Wow!!! What an amazing two weeks the Starlettes of San Diego Roller Derby have had on the road. Coming off a loss last month at home against Bakersfield Diamond Divas, these ladies in black with pretty little silver stars have won one bout AND Battle for the Coast tournament! Now, what happened during their practices since that game on April 10th, no one will ever know. The Starlettes hit the road on April 24th to play Angel City Derby Girls’ Rocket Queens in Burbank, CA and were off to a slow start and had an ejection of Rumble Pie for the first half. The home crowd thrived when the Starlettes were not playing at their top game, well…. heck, the crowd was rather interesting the entire game. With a half-time discussion and adjustment, the Starlettes returned to the game in true form. Within 3 jams, it was evident that the Starlettes had turned the game around and were going home with a victory! The Angel City game was exactly what the Starlettes needed with the Battle for the Coast tournament just one week away. It reminded them who they really were as a team, they were fired up!
Battle for the Coast was a 12 team, two bracket tournament held in Ventura, CA May 1-2, 2010. The Starlettes played in the B bracket with Ventura's very own Battalion of Skates, their cross town rivals the San Diego Derby Dolls Hard Corps, San Bernadino’s Disaster City Derby Girls, South Coast Roller Derby from San Clemente and Rage City who came all the way from ALASKA!!! Saturday consisted of pool play and each team played two 30 minutes mini bouts. The top two teams in each pool went on to Sunday with a single elimination semi-final and championship play. Derby News Network (DNN) was providing live online coverage for the tournament so families, friends and fans all over the nation could view the tournament in real time.
Pool play- SDRD, VCDD- BOS, SDDD- HC
San Diego Roller Derby opened the tournament play against the hosting VCDD Battalion of Skates early on that Saturday morning just after opening ceremonies. With these two teams playing a game last September, the announcer gave a quick recap of the game as the Starlettes started to show how much this little team from San Diego has improved since then. With only 7 skaters from that September game on the roster for this tournament, the Starlettes came out on fire. Oddly, the Starlettes had a two jammer rotation between Icepax and Wonder Whoop’em with an occasional appearance of Wicked Angel at the line. The jammers were very agile and had amazing endurance during this 30 minute mini-bout! Starlettes blockers showed textbook pack control and great positional blocking during the entire bout, holding the BOS jammer in the pack and really focusing on controlling the speed. At one point, the pack was moving so slow that a snail passed legally on the outside. With the bout clock winding down, the Starlettes quickly showed this crowd that they were in this tournament to win. The final score was Starlettes, 112-5. The Starlettes keeping BOS's points so low is a real testament to their strong blocking and coach B-Stang's focus on the importance of defense.
As pool play continued throughout the day, the Starlettes faced San Diego Derby Dolls’ Hard Corp. This was a much anticipated match up for both teams. Knowing some of the ladies that play on the Hard Corp team, the Starlettes knew they would be coming out strong and very aggressive. Hit first, hit often and figure out a way to shut down their jammers. Since both leagues are from San Diego, both teams have had the opportunity to attend each others’ games and “scout”. The Hard Corp had veteran skaters Bully Julie and Anna NuthaThang in the blocking group and a newer skater, Blur D. Lee, on their jammer line. But, does that compare to Lady Diesel and Robyn Urpride, both former members of San Diego Derby Dolls, and what about Rumble Pie, Mrs. Brigg em Down and I.B. Rascal. I haven’t even mentioned the Starlettes jammers yet, Wonder Whoop’em, Wicked Angel, and Icepax….. A M A Z I N G!
Although the bout was intense and aggressive it was clean and smart at the same time. The two captains, Lady Diesel of SDRD and Bully Julie of SDDD, are actually pretty good friends and the highlight for Lady Diesel was sending Bully Julie sliding in to the chairs of the penalty box on a hip block. This was a blockers game, the Starlettes and the Derby Dolls both kept the pack tight and defensive. Both teams held walls, had big hits, good positional blocking, there were many scoreless minutes during this mini bout. This game was played controlled and smart. The Starlettes jammers put in to action the skills that Coach B Stang had been working with them on and fought tooth and nail for every point. The Starlettes jammers twirled out of hits, sprinted past opponents, took the “friendly” side and hopped over obstacles in their way. Because this was such a defensive game for both teams the Starlettes jammers had to work extra hard but they pulled it off and kept ahead of the Dolls through most of the game and ending with a 19 point lead! I don't know how many people would have predicted the outcome of this match up, if bets were placed money was probably lost. According to the commentators this was "an upset" but to the Starlettes, this was all of our hard work and dedication being noticed. This win put the Starlettes in first of the pool play to advance to the semi-final game on Sunday. The final score was Starlettes, 44-25.
Semi-final- Starlettes vs. South Coast Roller Derby
Sunday’s bouts were full-length bouts and the Starlettes had a 13 skater roster for Sunday’s games rather than the 11 skater roster for Saturday’s pool play. The additional skaters today, Marcy Slayground and Block N’ Roll, allowed the Starlettes to play their regular game strategy. The Starlettes, for the second day in a row had the first game of the day. With a pretty empty venue, the Starlettes faced South Coast Roller Derby from San Clemente. South Coast faced Disaster City and Rage City in Saturday’s pool play with a 1-1 record, losing to Rage City. South Coast had guest skaters from at least 2 other leagues on their roster for the weekend, including Lucky Eddie, Pookie, and Hari Kari from NoTown Roller Derby’s All-Star team and Mortisha Demolisha from Hidden City Derby Girls.
The first jam, Wicked Angel, scored 20 uncontested points as South Coast’s jammer found herself watching early from the penalty box. It was smooth sailing from there, the Starlettes jammers were flying through, racking up the points and the blockers were trapping, building walls and keeping the pack slow. With a significant lead at the half, the Starlettes moved around the line-ups so everyone had the opportunity for some game time. South Coast actually outscored the Starlettes in the second half. But, the point differential was too great even with the ejection of Starlettes blocker Roybn Urpride. With this victory, the Starlettes move to the championship game against the winner of SDDD-Hard Corps and Alaska’s Rage City. The final score was Starlettes, 177-96.
Championship Starlettes vs. Rage City
With the Starlettes sitting up in the bleachers during the SDDD-Hard Corp vs. Rage City Semi-Final game and Coach B Stang pacing for the last 10 minutes of game play, those ladies from Alaska worked their tails off to get to play in the Championship game. Both the Starlettes and Rage City went 3-0 to get to the finals and both teams deserved to be playing for the Battle for the Coast title! By this time in the tournament, Rage City had won the hearts of every person in that building, including the Starlettes. Rage City’s roster only had 9 skaters on it; they had huge hearts and came to California to show us all what Alaska is about. They had size, endurance, hard hits, fast jammers, and heart.
The game started just under two hours from Rage City’s previous semi-final bout but, it did not play a factor in their stride during the first half. Both the Starlettes and Rage City came out strong and fast and while Rage City had a lead for majority of the half, Starlettes were never too far behind. During the first half, Rage City had a massive wall for the Starlettes' jammers to face and with some magic dancing feet from Icepax, quick feet from Wonder Whoop’em, and finesse from Wicked Angel, they were able to get through and keep the score within reach. The Starlettes bench showed a slight edge of frustration for the first time in the tournament. Coach B Stang can be heard throughout the building as he is attempting to tell his skaters what they needed to do to turn this game around…… down by 5 at the half. Now, half time, between Lady Diesel and B Stang, it was quite vocal in the corner where the Starlettes were sitting. “We need to fix this, right now! We are better than this!” "This is OUR half!", whatever else was said, at a lesser decibel, it worked.
The Starlettes started the second half much like the rest of what the crowd got to witness during the weekend…. no more walls of Rage City, fancy footwork from the jammers, strong defensive strategy from the blockers. The Starlettes played a strong defensive second half, wedging bodies between the Rage City walls and making holes for their jammers. With the majority of spectators routing for these ladies from Alaska, Starlettes pulled it off. With great hits and awesome jams, there was a lone soul out in the crowd that would ring his cowbell in support of the Starlettes. With two minutes left in the game, jammer Wonder Whoop’em got ejected for too many trips to the penalty box. However, there wasn’t enough time left for that to impact what the Starlettes had done during the second half. The final score Starlettes, 133-93. CHAMPIONS!!!
One year from this very weekend the Starlettes played in and won their very first bout against Derby Revolution of Bakersfield's Privates. Since then they have remained undefeated on the road with an overall record of 11-2. Still a young team, they continue to grow and learn, and be noticed.
At the end of this amazing tournament surrounded by sisters in derby the Starlettes accepted a beautifully hand painted Oar "Trophy" at the awards ceremony. There was no better feeling in the world for these ladies, the underdogs, the unheard of, the little team that could. All of their blood, sweat, tears, commitment, and dedication were validated at that moment. They brought everything that they had and left it all out there on the track, every bit of heart and soul and won the oar.