Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The roller derby dream match that needs to happen

In upstate New York, we have two women's roller derby teams, whose seasons run concurrently, but, for some odd reason, the teams never meet. Both employ a grassroots ad campaign, with old school fliers and posters to promote each home game. However, what would benefit both teams is if, at the crossroads between their seasons, they could meet for bragging rights.

The Hellions of Troy, who actually play their home matches in Rotterdam due to financial reasons, will finish play this month. The Albany All-Stars just wrapped up the home portion of their season, and, for the first time, they actually belong to a national organization, the Women's Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA), so the chances are there for post-season play, but not this year. As track announcer Moe Cheesmo acknowledged during the All-Stars' home finale on Saturday, a 169-117 verdict over Mass Attack Roller Derby out of Massachusetts, the All-Stars had a rough road schedule, which subtly informed the fans in attendance that they wouldn't make the playoffs.

As we've documented in the past, there've been introductory feature pieces on both teams when they started play. The All-Stars, in fact, will mark their 10th anniversary next year, and will continue with fund-raising and recruitment drives during the off-season. Since the initial press coverage, the local papers have opted to ignore roller derby altogether, when there is the potential for a border war rivalry between the Hellions and All-Stars that, while not on the level of UAlbany vs. Siena in basketball or Yankees-Red Sox in baseball (not even close), might get more people through the turnstiles.

The trick, though, is convincing the right people in the hometown to bring the Hellions home, so that the matches can alternate between Troy & Albany. The All-Stars play at the legendary Washington Avenue Armory, whose sound system struck again Saturday, swallowing up nearly a whole concert by local cover band Hot Cousin. The Hellions were priced out of Frear Park and the Knickerbocker Ice Arena (Lansingburgh), forcing them to move to Rotterdam's Rollerama. RPI Field House? Fuhgeddaboutit! The Hellions right now might not be able to afford using any college facility, although converting the rink at the Field House or the Conway Rink at Hudson Valley Community College for roller derby might not be as hard as you'd think.

With the Tri-City Valleycats' home opener little more than 2 weeks away as I write, the time to make the move is now, when there isn't anything else of interest to local fans. What would either team have to lose?

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