The start of any sport season has many different emotions attached to it, and roller derby is no different. There is the anticipation of all the hard work put in coming together. There is nervousness of first-bout jitters. Nervousness turns into excitement and then back to trepidation of tripping and falling as your name is announced for you to skate around the track and wave to the crowd.
Then, the first whistle sounds and a whole new set of issues arises.
Everyone has to shake off the off-season rust and fix glitches. The teams get announced, the derby demo is done, and teams line up on the track.
The 2014 season started for J-Town (Johnstown, PA) Roller Girls on Saturday, Feb. 22, when they rolled off the bench and into a pack.
The bout was held at JRGâ€™s Home base, The Windber Community Building. First whistle happened at 6 p.m.
The 325 seats that were set up were sold out in advance. Standing room only tickets were sold the night of the event, and people filled the walls to watch the bout. The league split into two intra-league teams for the occasion.
The Highland Heartbreakers were the home team, as they challenged the Coal Minerâ€™s Slaughter to the bout. The Westco Roller Girls added a few players to the mix. Off the track, problems with the first bout can be inevitable. The bout started off with a few glitches. First-time scorekeepers and scoreboard operators had a little trouble getting going, however, once they got comfortable with their roles, everything was fine.
The Slaughter struck the scoring vein first. They had the first two points of the bout. Both teams did quick jams for the first 4 of the bout, where the lead jammer would call off the jam as soon as they scored a few points before the other jammer could score points. Those quick jams led the Slaughter to a 6-5 lead.
The Heartbreakersâ€™ #231, Nikki Nightmare, broke open the first double-digit scoring round of the night. She raced to 14 points to give an early first-half lead of 31-9 (Heartbreakers).
#20 and Captain of the Slaughter, Rayna TearHer, would respond by scoring 12 of her own points to close the gap to 31-21.
From there, A15 Angry Adair, #80 Shan Pain, and 2k Kimproper Konduct would go on a 39-15 scoring run.
The Slaughter in that time would have all 15 of those points scored by #113 Tiny Terror. That was not enough to cauterize the bleeding, and the Heartbreakers would extend the lead to 74-34. The rest of the first half was relatively even. Both teams had low scoring jams but mostly traded points.
The Slaughter mined 31 points while the Heartbreakers scored 25, and the first half ended with the Heartbreakers going into the locker room up 99-75.
The Heartbreakers continued to control the action in the second half. They edged up the lead to 107-82 thanks to jams by #6669 Nuncrusher and Shan Pain.
In Jam 4, the Heartbreakersâ€™ jammer #99 Enema of the Skate was called for a low block (tripping) penalty. The Slaughter took advantage and rallied for 19 points by Ranya TearHer. They cut the lead to 112-99.
Three jams later, Rayna TearHer skated behind the jammer line, wore the jammer helmet cover and earned 21 points to give the Slaughter the lead for the first time since 6-5 in the first half.
Both teams went scoreless in the next three jams, as jammers were quick to call off jams while the opposing jammer was against her back wheels.
But Jam 11 presented a new opportunity for the Slaughter. Shan Pain of the Heartbreakers was called for a track cut (passing an opposing skater while out of bounds) penalty, her only one of the night, but the Slaughter scored 28 points by #180 Foxy Balboa.
In the next jam, Nuncrusher would commit a clockwise block (skaters have to move in counter-clockwise direction when blocking) and give S0S Summer Shovinâ€™ a power jam. She would crank out 20 points for the Slaughter.
The 48-3 run would extend the lead 174-132. The Heartbreakers would refuse to call in a crash cart and keep their heartbeats alive. Nuncrusher and #31 Scissorhands would go on their own powerjams. In Jam 16, the Slaughterâ€™s #23 Betty Bombshell would commit a backblock (hitting opponent in the middle of the back) to give Nuncrusher her powerjam.
And in the next jam, #86 Code Red would cut the track to give Scissorhands her advantage. Those jammers scored 38 points for the Heartbreakers to cut the Slaughter lead to 186-174.
Time was winding down in the second half. In three of the last four jams, the Slaughter would earn lead jammer status and would call off the jam before any points could be scored.
The bout has a 30-second break between jams where the period clock will run. The running clock was not a friend to the Heartbreakers.
With perfect timing, Rayna TearHer would call the last jam with 20 seconds left on the period clock. The rules state that when there is less than 30 seconds left on the period clock, another jam cannot be run unless a timeout is called. The Coal Minerâ€™s Slaughter would hold on to defeat the Highland Heartbreakers 186-174.
Penalties were prominent in the first bout of the year. All but three skaters had a penalty in the game. Slaughter committed 41 penalties, and the Heartbreakers committed 30. Both are high numbers for any team.
One skater fouled out of the game (7 trips to the penalty box), and one skater was ejected from the Heartbreakers for a dangerous hit with both skates off the ground. Both teams earned lead jammer status 20 times.
The Slaughter had used that status to call off the jams 12 times to the Heartbreakers 6. The Heartbreakers lost lead jammer status two times (earned it then lost it when jammer commits penalty) and four no-passes (jammers do not make it though the pack on initial pass).
The leading scorer for the Slaughter was captain #20 Rayna TearHer, as she racked up 70 points. Next on the scoring list was Summer Shovinâ€™ with 35 and Foxy Balboa with 33.
The Heartbreakers were lead in scoring by Scissorhands with 44 points. #231 Nikki Nightmare had 33 points, and Nuncrusher had 27. Eight of the 13 skaters on the Heartbreakers' roster jammed at least once during the bout. Scoring was spread out. The Slaughters only used five jammers for the bout.
Next up for J-town Roller Girls, their A-Team, The Flood City Sirens make their debut against Westco Roller Girls on March 22 in Mt. Pleasant, Pa.