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Windy City Rollers Sat May 29 2010

There Can Be Only One (2010 Champ, That Is)


Well, it's been a hell of a season for the Windy City Rollers.

The league faced a lot of challenges, as many teams experienced a number of roster changes and a whole lotta injuries, which led to some big game upsets. Then again, this year's batch of Rollers came back from the last season leaner and meaner than ever before⎯the league as a whole upped the ante, practicing harder, smarter, and more often, and it definitely shows.

After duking it out for months, the Fury and the Double Crossers are the top two WCR teams heading to the Ivy King Cup championship on June 5.

The Fury have benefited from a trio of star Jammers, including returning local favorite Kola Loka (scoring a total 232 points this season, according to the WCR site's stats), newbie Ska Face (179), and Jackie Daniels (135), a seasoned expat from the Grand Raggidy Roller Girls.

Fury v Manic.jpg
A flurry of fishnets: The Fury (in white) battle it out in a previous game against the Manic Attackers.
Photo by Katie Hovland

The Double Crossers, meanwhile, have generally relied on their tried and true skaters. Julia Rosenwinkle (ex-Lucy Furr) was the top Jammer, scoring 236 points for the season, followed by Indycent (145) and Nina Millimeter (138). The Fury finish out the season, pre-championship, at 5-1, and the Double Crossers at 4-2. Last year's underdog Ivy King Cup champs, the Manic Attackers, pulled a solid, if mediocre, 3-3 for the season, while Hell's Belles didn't manage a single win.

I talked to the team captains⎯Georgia on Yer Behind and Julia Rosenwinkle of the Double Crossers and Tori Adore of the Fury⎯about the season thus far, their triumphs and mishaps, and the upcoming Ivy King Championship.

Derby Dame: Neither the Fury nor the Double Crossers were in the 2009 championship⎯what's changed over the year?

Tori Adore (Fury): We made a decision last year that 2010 is the year of the Fury. We all set a goal and are achieving it. Confidence level has also made a big difference this year. [Co-captain] Go-Go Hatchet and I also are very lucky to both be members of the WCR All-Stars travel team. Being a part of one of the number-one teams in our region allows us to learn a lot about derby and bring it back to the Fury.

Julia Rosenwinkle (Double Crossers): Speed skating. Waking up at 6 a.m. on Saturday mornings to skate hard was the bonding element early on in the season.

Georgia on Yer Behind (Double Crossers): I think that this year we've really gelled as a team⎯we've learned to trust each other on the track and how to communicate verbally and intuitively.

This year I feel like the skaters have really taken their individual development incredibly seriously and have committed to upping their physical athleticism. When Julia campaigned to attend Saturday speed practice in the 'burbs, I have to admit that the team was skeptical. But then we started to see the results it produced. Now we try to frame it like, "We're going to this really fun place called "winning"⎯don't you want to come, too? Of course it involves getting up at 5:30 am on Saturdays, doing miserable plyometric routines, sprinting for longer than you thought you could . . ."

Nina vs HB_Kate Hovland.jpg
Double Crosser Jammer Nina Millimeter makes her way past a Hell's Belles Blocker.
Photo by Katie Hovland

DD: The Double Crossers are sporting a few new skaters this year, but you also lost quite a few girls to injuries. What happened?

Georgia: We actually have five new skaters this year: Diana Hoss, Joanie Utah, Tina Flay, Apple Hackintosh, and Abbey. The last two were drafted in March. Diana broke her ankle in February, which was quite a blow for her and us. She's such a strong and powerful athlete and has been doing more one-legged lunges than I can even imagine. She's just now getting back on skates, but it's a tough physical and mental battle after going through an injury like that.

Julia: Both Joanie and Tina have suffered some minor injuries that have brought slight setbacks, but they're both troopers and played hard during the final game [vs. the Manic Attackers] with a sprained knee (Joanie) and a pulled back (Tina). Riley Coyote, a four-season vet, started the season on a leave of absence and retired in March. She's remained a big cheerleader for us, though, and we hope someday she returns to the team.

DD: How about the Fury? You gals had a bit of a change-up as well.

Tori: We also just added T.S. Helliot and Poppy Spock, so we have five newbies in all [including Jackie Daniels, Ska Face, and Take Out Box]. All are looking great and are assets to the team, but obviously losing and gaining players is going to change a team in some ways.

DD: So, what's different about the 2010 batch of skaters?

Georgia: I really do think they've committed more physically than they have in the past. And they truly believe in themselves and their teammates⎯that kind of environment allows skaters to take risks and grow as athletes. The majority of us are learning to become true athletes without the experience of a college or even high school sports background.

Tori: The Fury are a more cohesive team this year. Every practice we are learning just a little bit more how to read each others' minds. And we are trying to remain consistent in the skills that have in order to make it second nature.

Fury front view.jpg
The Fury celebrate a win at the UIC Pavilion.
Photo by Gil Leora

DD: What setbacks or issues have your teams seen this season?

Georgia: Oh, injuries, hands down. One of Julia's tenents is to always train to be down your top two skaters. It sounds like just an insurance policy--until it actually happens.

Julia: Only two of my skaters have remained healthy this season! [Roller derby's] a high-impact sport, and we expect a certain percentage of injury over the course of a season, but this year it has been a huge challenge.

I am incredibly proud of how the skaters rebounded emotionally and physically from their setbacks. I like to brag that my teammates are the hardest-working injured skaters! They really do everything they are asked to speed healing: Diana, with her broken ankle still went to the gym to work on her good leg, core and upper body strength. Sassy Squash, with a debilitating pulled groin/hip flexor/hamstring, took ice baths every night and woke up early to get ultrasound therapy before work. They could have soaked at home or done physical therapy at an earlier hour, but the culture of our team is that we do these things together.

Tori: The Fury are no stranger to injuries. We've had hurt knees, shoulders, and ankles; concussions; and nasty, oozing, giant blisters. Fortunately, most of the time the injuries haven't been very major. They say that in roller derby you are never really at 100 percent anyway, so most the time you just have to tape it up, ice it, and play.

DD: With all of these obstacles, and even the awesome grand-slam times, what have you learned over the year, bother personally and as a team?

Georgia: As a captain, it has really strengthened my leadership skills, on and off the track. I truly hate public speaking, but being a captain you have to be vocal . . . . You also have to know what you're talking about or the skaters will eat you alive. I also know that I have to work just as hard, if not harder, at what I'm asking anyone else to do.

Julia: This season has been kind of magical from my point of view. The early mentality of the Double Crossers was skeptical but hopeful. There was a lot of "I can't" mixed in with the "I want to be better" and it was sticky business sorting that thought process so we could get to work. And I was no exception. But I had to accept that I needed to fill a certain role as a skater, and I needed to do it well, or else I would be letting the team down. I think many of the other Crossers felt the same way and stepped it up. And once that happened, the confidence levels went through the roof!

XX huddle.jpg
Huddle up: The Double Crossers are in it to win it.
Photo by Gil Leora

DD: The Fury and the Double Crossers are pretty evenly matched in terms of stats⎯what do you think are your strengths?

Georgia: Stamina. Our skaters have trained to play every jam of the entire bout if they need to (and have had to, like in Bout 5 against the Manic Attackers). Even the best Blockers and Jammers start to lose it when they get tired. And that's when they start making desperate reaches for blocks and racking up penalties. And the team that plays from the box is sure to lose.

Julia: We practice like we want to play.

Tori: We are definitely hard hitters. Plus, we're really focused and have played together for a long time.

DD: Now, the Fury walloped the Double Crossers in March, 128-51 and again in May, 95-69. Crossers, how are you going to turn that around?

Julia: Ugh, that [March] game. I think everyone expected me to lose my mind after that game, but I didn't have to⎯the skaters were already busy being too hard on themselves.

Georgia: It was tough to lose by so much. But as I said to my Fury friends later that night, it's only a loss if you don't learn from it. We definitely didn't play like ourselves that night, but I think that the loss drove our skaters to identify and strengthen their weaknesses.

Tori: No matter what, they are going to give us a great game. You can't underestimate this team.

Ivy King Cup Championship
Saturday, June 5, 6:00 p.m. (doors at 5)
UIC Pavilion, 525 South Racine
Get your tickets here or at the door.

The Derby Dame is Gapers Block contributor Kara Luger, who skated as Typhoid Mary with the Windy City Rollers and the Pikes Peak Derby Dames.

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