Four to five jams into the Tampa Bay Derby Darlins’ nth annual Rookie Rumble (with the Ovarian Barbarians facing off against the BAMF Sparkle Unicorns), and I’m already confused. (And not just because the Unicorns appear to have a strange, Nightcrawler referencing name.) No, I’m confused because I don’t know whether to make the point that both teams’ blockers are preternaturally talented, or maybe they just seem that way because the jammers are still inexperienced (8-12). Such are a derby scribe’s thoughts when both teams spend much of the bout trading off turns in the lead. Though the jammers might not be the weak link, as Ovarian Barbarian Randi cuts through the pack fast, and manages to call it off faster (19-16).
Perhaps roller derby has permeated society enough that even the rookies now know basic strategic procedures.
It turns out the new recruits are defensively-minded, as the aforementioned Randi puts out some good blocks against a powerjamming Melissa (33-16). (The notes from the announcer table say that Melissa’s derby pseudonym is Melancholy, but, as the notes are handwritten and I’m unsure about the proper spelling, I’ll use “Melissa” from here on out until I can be certain. Years of covering the Broward County Roller Grrls (now Gold Coast) has taught me that derby girls are nothing if not particular about the spelling of their names.)
Maybe the Barbarians don’t actually love defense, but instead they hate offense. Silly, I know, but they did just call off a powerjam almost as soon as it started. Granted, one could say they probably did so just to get the jammer panty to Ashley; who they trusted to retake the lead for them (34-35). In which case they’d be correct, as the Unicorns, still learning the basics, know enough to place a stationary wall of blockers against the powerjammer, but they still lack the technical prowess to actually stop said jammer.
The Ovarian Barbarians’ run held secure thanks largely to successful Kierstyn (34-44), and Taryn It Up! (38-78) jams. This despite the Unicorns’ own unflagging defensive efforts; such as using Brittany, Katie, and Jinxy Lulu to complicate Taryn It Up!’s previously mentioned (power)jam, or Melissa and Calamity Jam causing the Barbarians’ Olivia to foul out with a track cut. The Barbarians still managing to hold onto the lead through the half: 55-82.
Inspired, the Unicorns burst into the bout’s second half clearly having rethought their strategy (78-84). Coming close to the lead numerous times, with the closest being a bull-dogging Meghan powerjam (108-114). The Barbarians would soon rebuild their lead on the strength of some dynamic Anja Patellas, Code 99her, Millie Currie blocking (120-152), but the Unicorns never stopped giving chase.
The bout closing with perhaps the finest final jam in recent memory; after the Barbarians gave up two, back-to-back powerjams with few blockers remaining on the track (145-152). Meghan would try to reprise her earlier powerjamming performance, only to backblock Taryn It Up! along the way. Taryn then went for a star pass, but failed to realize that star passes are only legal when the jammer passes the star to the pivot, not the other way around. An oversight that, after some ref deliberation, would give the BAMF Sparkle Unicorns a win to the tune of 153-152.
Further deliberations, this time amongst the teams, would recognize Meghan as the Unicorns’ top blocker, with Randi picking up the same accolade for the Ovarian Barbarians. The bout’s top jammers were then decided to be Jinxy Lulu (Unicorns) and Ashley (Barbarians).