February 27th, 2016 – As the first game of both teams 10th season, the Tornado Sirens of Indy’s very own Naptown Roller Girls faced off against the Steel Hurtin’ from Pittsburgh’s Steel City Roller Derby at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.
The festivities were vibrant and the beer was flowing to start off the season for the Naptown Roller Girls. Lead by Brownie and Dill Hero, the event started with honoring the women who started and grew the Naptown Team a short 10 years ago. Therefore, they brought each of the teams past skaters with much fanfare out to the field. The nostalgia was followed by the national anthem and finally bringing out each team’s skaters. Similar to any other sport’s event each of the girl’s was called and skated through a crowd of people with cheers on both sides. With that, the game began.
For those who don’t know flat-track roller derby, essentially 5 girls on each team race in the same direction around the track during two 30 minute halves. The five girls on each team are broken up into one Jammer (she wears a star on her helmet) and four blockers (For simplicity sake, I will not discuss the Pivot). The Jammers start at the back of the pack and the goal for each team during a jam (a 2 minute period) is to have their Jammer lap the opposing team’s players and stop the opposing team’s jammer from lapping them. Each time a jammer laps an opposing player, their team gains 1 point. However, to stop the opposing team from passing, the girls are allowed to bump, hit and push each other around the track (following a set of rules) and any time a girl is pushed off the track she must come back at the end of the pack. Additionally, the first Jammer to break from the pack becomes the “lead jammer,” giving her the right to end the jam early, which is usually used to end the jam before the opposition can score any points.
The game started off pretty rough for our Tornado Sirens with several fouls for illegal pushing by the Jammer during the first several runs, giving the Steel Hurtin’ several power jams which they took full advantage (A power jam occurs when the opposing jammer commits a foul and must sit on the sidelines for a period of time, similar to a power play in hockey). Within the first 15 minutes of play the Tornado Sirens were already down by almost 60 points. This lead them to their early use of a time out to figure out a new strategy, which worked and allowed them to cut through Steel Hurtin’s defenses and reduce the deficit by over 20 points by the end of the half and had the fans doing the wave and cheering “Let’s Go Naptown.” With a halftime score of 68 for the Tornado Sirens and 103 for the Steel Hurtin’.
The half-time show included some of Naptown’s retired skaters doing a paired relay race, which included the girls doing wheelbarrows, dolly rides, leap frog and land skiing (humorous and fun to say the least), and a heartfelt montage of the history of the Naptown team. Little did I know, the team was started by just 3 women in the Strange Brew coffee shop hearing about roller derby and deciding to start up a team. The following day Strawberry Jam setup a myspace page later and they were off.
With the feels subsiding, the girls started off the next half. The Tornado Sirens came out of the gate strong, quickly racking up 25 points to the Steel Hurtin’s 4. But, after a Steel Hurtin’ timeout the Sirens momentum was slowed and their focus lost as they began making familiar mistakes giving up 4 power jams in the final quarter of the game with 2 of them allowing the Steel Hurtin’ to gain over 10 unanswered points in their jams and undercutting most of the gains in the first half. Thus, the Steel Hurtin’ walked away with a heart wrenching victory with the finals score being 141 for the Tornado Sirens and 186 for the Steel Hurtin’.
Well played girls.