing because she’s one of those rare skaters who can block AND jam.
Now TXRD isn’t chopped liver, from my understanding, compared to last years bout, they’ve shown tremendous improvement. There certainly wasn’t any lack os skating ability, unfortunately this was my first time seeing them and between focusing on defining the pack, processing 20 pages of the rules depending on the scenario in less than a seconds time, assisting the jammer refs, avoid plowing through the camerawoman, skating backwards and hoping I don’t screw up too terribly, I didn’t get to see TXRD as a whole. However, i don’t recall seeing any of them wiping out on the track because, from my perspective, of their wheels or lack of comfort with the skating surface. they stayed on all 8 wheels as intended, or 4 if need be. Also amazing agility from several skaters, in being able to race out front with the jammer AND awareness of the pack AND having another skater nearby to know to make a bridge to the pack. though there was an occasional out of play just because the pack shifted on them. but what impressed me most was the pack awareness, and I’m pretty sure that next year, with a better understanding of the WFTDA ruleset they’ll close the point spread and may even pull of a surprise win.