Roller derby made its 2017 Durango debut Saturday night at Chapman Hill Ice Rink.
The Durango Roller Girls welcomed a tough crew of visitors from Flagstaff who are known as one of the top teams in the region. Led by unstoppable jammers Kristin-yte and Prima Ballerina, the High Altitude Roller Derby Dark Sky Starlets jumped out to a big first-half lead and rolled to a 218-116 victory.
“We’ve been working on our offense to defense and back to offense,” Flagstaff star Kristin-yte said. “My blockers were great. Most of all, though, these fans are the most amazing fans I’ve ever seen at any bout. Even if they weren’t cheering for us, the noise was awesome. They were so into it from start to finish. Great job, Durango.”
The scoreboard might not have indicated it, but the Roller Girls put up a strong effort against a well-respected, much higher-ranked squad. Durango player-coach Helen Killa was impressed by the team’s effort.
“We were big underdogs and I think we knocked it out of the park,” Killa said. “That was a pleasant surprise. I was also pleased with what I think is the most dedicated roller derby crowd I’ve ever seen. This whole night was awesome.”
The Roller Girls fell behind early, but impressive work by newcomer Eager Beaver gave the home squad a boost. In her first appearance in front of the DRG faithful, the rookie flew threw the air and weaved in and out of traffic repeatedly inciting several roars from the crowd.
“I was actually really nervous before the bout started so it took me a while to get into my groove out there,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting a crowd like this. Everyone said the home crowd is better than the other places we go, but it was way better than I imagined. I can’t wait until next time.”
Along with the debut of three new players and an injured player-coach in Killa, DRG mainstays such as Mutha Stucka and Molly No Mo used their experience to spark a second-half rally. Ultimately, they came up well short, but the vets were encouraged by the young talent gained on the offseason.
“We lost some key players from last year’s team, but that’s kind of the way it goes in this sport,” Molly No Mo said. “But I can’t believe how well the new girls performed. We have some really good youngsters.”
The outcome of the first of four home bouts this season may not have been what the sold out crowd was hoping for, but new and old participants were thrilled to be back at Chapman Hill in front of the hometown fans.
“It doesn’t matter where we go, nobody has fans as dedicated as the ones in Durango,” DRG veteran D’Cell Punk said. “We are so lucky to have the support we have and without them, we wouldn’t be able to do this.”
Though they couldn’t snatch victory from the high-powered opponents, winning and losing is secondary to the spirit of game and the inspiration the Roller Girls spread to women of all ages that come to support them.
“Not many of us grew up playing roller derby,” Durango’s Spank Erin said. “It’s a super challenging, hard-hitting, competitive sport. Whether we win or lose, I feel like we came together to get something amazing done. We’re women empowering each other and that’s what this is all about.”
The Roller Girls will be back in action Aug. 5 at Chapman Hill against Moab.