JACKSONVILLE, FL — Fans traveled from all over Florida on Saturday night to enjoy what promised to be a spectacular night of derby as the WFTDA #11 Arch Rival Roller Girls faced off against #9 Jacksonville RollerGirls followed by both leagues’ brother teams, the MRDA #2 St. Louis GateKeepers taking on the #12 Magic City Misfits.
It was an emotional start to the evening as Vince Hannity led the venue in a brief memorial tribute to Bat Wing, the GateKeepers’ fallen teammate, who passed away last month.* Skaters from all four teams, officials and volunteers, and even some spectators linked arms or held hands in the center of the track to form a large circle. A moment of silence was observed in his honor with many taking a knee to show their respect. If there is any question that the roller derby community is like a giant family, it was clear to everyone in attendance.
Once the women’s game got underway, Jacksonville took an early lead with 45 points on the board before Arch Rival got their first lead jam and put up 3. The first period saw the Arch Rival jammers struggling to pass Jacksonville’s solid defense and seldom getting lead, resulting in a score of 122-56 in favor of Jacksonville at the half. ARRG returned from intermission on fire. Trying pivot-line starts, they took lead jam in several of the first few plays of the half, outscoring Jacksonville early in the period. The second half also featured some impressive quick and effective offense from Arch Rival but it wasn’t enough to pull off a win and the Jacksonville RollerGirls took it with a 183-110 victory. Jacksonville spent 33% more time in the box with a collective 16 minutes as compared to Arch Rival’s 12.
Mayor Francis Slayer spent a few minutes with us after the game. Noting that Jacksonville is careful not to share much footage online, she said Arch Rival wasn’t sure what to expect. “We knew they were going to be a really hard team with quick jammers but their jammers were extremely powerful; very, very fast, and their blocking was very, very difficult for our jammers to deal with. So, we knew they would be good and they did not surprise us by being extremely talented.”
The men’s game was equally exciting and very physical right from the start. The GateKeepers’ strong defense proved too challenging for the Misfits’ jammers and, by intermission, they led 149-41. The Misfits’ came out strong in the second half and, despite outscoring St. Louis by two points that period, the Misfits were unable to close the gap and lost the game 222-116. Neither team were strangers to the penalty box; the Misfits having served 25 penalties to the GateKeepers 18.
Both St. Louis teams played Tampa on Sunday morning in a hangover double header with Arch Rival taking the win against the #18 Tampa Tantrums 261-116 and the GateKeepers with a decisive victory over the currently unranked Tampa Bay Men’s Roller Derby 422-21.
*The GateKeepers are taking $2 donations for #68 decals in honor of Bat Wing. You can get them at the St. Louis hosted River City Warmup August 15-16, or in bulk orders online. Proceeds will go to Provident STL.