Jacksonville Roller Derby - A Derby Dream Come True

Some have been calling it a WFTDA dream come true. #25 Jacksonville hosted #26 Tampa on April 26, and the bout lived up to all of its expectations.

Rarely do such close ranked teams get to play each other in a non-tournament setting, as distance is often a big contributing factor. While #2 B.ay A.rea D.erby and #1 Gotham are separated by nearly 3,000 miles; Jacksonville and Tampa have only a small strip of I-4 and Mickey Mouse to keep them apart. So many wondered what took so long for this to happen. Tampa and Jacksonville last played each other in state back in the Spring of 2007, however they did meet briefly in the 2012 Clover Cup where Tampa took the win by only three points.

To say that the buildup for this bout was intense would be the understatement of the year.  Facebook was flooded with event invites, promo videos, and fans looking to get their hands on pre-sale tickets for an event that was surely to sell out.

Skaters too began to feel the intensity prior to the whistle blow. With both sides focusing a lot on the mental aspect of this game. Lei Toro, a New Jax City blocker, told me that she took some extra time this bout to prepare mentally. Playing against her friends and other well respected players is both “nerve racking” and “exciting” Toro said, and she knew that this game was going to leave Florida fans on the edge of their seats. Blaque Jac, a Tampa blocker agreed that the mental preparation was critical in games like these. "If I have that then everything else will fall in to place."


Despite the long awaited match up, many of these skaters have faced off against each other previously. "Team Florida," made up of skaters across the Sunshine State, is a very tight knit group of athletes. Open Scrimmages occur frequently all over the state, allowing numerous paths to cross and friendships to form outside of home leagues.


However, when it comes down to it, team work is what determines victories.  "I'm actually looking forward to playing Jacksonville as a unit! Playing in scrimmages is nothing compared to what the whole team can bring," Blaque Jac added. Toro too agreed that team work was key, stating she works best with her team mates, bringing her strong communication skills to the track to ensure a victory.


And both teams certainly brought it...

From the moment the first jam whistle blew, it was game on. The Tampa Tantrums drew first blood and PhDiesel got the first lead jam of the night. New Jax was hit with some jammer penalties early on but quickly got their skate legs under them and took a 15 - 13 lead over Tampa, after only a few jams. New Jax's defensive walls were nearly air tight, something definitely needed for Tampa's powerful jammers. Number 7 Taz Maniac bulldozed through if given an inch, living up to Tampa's cheer of "Your hole is my goal."


However, quick to pop out and recycle back up to the front of the pack was New Jax's Noam Bombsky, who provided some explosive last line of defense against Taz, slowing her up for even just a moment which gave Jacksonville's jammer the few extra seconds she needed to get some distance between her and her opponent.


Lead jams traded off between teams, but towards the end of the first half New Jax started pulling away with a 70-52 lead over the Tantrums. In the last jam NJCR kept Tampa jammer Apolo Ana locked up and forced a Panty Pass to Little A. However by this time NJCR's Ms. Jax'em had already secured 29 points and was able to call off the jam, leaving Tampa scoreless. The half ended with New Jax up 159-97.

Jacksonville continued to build their lead with Jamsterella performing one of a handful of Apex jumps that night. This brought NJCR to 184, however unyielding Tampa continued chipping away at the lead. Soon it was 219 - 182 but before Duuuuuval fans could breathe easy, New Jax started getting hit with out of play penalties, with some players going to the box multiple times. Tampa jammers capitalized on the micro pack and brought the score within 34 points leaving only two minutes left on the clock. In the final jam Ms. Jax'em secured lead jam for Jacksonville but Tampa completed another successful Panty Pass and Little A was able to put a few more points on the board for Tampa, narrowing the gap. Final score 261 - 236, Jacksonville over Tampa.


Twenty five was a lot more decisive than  the Clover Cup's 3 points, but as derby fans we all know twenty five points amounts to less than 2 minutes of game play. Making a rematch between these two teams all that more exciting.



Next up for Jacksonville is a road trip with their brother league, the Magic City Misfits, to Spring Roll in Ft. Wayne, IN. There Jacksonville is scheduled to play Toronto, Jet City, and Cincinnati. While Blaque Jac is especially excited to take the track with the Tantrums against Charm City at this year's Franky Panky. Tampa will also play Jacksonville again at Franky Panky for what should be a highly anticipated rematch.


For more information on the Jacksonville RollerGirls please check out their website at www.jacksonvillerollergirls.com or contact their PR Skater, Nacho Friend at Nachofriend32@gmail.com


For more info on Franky Panky or the Tampa Tantrums find them on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/tampatantrums


Keep Skating, 

Canadia #10-57
Jacksonville RollerGirls

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