This past weekend, the San Diego Roller Derby Starlettes travelled to Bakersfield, CA to compete in the Dustbowl Invitational tournament. Thirteen teams participated in this tournament; eleven teams were from California and two from Colorado.
Last year, the Starlettes placed fourth in this tournament, just missing placing in the top three. They were determined to bring their level of play to a higher level this year as their home practices have become more exclusive, which has made it easier for them to focus on their skills as a team.
The Starlettes were seeded third in the tournament, which gave them a pass from playing the first round of bouts Saturday morning. Their first bout was in the afternoon against Choice City Rebels from Fort Collins, Colorado. The Starlettes had some trouble this bout keeping their pack together and getting their jammers through, but ended up winning for a final score of 57 to 43. This put them in contention to play Team Cruz, the second seeded team, on Sunday morning.
Sunday morning brought unfavorable weather conditions for the outdoor tournament as the cold and rain settled in. Luckily the skating surface was covered so the tournament could still go on, but raindrops managed to drip onto the floor. Volunteers scrambled to wipe drops of rain off the track throughout the day.
As their first game started that day, Starlettes drew first blood against Team Cruz, which was made up of All-Star players such as Demanda Riot, Tara Armov, Lulu Lockjaw and several more. They had lead jammer status the first two jams, with Irie Strider’s agility and Icepax’s artistic backward skating proving to be difficult for Team Cruz to predict. But Team Cruz quickly showed their All-Star skill level and adapted quickly, preventing Starlettes from getting lead jammer for most of the rest of the thirty minute bout. The 4Closer, an All-Star player from Sacred City, proved to be an especially challenging jammer for the Starlettes as she powered through walls and played defense with Starlettes’ jammers. Her performance this tournament won her MVP Jammer. Final score was Team Cruz 114, Starlettes 26. However, Starlettes didn’t go down easy; Lady Diesel laid a powerful backwards hit onto infamous Bay Area player Demanda Riot that sent her flying backwards onto the floor! The whole crowd, refs, announcers, and all held their breath and gasped as Demanda is not normally one to be taken out, ever! Incidentally, this hit earned Lady Diesel MVP Blocker of the tournament!
Next game was later in the afternoon against SR-99, a pickup team made up of players that live along highway SR-99 in California. They had strong players on their roster that included Silent Disasster from Angel City as well as Lemon Drop and Kiki Diazz from the San Diego Derby Dolls All-Stars. Unfortunately, the leaks from the roof were increasing and the tournament staff had to delay the tournament. Buckets were placed strategically to catch the rain and the players waited anxiously to find out if they weregoing to be able to continue the tournament. It was getting quite cold, and the skaters decided to form a ‘conga’ line to keep warm. Some players from San Diego, Orange County, and Team Cruz joined ranks and skated the floor like this until the decision was made to continue with the tournament. Adrenaline skyrocketed as the crowd let out a loud cheer of excitement and anticipation. SR-99 lined up with the Starlettes and the first jam finally began.
From the start of this bout, Starlettes defense was above par. Though SR-99 posed some hard hits and strong jams, they were unable to open the impenetrable walls of Starlettes players such as Marcy Slayground, Ortega Chile and Rumble Pie. Starlette power jammer Wicked Angel weaved her way through SR-99 defense and Starlette blocker Brigg em Down showed her strength as not only a powerful blocker but an agile, smart jammer as well. Starlette Berle Scout shined as offensive blocker and was able to create holes for her jammers to power through. Another shining moment of this bout occurred when Starlette veteran Bully Julie ended up being last line of defense for her pack; at the last minute she stepped in front of SR-99’s jammer. This caught SR-99’s jammer off gurad and she fell on top of Bully Julie, causing the opposing jammer to receive a major penalty and time in the box creating a POWER JAM situation for the Starlettes! Final score this bout was Starlettes 81, SR-99 43.
Next up the Starlettes would take on Ventura County VenDolls. These two teams were very familiar with one another, as they have played each other several times in the past year. Though the Starlettes have been victorious over the VenDolls in full-length bouts, they had lost to the VenDolls previously in a thirty minute bout in a tournament last Spring; would this prove to be the same case this time? Starlettes, however, were on a roll and the momentum from their previous win carried into this game. Starlettes blockers proved impossible for VenDolls jammers to get around. Starlettes blockers Split Endz and first-time Starlette player Iliac Attack also did their part to hold off the powerful hits and blocks from the VenDolls and prevent the opposing jammer from getting through. Unfortunately this bout was called off only fifteen minutes into the thirty minute game due to collection of rainwater on the track. The tournament was called as it proved to be to risky for the skaters to continue. Final score after fifteen minutes Starlettes 30, VenDolls 9.
Had the tournament continued, Starlettes would’ve gone on to play long-time rivals Orange County team Blockwork Orange, the top seed for the tournament. As it stood the tournament officials awarded Team Cruz first place, Orange County second place, and the Starlettes took home the third place trophy! They had proved to themselves and their fans that hard work and persistence pay off. Congratulations San Diego Roller Derby Starlettes!!!!
If this leaves you wanting more, come see the Starlettes play LIVE at their next home bout Saturday, April 28th as they take on first-time opponents V-Town Derby Dames. Starlettes have been on a home-bout winning streak since August 2010- will V-Town prove to be their downfall??? Be there to catch the action in person!