Skate to Thrill, hosted by St. Chux Derby Chix on April 9 and 10, was a weekend filled with fantastic derby and sportsmanship. Heading the tournament in both of these aspects were the Ann Arbor Brawlstars.
Making the drive to the tournament had the team buzzing, filled with excitement and anticipation. They had prepared for weeks, worked hard, and overcome many injuries and illnesses to have the team together for this tournament. They were hoping to do well, but the predictions weighed heavily on the Brawlstars’ shoulders. They were expected to lose all three games.
The first bout was a Saturday afternoon game against Calgary. While the lead tipped back and forth at the start of the game, the Brawlstars never wavered. They were unified, working as a single machine, towards a goal. While most would think a team’s goal is to win, that was not the focus of the Brawlstars. The Brawlstars aim to play the best roller derby they can, regardless of the score. I believe that Calgary was the Brawlstars’ best game of the weekend, simply for their consistency, their positive but focused attitudes, and their ability to adapt seamlessly during gameplay to both the reffing and the other team’s strategies. The end result was a win, with a final score of 200-149.
After a brief rest, the Brawlstars headed back to the track to take on Wasatch. Wasatch, off-track, was a kind and silly team that the Brawlstars could easily relate to. This led to many conversations and hand stands on the sidelines. On the track, however, both teams were all business. The jams became shorter and shorter as each team nickled and dimed the other in an attempt to slowly increase their score. The strategy eventually paid off, for the Brawlstars. The Ann Arbor Brawlstars, #60 in WFTDA, were able to take down Wasatch, #51, with a final score of 182-121. The team was ecstatic! The celebration, however, was short-lived. They had a final game to prepare for on Sunday.
The Brawlstars ended their weekend by taking on the tournament hosts, St. Chux. St. Chux, #56, had beaten Chicago Outfit but lost to Calgary the day before. They were hoping to take a final win, but the Brawlstars denied them that opportunity. Although, things didn’t always look that way. Within the first ten minutes of gameplay, Ann Arbor had gone from calm, cool, and collected to nervous and off-kilter. Kandy, the bench coach, called a time-out and the team regrouped, refocused, and reset for a tough game. With each jam, the team grew more settled, despite continued changes being made to their game day lines. Again, the team’s ability to adapt resulted in the biggest A2D2 upset of the weekend, ending with a final score of 242-120.
Despite the predictions, Ann Arbor Derby Dimes were able to pull out a triple win this weekend, which will help catapult them to a higher ranking in WFTDA and put them that much closer towards securing a spot in Division 2 playoffs this summer.
When the games are over and the scores have been finalized, A2D2 spent what little downtime they had seeing old friends and making new ones. A2D2 was excited to see Ohio Roller Derby, who they lost to earlier this season, hold a 2-1 record at the tournament. Although they went 0-3 at the tournament, A2D2 was there to support former A2D2 league member, Susan B. Slamthony, as she skated with Chicago Outfit during the weekend. Once a dime, always a dime.
Although the weekend went well, the Brawlstars still have some challenging opponents ahead. First up is Demolition City Roller Derby in Evansville, Indiana the last week of April, followed by Charlottesville Derby Dames the following weekend. If the Brawlstars can keep their focus and determination steadfast, then I have no doubt they will continue to climb in the ranks.
Cora Slain is a Bruiser, a Brawlstar alternate, and bench aid for the Ann Arbor Brawlstars.