Many in attendance at the Silicon Valley Roller Girls (SVRG) season opener on Saturday needed a crash course in a sport built on women crashing into each other on the course.
Thankfully, the SVRG club featuring two teams, the “KillaBytes” and the “Dot.Kamikazes” gave the fans demonstrations beforehand to give attendees an idea of what to look for and how the game is played.
After dropping the opening game to the Carson City Victory Rollers, the KillaBytes coach who also plays for the Dot.Kamikazes was kind enough to give the Weekly some insights into the sport. In a game that an outsider might describe as hockey meets American football, meets speed skating, the player/coach who goes by “E-Wrecks” described the game as simply a “human demolition derby.”
Basically the game is played five players vs five players, and you score points with the one player of the five called a “jammer.” The jammer gets a point for each player they pass on the opposing team starting with the second lap around the track during “jam” sessions. These sessions last anywhere from 30 seconds to two minutes. Basically the non-jammer players are like football lineman playing both defense and offense. Trying to open up lanes for their jammer and clog up lanes to stop the opposing jammer.
Just like how football and hockey are often unfairly judged as being only about violence, roller derby likewise has an under-appreciated graceful side. In the KillaBytes 310-167 loss, the clear star of the game was the jammer for Carson City by the name of “Slamuwell Jackson.” The reason she so frequently got through the packs of blockers is because she has very nimble feet and could squeak through tight areas with quick acceleration. It wasn’t like she was just running people over like Marshawn Lynch. She was more of a Barry Sanders type, to use a football analogy as she jumped over opponents skates, slithering through the gaps.
“We probably needed to cover the floor more thoroughly, the outside lane. We were opening up our sides to her, so she was able to bounce off and take the outside,” commented E-Wrecks on Slamuwell Jackson. “We need to square up more and identify where she specifically was on the track. I think we didn’t really process who was jamming. We need to identify specific jammers better.”
Along with the struggles to contain Slamuwell Jackson, was the fact that the KillaBytes kept putting Carson City in power jams. Just like in hockey, there is a penalty box in roller derby. Too often the KillaBytes had their jammer in the penalty box, so there was no way for them to score any points.
“We had a number of jammer penalties tonight. A lot of the difference in the score, a 100 of those points were straight up power jams against us,” admitted E-Wrecks. We have to tone down our excitement a little.”
The SVRG next home games are Saturday May 13 at City Beach in Santa Clara. The games are at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., games last around 90 minutes with 30 minute halves and a 15-minute halftime. Even for people new to the sport, it makes for a fun night out. Catch E-Wrecks, Anaya Later, Goldie Knocks, Atom Smasher, Mellynium Falcon, Pia Mess, Bombchelle, Lucky Harms and the rest of the SVRG at City Beach on Meade Ave. by Bowers for their home games this season.