women's flat track roller derby team in columbus, ohio - empowering women and gender-expansive people in sport
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Brandywine Roller Derby will be skating in cadence as they make their way to Columbus from Downingtown (PA) for the first-ever matchup between Brandywine’s Belligerents and Ohio’s charter team. Ohio, who just returned from the Skate To Thrill Invitational in St. Charles, Missouri, currently sits at 2-2 this season. They opened the season with a close loss to rivals Naptown in front of a sell-out Columbus crowd, then dropped their first bout at Skate To Thrill against Houston Roller Derby. Ohio bounced back nicely with an upset victory over No Coast Derby Girls, then took care of business against the Killamazoo Derby Darlins to close their weekend. In the Killamazoo bout, two Ohio jammers eclipsed the century mark in bout scoring, with Pain Train tallying exactly 100 points, and Gorges Curves scoring 140 respectively. Pain Train was named Most Valuable Player for Ohio at the conclusion of the invitational. So far in her career with Ohio, Pain Train has now collected two individual bout MVP awards in two bouts, as well as an invitational MVP award. If it seems as if Ohio has played a lot of derby to start their 2017 season, they have. The Brandywine bout will be Ohio’s fifth bout in only three weeks.

Quite the opposite of Ohio, Brandywine has yet to take the track this season in sanctioned game play. The last time anyone was able to see the Belligerents play was on ESPN3 in November when they lost in the Division 2 championship bout. However, Brandywine has been a team consistently on the rise over the past year. They started 2016 ranked #54 internationally and were able to close out the season #45. They performed exceptionally well at the 2016 International WFTDA Division 2 Playoffs where they entered the Wichita bracket as a #4 seed. They were able to knock off #5 Kansas City 223-112 in their opening round bout before upsetting the #1 seed Jet City 198-170. In the Championship bout in Wichita, the Belligerents dispatched #7 Blue Ridge 146-123 to earn a shot at the Division 2 title in Portland (OR). In Portland, Brandywine defeated Charlottesville 205-200 to set up a rematch against Blue Ridge for the title. Blue Ridge was able to turn the tables on the Belligerents, claiming victory 146-123, which resulted in a second place finish for the squad from Downingtown.

Ohio Roller Derby has always considered themselves to be “small but mighty,” but Brandywine may have a strong claim to that slogan now. The WFTDA allows leagues to have twenty skaters on their charter team roster, and up to fourteen skaters for actual gameday rosters. The Belligerents only have thirteen skaters on their twenty person roster, so a lot of the skaters you’ll see this weekend will be on the track for the majority of the bout, except for the jammers, who typically run a three-deep rotation. Brandywine’s scoring will rely heavily on the success of their top jammer, Lurz Lemon, as their second and third jammers from last season have transferred to other leagues. Since the Belligerents have yet to play this season, it is still somewhat of a mystery who will jam alongside Lemon. What the Ohio jammers will have to contend with, however, is the fact that Brandywine still has an incredibly strong defense. Anchored by blockers Rapid ArrhythMIA, ThumpHER, Thresher, and KickAsh, the Belligerents pride themselves on a “bend but don’t break” defense that is able to lock down on opposing jammers.

Ohio’s charter team will take on the Belligerents at 5:00 p.m. with Gang Green taking on the Brandywine Brawlers to follow. Doors open at 4:00 p.m. The season opener was a sell-out, so we highly suggest you get your tickets in advance at http://ohiorollerderby.com/tickets/. We’ll see you this weekend!

Photo by Matthew Hatcher

Andrew Marron