Happy Valley Derby Darlins. Photo: Ron Horton - Physis Photos
As full disclosure, I should say that I skated against the Happy Valley Derby Darlins in one of their first scrimmages. It was last September, and I remembered feeling bruised all over that girls newer than me were very easily throwing me across the track, cutting through our walls like butter, and looking awful cute doing it. Naturally, I cursed them and everything they stood for. I swore off the entire southern hemisphere of our fair state, claiming that roller derby would never make it in such an uptight environment. I said those things because I was hurt. Then, with wounds healed and an apologetic heart, I attended HVDD’s first bout of the season on February 25, wondering what exactly to expect.
The game was set in a gutted Food-4-Less building, the yellow and black sign still looming above the storefront. Inside, the fluorescent supermarket lights were buzzing bright over the taped-off track, the smell of popcorn was in the air, and fans had already started setting up blankets and camping chairs on the edge of the line, ready for gametime. More and more poured in, smashing my first fear that this would be a sparsely populated event. Behind the many rows of chairs, people stood to watch, crowded from end to end of the warehouse.
The first few jams between home teams Rollin’ Rebellion and the Sirens of Steel were full of the same enthusiasm, both teams playing with everything they had. Early in the game, it was clear that the Rebellion blockers were great at knocking holes for their jammer, though their choice of a one-on-one defensive game often left spaces for the Sirens to slip through as well. The score inched slowly forward, Rebellion jammer O-Megative using the hit-it-and-quit-it strategy to make only four points at a time, calling off the jam as Acid Burn met with the back blockers. Both teams struggled with the slick concrete floor, skaters slipping frequently and causing huge pile-ups throughout the bout. Even as Bloody 2Shoes shot out of the pack and became lead jammer, she slid out and fell, giving the Sirens’ jammer Cookie time to speed ahead and forcing Bloody to call it off before either girl could make a point. Later, the Sirens of Steel were able to keep Chiquita WaBamYa behind their wall while Pain In The Nikki passed through four times for a grand slam of 19 points, establishing a thunderous lead.
In the second half, the teams were playing a different game, looking a lot wearier while pushing twice as hard. It was painful to watch, as the Sirens’ Bustem Buxom and the Rebellion’s Black Eye Sky dished out massive multi-player hits. Bloody 2Shoes tangled up with one blocker and in doing so, tripped another, sending her to the penalty box and giving the Sirens of Steel yet another power jam. They rode out their major point lead with a victory of 131 to 89.
As they start their 2012 season, the Happy Valley Derby Darlins are fast overcoming the limitations of being a brand new league and establishing themselves as one of the big derby powers within the state. For now, the tough part will be facing outside competition and, hopefully, rising through the regional ranks. In order to help Happy Valley do that, I am taking back my curses. I wish them all the best, though I honestly hope that we never meet up again on the track. Really, I don’t think my tailbone can take it. Check out more Ron Horton photos from the bout on Facebook.
To see the best of the Happy Valley Derby Darlins take on the Nevada East Roller Girls, check out their game March 17 at the UCCU Event Center. Tickets and more information at happyvalleyderbydarlins.com.