Just a reminder to folks who might want to go:  the Carolina Rollergirls will face the Arizona Roller Derby on Sunday 10 December at Dorton Arena.  Tickets can, as always, be purchased online.

We went to the most recent game, of course, against the Rhode Island Riveters.  It was another big blow-out by Carolina when facing a travel team.  Rhode Island has some really good players and, I have to say, some remarkably good blocking.  They’re a team that has really strong fundamentals but not a lot in the way of flash.

Carolina, on the other hand, seems to have focused the travel team entirely on, well, flash.  Everyone is really fast and really nimble – it’s quite impressive to watch a Carolina blocker get passed on the outside by a Rhode Island jammer, then see that same Carolina blocker run in her skates on the inside to get ahead of the jammer again – but the biggest player on the travel team, as far as I could tell, is Teflon Donna.  Now, Donna and Violet Femme are constantly competing to be my favorite travel team skater (Leadfoot being another favorite and one whom I wish they’d put in the jammer position again), and they both can really bring it on offense and defense, and they were fairly easily able to outmaneuver the Rhode Island team in any given jam.

Word on the street, however, is that Arizona – ranked #3 nationally, whereas Carolina is #8 and Rhode Island is #11 – are all fast and nimble and big.  I hate to say it, but I am not going to be terribly surprised if Carolina gets walked all over on Sunday.  Nimble defenders do a great job of jumping around the track in really impressive ways but I’m not sure how much that will help if Arizona keeps them flat on their asses the whole time and everything I’ve read and the people I’ve talked to who keep an eye on derby all seem to agree that this is Arizona’s basic strategy:  a jammer or a blocker or a pivot who is sitting down is an easy point.  Period.  That’s logic it’s hard to argue against.

Suffice to say, it’s going to be a really interesting game to watch:  is Carolina’s defense sufficiently agile to gum up the works of Arizona’s offense?  And is Carolina’s offense fast enough to get past Arizona’s speedy and muscle-bound defense?

For that matter, will Carolina manage not to foul themselves right into the penalty box for most of the 2nd and 3rd periods?  Seriously, let me address the athletes directly for a moment:  I understand the desire to push yourselves and I understand that it’s a physical game, but show a little care on the track, please, just this once?  The last two bouts have been hella fun to watch but far too often Carolina has shorted themselves a player because someone got a little happy with the elbows.  Don’t make that mistake this time.  Do you really want to short yourselves a player for half the bout with sloppy fouls and then lose by a close margin?

And finally, my favorite non-derby moment of the last bout:  sitting with my arm around my boyfriend while Katastrophes explains the game in great detail to the guys behind us.  “You’re like John Madden!” one of them said.  Hell yes.  Derby remains the most honest cross-section of the Triangle you’re ever going to find at an arena sport and everyone is there to just have as good a time as possible.

Also, the “Ask Me! girls,” as one volunteer referred to them?  Brilliant.  That was some good, good thinking on the part of the Carolina Rollergirls organization.  As the sport grows – and it is growing by leaps and bounds – there are going to be a lot of attendees who don’t really understand what’s going on.  The “ask me! girls” are a great sign that the Rollergirls remember that new fans are just as important as those of us who were sitting on the floor of the Skate Ranch three years ago.