Photo credit: John Hesse

There’s Intense, then there’s roller derby intense…

I was asked to write about my experience watching my A-team, London Brawling, play- to co-incide with one of the most competitive roller derby tournaments of the year- Champs. This year the WFTDA Jacksonville Playoffs, which precedes the Championships in November was the same weekend as my mum’s birthday, so instead of watching en masse with my LRG team mates, I was at home one headphone in, hunched over the ipad whilst my family watched the rugby.  The game was London Brawling vs Steel City Roller Derby and I think anyone who watched this game would agree Brawling were on fire!

I’ve been skating with London Rollergirls main league since August 2014. I’m an LRG rec league alumni, am currently in Brawl Saints (LRG B-Team) and before that briefly skated with the Hellfire Harlots in Nottingham. My LRG friends are a home away from home (I see them enough!) and I know it’s the same for a lot of other skaters.

Watching London Brawling against Steel City I was reminded of how lucky I am to train with these women every week. Both Die Die and Gaz have been my mentors since joining LRG and their help has been invaluable. I think I can safely say the game made everyone in LRG incredibly proud. At one point I slightly pathetically commented to my Dad, who ended up watching over my shoulder, that I had been floored by most members of Brawling at one time or other (the 33 year old woman in me is cringing just a little!). But this is how watching Brawling affects me- their skill, passion and dedication blows me away.  Amazingly the game marked the first playoffs for quite a few of London Brawling; Kid Block, Gaz, Die Die and Just Jess.  Jess’ meteoric rise from last playing with Batter C Power (LRG C Team) in May in Vienna to London Brawling has been amazing to see. The score at the end of their first game reflected their dominating force 408 to 42 to London.

Over the weekend, I nipped away from family gatherings to view as much as I could. Watching Brawling inspires me to be better and train harder. Sometimes we joke about Brawling packs moving as a perfectly honed machine, with transformer-like moves crushing the jammers spirit. This was shown many times over the weekend.

The game against Atlanta Rollergirls was another strong win 221 to 88 and saw them secure their spot in the 2015 WFTDA Championships. I’m already ridiculously excited about watching them smash it!

I had made it back to London just in time for the final against Jacksonville Rollergirls and although it started when I’m usually going to bed, there was definitely no chance of dropping off. The first jam started with Lexi Lightspeed and Erin Jackson on the jam line- and although Erin took the lead Brawling ‘s jammers were soon dominating.  Lexi and Stefanie Mainey both taking huge single jam scores, making 29pt jams look totally doable! (we wish!) In the second half Brawling held Jacksonville at 83pts for the first 10 minutes, with Brawling’s pack work keeping Jacksonville’s jammers at bay. Seeing Brawling play isn’t just about watching them, and Jacksonville (as with all the teams) showed incredible skill and passion.  Erin Jackson’s speed, strength and precision made her one of my favourites to watch.

At one point during the final, the commentators mentioned how in sync the jammers were with coach Ballistic Whistle and I couldn’t agree more. London Brawling is such a strong team and that can be seen in all its members, off and on the track, working together towards a common goal.  The game seemed to fly by and Brawling ended their playoffs as they had begun it with an awesome win of 272 to 126.

The week before the Jacksonville playoffs our new season began so our B and C teams were back at training. It was with sore legs and a pounding heart that I have jammed and blocked, hoping to build up muscles that had got soft during the Summer break. Watching Brawling play so incredibly and setting such an example definitely gives me more passion and more drive to be the best I can be.  As WFTDA says “There’s intense, and then there’s roller derby intense” and for me London Brawling exemplifies that.


Cherry Whips