MILWAUKEE, WI–It is perhaps the biggest cliche in derby that while jammers can win you games and packs can win you tournaments, it’s a team that wins the Hydra.
Philly’s Persephone takes it one step further: “It is important to us that Bellesâ€™ skaters skate, and act, with the team and league in mind. We believe that good things flow from an emphasis on teamwork over the individual.”
Philly have been consistently present at Championships, qualifying from every East region playoff; however, their 2013 performance has been anything but consistent. They have won games that came down to the final jam against Steel City, Montreal, Windy City and Ohio–but spent much of the season playing short, missing players and changing rosters from game to game.
They went 2-1 in Richmond on their way to a second-place finish. They were missing key blocker Shenita Stretcher on the Friday as they came perilously close to slipping up against Kansas City–but with her back, they swept Angel City aside and then showed themselves to be a team reborn against Texas.
As well as looking at each team as a whole, we’re featuring one skater from each team. For Philly, we caught up with new Liberty Belle Tarantula, who burst onto the scene in Richmond in her first season with the team.
First up, the basics. How long have you been skating, how did you get into derby, and how long have you been on the Liberty Belles?
I’ve always skated as a kid, nothing too extreme–just birthday parties and open skates. In 2011 I went with some friends to a recruitment night at Shore Points Roller Derby and I began my roller derby career there. I stayed with Shore Points for about a year until November 2012 when I moved for college and decided to try out for the Philly Roller Girls. I went through a three-month fresh meat program and became a member of PRG in March 2013. Two months later I made the All-Star charter and I started skating with the Liberty Belles in May 2013.
How would you define Philly’s ethos?
We are a very determined and dedicated team that is focused on a team first mentality.
Heading into Champs, what’s the biggest challenge you have as an individual, and what do you think Philly’s biggest challenge as a unit is?
My biggest challenge is my confidence. Being so new to this level of play, I sometimes second-guess myself. I feel like the Belles have grown and improved so much since Playoffs, changing things up and working on new things. It’s hard to tell what challenges we’ll face, but I feel like we’re prepared to adapt to them.
You really made your presence felt in Richmond at playoffs and burst into people’s consciousness as a Liberty Belle to watch out for. Do you think that was your best derby weekend, or have people just not been paying enough attention before?
Richmond was my first big derby weekend/playoffs. It was a little surreal being there. I was happy with my performance, with it being the first opportunity the derby community really had to see me.
You looked like you were having the time of your life at playoffs; how important to being successful is enjoying yourself on the track to you?
I love playing derby and I’m having a great experience with Philly. Itâ€™s usually hard for me not to smile, I try to hide it but Iâ€™m a big derby nerd. I think there is a balance to having fun and being focused; and I strive for that balance.
What else is most important to you to give yourself the best shot of having a good game?
Believing in myself, getting a good night’s sleep, and hydrating.
Have you got any personal goals for Champs?
Enjoying myself, focusing on precision, and winning as a team!
Have you got any advice for skaters trying to break onto their league’s travel teams and get themselves to tournaments next year?
Practice hard, don’t hold back and show your team that you can be a valuable teammate on and off the track. If I can do it, you can!
But the Liberty Belles will be at full strength in Milwaukee–every skater will be available from the get-go: “Our entire charter will be travelling and will arrive by Friday morning,” Persephone told DNN.
Their 253-210 loss to Texas in Richmond was one of the best games of tournament season–and also one of the biggest surprises, considering the 316-86 annihilation the Liberty Belles suffered at the hands of the Texecutioners at ECDX. It summed up the team’s Jekyll-and-Hyde nature but also served as a timely reminder of how Philly routinely pull it out when it really matters.
So, were Philly keeping some tricks up their sleeve and just feeling the Texecutioners out at ECDX, not showing their full hand in an effort to get a leg up at divisionals? “We never hide our hand,” Persephone said. “A few weeks before ECDX, we had lost a few experienced, veteran skaters. I think it took us some time to really gel as a team and work in newer talent. The improvements were seen at Divisionals.”
They’ll have their hands full with Windy City in their opening game. Philly’s contentious overtime win against Chicago back at ECDX showed how close these teams can be–but this time round there is a wild card added to the mix in the form of Sandrine “Francey Pants” Rangeon. What do Philly make of this? They simply referred to this.
Flat Track Stats give Philly just over a 40% chance of getting past Windy in Friday’s closing game–and their chances of winning potential match-ups just go downhill from there. However, this season has seen plenty of unexpected results and movement within the top teams–so while they are one of the longer shots for a medal this year, the Liberty Belles can’t be written off.
Philly Roller Girls Liberty Belles
Antidote 100 // Castro 06 // Clam Jammer 7 // Copper Top 29 // Damage Dahl X0X0 // Devoida Mercy 247 // Emma Nockuout 313 // Fully Addomatic 44 // Ginger Vitis 957 // Heavy Flo 527 // Holden Grudges IH8U // Hot Rod Hussy 609 // Kong 88 // Persephone 15 // Savidge Booty 327 // Shenita Stretcher 305 // Vanessa “V-Diva” Sites 18 // Tarantula 401 // Teflon Donna 85 // Trixie Trauma 357
Bench: Paul Williams (Manager) & Joe Salenetri (Manager)
First game: 8pm Friday, vs Windy City Rollers