Keep Austin Feared – The Star of Texas Bowl Brings Derby Battles to a Head
7/26/2012 3:45:00 PM
This past weekend, Austin graciously hosted the Star of Texas Bowl: a battle to the end determining roller derby royalty. The competition brawl took place in the heart of downtown at the Austin convention center. It allowed for out-of-town teams to view our home base, but more importantly provided for a close proximity to bars (many consider this point to be an essential component of the event).
Walking into the Convention Center seemed at first somewhat strange and foreign. First of all, I was almost certain that I wrote down the wrong venue due to the fact that I entered near the exhibit hall that was hosting a plant biology convention (if anyone can provide an assembly that is more opposite to roller derby than a botany exhibit, I’d love to talk with you). I was quickly relieved after seeing several hoards of heavily tattooed patrons walking down the hall, so I anonymously hopped onboard their roller derby caboose. This is when I noticed my second unfamiliar Convention Center association: it was actually peaceful. Calm. Possibly even relaxing or inviting. For many Austinites, the Convention Center is rarely utilized outside of the hectic Category 5 hurricane that rolls into town every March that is SXSW. There were no lines. There were no people trying to look important with a Platinum Badge, two iPads, a Bluetooth headset and an iPhone glued to their hip. Most people appeared to be genuinely happy—as if they had actually slept the nights prior to the event.
I eventually wandered into Exhibit Hall 5, which had been converted into a flat track rink accompanied by bars and bleachers. Let’s face it: at sporting events we love to sit on our butts and drink beer while watching teams exert all the energy they’ve got inside them. And you get extra points if you choose overpriced Lone Star in alternative to overpriced Dos XX. Many people in the audience took this very seriously, as if drinking and spectating was a game that was being judged entirely in itself. For those of you unfamiliar with the game, a. you should probably fear for your life because a roller girl is likely to come and kick your ass and b. here is a short summary according the program: Roller derby is a full-contact skating sport, played on a flat, oval track, in which points are scored by lapping members of the opposition. A team consists of up to 14 plays, with up to 5 on the track at any given time.
Sunday’s main event was a match between the Austin based Texecutioners and New York City’s Gotham Girls. The New York ladies seemed to have Batman on their side, however I couldn’t help but think of Leatherface running around cheering for a name like the Texecutioners (they did, in fact, have a man in a bloodied jumpsuit with a chainsaw that revved up the audience). Each team took their time warming up around the track, which involved practice hits, start/stop drills and yelling. Needless to say, these girls were built for destruction; armed with tattoos and muscles.
The sound of the referee’s whistle began the game and each team’s “blockers” attempted to prevent the passing of the opposite “jammer” while assisting in the passing of their own. It loosely resembled a moving mash-up game of Tug-o-War and Red Rover, except a lot dirtier and with girls that probably broke the boys’ arms in childhood games. The players strategically moved around the track amongst twists, pivots, jukes, trips, and dirty looks. Although the Texecutioners pulled the initial lead by scoring two points, Gotham quickly took back the lead and by halftime the score was 106 (Gotham) to 20 (Texecutioners). The second period didn’t prove to be a turn around for our Texas ladies, with the final score set at 265 to 60. The Gotham Girls were clearly a very strong team, however the Texecutioners held their heads high and represented our city well. Although they didn’t take the win at this event, in the end, everyone was a winner at the after-party at Jackalope.
Get more info about the Texas Rollergirls at their official site.