The Derby Dish: Diary of a “fresh meat” derby dame Episode 4: Scorched Earth

By: Emily Shelton

Photo by Midnight Matinee / Bruce Lam

Hitting is fun.  But like the Black Bloc’s vandalism in the G20 has shown, rampages should only be used in a few very specific circumstances or shit will backfire.

Even with four games under my belt, I still get those familiar but never comfortable dancing butterflies in my stomach on the jammer line.  As I crouch in my start stance, the thoughts in my head are usually along the lines of, “OhmiGOD! OHHmigod. Why am I here? I am gunna DIEE!!!”  The only thing that calms me down is when the adrenaline takes over and my head is completely in the game.  It is then that the adrenaline is pinpointed into rage against anyone standing (or skating rather) in my way, a state of being I call “Scorched Earth.”

Just to give some context, I am normally a bubbly and cheerful person, the type of person who tries to be friends with everyone to a fault.  But when ‘Scorched Earth’ kicks in, things change.  When jamming, I scream orders and obscenities at my teammates in a voice coming from a dark place within me… the type of voice that gives orders to destroy villages, homes and crops.  For example, in the Fresh & the Furious game, I was playing as a mercenary skater with Capital Carnage babes.  I had just met these players but that didn’t stop me from acting like a crazed banshee during the bout. When approaching a wall of several fierce opponents, I would look for one of my blockers and shout “GET THE F#@% UP THERE AND KNOCK HER THE F#@% DOWN.”  Just normal communication from one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. Tee hees!

In the past few games I have also dabbled a bit in blocking.  At first, I resisted it, believing that I wouldn’t be able to salt anyone’s game with my tiny booty and slight frame.  But then I discovered that despite being small I am not too bad at throwing my weight around…and my attitude changed.  At one point, Scorched Earth mode completely took over and I started indiscriminately hitting babes from the opposite team.  I even started hitting while jamming!  Just check out the “crazy eyes” in the pic above.  That’s the look of choosing “fight” from the two time tested options of fight or flight.

Unfortunately, Scorched Earth strategy has major potential to backfire; on several occasions I chose to hit a blocker on the right of me rather than look behind me and see that their jammer was about to pass on the left.  And hitting while jamming should be avoided unless it is absolutely necessary because it just scrubs off precious speed. Lesson de jour: unchecked rage does not help your teammates.  Also, as a side note, what the fuck am I thinking?! I can’t afford to be hittin’ all over the place and pissing people off when I am smaller than everyone in the derbysphere with the exception of a handful of GTAR skaters.

At the G20 protests a few weekends ago, we saw an example of wanton aggression, and we all know how that turned out.  In derby, direct action in the form of hits is just one of a diversity of tactics that, if used correctly, can advance your team’s strategic positioning to allow you to score more points.  It is far from personal, and doesn’t necessarily make a player a dangerous or violent person.  For me, Scorched Earth and the resulting hits is a way to convert fear into power so that I can play the game, survive the game, and one day, win a game.

Derby name of the week: Jalapeno Grill.

It’s already taken & registered but DAMN I covet that name. If that were my name I would be shouting it all over the place.  I just repeated it out loud twice, with attitude.

You can follow Roadside BombShel on twitter: http://twitter.com/RoadsideBomShel


4 thoughts on “The Derby Dish: Diary of a “fresh meat” derby dame Episode 4: Scorched Earth

  1. I love that you used this picture BombShel! And don’t think that just because you’re smaller than most that means your hits don’t make an impact. All it takes is a blocker to look the wrong way and you can have them on their ass. I know…you did it to me!

  2. Ha! I know the feeling, fellow lower being! Small doesn’t mean you can’t knock someone over, sometimes you just need to really think about it that split second before you do it. The element of surprise will work in your favour, or even speed. I took two girls out at the same time, one was your captain, while we were at boot camp because I had a huge speed advantage. If I was bigger I’d be knocking into everyone, but my arse is much more effective to hold back a jammer so that’s my weapon of choice.

  3. Great article! I just have an open ended question to the author or anyone else who might take interest; Do you think that roller derby had anything to do with the progression of womens rights? Considering that unlike other womens sports that have been sexualized and tamed, roller derby encourages aggression and the love of the fight.

  4. Pingback: Roller Derby vs. Pillow Fight League: Fight like a girl « McClung's Magazine

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