Uintah Madness vs. Happy Valley Derby Darlins. Photo: Chris Bojonower
When I first heard of men’s roller derby (or “dangle derby” as it was affectionately described to me), I reacted poorly. “Men’s roller derby? So, a bunch of our referee’s actually playing the game? That’s ridiculous,” I said. Roller derby, to me, was a women’s sport. Would a man want to suit up in fishnets and skate around the track? I had the pleasure of skating with some men once during a picnic scrimmage, a game in which anyone can play. I was nervous at first, why would I want to get hit by a man in skates? “Don’t worry,” another female skater reassured me, “the guys are too scared to hit the girls.” That certainly was not my experience. Not only did I get hip-checked on every turn, the men were surprisingly nimble on their feet and quick to maneuver. Skating with men reminded me that while there is some spectacle to the sport, it is just that—a sport. It’s aggressive, fast paced, and requires skill. I was schooled by men in what I thought should be exclusively a women’s sport.
To begin the 2013 season of roller derby, the Salt Lake men’s league, Uintah Madness, invited Spanish Fork’s Happy Valley Derby Darlins to the Derby Depot last Saturday for some men versus women action. Happy Valley brought with them a fanbase that filled almost half the warehouse. When the first whistle blew, the game began with the intensity you would see in the last five minutes of the game and the players kept up the energy for the entire first half. Uintah Madness jammer Milk Toast Boy went up against Happy Valley’s Alli3 Kitt3n and broke through the pack with ridiculous ease. Someone explained to me, as if it were legend, that it was possible Uintah was anxious to skate against Alli3 Kitt3n because of her amazing jamming skills. Uintah’s defense against her was so quick and each opposing lead jammer was so eager to call off the jams that I wondered when I would get to see these fabled skills.
Each two-minute jam of the first half had something noteworthy. Both teams formed tight walls, holding opposing players back. Uintah in particular demonstrated skills I could only imagine I’d see in a professional bout. Happy Valley was finally able to score some points in the sixth jam when guest skater Nos of Salt City Derby Girls had a power jam while Milk Toast Boy sat in the penalty box. Finally, Happy Valley put some numbers on the board, bringing the score to 13-69 (and this is not even midway through the first half). With the combined efforts of Roll Her Kitty (another Salt City guest jammer), points for Happy Valley trickled in while Uintah effortlessly continued to up their score. Eventually, the first half hit a plateau and jammers InThayne, Eff’n, and Muffin Muncher couldn’t break the 117-point mark. Happy Valley decided to put Alli3 Kitt3n out to jam and finally I got to say out loud, “Holy shit, the rumors are true!” Alli3 was remarkably skilled on her skates, and the men were unable to knock her down or out. By the end of the first half, the score was brought up to 66-122.
After a halftime demo bout from Wasatch Junior Roller Derby, the game continued right where it left off—aggressive. Uintah, fully aware that Happy Valley was packing some serious talent, would not let their defense down. Three jams into the second half, Milk Toast Boy went up against Nos and pulled a move that I can only describe as “physics magic.” He grabbed one of his blockers, slingshot his way over and around the inside line (a skater can jump the line without penalty as long as that player lands back on the track) and immediately earned lead jammer status. Toward the end of the half, Happy Valley jammer BreakHer 1-9 wore the jamming star against Eff’n and Eff’n was sent to the penalty box for cutting the track. Power jam! Except BreakHer called it off. In typical derby strategy, a skater doesn’t call off the jam if you have the full two minutes. But the score was 138 to 225, and Alli3 Kitt3n was ready to go. She took BreakHer’s place and racked up 27 points for Happy Valley.
With two seconds left in the game, there was time for one more jam. All Happy Valley had to do was have a 70 point jam and the game was theirs. At the end of the night, however, Uintah Madness slaughtered the ladies with a score of 244-174. The men proved that roller derby isn’t just a women’s sport. In fact, Uintah had lead jammer 26 times out of 43 jams. What hindered the ladies most was the new rule set, which eliminated minor penalties and sent skaters to the box more frequently. It was an intense game, and I look forward to what Uintah has to bring to the 2013 season. Check out more photos of the bout by Chris Bojonower here.