MILWAUKEE, WI–To describe Rocky Mountain Rollergirls as a storied league would be to hugely understate the situation. They are past WFTDA champions, have played in some of the greatest games ever seen in the sport, and have been party to some key moments in history on and off the track.
Last year, they were most definitely a team rebuilding. The 2010 Hydra-winning team was hit by transfers and retirements starting in 2011–and that’s a problem that seems to have stuck with RMRG. Their most recent loss was Urrk’n Jerk’n As Booty Block Ya not long before playoffs–she’s now skating across town for the Denver Roller Dolls as Urrk’n Martin. However, the 5280 Fight Club can still count on the services of Assaultin’ Pepa and Winona Fighter, among other vets who have seen Rocky through it all.
How do you blend that level of experience with newer skaters with the ambition to do it all for the first time, but without the savvy that the team was once known for? “I think the key thing is that everyone really likes each other and there’s very little drama,” Rocky’s bench coach Dave Wood told DNN. “I don’t think anyone looks at the other skaters as ‘transfers’, ‘vets’, or ‘young players’–we’re just a team. There’s also no superstar mentality at all. No egos.”
As well as looking at each team as a whole, we’re featuring one skater from each team. For Rocky Mountain’s 5280 Fight Club, we caught up with veteran blocker Assaultin’ Pepa.
You’ve come more than full circle with Rocky — from struggling at the bottom of a regional tournament to championships, to a fifth place finish and back to Champs again. What have you learned on your journey?
Teamwork is the key to a good team. Rocky has always had some really talented skaters but you canâ€™t rely on individual talent and need to focus on what the team can do together. I feel like we have been more successful once we focused on that.
How do you think the team has changed?
We really put more focus on teamwork and what we can do together. We have such a great team this year and everyone gets along so well. Plus, we all have the same goals.
What do you think has been key to Rocky going from strength to strength since regionals last year?
I feel that last year was a rebuilding year for us and we had some newcomers to the team, who are all really awesome. We needed more time together to gel and we have come so far even from the beginning of this season.
If you could offer one piece of advice to someone just starting derby, what would it be?
Set your goals high! You may not believe itâ€™s possible for you or your team to get to playoffs or Champs but if you keep working hard and your team works together, you can get there. Just wanting it is the most important thing.
What are you most looking forward to in Milwaukee?
My hometown is only a few hours away from Milwaukee and Iâ€™m excited that my family and friends will be coming to cheer us on! Iâ€™m also really looking forward to just playing with my team. Weâ€™ve worked hard all season for this and I hope it shows!
And what will be the key to getting that team into a quarter-final match-up against cross-town rivals, the Denver Roller Dolls? “This is cliche, but we just need to focus on playing our game,” Dave told us. “We feel great about our defence and our jammers right now. If we focus on doing what we do well, we think we’ll get it done. We’re certainly not taking Angel City lightly. They’re having an amazing season so far!”
Last-jam drama has always been a hallmark of the 5280 Fight Club; the final seconds of their Hydra-winning season in 2010 are seared into the memory of thousands of derby fans. This year, three of their biggest wins have come with the slimmest of margins; their two wins over Denver had a combined margin of seven points, and it was only in the dying seconds of their bout against Windy City in Asheville that Windy found a new way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
What did Rocky Mountain learn from Asheville? “It was good to see that we could get it done in crunch time against a great team like Windy City,” Dave said. “And to bounce back and have a great second half against Houston after not really playing our game in the first was also good for us. But, truthfully, we had done those things in the regular season as well with two last jam wins against Denver and a great second half against Wasatch. So maybe nothing new, but it was good to reinforce some of the traits that make Fight Club a tough team to beat.”
What can you expect from Rocky in Milwaukee? The trouble they had in patches with Wasatch and Houston showed their frailties–but they came back hard enough in both those games to turn very close games into routs. They’ve beaten Denver both times the two have met this season, albeit by the slimmest of margins, but were beaten very 281-130 by Texas back in May. But as Philly showed in Richmond, a big mid-season loss to Texas doesn’t guarantee a wipe-out in the post-season–and Texas’ progression to that putative semifinal is hardly guaranteed. So we shall have to wait and see.
Rocky Mountain Rollergirls: 5280 Fight Club Tournament Squad
Alex Terminateu 1027 // Alpha Q Up 719 // Assaultinâ€™ Pepa 86 // Barbie Boop 555 // Bijou Blacnbleu 75 // Bob Loblaw 37 // Casstrator 122 // Fiona Grapple 31 // Gaygan 422 // May Q. Pay 99 // Megalops 19 // Phantom Menace R2D2 // Rad Die 30 // Rox Yorr Soxov 125 // Sweet Mary Pain M80 // Tootsie Roller 1896 // Toxic Taunic 378 // Triple Shot Misto 7423 // Uber Alice 9 // Winona Fighter 8
Bench Staff: Dave Wood (Bench Coach), Raven LunaChic (Line-ups)